UNLV football preview: offense
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We are just a month away from opening kickoff for UNLV Football. On Aug. 30 at 8 pm, we line up to face Minnesota on a nationally televised game to kick off the new college football season.
The athletic department is generating a buzz for our football team with the motto: “Scarlet and Grey, Every day.” This was released with pictures of our new helmet design that has the team’s look returning to the roots of UNLV Football.
Longtime supporters of the team will immediately notice the new red and white racing stripes and UNLV logo across the helmet. This is the first time since 1989 that either of these has been featured on the helmet.
The helmets aren’t the only change though, as we will have new jerseys to go along with the helmets.
Head coach Bobby Hauck will be hoping that the fresh, new uniforms will translate to even better play on the field. This is now Hauck’s third year coaching the program and the majority of the team is now players that he recruited.
The culture of the team was changed during his first two years here. When he took the job, he said success wouldn’t come overnight, but now is the time we will start seeing his vision come to fruition.
I want to focus on the offense, and provide a preview of how the team is shaping up. With eight returning starters on the offensive side of the ball, we will depend on a strong running came led by Tim Cornett and much improved quarterback play.
The key to having a successful season this year is quarterback play. Last year, Caleb Herring started the year off nicely, but had his confidence and body shaking against Southern Utah. It was evident to anyone after that game that Herring was just off.
While he had a very erratic end to the season, he has gotten noticeably bigger, and appears to be back fully healthy and ready to lead the Rebels to its first winning season since 2000.
His primary competition through camp will be red shirt freshman Nick Perry. He was signed last year after originally committing to Colorado.
He towers over his peers and looks the part of a starting quarterback, standing 6’5” and 240 lbs, and has a rocket for an arm.
He is familiar with the playbook as well, after spending the entire season red shirted and learning behind Herring. Herring will be given every opportunity to hold on to the starting role, with Perry available as a more-than-capable backup.
From there our offense’s strength will be running the ball. The team returns eight starters on that side of the ball, including the entire offensive line. They took their bumps and bruises early, but really came on at the end of the year, making huge holes for the running game despite an inept passing game.
This is where we figure to have the most success with Cornett. Last year, he averaged over six yards per carry despite our offense being in the bottom five in passing efficiency in the country. This year, expect Cornett to break the one thousand yard mark, being the first Rebel to do so since Dominick Dorsey.
Our receiving groups is young and untested, with the departures of Phillip Payne and Michael Johnson leaving huge voids. The group has tons of speed, though, and should be able to make plays with the ball in their hands.
The receivers will be led by sophomore Marcus Sullivan, who is coming off of a red shirt and ready to show off the speed and quickness he displayed in 2010. He will be joined by Devante Davis and Taylor Spencer.
To round outy the offense, the offensive line is ready to make a big contribution and win the game in the trenches. They are led by the big Canadian and 2nd team Freshman All-American Brent Boyko. He also has received preseason all MWC honors, the only UNLV player to do so.
As a freshman, he started all 12 games and figured to be a big part in protecting whoever lines up under center. That center is sophomore Robert Waterman, who didn’t allow a sack after taking over the position late in the year.
Stay tuned for next week where we’ll break down the defense and what to expect from them. The players will be headed up to Ely to begin their fall football camp at the end of the week. When they return we will keep you posted and updated on practice times and if they are open to the public, leading up to our kickoff versus Minnesota.