UNLV boasts a 1-6 record, with their one win coming at home against Air Force. This record is somewhat deceiving. By all accounts, UNLV is a team that is getting better, so don't look too far at that record. Notable losses are: an 8 point loss to Washington State at home, a 3 point loss at home to Minnesota in 3 overtimes, a 3 point loss at home to Northern Arizona, and a blown loss to Nevada at home. It is very possible that UNLV could have 5 wins. Watching the Washington State game, Wazzu's starting quarterback was struggling, but doing just decent enough to stay in, that is until he got a good hit on him and had to leave the game. Connor Halliday came in for the Cougs and lit up the UNLV defense. The close losses speak for themselves in the other games, but what I am saying is, watch out.
Offensively, UNLV has been a spread team in the past, and this year they are leaning more towards a traditional style of offense. UNLV will run the ball, they will use play-action and they will throw the ball vertically down field. UNLV does have weapons primarily at the skills position. UNLV quarterback Nick Sherry stands 6'5'' 240 lbs and will sling the ball around the field. Thus far, Sherry has two games with over 350 yards passing, and has three games in the respectable 240 yards range. Not bad for a freshman. Keep in mind this is a freshman with 7 starts under his belt, so he is not new to this quarterbacking business. We need to be smart about this.
Running back Tim Cornett averages 5 yards a carry and a touch over 100 yards per game. Cornett has surpassed his rushing total from last year. Look for him to get some opportunities to set up the play-action pass game later on. Wide receiver Devante Davis is 6'3'' 200 lbs. He and Marcus Sullivan are the 1-2 wide receiver punch. Sullivan stands only 5'9'' but leads the team in receptions. In order for UNLV to have hope of an upset, all four of these players must have a big game. Cornett needs more than 150 yards on the ground, and Sherry needs 375 yards through the air to pull an upset of the Broncos.
It is no secret the Bronco defense is keeping things together for this years squad. However, the team has another opportunity to build on some offensive momentum. BSU moved the ball and had plenty of opportunities to pad the lead against Fresno State, but came away with 20 points against a pretty stingy defense. Once again, it is crucial for BSU to establish the run. I really hope our staff uses play action more this game. Devotees recall that I have been calling for more play-action for a while, and I feel that way, because we have been running it very effectively. I like play action and roll outs because it gets Southwick outside the pocket and if things break down he can use his legs a little bit. Back to the running game, BSU needs (once again) over 200 yards this game. We have seen more Jay Ajayi, and I think this week will see him get carries again. I don't think Jay Ajayi will get more carries than D.J. Harper, but look for him to get meaningful carries. This is a game I see Jack Fields getting some reps. This should be a game we have enough of a cushion that some of the players that need reps should get some.
This week I forecast Southwick having just above 200 yards passing. I still don't think the coaching staff will open it wide for him. I think this is more of a crescendo thing. Southwick needs to spread the ball around a la the New Mexico game. I want him hitting 7 different receivers. That shouldn't be too tall of an order.
Defensively, what would I do to make sure UNLV does not get momentum to hurt us? Well, I would like to see us go man or press Devante Davis at the line of scrimmage. We used the jam effectively against Fresno State. We won't need to put 6 defensive backs on the field this week, but using the jam will be necessary to prevent Davis from getting his big frame open in space. I think we can put more guys in the box this game, although we won't need to get too carried away. Look for us to stop the run with 7 man in the box this game, and not have to get too crazy with the defensive schemes.
Special teams is something UNLV does pretty well. However, it is something that do pretty well too. I expect the punt team to be on the field alot for the Runnin Rebels. This one won't be a run away for our team, but I think that anything south of a 35-7 BSU win is probably underachieving. My pick, 45-13 Blue.