ELY — After getting pummeled by the offense the previous two days, UNLV's defense stepped up Tuesday morning by making several key stops.
"That's the thing about the game of football is that you've got to bring it every day," coach Mike Sanford said.
UNLV's defense stuffed the tailbacks on four of five third-and-1 plays. On the other, tailback Frank Summers burst through for the first down.
Then in a red-zone scrimmage, the defense kept the offense from picking up the first down or scoring on seven of 12 third-down plays. The first-team defense recorded back-to-back sacks — by defensive tackles Malo Taumua and Jacob Hales — on starting quarterback Omar Clayton on 2-point conversion plays. Then the No. 2 defense forced an incompletion from second-string QB Mike Clausen on the same drill.
UNLV then ran three fourth-and-goal plays. Clayton's pass to wide receiver Ryan Wolfe in the end zone was broken up by cornerback Will Chandler. On the next attempt, Clayton changed his cadence to draw an offside penalty to move the ball to the 2-yard line, but then had nowhere to go on a rollout to the left and was tackled by Chandler. The No. 2 offense and defense then retook the field for the final fourth-and-goal, and Clausen's 4-yard completion to tailback Channing Trotter came up 4 yards short.
Junior tailback Chris Brogdon returned to the practice field, but he must fight his way up the depth chart. He missed the first part of training camp after suffering from dizziness during conditioning tests on Aug. 4. UNLV had him tested as a precaution, and those came back negative. But while he was away, Brogdon was passed by incoming freshmen C.J. Cox and Imari Thompson.
At the end of practice, Sanford said three linemen had to cleanly field punts, or the entire team would do conditioning drills. Offensive guard Joe Hawley, defensive end Preston Brooks and center John Gianninoto all caught punts. After his catch, Gianninoto tore off his helmet and ran around while teammates mobbed him.
BACK IN BLACK
Taumua wore the defensive black jersey for the second day in a row, meaning he was that unit's best practice player the day before. He wore the black once in the spring and was a nominee at least three other times.
"Whenever I got nominated, it made me push that much more to getting the black jersey," Taumua said.
Summers wore the black jersey on the offensive side.
The morning practice was the only one Tuesday. UNLV practices twice Wednesday.