UNLV vs San Diego State  WWJD      
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

New UNLV Football Preview – UNLV vs San Diego State – Week 1

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UNLV (0-0) vs San Diego State (0-0) – Week 1

 

UNLV kicks off their season with a game at San Diego State.

 

The Mountain West Conference is officially back, and that means UNLV football is back. First-year coach Marcus Arroyo and the Rebels look forward to playing their first game on Saturday at San Diego State. It’s the anxious debut for Coach Arroyo that has fans really excited.

The Rebels come into the season looking to improve on their 4-8 record last season. The Aztecs went 10-3 last year and will look to have a repeat of last season, even with a new coach and offensive coordinator.  Although this season, which was initially not supposed to happen, will be one like we have never seen before, it is the start of a new chapter for UNLV football that will get started with a game against the Aztecs Saturday.

 

First things first… Who will be the Rebels starting quarterback?

 

 

UNLV Football Preview
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

A big question for the Rebels is who is going to be the starting quarterback on Saturday. In a press conference on Monday, Coach Arroyo said that they had not named a starting quarterback yet. It is a competition between three young men that will most likely continue into the season based on matchups and play quality.

One of the possible starters, Kenyon Oblad, born and raised in Nevada, started 9 games for the Rebels last season. He threw for 2,081 yards with 18 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Max Gilliam, a senior who started 7 games back in 2018 for the Rebels, did not play a snap last season. Lastly, Justin Rogers is a sophomore transfer from Texas Christian University that many fans are anxious to see. Kenyan Oblad threw for 255 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Rebels last season against the Aztecs.

Over the past few years on offense, UNLV has relied heavily on the ground game. Going from running back Lexington Thomas to now the starting running back for the Rebels, Charles Williams. Although they still plan to lean on Williams heavily, the Rebels are hoping Coach Arroyo can come in and bring a spark to the passing game.

The former offensive coordinator for the Oregon Ducks has worked with Justin Herbert the past few years, and he eventually became the 6th overall pick by the Los Angeles Chargers. It won’t be easy for the Rebels as top receivers Mekhi Stevenson and Randal Grimes were missing on the first depth chart. Grimes had 121 yards and a touchdown vs. San Diego State last season.

A big reason for the running game’s success in the past few years is the strong offensive line play that the Rebels have had. That should continue this year as UNLV is returning 4 starting offensive lineman from last season. They will have an experienced, physical group blocking for Charles Williams and protecting whoever is the back there taking snaps. The offense will be put to the test early as UNLV opens up with San Diego State, projected to have one of the top defenses in the Mountain West, led by a strong defensive front.

 

 

Saturday will be a battle of two new head coaches.

 

UNLV vs San Diego State       
Photo Credit: UNLV Football/Lucas Peltier

Like UNLV, San Diego State also comes into this season with a new head coach in Brady Hoke. Hoke, the former head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, is back for his second stint with the Aztecs. San Diego State also will also have a new quarterback for the 2020 season. Carson Baker looks to lead the Aztecs while quarterback transfer Lucas Johnson from Georgia Tech could get some snaps as well. Baker played one game last season for the Aztecs.

For the SDSU, the defense is where they will win football games this year. They won 10 games last season, holding opponents to 12 points per game. This defensive unit has a chance to be among the best in the Mountain West as they have 7 returning starters from last season. It starts with their presence upfront. They are getting two big defensive linemen back who earned Mountain West All-League honors a year ago. Sophomore Cameron Thomas received first-team All-Mountain West, and Keshawn Banks received second-team All-Mountain West.

The Aztecs will be without stud linebacker Kyahva Tezino as he went into the draft after this past season. Still, with Tariq Thompson back deep for the 4th straight season, this defense could not only be one of the toughest to play in the Mountain West but in all of college football.

 

 

UNLV looks to start the Arroyo era with an upset win. 

 

UNLV vs San Diego State       
Photo Credit: UNLV Football/Lucas Peltier

Last season, the Aztecs defeated the Rebels 20-17 at Sam Boyd Stadium. UNLV has been able to battle and play the Aztecs tough the last few seasons, although they have not won at San Diego State since 2000. They will look to change that on Saturday and pull off the upset. The Rebels come into the season looking to improve on their 4-8 record from last year’s campaign. The Aztecs, who went 10-3 last year, will look to have a repeat of last season, even with a new coach and offensive coordinator.

It will be an interesting game to watch as both teams will be seeing coaches and possibly quarterbacks in action for the first time. It could be difficult to prepare. It could be a work in progress on the offensive side from both teams at the beginning. A key to the game for the Rebels is to make Carson Baker uncomfortable early on. To do that, they will need to establish a pass rush, which hasn’t been easy for UNLV in previous years.

Kolo Uasike keens to being the leader of the group. This game could come down to whichever offense can find their groove the quickest. It is yet to be determined who the starting quarterback will be for the Rebels, but a battle of young quarterbacks and new head coaches should be a great battle to kick off the season.

 

 

You can watch the Rebels take on the Aztecs on CBS Sports Network with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 PM.

 

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-Jarrett Thompson – Franchise Sports Media

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