College Football Preview: The 2014 UNLV Rebels
UNLV shoots for consecutive postseason appearances in 2014.
2014 College Football Preview
The UNLV Rebels hope to survive academic woes with an eye on a second straight Bowl invitation.
Overview: The Rebels have plenty of experience and depth in what is Bobby Hauck's best team heading to his 5th season. However, the team's APR score is close to landing them in Bowl ban territory so the best team UNLV has had in a long time might not be rewarded with a postseason berth.
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Offense: QB Caleb Herring threw for over 2,700 yards and ran for another 500+ yards to give the offense a productive threat in the air and on the ground. However, Herring is gone and Nick Sherry who was thought to be the signal caller in 2013 before an awful performance versus Arizona gave him a year long seat on the bench. He appears to be in line for another shot as the starter if he can fend of former Brigham Young walk on Blake Decker. With Herring and RB Tim Cornett gone the rushing attack loses close to 1,800 yards and will need Shaquille Murray-Lawrence (47-418) to carry the rushing game. Devante Davis (87-1307) and Marcus Sullivan (45-505) return as the two top targets in the air while the O-Line returns the top six including All MWC LT Brett Boyko.
Defense: The defensive line needs a boost with four of the top eight players that saw action in all 13 game departing. This unit needs improvement against both the pass and run which is imperative with most of the linebacking crew wiped out by graduation. Three of the top four linebackers are gone with Tau Lotulelei the top player back with 22.5 tackles. As thin as the front seven are, the secondary is completely loaded with experience with SS Peni Vea leading the team with 88 tackles. This group is missing one of their top 14 meaning there is adequate depth to turn to. CB Kenneth Perry defensed 18 passes in 2013 while corner Tajh Hasson defensed eleven and forced four fumbles.
Special Teams: Punter Logan Yunker averaged just under 42 yards while the Rebels need a placekicker and punt returner. Marcus Sullivan and Keith Whitely will bring back kicks with the latter likely to return punts for another year.
Outlook: Things could be great if the defense proves to be at least adequate especially with the front seven. A decent effort under center and the Rebels appear set unless academic sanctions derail what could be a solid 2014.