The Scouting Report

FSM presents The Scouting Report. What to watch for in the 2019 campaign for the UNLV Rebels. We’ve scouted and broken down each team on the UNLV schedule this year to get Rebel fans some insight into our opponents. Enjoy!


HOME 9/7/19 @ 7 PM PST Arkansas State

 The Arkansas State Red Wolves will have a little more to play for this year. Namely, their head coach, Blake Anderson, who is on leave after his wife passed away after a two year battle with stage-four breast cancer. Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator, David Duggan, takes over on an interim basis. He has a 10-9 record as a head coach in Germany. The team returns six All-Sun Belt All-Conference selections including a couple of defensive linemen, Kevin Thurmon and Forrest Merrill. Their quarterback, Logan Bonner, looks good as well. So far, in one scrimmage this year he was 7-8, throwing the football for 160 yards and 4 touchdowns, displaying a quick-release on the ball. He has a few experienced wide receivers that he will be throwing to. Kirk Merritt (6’5″, 215 lb.) who can catch almost anything with his quick burst of speed, and the 6’5″ Dahu Green, who transferred in from Oklahoma, has looked like a match-up problem all season. Their third wide receiver, senior Omar Bayless, is returning after having 39 receptions for 566 yards and two touchdowns in 2018.



AWAY 9/14/19 12:30 PM PST Northwestern Wildcats on BIG Ten Network:

The Wildcats are coming off of a loss in their first-ever BIG10 Championship appearance as well as the Holiday Bowl. They are still a very smart team with a great head coach in Pat Fitzgerald whom the NFL‘s Green Bay Packers were interested in as their head coach over the offseason. They did lose Quarterback Clayton Thorson, who led them to a 9-5 (8-1 Big Ten) record in 2018. He went to the NFL which leaves their quarterback unannounced until the first game. It could either be experienced senior, TJ Green, or sophomore Hunter Johnson. Both look to be poised for a big year in the same system.

The Wildcats also have a new offensive line with three new starters and two holdovers, Senior Captain Center, Jared Thomas, and Left Tackle, Rashawn Slater. They will help protect either Green’s or Johnson‘s blindside as they lead the team. Thomas should be a leader and help the quarterback settle into the starting role no matter who it is.



AWAY 9/28/19 TBD Wyoming Cowboys

Sean Chambers is the starting quarterback. Last year, Tyler Vander Waal failed to lead the Cowboys down the field to score points. After throwing for 266 yards on 15-25 passing with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions to go along with 329 yards rushing in four games, Chambers ended up going 3-0 as a starter in 2018. They lost their star running back, Nico Evans, who ran for 1032 yards and 8 touchdowns to go along with 66 receiving yards and another touchdown. Jevon Bigelow also transferred to Fresno State. However, Xavazian Valladay, who ran for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboy‘s final game in 2018 against New Mexico is back. Their running back depth isn’t great, but Valladay brings experience to the system. What Wyoming lacks in backs, they have in receivers. They bring back experienced players: CJ Johnson, a senior returning, Rocket Ismail Jr., as well as Austin Conway. They are all seniors who combined for 1,078 yards and 10 touchdowns in all of 2018.



HOME 10/5/19 7:30 PM PST Boise State Broncos

Head Coach Bryan Harsin, who has gone to 5 bowl games in 5 years as head coach, is back with a 59-20 overall record and 32-8 in Mountain West play. He has to bring along a new quarterback this year with Brett Rypien gone, as well as a new running back with Alexander Mattison in the NFL. That is not all Boise State lost. They lost their two top receivers, Sean Modster (978 yards and 8 Touchdowns) and AJ Richardson (825 yards and 8 Touchdowns). One of the nation’s top true freshman quarterbacks takes over with all five starters returning on the offensive line. Hank Bachelor is the new 6’1″, 202 lbs. QB for the Broncos. Bachelor was rated as a four-star quarterback and no. 6 pro-style Quarterback by 247Sports coming out of high school. He passed for over 13,000 yards and ran for just over 2,000. Leadership in terms of the wide receivers is tough, but senior, John Hightower, takes over the reins of this group. He is 6’2″, 172 pounds, and has rushed for a couple of touchdowns to go along with his six receiving touchdowns.

