College Football Preview: The 2015 UNLV Rebels
UNLV Rebels Preview
2014 Record: 2-11
The UNLV Rebels turn to high school coach Tony Sanchez to resurrect a struggling program.
Overview: Tony Sanchez makes the move from national power Bishop Gorman Catholic where he was 85-5 to a UNLV program that has seldom won more then a few games and have their backs against the wall once again in 2015.
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Offense: Blake Decker will be under center in 2015 after throwing for 2,886 yards with 15 TD’s and 18 INT’s on 57.6%. The numbers were obviously not great but he was under a lot of pressure and was sacked 34 times as he hung on to the ball too long and receivers didn’t get open. Leading receiver Devonte Boyd (64-973) returns along with Kendal Keys (24-310) and Anthony Williams (24-234) to give Decker a few targets. Decker was the Rebels best runner with 566 yards with Keith Whitely (118-504) averaging around 4.3 yards per touch with pass catching ability as well. Three starters are gone on the line including All MWC LG Brett Boyko.
Defense: The defensive line was almost wiped clean by graduation with just two of the top seven which makes Sonny Sanitoa and his four TFL and 2.5 sacks the leader with not a lot of proven backups to come in and provide immediate help. The linebacking crew is loaded with six players recording at least 23 tackles. Tau Lotulelei is the gem of this group with a team high 72.5 stops in 2014 including 10.5 TFL and three sacks which might be hard to duplicate if the guys up front don’t provide help. Safeties Peni Vea and Kenny Keys give the secondary some bite with reserves from 2014 getting a chance to fill vacancies so if this ‘D’ can improve on their 38 points allowed it’s a positive step.
Special Teams: Logan Yunker averaged 40.5 yards on 81 punts but few were returned while Jonathan Leiva and Nicolai Bornand were 15-21 on field goals. The return game is a wash and needs somebody for all position with Keith Whitely perhaps getting a shot at the return jobs.
Outlook: There is no telling if the hiring of Sanchez pays dividends now or later but 2015 certainly will see far more losing then winning.