In a game with few bright spots for the Rebels, those on offense offered most of them. Blake Decker made his Division I debut at quarterback and the junior-college transfer was competent by completing 22-of-41 for 252 yards with a touchdown and interception. His starting receivers – Devante Davis and Devonte Boyd – had 100 and 102 yards, respectively. But the Rebels had no running game of note (119 yards on 31 attempts) and Decker was pressured throughout. Thirteen points. Not near enough.
As in God-Awful. Assigning this unit an F would be far too generous, given UNLV allowed 58 points to Arizona for the second straight year and this time surrendered 787 yards, just seven short of the most ever allowed by UNLV in a game. “They did exactly what we thought they would,” Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon said. What, roll over and play dead? Solomon is the Bishop Gorman alum who threw for an Arizona freshman record 425 yards and four touchdowns, while three of the team’s scoring plays came from 63, 92 and 85 yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus
Well, here’s a switch, a UNLV game when the special teams unit receives the highest grade. But the kicking game was solid – Jonathan Leiva made a 41-yard field goal and Nicolai Bornand was good from 48 – and the Wildcats didn’t break off any big returns. UNLV punter Logan Yunker averaged 47.2 yards in seven kicks, another good effort.
Look. UNLV wasn’t winning this game. It’s not near as fast or talented as Arizona, which entered a 24-point favorite. But coming off a 7-6 season and bowl appearance, the Rebels needed to show up far more than they did. They had, after all, a year to prepare. They were a mess defensively, missing tackles and assignments and never getting off blocks. They couldn’t cover anyone. They lost to Arizona by the same 58-13 score last year. This was a failure by most everyone, beginning with the guys wearing headsets.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.