5 players to watch for UNLV-Northern Illinois game

Five players to watch when UNLV’s football team visits Northern Illinois in the season opener at 4:30 p.m. PDT Saturday:

1. Blake Decker, QB, UNLV: Yes, it’s easy to say the quarterback is a player to watch because that’s the case every week. It’s especially true this week because Decker will show if he’s the quarterback who threw 18 interceptions last season or the one who looked sharp at the end of spring and in most of training camp.

2. Drew Hare, QB, Northern Illinois: Nothing like facing a mobile quarterback to open the season, just the kind of player who has given UNLV fits over the years. Hare passed for 2,322 yards last season and rushed for 900. The Rebels can’t let him get outside, or they have little chance.

3. Sonny Sanitoa, DE, UNLV: One of the most players most responsible for keeping Hare contained is Sanitoa, who is the anchor of the Rebels’ defensive line. He made a combined 14½ tackles for loss over the past three seasons, including 9½ sacks,

4. Paris Logan, CB, Northern Illinois: Among the key questions is how UNLV’s wide receivers match up with the Huskies’ cornerbacks. Logan is on the Jim Thorpe Award watch list, and he comes off a season in which he broke up 15 passes and intercepted three.

5. Will Kreitler, C, UNLV: The junior college transfer won the job in the spring after signing early. He will make the line calls, so Kreitler is key in giving Decker time to throw and the running game the ability to get its footing.

Key Matchup:

UNLV’s wide receivers vs. Northern Illinois’ cornerbacks

Devonte Boyd and Kendal Keys give the Rebels a dynamic 1-2 combination, but they will be tested by Paris Logan at one corner and Anthony Brooks or Albert Smalls on the other side. Logan broke up 15 passes last season and intercepted three.

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65

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