ELY — UNLV tight end Jake Phillips showed a lot of promise as a redshirt freshman last season, but he also had a problem with dropped passes.
He worked with the Rebels’ receivers to better hold on to the ball, and if training camp is any indication, the drops shouldn’t be as much of an issue.
A year of game experience doesn’t hurt, either.
“It’s completely different once you actually get on the field,” Phillips said. “I know what to expect. The game speed’s a lot more than I expected last year, and I won’t be surprised by it this year.”
Phillips (6 feet 6 inches, 255 pounds) caught 23 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown last season.
He isn’t alone at the tight end position. Redshirt freshman Andrew Price, sophomore Tyler Bergsten and junior Taylor Barnhill are possible options. Coach Bobby Hauck said the success of Phillips and the other tight ends won’t be based solely on catches.
“The two positions on our team where we’re still a little bit young are tight end and safety, and we need guys to come through at those two positions,” Hauck said. “They’ve got to make plays, and that means they’ve got to play well in both the run game and the pass game. They kind of have to approach the tight end position like you’re an offensive lineman who gets to catch the ball once in a while.”
UNLV stages its main preseason scrimmage at 4 p.m. today. It had been scheduled for 2:15, but was pushed back to give the players extra rest. Hauck said he expects to have the first-team offenses and defenses face each other, and for the second- and third-teamers to follow suit. The scrimmage probably will last about 60 plays and, unlike most of the daily team periods, players will tackle. “It’s always a blend to make sure you get enough of that, but not so much that you beat yourselves up,” Hauck said. “We don’t want to go into the first month of the season and not tackle well because we haven’t practiced tackling.” Coordinators Timm Rosenbach on offense and Tim Hauck on defense will call the plays. ... Injuries haven’t been much of a factor at this training camp, and Bobby Hauck said it’s because the players did a good job in the offseason conditioning program. “The only conclusion you can draw from that is we’ve got a better athlete that’s bigger and stronger than we have had in the past,” he said. “You can absolutely infer that our guys have had a good summer. It’s not been a softly run camp. It’s been physical. It’s been long. They’ve really held up. I’m enthused about that.” ... The offensive line has fielded a starting lineup the past two days of junior Brett Boyko at left tackle, junior Cameron Jefferson at left guard, junior Robert Waterman at center, sophomore Nick Gstrein at right guard and sophomore Andrew Oberg at right tackle. Though Hauck said that isn’t necessarily his set lineup, he noted he was pleased with the play. ... Former state Senator Sue Lowden, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2010 but failed to capture the Republican nomination, attended the afternoon practice.
Player Pos. Status
Taylor Barnhill TE Out
Efrem Clark DL Out
Max Ehlert LB Out
Taylor Spencer WR Out
MARK ANDERSON/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL