UNLV vs Southern Utah

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With Southern Utah University Head Football Coach Demario Warren coming off of a disappointing 1-10 season in 2018 after going 9-3 in 2017, the team is looking to rebound. They have a new defensive coordinator in Brandon Fisher, as they allowed more than 540 yards per game in 2018. Fisher was the Los Angeles Rams secondary coach in 2016, and he helped guide the unit to a top-ten ranking that year. It will take a while for the Thunderbird defense to adjust as with any coaching change. UNLV will look to take advantage of their new starting ‘X’ receiver, Randal Grimes, as he looks like a receiver that third-year quarterback, Armani Rogers, is going to be counting on–not just in this game but this season.

The FSM Essential Game Preview  - UNLV vs Southern Utah

Speedy slot-receiver, Tyleek Collins (5’9″, 170 lbs.) will also be key for the Rebels. He had 422 yards with 6 touchdowns in 2018. Grimes might be Armani‘s favorite target, but don’t forget about Collins, who is expected to have an even bigger year in 2019. Another player, senior wide receiver, Darren Woods, (6’0″ 215 lb.) will look to lead the group as he has the most experience. Woods had 355 reception yards and 5 touchdowns in 2018. Look for Armani Rogers to get a quick confidence booster in this game and have himself a game. The Thunderbird secondary is weak and does not have great depth across the board.

 

The Thunderbirds also allowed roughly 41 points per game as well as 540 yards. They only had ten sacks in all of 2018 so Armani Rogers‘s pocket should stay clean as UNLV only allowed four sacks in his last three games in 2018 as the Rebels return all five starters up-front on the offensive line.

Even with a weak Southern Utah defense, the Rebels should not take them for granted as former Freshman All-American defensive back Jalen Russell returns. He had three interceptions and was very good coverage during his freshman year. In his sophomore year, he broke up seven passes and forced a fumble. Their defensive line also features a couple of players (Lehi Afatasi and Watson Asi) who had 2.5 sacks a piece, tied for the team-high. Former 24/7 Sports four-star defensive tackle and local product, Greg Rogers (Arbor View High School), also transferred in from UCLA but will not play against the Rebels.

The FSM Essential Game Preview  - UNLV vs Southern UtahCharles Williams (5’9” 190-lbs), the Rebels’ starting running back after Lexington Thomas was lost to graduation, is looking to be the every-down back that he knows he can be. He had a strong 2018, rushing for 332 yards on 65 attempts. In 2016, he ran for 763 yards on 141 attempts. With the defense he is facing, he is determined to show that. New offensive coordinator, Garin Justice, will be determined to rest his players if the game turns into a blowout as he said he will not play key starters if he doesn’t need to. He doesn’t need to as his running back depth is at least three-deep this season.

The Rebels also know they cannot take Southern Utah University lightly as they had a historic point-spread loss to Howard a couple of seasons ago. Most of the players on the Rebel roster were involved in that game, and even though it is a 24-point spread in favor of UNLV, the players know that they cannot take anyone lightly.

 

The Thunderbirds also return a quality starting quarterback in Chris Helbig who threw for over 1,000 yards in 2018 completing just over 50% of his passes for 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. With starting running back Jay Green Jr. out for the first game for SUU, James Felila takes over. He ran for 260 yards on 53 carries and a touchdown in 2018, while also 699 yards in 2017 and 8 touchdowns. He is experienced, being a redshirt junior and hauling in 25 passes over his three years for 38 yards. He is not much of receiving a threat but he can catch, so the Rebels will need to look for that. The key here for the Rebels is to stop Helbig, but with starting cornerbacks Jericho Flowers and Myles Plummer (now seniors) and Drew Tejchman (now a full-time safety) it should be no problem. Especially with Vic Viramontes, a big-time recruit out of Riverside Community College, and junior-Farrell Hester clogging up the middle and Nick Dedashtian and Nate Neal on the outside.
The FSM Essential Game Preview  - UNLV vs Southern Utah

This game will also give the Rebel fans their first look at middle linebacker, Vic Viramontes, wide receiver, Randal Grimes, defensive back, Aaron Lewis, and several other players. This roster is DEEP and fans will get their first look at that. Fans will also see a new person calling the offense after Barney Cotton had to take a leave of absence as he awaits a new heart. That person will be former run-game coordinator Garin Justice, as he takes double-duty as the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. Fans  are excited as they anticipate a blowout, but as the players said, they’re not taking anything for granted and are coming at the Thunderbirds full force.

 

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