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UNLV Rebels quarterback Doug Brumfield (2) makes a touchdown run in double overtime during the second half of an NCAA college football game against the Eastern Washington Eagles at Allegiant Stadium Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, in Las Vegas.

Time is running out for UNLV football.

The program is desperate to log its first win under head coach Marcus Arroyo, but after Friday’s 51-20 beatdown at UNR there are only four games remaining on the schedule. If the scarlet and gray are going to avoid their second straight winless season, it better happen soon.

Like this week, perhaps, when they head to Albuquerque to take on a beatable New Mexico squad.

The Lobos are 3-5 on the season and still riding high off their first conference victory, a road triumph at Wyoming on Oct. 23. New Mexico enjoyed a bye this weekend, so UNLV will surely be facing the best possible version of the Lobos on Saturday afternoon.

Still, this figures to be Arroyo’s last best chance to get a win this year. UNLV is a 1.5-point underdog, and it’s hard to imagine them getting a more favorable matchup the rest of the way, with home games against Hawaii and San Diego State and a road finale at Air Force looming.

UNLV’s efforts will be aided if Doug Brumfield is able to suit up on Saturday, but the sophomore quarterback is still dealing with a back injury that has kept him sidelined since Sept. 24.

Brumfield was in uniform against UNR and went through pregame warmups, but the lanky lefty is still not up to game speed.

Even with this game possibly representing the last parachute on a plane nosediving toward 0-18, Arroyo said he’s not going to put Brumfield into a game situation until he’s fully healthy.

“The biggest thing is he’s got to be 100 percent,” Arroyo said. “You’ve got to be able to evaluate a guy full speed.”

That’s doubly important for Brumfield, a 6-foot-5 lefty who relies on mobility and moving outside the pocket.

So while Brumfield has been a limited participant in practice and was able to warm up prior to the UNR contest, Arroyo wants to see him running around in practice before inserting him into live game action.

“Hopefully we get to the point where we can say OK, Doug’s moving full speed and can adapt to all the stuff we’re going to ask him to do,” Arroyo said. “That’s what I’m really waiting for is to see him go 100 percent. He hasn’t been 100 percent yet.”

Brumfield has started two games this season and appeared in three, but he has yet to play a full game in his college career. He has completed 17-of-39 passes for 320 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Cameron Friel has taken on the No. 1 quarterback role in Brumfield’s absence and shown some flashes, but the true freshman has endured rough stretches.

Las week was a particularly tough outing. Friel completed 27-of-41 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns, but he was intercepted three times — with two of the picks being returned for touchdowns.

“He took it on the chin,” Arroyo said. “To throw three picks in a game, as a true freshman they’re going to have some like that. You’re going to have a hurdle. You’re going to get banged up. He’s banged up and fighting through it. I didn’t flinch for a second in regards to keeping him in and getting through it.”

Not only did Arroyo not consider removing Friel against UNR, the coach actually dialed up passing plays after the interceptions to show Friel how much faith he had in the youngster.

“I made sure we did that because you need to throw him right back in the fire,” Arroyo said. “That’s part of his position and I thought he did a good job bouncing back.”

Whether Brumfield is able to win the job back in practice or Friel gets another start, whoever gets the nod will have to perform against one of the best pass defenses in the Mountain West. Under defensive coordinator Rocky Long, the Lobos rank 20th nationally in passer rating allowed (119.1) and 31stin passing yards per game allowed.

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at

Article written by #LasVegasSun


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