On defense it is a different story for the Broncos. They were 20th in the nation against the run, allowing only 122.9 yards per game. David Moa, a 296-pound linebacker, had 8.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss to go along with a blocked field goal and 4 PBUs in 2016, but he has struggled to remain healthy. Outside linebacker, Curtis Weaver, has 20.5 sacks in two years and was ninth last year in all of FBS with 9.5 sacks.



AWAY 10/12/19 TBD Vanderbilt Commodores

The scouting report usually places Vanderbilt as the doormat in the SEC, the team that everyone steps over and runs right past marking it as a victory. They have never finished above .500 during Head Coach Derek Mason’s five-year tenure as head coach. He has made it to a couple of bowl games but lost both. However, they are not to be taken lightly as their defense takes advantage of turnovers. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur, a starter for four years, is now in the NFL. Riley Neal, a transfer from Ball State, and Deuce Wallace will compete for the starting position until the first game. Neal threw for 1,917 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2018 at Ball State, and was a starter for the four years he was there until he went down with an injury in 2017. Running Back Ke’Shawn Vaughn (1,244 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018) returns as does top wide receiver, Kalija Lipscomb (87 receptions 916 yards and 9 touchdowns). Tight end, Jared Pinkney, is also back. He caught 50 passes for 774 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018. Even with a former defensive coordinator as their head coach, the Commodores defense is not as strong on paper as they were in 2018 with Jordan Griffin (119 tackles a sack and an interception) and LaDarius Wiley (78 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, and an interception) gone to graduation. The defense does return a lot of experience though, as inside linebacker Dimitri Moore, who had 84 tackles, will step up and look to lighten the burden. Linebacker Kenny Hebert, who led the team with four sacks, is back, as is defensive end, Dayo Odeyingbo, who had 28 tackles, 6.5 TFL and 2.5 sacks in 2018.



AWAY 10/18 7 PM PST Fresno State Bulldogs

Coming off of a Las Vegas Bowl victory over Herm EdwardsArizona State team during Jeff Tedford’s second year back in Fresno, Jorge Reyna is back as the starting quarterback of the top-20 scoring team. Fresno State also has a top-20 defense, and experienced players with 2-3 years in the system are taking over for departed seniors who either graduated or went to the NFL. The Bulldogs look to build off of the momentum put in place by the two prior seasons: 10-4 in 2017 and 12-2 in 2018, winning both bowl games.



HOME 10/26/19 7:30 PM PST San Diego State Aztecs

This San Diego State team started 6-1 in their first seven games, then finished 1-4, including a loss to UNLV. Their offensive line, one of the worst in the country, allowed 33 sacks in 2018. The team does bring back a talented center in Keith Ismael, who only allowed two sacks last season. Rocky Long is still the head coach, as he has been for nine seasons. The defense is always one of the best sides of the football for the Aztecs. They only allowed 103 rushing yards per game in 2018 as well as 16 rushing touchdowns. Defensive Back Tariq Thompson, who forced two fumbles and had a couple of interceptions in 2018, also returns. The defensive back room is loaded with talent, but consistency is the big question. Backups-turned-starters this season, Darren Hall and Luq Barcoo, have shown how good they are with a combined three interceptions and a forced fumble with 7 PBUs between the two. On offense, Tight End Kahale Warring is gone to the NFL, but running back Juwan Washington looks to have a bigger presence in the offense. He had 999 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns last season despite missing the last four games. As Rocky Long is transitioning into the new spread system, quarterback Ryan Agnew returns after having completed just over 50% of his passes in 2018 with 10 touchdowns and 6 interceptions to go along with 141 rushing yards.



AWAY 11/2/19 12:30 PM PST Colorado State Rams

Colorado State has a brand new offensive line, comprised of six sophomores or freshman and four upperclassman. The Rams have a new left guard in Noueredon Nouili from Germany, who has only played football for a few years. While the team has to wait on former Auburn transfer, junior wide receiver Nate Craig-Myers, until the fourth game of the season. Expect big things from Craig-Myers as he only had 2 receptions for 39 yards in 2018 in the SEC at Auburn. In 2017, Craig-Myers had 16 receptions for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns and he has looked good in camp. Defensive lineman, Toby McBride, is big at 6’3” and 285 pounds. He is one of the strongest guys on the team and has moved to defensive tackle after being out for a good part of the last two years with a back injury.



