Five things to look for when UNLV’s football team hosts Idaho at 6 p.m. Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium:
1. If the Rebels record a sack.
After finishing last in the country in sacks last season with nine, UNLV is actually on pace for only eight sacks this season with two through three games. Citing nine knockdowns of Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush, Rebels coach Tony Sanchez said the pass rush has improved. That said, it’d be helpful if UNLV can start knocking down the quarterback when he still has the ball.
2. How many penalties are called on the Rebels.
UNLV has been penalized 22 times for 225 yards, an average of 75 yards per game that is one of the highest in the nation (tied at No. 105). The Rebels need to become more disciplined or it could cost them in even Mountain West matchups.
3. Which Johnny Stanton shows up.
Will it be the quarterback who was sensational in his first career Division I start against Jackson State (10-for-12, 217 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions) or will it be the one who struggled mightily in lopsided losses at UCLA and Central Michigan (combined 26-for-69, 284 yards, two touchdowns, four interceptions)?
4. If UNLV’s offensive line can open up some running lanes.
Other than Lexington Thomas’ 85-yard touchdown run off left tackle against the Chippewas, the Rebels were limited to 97 yards rushing on 37 carries for a 2.6-yard average. “It’d be huge to get the run game going again this week, because that opens up the pass even more,” UNLV center Will Kreitler said. “We’re going to work on really finishing guys. We didn’t have a lot of knockdowns and pancakes. We only had 10 total. We’re really going to emphasize that this week, getting guys on the ground and opening up big holes because we know Lex can run the ball.”
5. How the Rebels’ young receivers respond.
Stanton was mostly off target at Central Michigan but when he did make accurate throws, his receivers dropped them. UNLV junior wideout Devonte Boyd was held without a catch for the first time in his college career but contributed to seven dropped balls by the Rebels, who start a true freshman (Mekhi Stevenson) and redshirt freshman (Darren Woods Jr.) alongside Boyd, with a redshirt freshman (Allan Cui III) and true freshman (Elijah Trosclair) backing them up.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354. Follow on Twitter: @tdewey33
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