WWJD: 2019 UNLV Football

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2019 UNLV Football   2019 UNLV Football   2019 UNLV Football   2019 UNLV Football

UNLV is coming off their first-ever win against an SEC football opponent after defeating Vanderbilt 34-10 Saturday. The win couldn’t have come at a better time for UNLV head coach Tony Sanchez, his staff, and his players. The Rebels were 1-4 having lost 4 straight games and in danger of letting the season go off the rails…

A change started at halftime of the Boise St. game a week earlier.

Coach Sanchez moved offensive coordinator Garin Justice from the sideline to the coach’s booth. The thought was to give coach Justice, who is also the Rebels offensive line coach, a better opportunity to see the entire field and focus on the playcalling.

A similar move took place a couple of years ago when Sanchez moved then offensive coordinator Barney Cotton to the booth after a slow start and it paid off. It also seems to have paid off for Justice. The playcalling has been much better since the move as the offense has moved up and down the field. The Rebels’ boost in scoring is also indicative of that.

Photo credit: NBC Sports

For the first time in the 2019 season, UNLV’s offense didn’t look inept. There was balance, rhythm, and the Rebels controlled the line of scrimmage all game against the Commodores. Redshirt freshman quarterback Kenyon Oblad looked great throwing for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns while going 11/16. It was the type of performance UNLV has hoped for all season out of their quarterback position.

That type of performance allowed the defense to remain fresh and in-turn they had their best game of the season.

WWJD: STAY WITH THIS FORMULA! Being able to have a balanced attack on offense has a trickle-down effect on the rest of the team. UNLV got back to the basics of who they are and it turned into a win for them.

I want to talk about the quarterback play. Oblad has shown that he can pass the ball when he has time. I never questioned that part of his game. Where I feel he needs to improve is in his pocket awareness and not panicking when he is pressured. He had jitters in his first start of the year against Boise St. but really improved last week.

If he can continue to play as he did against Vanderbilt, then UNLV has to continue playing him.

What Oblad has done is make the passing attack a facet of the offense that teams have to defend. He can make all the throws and gives the receivers a chance to become weapons and not just blockers on the outside. If Oblad stays clean, upright, and doesn’t let the moment get too big for him, he should be fine. There is nothing wrong with a “game manager” and that’s what Oblad needs to continue to be for UNLV to win this year.

WWJD: Stay with Oblad as the starter until he shows he shouldn’t be.

Speaking of the defense, kudos to UNLV defensive coordinator Tim Skipper and his staff. They put together a masterful gameplan and executed it to perfection.

Photo credit: the Tennessean

I know, Vandy isn’t a great team and they have their own issues but Skipper’s defense still held an SEC school to 306 total yards, 10 points, and won the turnover battle 2-1 making their “Chucky turnover doll” happy. For Skipper, who has been trying to find the right mix for the Rebels since the defense has been decimated by injuries, it had to feel good to not only win but beat a close friend in Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason.

WWJD: STICK WITH IT! Skipper did a great job mixing up his rush blitzes, pressuring the quarterback, and coverages. Vandy ran away from linebacker Farrell Hester Jr. and towards RayShad Jackson, who led the way with 5 tackles and half of a sack. By continuing to pressure the quarterback it allowed the defensive backs to cover for a shorter period of time and forced the offense into bad pass attempts.

After the game, UNLV Twitter and fan forums were filled with tweets from Rebels “fans” who either want to retain or fire Tony Sanchez.

Why can’t UNLV fans take a few hours, hell a few days before being so damn negative? That’s part of the issue with the football program. There are so many damn negative people both in and around the program that continue to bring down the vibe and positive energy after a big moment.

The Rebels defeated an SEC opponent for the first time in school history. The Fertitta Football Complex is open for the team and the thing certain people focus on is the status of the head coach or to troll people on social media? REALLY?

Let’s be honest, the ONLY person that will make the decision on coach Sanchez or has any idea of what will happen after the season is UNLV Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois. No fan, alum, reporter, athlete, or staff member has any idea as to what’s going to happen after the season, even if they think they do.

Photo Credit: MountainWestConnection

 

Like one coach told me “As coaches, we only control what we can control, our team. All the media is to us is outside noise and no coach pays attention to it and if they did, they’d be doing their players and staff an injustice.”

There are 6 games left in the season. If UNLV can go 4-2 or even 5-1 they should be Bowl-bound, the staff will receive extensions and open Allegiant Stadium against Cal on August 29th, 2020.

WWJD: STFU on social media and enjoy the remainder of the season. Stop being so damn negative and root your asses off for this team at Sam Boyd Stadium or when the Rebels are on the road at Al’s Garage (in Summerlin) at the Franchise Sports Media watch party.

Lastly, I’m asking that UNLV fans, alum and supporters please keep the Dehdastian’s, UNLV defensive lineman Nick and his father Derek, in your thoughts and prayers. I’m not going to get into it, but all positive energy, vibes, well wishes, and prayers are welcome.

WWJD: I’m going to continue to pray for the Dehdashtian family, who are dear friends of mine.

 

Joe Arrigo

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2019 UNLV Football   2019 UNLV Football