Connect with us



UNLV vs Vanderbilt: Pregame

Steve Marcus

UNLV Rebels wide receiver Jacob De Jesus (21) warms up before an NCAA football game against Vanderbilt at Allegiant Stadium Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023.

Albuquerque — 

  • What:
    UNLV at New Mexico
  • When:
    Saturday, 3 p.m.
  • Where:
    at University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.
  • TV:
    Mountain West Network, Silver State Entertainment (Cox 125, antenna 5.2)
  • Radio:
    1100AM, 100.9FM

UNLV will attempt to get back on the winning track on Saturday, when Barry Odom takes his 6-2 squad to New Mexico in a battle that has Mountain West title implications for the Scarlet and Gray.

Three keys to watch as UNLV tries to stay in the hunt:

Runing game still on track

UNLV has lost two games this season, and in both contests the offense struggled to run the ball.

The Scarlet and Gray averaged just 2.9 yards on 74 attempts against Michigan and Fresno State, while in their six wins they ran 269 times at a clip of 5.2 yards per carry. Despite the reduced production against Fresno State, Odom found a silver lining in the way they stuck with the game plan and found some traction in the fourth quarter.

“It was tough early,” he said. “They’re really good up front, in my opinion. We’ve got a good offensive line, so there were some battles there. We won some, they won some but as the game went, we were able to get some more things going.”

UNLV should have more success this week against a New Mexico front that allows 5.4 yards per carry, which is the eighth-worst mark in the entire country.

Special edge

Special teams has been a distinct advantage for UNLV this season, creating favorable field position and even producing big plays in the return game. But punt returner Jacob De Jesus committed an error against Fresno State when he got caught between fielding a punt and letting it bounce; instead it caromed off his leg, Fresno recovered and game turned.

That turnover opened the floodgates as UNLV proceeded to give away the ball four times. Odom acknowledged his team cannot survive that many miscues, but he said he’s not worried about it becoming a trend.

He still trusts De Jesus, who has been brilliant as a return man this year, to make the right play every time.

“Red-zone punt, for the returner that’s a difficult spot,” Odom said. “He’s got to make a split-second decision: Do we make it, [or] do we let it bounce and then we’re pinned inside the 10-yard line? Jacob has made a million great decisions since he’s been here. That was a bad decision. He’ll learn from it.”

Don’t be shocked if De Jesus rips off a long return at some point on Saturday and the special teams units resume their field-flipping ways.

Defend deep

UNLV is running thin in the secondary, with star cornerback Jerrae Williams having missed the last four games due to a foot injury, and now the team will likely be without senior Johnathan Baldwin for a while, too.

Baldwin suffered a leg injury against New Mexico and did not return, and Odom did not sound optimistic about a speedy recovery when he spoke to the media on Monday. The team still has big-play capability in senior Jaxen Turner (four interceptions) and junior Cameron Oliver (two interceptions), but how long can the patchwork group hold up?

Fortunately, throwing the ball is not New Mexico’s forte. The Lobos average 7.2 yards per attempt through the air and 222.0 passing yards per game, both of which rank them in the middle of the pack nationally. UNLV should have a good matchup there, even with the injuries piling up.

What: UNLV (6-2, 3-1 MWC) at New Mexico (3-5, 1-3 MWC)

When: Saturday, 3 p.m.

TV: Mountain West Network, Silver State Entertainment

Radio: 1100AM, 100.9FM

Line: UNLV -10.5

UNLV leaders


Jayden Maiava: 64.2%, 1,579 yards, 7 TDs, 4 INTs


Donavyn Lester: 377 yards, 5.1 yards per carry, 7 TDs


Ricky White: 47 receptions, 719 yards, 4 TDs


Jackson Woodard: 69 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 1 INT

New Mexico leaders


Dylan Hopkins: 58.1%, 1,638 yards, 11 TDs, 7 INTs


Jacory Croskey-Merritt: 589 yards, 5.8 yards per carry, 12 TDs


Jeremiah Hixon: 26 receptions, 336 yards, 5 TDs


Zach Morris: 27 tackles, 1 INT, 7 PDs

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

Article written by #LasVegasSun

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Us