UNLV opens its football season at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Arizona. Here are the five things to look for in that game.
1. UNLV coach Bobby Hauck has said repeatedly this is a good team, and the season opener will provide the first hints of whether he’s right. If the Rebels can at least give Arizona, a 24-point favorite, a competitive game, that bodes well for the season.
2. New starting quarterback Blake Decker has his chance to show he deserved the job. Caleb Herring came off the bench last season to rescue the Rebels. They don’t want anything so dramatic this season, meaning the onus is on Decker to lead the offense, beginning with this game.
3. UNLV’s biggest question entering training camp was its defensive front, and many of those concerns were assuaged by the play of some newcomers. But that was practice. This is the real thing. The play up front against the Wildcats’ challenging read-zone offense will provide clues on what to expect after this game.
4. Running back Tim Cornett is tough to replace, and no one player will try to do it. David Greene and Keith Whitely enter the season as co-starters, and George Naufahu is expected to be part of the rotation as well. If those backs can provide enough of a running game to ease some of the pressure on Decker, that will be huge.
5. Devante Davis is the Mountain West’s best wide receiver, and he is surrounded by talent. Those other players will need to step up to keep Arizona from double-teaming Davis all night, allowing the offense to open up.