UNLV Football Preview: Rebels vs Colorado State



Photo credit: the Tennessean



Tony Sanchez and his UNLV Rebels travel to Fort Collins, Colorado, to take on the Colorado State Rams on Saturday afternoon.

The Rebels must go 4-0 if they want to finish 6-6 and become Bowl eligible for the first time under Sanchez. The message from the UNLV coaching staff to the players going forward is simple, “Go 1-0 this week and every week after that.”

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Rebels come in 2-4 after a heartbreaking loss to San Diego State last week. UNLV kicker Daniel Gutierrez’s field goal attempt that would’ve tied the game hit the right upright with 38 seconds left on the clock.

The Rebels once again were led by running back Charles Williams, who had 113 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Kenyon Oblad had 255 yards through the air and two touchdowns, but most importantly, no interceptions. UNLV receiver Randal Grimes finished the day with five receptions 121 yards and a touchdown.

The Rams enter the game 3-5 after beating Fresno St. 41-31 last Saturday in Ft. Collins. Quarterback Patrick O’Brien threw for 322 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception while Running Back Marcus McElroy rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams have one of the best receivers in the Mountain West in Warren Jackson, and he didn’t disappoint vs. the Bulldogs catching nine balls for 178 yards and a touchdown.

For UNLV to come away with a victory, here is what the Rebels need to do:

Run the ball early and often

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Photo Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Williams is arguably the best running back in the Mountain West Conference and is the heartbeat of the Rebels offense. When the UNLV offense is at its best, Williams is the focal point. “The Chuck Wagon” can break off a long run or get the tough yard in short situations. He is a complete back and a threat out of the backfield in the passing game.

When things are going right for UNLV, Williams frees up Oblad and the passing game by forcing opposing defenses to play run first giving the receivers one on one coverage on the outside.

UNLV has another weapon in sophomore running back Chad Magyar. When Magyar comes in for Williams, the Rebels offense doesn’t lose a beat. He can also catch passes out the backfield, break off long runs, and get the tough yard. Magyar is also an excellent pass blocker.

UNLV needs to win the battle at the line of scrimmage and limit the Rams potent passing attack as much as possible. By running the ball effectively and efficiently, they should be able to keep control of the game.

Play a clean game

Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

 Playing a clean game will be something to keep an eye on. UNLV can not afford to turn the ball over or have stupid penalties. For the Rebels to come away with a win, they need Oblad not to throw picks and stay calm in the pocket. Last week against SDSU when on 4th and 24, he threw the best ball of the season to Grimes to pick up a huge first down. He’ll need to display more of this kind of poise.

The UNLV offensive line has played a lot better since the coaching staff shuffled it around, but they can not get called for an abundance of holding calls. If they can control the Rams up front and dominate the line of scrimmage, the Rebels should be able to not only run the ball effectively but also give Oblad time to complete passes.

Get off the field on 3rd down

UNLV needs to cash in on their “Pay Day” on 3rd down. The defense hasn’t played that bad, but they also haven’t been put in the best situations trying to defend a short field. They’ve also been in a bit of a catch 22. If they blitz, it leaves the cornerbacks in one-on-one coverage, and the Rebels have not been good defending the deep ball. If they play coverage (zone), the quarterback has all day to throw and picks them apart.


Photo credit: NBC Sports

In the SDSU game, UNLV defensive coordinator Tim Skipper did an excellent job mixing in his blitzes and disguising them as well. Gabe McCoy and RayShad Jackson each had a sack, and that allowed the corners, Jericho Flowers and Aaron Lewis, to have a solid day (with Flowers intercepting a pass).

Lewis came in for Myles Plummer, played an excellent game, and seems to have turned the corner. That’s huge since the play of Plummer has been inconsistent at best all year, and UNLV needs to have the thin cornerback group play a near-perfect game against Colorado St.

If UNLV can create an uncomfortable pocket for O’Brien, force him to rush and force some throws, and get off the field on 3rd down, UNLV could come away with a nice “Pay Day” in Fort Collins.


If you want a place to watch the game, head to Al’s Garage in Summerlin for the Franchise Sports Media UNLV Watch Party. There are multiple televisions showing all the games. Al’s has “Happy Hour” starting at 9 AM and ending at 9 PM. Al’s Garage is located at 11760 W. Charleston Boulevard, Las Vegas, Nevada 89135. The game begins at 12:30 PM PST on Saturday, November 2rd, 2019.

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