ELY — UNLV’s practices this camp have been intense, and coach Mike Sanford told his players if they put in another strong effort Thursday, he would back off them Friday morning.
They did, and he did.
Instead of going in full pads, the players practiced in what’s called Rebel Gear — helmet, shoulder pads and shorts.
Sanford also told his players if they kept up the good work Friday morning, they would go in helmets and shorts only in the afternoon practice. The players responded, and the practice will be shortened by 10 minutes as well.
But it was more than just a reward for the players. With the preseason’s major scrimmage Saturday, Sanford wants to save his players.
"We’re kind of at that point where legs are dragging," Sanford said. "I want to keep us fresh. And I want to have a great scrimmage tomorrow and have some juice to us to get our legs back a little bit."
BOTH SIDES CAN BRAG
UNLV got probably just wanted it wanted from a situational drill Friday morning. The offense and defense each made plays.
On the first series between the first-team offense and defense, tailback Channing Trotter rushed for 8 yards, and quarterback Omar Clayton completed passes of zero yards to tailback Frank Summers, 7 yards to wide receiver Ryan Wolfe and 5 yards to Summers.
The second-team offense and defense took the field. Quarterback Mike Clausen completed a 9-yard pass to wide receiver Tate Knutson, but Nehemiah Mundy knocked the ball loose and fellow cornerback Kenneth Johnson recovered. Clausen and Knutson made up for it on the next play, with Clausen doing a nice job to scramble to right away from blitzing safety Terrance Lee and throw against his body to Knutson, who got both feet down inbounds for an 11-yard catch.
It was right back with the starters. Clayton’s pass to Wolfe was incomplete, at least partially because of cornerback Ryan Tillman’s coverage. But then Clayton came back with a 14-yard completion to Wolfe. Once again, Clayton went to Wolfe, but Tillman made a nice play to break up the pass. Finally, Clayton found wide receiver Casey Flair for a 12-yard gain.
The second-stringers then ran two more plays. Clausen’s pass to wide receiver Justin Marvel was broken up by defensive tackle Lale Taiese. Then Clausen tried to make a difficult pass deep down the left sideline to wide receiver Michael Johnson, but it was overthrown.
STOMACH BUG STILL A CONCERN
There was encouraging news for UNLV in that Trotter and quarterback Dack Ishii returned after missing Wednesday’s practice with a stomach illness. Long snapper Eric Braner, who went to Del Sol High School, also was back, but not at 100 percent. The starting long snapper, Kamu Kapanui, did not practice because of the same illness.
"It’s scary," Sanford said. "I just hope it doesn’t hit any more guys."
Flair and linebacker Jason Beauchamp wore the black jerseys, meaning they were the offensive and defensive standouts, respectively, from the day before.