Five things to look for when UNLV’s football team plays at Air Force at 11 a.m. Saturday:
1. The first team to 40 points wins. OK, maybe not, but close. Both teams average more than 31 points per game, and both give up more than 32. This could be like the Arena Football League where just one or two defensive stops make the difference.
2. UNLV needs to be balanced offensively. Air Force’s defense is there for the taking, but UNLV coach Tony Sanchez said it’s important to throw the ball, too, and it is. If the Rebels can open up the passing game, that will create even more running lanes for running back Lexington Thomas.
3. Assignment, assignment, assignment. It’s critical the Rebels stick to their assignments on defense. Air Force’s triple option is at its best when defenders try to do too much rather than what’s asked. If UNLV remains disciplined, the Rebels won’t necessarily stop the damage, but can limit it.
4. But watch out for the pass. Despite its school name, Air Force is always about the run, but the Falcons traditionally get some of their biggest plays through the air. That’s because opposing defenses become so focused on stopping the run, they become vulnerable to the pass. The Rebels need to be careful not to get burned.
5. Expect a more focused Rebels team. They weren’t quite there in the second half of last Saturday’s 41-10 loss to San Diego State, which outscored the Rebels 21-0 in the second half. Now with more time having elapsed since the mass shooting on Oct. 1, UNLV should better concentrate on getting the job done. And being on the road will help, too.