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UNLV gets back to work after humbling San Diego State loss

For many people, Sunday is a day to rest and recharge. But it doesn’t work that way for college football coaches once the season is underway.

After the Rebels’ 34-6 loss to San Diego State on Saturday night in Carson, California, UNLV coach Marcus Arroyo said the team landed back in Las Vegas at about 3 a.m. and was “probably in bed by 4.”

The coaches didn’t stay there long. They were back in the team’s facility by 7 a.m. grading film, which needed to be done by about 1 p.m. so that coaches could be ready for meetings at 3.

The players were in the weight room during that 1-3 p.m. window. After the meetings, the team had a light workout at 8 p.m. for about 45 minutes, then the coaches sent the players on their way while they kept working, preparing for this week’s game against UNR.

“The grind is real,” Arroyo said.

The overall picture the film presented from Saturday’s game wasn’t pretty, especially from a first half in which San Diego State scored more points (27) than UNLV had total yards offensively (25).

The second half provided more opportunities for growth and moments to build upon, but the end result was a one-sided loss. Arroyo said the Rebels felt the weight of that Sunday.

“True competitors are going to be hurt after a loss, and that’s OK,” Arroyo said. “That’s human nature. We’re trying to establish a bigger picture as well. You’ve got to make sure you’re attentive to what happened, and you’ve got to be willing to invest mentally to not go through it again or make it feel different next time. Then you move on.”

Arroyo has made it clear that he cares less about a player’s age than his ability. If the opener is any indication, the Rebels will rely on young players.

Seventeen players, including eight true freshmen, played their first snaps in a UNLV uniform Saturday night, and several were key contributors.

Safety Tre Caine, a junior transfer from Colgate, tied for the team lead with nine tackles, one for loss, and a pass breakup. Defensive end Adam Plant, a sophomore Bishop Gorman product who transferred from Texas Christian, had six tackles, two for loss, and the Rebels’ only sack, which ended San Diego State’s opening possession.

Nohl Williams started at cornerback in his first game as a true freshman and made four tackles, broke up a pass and fell on a muffed punt that set up the Rebel with their best chance to score in the first half. True freshman defensive back Tyson Player had four tackles.

True freshman Kyle Williams caught three passes for 33 yards, including a 23-yarder on third-and-13 that started the Rebels’ lone touchdown drive and was their longest passing play. Quarterback Justin Rogers, a sophomore transfer from Texas Christian, had a 12-yard run that picked up UNLV’s only first down of the first half.

“We’re going to ask a lot of young guys. We’re not afraid to play them,” Arroyo said. “You saw a lot of young guys out there, and you’re going to see our young guys and true freshmen play. We’re going to evaluate that way and build that way regardless of what year they are.”

Contact Jason Orts at jorts@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2936. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter.

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