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Kenyon Oblad to start at quarterback for UNLV

Updated October 3, 2019 - 7:44 pm

UNLV unveiled the soon-to-be-open Fertitta Football Complex with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday that could shape the program’s long-term future.

The Rebels’ short-term future received a jolt as well when coach Tony Sanchez said that redshirt freshman Kenyon Oblad will receive his first career start when UNLV plays No. 16 Boise State at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.

He steps in for junior Armani Rogers, who sprained a knee in last Saturday’s 53-17 loss at Wyoming. Rogers will be available to play, if necessary.

“He’s cleared, but he’s very limited,” Sanchez said.

Rogers’ knee didn’t react well when he ran the No. 1 offense on Tuesday. A day later Sanchez opted to rest him and give it until game time to decide which quarterback to start. But on Thursday, Sanchez went ahead and turned the offense over to Oblad.

Junior quarterback Max Gilliam also is available. Sanchez said Gilliam, who has been out with a foot injury sustained in summer conditioning, was cleared Thursday to play. Gilliam has practiced this week.

He started seven games in place of Rogers last season, who was out with a toe injury, and completed 55.3 percent of his passes for 1,394 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Oblad is a much different quarterback than Rogers, and Sanchez said Monday the Rebels would have to tailor their game plan depending on who is taking snaps.

Rogers is a strong runner who has struggled to complete passes downfield.

He has completed 51.9 percent this season, averaging 98.2 yards per game. He has thrown two touchdown passes and three interceptions. On the ground, Rogers has gained 204 yards on a 4.1 average, rushing for two touchdowns.

Oblad is a dropback quarterback, who has completed 57.8 percent as a reserve in three games. He averages 101.7 yards per game, with a touchdown and two interceptions.

UNLV signed Oblad out of Liberty High School, where he set the state passing record with 11,828 career yards. Liberty went 44-9 and won four consecutive Sunrise Region championships.

Oblad hopes to deliver similar production at UNLV, but because he doesn’t possess Rogers’ running skills, that places the onus on running back Charles Williams to provide the Rebels with an effective ground game against the Broncos. Williams averages 118 yards per game and 8.6 per rush.

Coaches have preferred to limit the number of his carries to the teens but might be forced to increase his workload.

Without Rogers’ ability to run, “you’re still functional, but you’ve got to create run offense in different ways because now you’re not doing it through the quarterback,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez made it clear, however, this was Oblad’s offense to run against Boise State.

“Right now, we’re going in with the mindset that Kenyon’s got the ball, and he’ll have the ball the whole game,” Sanchez said. “He’s not going to be perfect, but he’ll play well. He’s a redshirt freshman. I’m sure he’s going to make some mistakes, but I really believe he’ll make some great plays, too.”

More Rebels: Follow at reviewjournal.com/Rebels and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

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

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