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Armani Rogers remains UNLV’s starting quarterback

Updated September 9, 2019 - 7:10 pm

UNLV released its depth chart just before noon Monday. As expected, junior quarterback Armani Rogers was still listed No. 1.

The larger questions are how much room coach Tony Sanchez and his staff will give Rogers to remain there and what will they do to help him succeed.

For the Rebels (1-1), who are 20-point underdogs, to have any realistic shot at success when they visit Northwestern (0-1) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Rogers needs to play much closer to how he ended last season than how he played last weekend.

He produced five touchdowns passing and running in a season-ending 34-29 victory over UNR last year. But in 43-17 loss to Arkansas State this past Saturday, Rogers completed just 8 of 23 passes for 42 yards, was sacked six times for 40 yards in losses and had an interception returned 35 yards for a touchdown.

Sanchez said after the game he and his staff would take another look at the position as well as evaluate their approach.

“Armani’s still our guy,” Sanchez said Monday at his weekly news conference. “We have to have a better performance there. When we went back and watched film, we weren’t very good. We need to talk about what we need to do to get (Rogers) comfortable. The frustrating thing is we know how good of a quarterback he is because we see it every day in practice, but it’s got to translate on Saturday.”

If Sanchez decides to make a make a change any time soon, redshirt freshman Kenyon Oblad would be the next quarterback into the game. He played late against Arkansas State, completing all three passes for 70 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown to Randal Grimes.

Last season’s No. 2 quarterback, junior Max Gilliam, is out another two to three weeks with a foot injury sustained in summer conditioning. Gilliam, who is out of the walking boot, started seven games last season when Rogers suffered a toe injury, completing 55.3 percent of his passes for 1,394 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Sanchez expressed confidence Oblad could succeed, but he also didn’t back off his support of Rogers, saying the quarterback has shown what he can accomplish in other games.

Rogers showed what he could do in practice Monday. “I guess that’s the good thing and the frustrating thing,” Sanchez said. “You come back out on a Monday, and all of the sudden, balls are on the money. They’re zipping. The mechanics are there.”

Coaches could simplify the game plan for Rogers by reducing the number of run-pass option plays and take advantage of his ability to make plays with his feet.

“We talked about that,” Sanchez said. “The biggest thing is communication with him and what he’s comfortable with, what he’s going to feel comfortable reading and delivering the ball. You go through an entire camp and you go through Week 1, and that all looks really good. Then it just didn’t look good the other night. A lot of it had to do with accuracy. His mechanics regressed a little bit for some reason. Those are things we can fix.”

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Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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