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UNLV Football Preview
by Matt Fargo - 08/11/2008
No. 100 UNLV Rebels
2007 Record ~ 2-10 SU ~ 5-7 ATS
Starters Returning ~ Offense (8) Defense (5)
UNLV has never had a powerhouse football program but recent times have been borderline embarrassing in Las Vegas. The Rebels have won two games in each of the last four seasons and head coach Mike Stanford is entering his fourth season which means get it done now or hit the road. Coaches usually get three years to turn things around so Stanford has been rewarded with a bonus season. Some people are saying a bowl is a possibility for the Rebels but everything must go their way.
Offensively on paper, this is a very potent team and one that should improve dramatically from last season. UNLV averaged only 18.2 ppg last year which was the worst in the MWC and it will go only as far as sophomore quarterbacks Omar Clayton and Travis Dixon can take them. They do have the best wide receiver tandem in the conference with Casey Flair and Ryan Wolfe. Four starters are back on the offensive line and Frank Summers is a bruiser in the backfield. His 240-pound frame ran for 928 yards last season.
The Rebels were actually a decent team on defense last season as they finished a respectable 62nd in the nation in total defense. However, only five starters are back and one of those lost was linebacker Beau Bell, arguably the best linebacker in school history and the 2007 MWC Defensive Player of the Year. Starr Fuimaono is a solid replacement. The defensive line will be the strength, while the secondary, which finished 22nd in passing defense a season ago, will be the weakness although the dropoff wonâ€™t be large.
The schedule could be the biggest factor is getting things moving in the right direction. Three of the four non-conference games are at home with the lone road game being at Arizona St. Following the season opener against Utah St., the Rebels travel to Utah which will be a good indicator of how far it has come or needs to go still. Three of the last four games are at home and could be the bowl eligibility decider. While it looks decent on paper, we need a few games as this could be another classic underachieving season.