UNLV Rebel Vision '21
Photo Credit: Joe Arrigo / Franchise Sports Media

FSM Presents: UNLV Football Rebel Vision ’21 – Fixing the Run Defense



Entering their second week of practice, many have speculated on the trajectory the UNLV defense is trying to take to fix some of its issues from the 2020 season. Most specifically, the issues surrounding the run defense. Last season, the Rebel defense gave up 1,657 total rushing yards all last season, averaging 255 yards a game. San Diego State, Wyoming, Fresno State and Hawaii all ran for over 200 yards against UNLV defense last year, with Wyoming doing the most damage by way of a 399-yard rushing performance at the end of the six-game season.


Rebel Vision '21
Photo Credit: JaRon Turner / Franchise Sports Media

Going into the spring practices, coach Peter Hansen emphasized his defense playing the run with more discipline and aggression. To make that happen, UNLV looked to enhance and bolster the defensive front. To do this, they turned to the transfer portal, bringing in players like Kylan Wilborn from Arizona and Connor Murphy from USC…guys who come in with great athleticism, physical prowess, and veteran experience from being in a Power 5 program.

Essentially, these two players are like true freshman recruits since the 2020 season was considered a free year by the NCAA after announcing that all players would not lose a year of eligibility for that season. 

Wilborn has been described as an “Instant leader…” by UNLV defensive coordinator Peter Hansen.He’s not a huge talker, but he leads by example….he fills those big categories we’re looking for.“. Murphy, a long and athletic defensive end, was also described by coach Hansen as an edge rusher that was longer than most guys inside the defensive line room. He is experienced in using his quickness and length to rush and play the edge of the defense.

These guys coming in shore up the defensive front as experienced edged players that can allow coach Hansen and the UNLV defense to play the run by not only adding their physical strength and body awareness to fend off blockers, but set the force (walling off the runner from getting outside the ‘box’) or spilling ( taking out blockers, so a runner is alone in space with unblocked defenders) and running plays down the sideline to sideline. They also free up the coaching staff to make impactful decisions with players’ positional movement, like Jacoby Windmon.


Last year Windmon was the Rebels’ best defender; second on the team in tackles had 6.5 tackles lost (TFL), five sacks, and two pass breakups.


Rebel Vision '21
Photo Credit: JaRon Turner / Franchise Sports Media

Over the off-season, the defensive staff decided to move Jacoby to the inside linebacker position known as the ‘will’ backer. Now he’s playing alongside experienced linebacker Farrell Hester returning as a super senior after a knee injury sidelined him all 2020. 

“We believe he has a better chance to play sideline to sideline than he did on edge, and he’s proving it..” UNLV defensive coordinator Peter Hansen told Franchise Sports Media, “Even if he doesn’t see it quite right, which is a constant work in progress with anybody new to the position, he is proving it with his athleticism.” 

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Louisiana native has impressed the UNLV coaching staff with the ability to track the ball even if he makes a slight mistake with his feet or his eye’s possibly misreading the play. Yet still being able to find and get on the ball at the end of the play. Jacoby brings a sizable athlete to the ‘will’ position that they did not have before. UNLV still has solid defenders like Farrell Hester II, Vic Viramontes, Malakai Salu, who have extensive experience from last year.

The defensive staff also moved redshirt freshman Brennon Scott as another long, lanky, and athletic linebacker, making his home on the edge. Scott, along with Wilborn, Murphy, Adam Plant Jr., and sophomore LeSaun Bell (who also got some in-game experience last year) finalizes the edge and OLB spots and givesmore depth at that position, which bolsters competition in practice.


There are some really athletic, physically capable bodies out there..” coach Hansen said, “We got to have guys that are setting the edge, we got to have guys who are rushing the passer or this defense isn’t this defense.”

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JaRon Turner – Franchise Sports Media

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