Five things to look for when UNLV plays Howard in the season-opening football game at 6 p.m. Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium:
1. Expect first-time starting quarterback Armani Rogers to ease into the job. He shouldn’t have to carry the offense against the lower-level opponent, especially with a group of running backs and wide receivers that is as good as any in the Mountain West.
2. Howard’s Caylin Newton is a dual threat, the type of quarterback who has traditionally given the Rebels fits. UNLV’s defense need to find ways to frustrate the freshman and keep him from making the game closer than expected. It’s a good test for a defense that returns only two starters.
3. Both teams will try to fool the other with unexpected plays. That should especially be the case for the Bison, who have nothing to lose. UNLV should be a little more guarded because the Rebels don’t want to give too much away for future opponents, but the Rebels probably won’t be ultra conservative, either.
4. UNLV needs to start quickly. The Rebels did that last season when Jackson State visited for the opener, scoring 28 points in the first quarter on the way to a 63-13 victory. The last thing UNLV needs to do is start slow and allow the Bison to hang around and gain confidence.
5. If the game becomes a rout, it will be a chance for UNLV to go deep into the depth chart to see what players can do in a game situation. There won’t be many more opportunities for a lot of those players.
Contact Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.