HOME 11/16/19 1:00 PM PST Hawaii

The scouting report says Hawaii’s defense is its weakness. Their secondary might need some help after allowing Kalil Tate to go off for 361 yards and 3 touchdowns, albeit with 2 interceptions, in their first game of the season. However, they return a top-ten quarterback in terms of passing yards in Cole McDonald who had 378 yards passing to go along with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions before getting benched in his first start of the season. Their talented backup (former backup at powerhouse St. Louis High School in Honolulu), Chevan Cordeiro, came in and stole the show completing 5-7 passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. He even ran 5 times for 34 yards. This is not the first time Cordeiro came in and secured a victory for Hawaii. He came in last year against UNLV and blasted them for a few touchdowns. Overall in 2018, Cordeiro had 384 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. The wide receiving corps is good and can haul in a ton of passes. Their leading wide receiver, Cedric Byrd II, caught 14 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns against Arizona. This team is talented and is going to be a tough out in the Mountain West with Nick Rolovich coming off of an 8-6 campaign in 2018.



HOME 11/23/19 1:00 PM PST San Jose State Spartans

The San Jose State Spartans’ return starting quarterback, Josh Love, was 21-31, 224 yards, and 2 touchdowns in his first game of the season against Northern Colorado. Last year Love threw for 1,963 yards on 56.1% of his passes for 14 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. Love will look to improve on his 2018 season with speedy wide receivers, Tre Walker (714 yards and 5 touchdowns) and Sitaleki Nunn (74 yards) in their junior and sophomore years, respectively. The Spartan offensive line is in question with a new right guard, Quinn Oseland being brought in from Minnesota, which should help.
On the defensive side, they only allowed 2.7 yards per carry against Northern Colorado, but Northern Colorado’s top two backs had a field day, rushing 29 times for 110 yards.



Rivalry game 11/30/19 12:00 PM PST against UNR in Reno

The Scouting Report shows the Wolfpack of Nevada-Reno bringing back a bevy of offensive talent with starting running back Toa Taua (5-8 220lbs) back in the fold. He had 872 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2018 and is described by others as physical and elusive. He created the most missed tackles among Mountain West backs (0.26) ranking 10th in the nation among freshman. He even caught 22 passes out of the backfield for 202 yards and a touchdown. Taua had 12 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown in his first game of the 2019 season against Purdue. He was also the leading receiver in the game, hauling in 8 receptions for 64 yards. Their primary slot receiver, Kaleb Fossum, (5-9 185 lbs) hauled in 70 passes for 734 yards in 2018. As Head Coach Jay Norvell said, his team runs an air-raid offense, and redshirt freshman quarterback, Carson Strong, is ready for that. As Silver and Blue Sports noted, Strong is an accurate quarterback who threw for 2,732 yards, 26 touchdowns, and four interceptions in 10 games as a junior in high school (Will C. Wood in Vacaville, CA). Strong was injured as a senior. Strong was very clutch in helping the Wolfpack beat BIG10 opponent, Purdue, 30-51 for 295 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first start at home against the Boilermakers. He impressed by throwing several accurate passes that his wide receivers could not haul in. Yet he threw a perfect pass in stride to Elijah Cooks (6’4”, 215 pounds) to tie the game at 31 a piece. He looked clutch in the pocket which led to the game-winning, 56-yard field goal by Brandon Talton, to take the win 34-31, after trailing 31-14. Quarterback Carson Strong can also punt, as he punted four times for the Wolfpack, landing three inside the 20-yard line in their first game of the season. The offense also brings back Jake Nelson (6’4″, 300 pounds), who is ranked as the second best pass blocking tackle in all of the Mountain West. Their defense also showed against the Boilermakers as senior defensive back Daniel Brown (5’10”, 180 pound) hauled in an interception, leading to a game-winning field goal for the Wolf Pack.


Buy UNLV Tickets