Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021 | 2 a.m.
The UNLV football team has started the season 0-3, and is struggling to get consistent play from its quarterbacks. The Rebels have played four signal callers this season. We discuss all things UNLV football on this edition of the Rebel Room.
UNLV begins conference play on Friday, but the schedule isn’t getting any easier for the 0-3 scarlet and gray.
After losing back-to-back nonconference games to top 25 teams Arizona State and Iowa State by a combined score of 85-13, UNLV will open the Mountain West season with a road tilt at No. 22 Fresno State. The Bulldogs are 3-1 and coming off an inspiring, last-second win at No. 24 UCLA.
Even in the aftermath of consecutive blowout defeats, Marcus Arroyo likes the way his players are competing heading into league play. The second-year head coach, who is still looking for his first career victory, said there was disappointment in the locker room after each loss — a good sign that the team expected to win despite the obvious mismatches.
“There’s a resiliency about us,” Arroyo said. “I’m excited, in a weird way, that our guys are upset about not beating two Top-25 teams back to back.”
The good news for UNLV is that starting quarterback Doug Brumfield returned to practice on Monday. The sophomore suffered an injury against Arizona State and missed the Iowa State game on Saturday, but his status as a full participant in practice this week puts him on track to start at Fresno State.
Arroyo said Brumfield worked with the first team during Monday’s session and “ran around and did everything.”
“Doug practiced today, that was really good to see,” Arroyo said. “He got in the rotation with the 1’s and the hope is he’s healthy enough to go and get back in there and pick up where he left off.”
While Brumfield’s overall numbers are pedestrian (11-of-26 passing, 177 yards, no touchdowns), the UNLV offense has fared considerably better with the lanky southpaw at the controls. Two of the team’s four touchdowns this season have come via Brumfield runs, and his 6.8 yards per pass attempt dwarfs the production of the other three QBs used this season (combined 3.5 yards per attempt).
Fresno State has shown some vulnerability against rushing quarterbacks. Oregon’s Anthony Brown kept the ball 16 times for 70 yards and scored a touchdown on the ground, and UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson ran 13 times for 67 yards.
Brumfield has scrambled 15 times for 70 yards and two touchdowns, including a spectacular leap and flip into the end zone against Arizona State.
If Brumfield is unable to play at Fresno State, Arroyo said he might utilize another quarterback rotation like he did against Iowa State. In that game, freshman Cameron Friel and junior Tate Martell shuttled in and out depending on the game situation and the play call.
After facing Fresno State on Friday, UNLV will wrap up its nonconference slate with a road game at UTEP on Oct. 1. The scarlet and gray will then have a bye week before launching into the remainder of the Mountain West season, starting with a home game against Utah State on Oct. 16. UTEP and Utah State are both 3-0 on the season.
Even with the tangled quarterback situation, the brutal upcoming schedule and the lopsided defeats, Arroyo said UNLV is not going to give up on the season.
“I’m encouraged, I’m excited, I’m pissed off, I’m fired up and I’m standing right at the front of the lines with these dudes,” he said.