UNLV defensive coaches seem to talk each year about becoming more aggressive. Now it appears they finally will be this football season.
Coaches certainly are trying different ways to put the most athletic players in areas where they can succeed, such as making senior linebacker Jason Beauchamp a hybrid linebacker/end. They also are looking at moving junior Malo Taumua outside to end and junior Isaako Aaitui inside to tackle.
Coach Mike Sanford said the base defense remains, for now, with Taumua at tackle and Aaitui at end, but coaches want a look at the other lineup.
"I can’t be definitive with how we’re going to do it," Sanford said. "It’s going to be how our health holds up and the development of some younger players and how they all do and how that fits in with the whole thing."
Taumua said he worked hard this summer to learn the end position, and was excited about trying it.
"I like to work in space," Taumua said. "It gives me freedom."
Taumua suffered a freak injury in mid-June when he broke his right hand while helping friends move. He was carrying a couch when the hand got jammed against the corner of a door.
Taumua didn’t realize it was broken at the time, which was good because he later was told he would have needed surgery if a doctor had seen him that day. But the swelling went down, and three weeks later when Taumua learned he had broken his hand, all he needed to do was wear a cast for two weeks before the injury healed.
GOING TO THE POLLS
Sanford is the first UNLV coach to vote in the coaches’ poll since Jeff Horton in 1998. Sanford said he voted Florida No. 1 and all three Mountain West Conference schools ahead of where they came out in today’s USA Today preseason poll. Texas Christian was No. 17, Utah No. 18 and Brigham Young No. 24 in the coaches’ poll.
"I think they are better than what they ended up," Sanford said without disclosing exactly where he had those teams.
Sanford said he filled out his own ballot rather than have Mark Wallington in the sports information office take care of it. Also, Sanford said he would handle his own ballots during the season, and said it was spelled out in the voting rules that coaches were responsible for putting it together.
The Associated Press Poll comes out Aug. 22. The R-J’s complete vote will be revealed then, but Florida was No. 1, TCU No. 16 and BYU No. 18. Utah was not on the ballot, though it should be noted the R-J voted the Utes No. 1 in last season’s final poll.
NO NEWS YET
Wide receiver Marcus Sullivan, who went to Cheyenne High School, still is not eligible to join the team. Sanford said it probably would be Wednesday or Thursday before the results of Sullivan’s state-required math proficiency test is known. Sullivan is eligible under NCAA standards, however.