Photo Credit: UNLV AthleticsTwitter

 

Game Preview: UNLV vs. Hawaii – Week 8

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UNLV (0-5) vs. Hawaii (3-4) – Week 8

 

The Rebels travel to Hawaii after a week off to face the Rainbow Warriors.

 

 

UNLV did not play last week in what was supposed to be their final home game of the season against Boise State because of a Covid outbreak. That was the second game for UNLV that was canceled this season, so, therefore, they come into the game with a record of 0-5. For Hawaii, they haven’t had any games canceled but are coming off a 35-24 loss to undefeated San Jose State; a game that saw the ‘Bows trail 21-0 before rallying to make it an 11-point contest. They are seventh in the Mountain West with a record of 3-4.

 

UNLV can look at this game as a chance to get their offense going.

 

UNLV vs Hawaii
Photo Credit: Gaming Today

A big weak spot for the Rebels has been the offense. UNLV is averaging 16.6 points per game, which is the seventh lowest in NCAA football. Max Gilliam has started every game this season for the Rebels and has thrown for 599 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions. However, last game, freshman quarterback Doug Brumfield came in and got some playing time. He completed four of his eight pass attempts, threw for 93 yards, and ran in one of the Rebels’ two touchdowns.

The reason for optimism for this Rebels offense going into the season was the running game. UNLV has always been dependent on the run and behind Charles Williams, it should be no different. This year has been difficult for the senior. He is only averaging 3.7 yards per carry and has two touchdowns. A part of that, however, does come from the fact that UNLV has played most of each game behind against the opposition, meaning they have to rely more on the passing game in an attempt to comeback. UNLV has been out-gained and out-rushed in every game this season.

UNLV has lost five straight under Head Coach Marcus Arroyo, who is yet to notch his first victory on the Rebel sidelines. Their most recent game was a 45-14 loss to Wyoming. In that game, they allowed 399 total rushing yards. They are allowing 250.4 rushing yards per game. They allow 38 points per game. They will be playing a Hawaii team that relies heavily on their offense and has for years.

Except this time, the Rainbow Warriors have turned to a ground-oriented attack featuring quarterback keeper runs mixed in with their traditional Run-N-Shoot schemes.

Quarterback Chevan Cordero appeared in the game at Sam Boyd Stadium a year ago, splitting with Cole McDonald who later got drafted into the NFL. Cordero has thrown for 1695 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions. But he has given defenses fits with his legs, proven by his 362 yards on 96 carries and five rushing touchdowns. His best run-based performance came in the season opener against Fresno State where he rumbled his way to 13 carries, 116 yards, an average of 8.9 yards a carry and two touchdowns. He has progressively gotten better each week of the season. Two weeks ago, Hawaii upset Nevada giving the Wolf Pack their first loss of the season in which became the Rainbow Warriors’ biggest victory of the season. That 2020 outing was nearly reminiscent of the 2010 Nevada-Hawaii contest that ruined the then No. 19 ranked Wolf Pack’s unbeaten pursuit.

 

The Rebels will look to gain momentum going into next season.

 

 

UNLV vs Hawaii
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

No player or fan of the Rebels wants to finish the season with a record of 0-6. It will obviously be disappointing for everyone. However, they would like to play well in the final game to keep momentum and positivity heading into the offseason and then the following season. It is a process, and the Rebels will look to continue to get better and better each week.

Hawaii is usually playing in games that are shootouts and high scoring, with four of its games in that variety this season. If the Rebels’ offense can be consistent, it could be another one of those games. Last year, Hawaii beat UNLV by a score of 21-7 at Sam Boyd Stadium. UNLV has kept three of their last four games played close at some point in the second half but failed to finish the games off strong. They will look for that to change come Saturday.

 

        Sin City/Island connections 

 

Hawaii is not one to hit the state of Nevada on the recruiting trail, but the ‘Bows did dip into Vegas powerhouse Centennial High to land defensive lineman Jonah Laulu for the 2018 class. The Rebels also offered, but Laulu signed with UH for the early signing period of the ’18 cycle. This season, the 6-foot-6, 280-pound Laulu has collected 22 tackles (14 solo), 5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. His best game was a six-tackle evening in Laramie against Wyoming. (Side Note: FSM’s Joe Arrigo coached Laulu at Centennial and walked with him on the Bulldogs Senior Night. The two still have a close relationship.)

On UNLV’s side, the Rebels‘ offensive line features Hawaiian Leif Fautanu, who starred at University Laboratory School in Honolulu. Like Laulu, the Rebs and ‘Bows represented his only Mountain West scholarship opportunities but instead chose to join the 2019 class at UNLV. The 6-foot-2, 320-pounder has seen action in four games this season.

 

    Series history

 

Hawaii and UNLV have met 29 times. The Rainbow Warriors lead the series 17-12 and are currently on a two-game winning streak against their MWC West Division rival.

Last year, the ‘Bows escaped with a 21-7 win, which saw UH score a touchdown in the second, third and fourth quarter after surrendering the game’s opening TD. Cole McDonald used his legs and scored two rushing scores while Cortez Diaz returned a 43-yard interception past the goal line. Returning UH receiver Jared Smart caught nine passes for 106 yards against UNLV.

 

The UNLV Rebels travel to play the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors on Saturday at 8:00 PM. You can watch the game on the TEAM1SPORTS app on your mobile device.

 

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-Jarret Thompson – Franchise Sports Media              

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