The Review-Journal posed five questions at the beginning of UNLV’s football training camp that needed to be answered by the time it wrapped up.
As the Rebels near their season-opener against Howard on Sept. 2 at Sam Boyd Stadium, here are those answers:
1. How much will quarterback Armani Rogers develop within the offense?
Coaches threw open the playbook at the beginning of camp for the redshirt freshman.
“The first week and a half was good, it wasn’t great,” coach Tony Sanchez said Thursday. “Then all of the sudden, you started to see him the second and third and fourth time we’re doing things get more and more comfortable. He’s asking the right questions. He’s doing the right film study.
“We’re pretty wide open. We’re not simplistic right now. We’re doing more than we probably thought we would be with him at this point. Part of that, too, is he’s had a year under his belt, he’s had a spring under his belt, he’s had a good summer. That’s the benefit of having a redshirt guy rather than a true freshman.”
2. With only two starters back defensively how will the position battles on that side of the ball shape up?
Junior Jameer Outsey quickly made a push at defensive end and wound up securing the starting spot. Senior Mark Finau is on the other side. At the two tackle spots are seniors Jason Fao and Mike Hughes Jr., who went to Palo Verde High School.
Sophomore Javin White moved from safety to strongside linebacker this week and is competing with sophomore Gabe McCoy. Junior Bailey Laolagi on the weakside and Brian Keyes in the middle are holding down the other two starting spots.
Syracuse graduate transfer Chauncey Scissum grabbed the starting job at free safety, and sophomore Evan Austrie is No. 1 strong safety. Sophomore Jericho Flowers, junior Tim Hough of Desert Pines and senior Robert Jackson are rotating at the two cornerback positions, and junior Ty’Jason Roberts has worked his way into the fourth spot.
3. How healthy will the Rebels be when camp concludes?
UNLV didn’t suffer any major injuries to frontline players. Junior wide receiver Kendal Keys (sprained right knee) and Hughes (tight left hamstring) returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis. Hughes is expected to play in the opener, but Keys’ status isn’t so certain.
“Maybe we get Kendal back a little quicker than we thought,” Sanchez said. “If not, I’m sure he’ll be ready Week 2.”
The other injury to watch is the sprained right ankle to senior H-back Tim Holt. He could return in time for the Howard game, but might have sit an extra week.
4. Will UNLV develop a legitimate two-deep depth chart?
The Rebels are especially deep at running back and wide receiver, and they will play at least six or seven offensive linemen. They largely have quality depth throughout the defense, though there still are concerns at tackle.
“I think overall the depth is better,” Sanchez said. “It can always be much better, though.”
5. Which players will unexpectedly emerge in practices?
Freshman wide receiver Drew Tejchman showed he could be a big part of this season’s plans. Another freshman, Tariq Hollandworth, has made a real push at running back, though he might redshirt.
Two freshmen from Bishop Gorman, linebacker Farrell Hester II and safety Greg Francis, made the second team. White competed so well at safety that he prompted coaches to find a spot for him somewhere on the field. And Roberts, a walk-on, worked his way into the rotation at cornerback.
“You constantly are evaluating your roster,” Sanchez said. “You can’t stop doing that.”
Contact Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.
UNLV’s football schedule
Sept. 2, Howard, 6 p.m.
Sept. 9, at Idaho, 4 p.m.
Sept. 23, at Ohio State, TBA
Sept. 30, San Jose State, TBA
Oct. 7, San Diego State, TBA
Oct. 14, at Air Force, 11 a.m.
Oct. 21, Utah State, 3 p.m.
Oct. 28, at Fresno State, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4, Hawaii, 3 p.m.
Nov. 10, Brigham Young, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 17, at New Mexico, 6:30 p.m.
Nov. 25, at UNR, noon
(All homes games are at Sam Boyd Stadium. All times Pacific.)