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UNLV Football vs Vanderbilt

Steve Marcus

UNLV quarterback Doug Brumfield (2) is sacked by Vanderbilt defensive back BJ Diakite (33) during the first half of a NCAA football game at Allegiant Stadium Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023.

There is no quarterback controversy for UNLV football.

Head coach Barry Odom made that clear during his Monday press conference, when he announced that junior Doug Brumfield is still the team’s No. 1 quarterback and will start Saturday at UTEP — provided he is healthy.

Quarterback questions percolated following Saturday’s dramatic home win against Vanderbilt. Brumfield was knocked out of that contest in the first quarter after taking a big hit, and redshirt freshman Jayden Maiava took over and played well the rest of the way, posting 261 passing yards and a touchdown.

Maiava also overcame a late interception to lead a game-winning field-goal drive in the closing seconds.

Despite Maiava’s heroics, Odom said he is not inclined to consider a change atop the depth chart.

“If he’s healthy, he’s our starting quarterback,” Odom said of Brumfield.

The UNLV offense performed noticeably better in Maiava’s limited time at the helm. In the first two games, Brumfield completed 21-of-37 passes (56.8%) for a combined 186 yards with no touchdowns and one interception, and he didn’t seem to be on track for a much better line against Vanderbilt, as he completed 2-of-4 passes for 15 yards and an interception before the hit that sent him to the sideline.

One of Brumfield’s incompletions was picked off and returned for a touchdown by Vanderbilt cornerback Martel Hight.

Maiava’s accuracy was comparable at 57.6% (19-of-33), and he also made a big mistake, throwing an interception in the final minute that set up Vanderbilt for a potential go-ahead field goal. Maiava did a better job of capitalizing on big-play opportunities, however. Late in the fourth quarter, he hit Jacob De Jesus deep for a 48-yard touchdown, and on the final drive he connected with Ricky White on another 48-yard scoring strike before Jose Pizano’s game-winning kick.

Brumfield was named the starter before spring practice and has carried that designation through the offseason. That was a breath of fresh air for a program that has fostered instability at the quarterback position for the better part of three decades. The last UNLV quarterback to start every game in a regular season was Jon Denton in 1996.

Brumfield managed to start the first six games in 2022 before a back injury forced him to miss a month.

Odom said Brumfield is suffering from sore ribs and a sore hip. He was limited in Monday’s practice, but is expected to be ready for Saturday’s game.

“He was very limited today,” Odom said. “I think we’ll see steady improvement each day, and hopefully before the end of the week we’ll get him in position to play really well.”

If Brumfield does suffer a setback, either in practice or during the game, the team can at least feel confident in Maiava’s ability to step in and run the offense. The Liberty High product has built a rapport with his receivers and appears to have a firm grasp of the go-go system installed by offensive coordinator Brennan Marion (Maiava also scored a 25-yard touchdown on an option run against Vanderbilt).

White, who had a monster game against Vanderbilt with 12 receptions for 161 yards, said he’s comfortable catching passes from either quarterback.

“I feel like there’s no fall-off between our QBs, really,” White said. “Jayden is young, but he’s also mature at the QB position. I feel I have the same chemistry I do with Doug, with Jayden.”

Odom believes the team’s success will depend on more than just the quarterback.

“Whoever is at quarterback, I know our guys will be excited,” Odom said. “Whoever’s playing, the 10 guys around him need to play really, really well. If we do that, we can be an efficient offense.”

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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