Saturday, April 8, 2023 | 6:10 p.m.
It was a defense-first kind of day at the UNLV football spring showcase on Saturday, and that was more than fine with new head coach Barry Odom.
In the days leading up to the scrimmage, Odom said he wanted to see both sides of the ball play well. But given his defensive background, he had a hard time hiding his excitement after watching his crew come away with six interceptions in 11-on-11 play.
The scrimmage featured four quarters and a halftime, with referees and continuous down-and-distance situations, simulating a real game. Quarterbacks wore black jerseys that prohibited them from being tackled, but the rest of the contest featured full contact.
The defense controlled play for most of the afternoon at Allegiant Stadium. In addition to snagging six picks, they held UNLV’s quarterbacks below a 50% completion rate on the day.
Odom practically beamed after the game when asked about the new-look D.
“Defensively, I thought we played smart. We’ll evaluate the film, but it seemed to me we played really fast,” Odom said. “On the back end, secondary-wise, they made some plays, competitive balls. It was good to see.”
Junior cornerback Jett Elad, a juco transfer from Garden City Community College in Kansas, was the star in the defensive backfield with a pair of interceptions. Junior corner Dordyn Morgan, freshman safety Cameren Jenkins, junior corner Johnathan Baldwin and senior safety Davone Walden each recorded picks of their own.
With the coverage sticking tight, it proved to be a tough day for UNLV’s quarterbacks.
Presumptive starter Doug Brumfield got the ball first Saturday, but his initial drive went three-and-out. His second drive ended when he was flushed from the pocket on third down, rolled to his left and lofted a pass down the sideline; Elad stepped inside the intended receiver for an easy interception.
Brumfield, a junior, directed seven drives but never got into a rhythm. He completed 6-of-16 passes for 100 yards, with zero touchdowns and two interceptions.
Junior Harrison Bailey fared better in his six drives, hitting 10-of-18 passes for 169 yards with two TDs and an interception. Redshirt freshman Jayden Maiava got five drivers and went 11-of-21 for 151 yards, with no touchdowns and three picks.
Junior Cameron Friel quarterbacked three drives and failed to complete any of his three passes with a sack.
Odom didn’t put too much stock in his quarterbacks’ rocky stat lines.
“I think No. 1, we’ve got to protect the ball,” Odom said. “We can win with our quarterback room. I don’t doubt that at all.”
Despite the uneven passing game, junior receiver Jacob De Jesus cemented himself as one of the breakout players of the spring by catching 10 balls for 136 yards and a touchdown.
De Jesus, a 5-foot-7 juco transfer from Modesto Junior College in California, showed good run-after-catch ability, especially on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Bailey in the fourth quarter. After hauling in a 27-yard strike down the seam on the previous play, De Jesus caught a short target, made his defender miss and turned the corner for the score.
De Jesus said he’s still getting acclimated to the speed of the Division I game, but he looks to be a good fit in an offense that can get him the ball in space.
“Even though I’m small, I use my quickness to my advantage to get open on routes,” De Jesus said.
De Jesus continued his big day after the final whistle by getting down on one knee and proposing to his girlfriend on the field — with the help of teammates, who held up signs that said “Will you marry me?” She said yes.
Junior receiver Ricky White didn’t gain a fiancée, but he enjoyed a productive game in his own right, hauling in five passes for 100 yards and a touchdown.
The starting offensive line was comprised of junior Marcus Miller at left tackle, junior Jalen St. John at left guard, senior Jack Hasz at center, senior Amani Trigg-Wright at right guard and junior Tiger Shanks at right tackle. Odom said he liked what he saw when it came to the run game, as five running backs got carries and combined for 170 yards on 4.1 yards per attempt.
“I felt like our offensive line, the guys we had going with the 1’s today, there was a push there. We were able to run the ball,” he said.
Junior running back Andrew Wimmer checked in as the leading rusher with 50 yards on 14 carries. Junior Spencer Briggs put up 44 yards on eight carries, while senior Jordan Younge-Humphrey rushed eight times for 33 yards and a touchdown.