2022 UNLV Runnin' Rebels Preview

by Matt Fargo

UNLV Runnin' Rebels

2021-22 Season Record 2-10 (2-6 MWC West) - 8-4-0 ATS - 7-5-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 8
Defense - 8

Overview

It has been a long run of consistent losing for UNLV as there have been just two winning seasons since 2000, the last one coming in 2013. In 45 seasons of playing Division I football, the Rebels have never been ranked in the preseason or during the season which is one of the most undesirable runs in all of college football. While a ranking this season is not going to happen, UNLV should be a much improved team and it is showing that in the projected win total. Current head coach Marcus Arroyo is entering his third season with the Rebels after a 2-16 start but he has had very little experience to work with and that changes this season as they come in with the No. 16 returning production ranking while bringing back eight starters on each side of the ball. Six of their 10 losses last season were by one possession so we should see a turnaround of that, at least to a small degree.

Offense

The offense could not find any consistency last season as it scored 20 or fewer points seven times and overall, it ended up No. 112 in scoring and No. 120 in total offense yet there is upside heading into 2022. It all starts at quarterback and the Rebels could have a good one in place as Harrison Bailey comes over from Tennessee and he is an upgrade even with his limited action with the Volunteers where he completed 68 percent of his passes in seven games. His success, as well as the success of the offense as a whole will come down to the offensive line that was not good in any regard last season. They finished No. 116 in rushing offense with 109.8 ypg on 3.3 ypc while allowing 40 sacks which was tied for No. 119 and four starters return to block for a new group of backs. The receiving corps lost its top pass catcher but there are plenty of options with a lot of depth.

Defense

The defense was weak on all three levels last season but there is good experience coming back as a ton of underclassmen got playing time and the unit is ranked No. 10 in the country in returning production. In the two victories, the defense allowed 30 points combined but allowed 24 or more points in every other game and that needs to improve in a hurry. It was the best defense in four years but it just shows how bad it was previous to 2021 as the Rebels ended up No. 89 in total defense and No. 108 in scoring defense. While the offense gave up too many sacks, the defense could not generate any as they had only 22 on the season and a new look defensive line hopes to generate more of a push. The linebacking trio of Brennon Scott, Kyle Beaudry and Austin Ajiake will help out as well and is the strength of the defense. The secondary was lit up but three of the four starters are back.

2022 Season Outlook

UNLV football has never been relevant and that will not change this season but this is one of the better rosters they have had and the addition of Bailey at quarterback could be the missing part they have lacked for years. Arroyo was a great offensive coordinator at Oregon for three years before coming here and if they can find that missing consistency, this could be a fun team to watch as the season goes along. They have the ability to get off to a quick start with five winnable games in their first six even with two of those being on the road. The conference slate is not horrible as they do have to travel to Utah St. and San Diego St. but get Air Force and Fresno St. at home. A trip to Notre Dame is part of a late four-game stretch against teams that had at least 10 wins last season. The O/U win total is set at 4.5 and it attainable early if it takes care of business where it needs to. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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