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UNLV hopes continuity with coaching staff pays off in fall

Updated March 11, 2019 - 2:32 pm

As one UNLV football season rolls into another, wide receivers coach Cedric Cormier is one of the few constants.

Next season will be his 10th, tying him with Terry Cottle for second among all coaches in program history and behind the 14 years that Mike Bradeson served on staff.

As Cormier has stayed, many have come and gone, but not this time. UNLV, which began its third week of spring drills on Monday, brings back its entire coaching staff.

The last time that occurred was in 2014 under Bobby Hauck, though there was a change with the strength and conditioning coach. The last time the entire staff that included the strength coach returned was in 2001 under John Robinson.

Those seasons also followed the Rebels’ most recent bowl appearances.

“The kids now get to hear the same thing year in and year out,” Cormier said. “That’s good. It’s kind of second nature to them now. You could tell this spring from day one there weren’t a lot of different words. They’ve heard the same thing now for back-to-back years, some of them for four straight years.”

What kind of difference continuity makes won’t be known until next season, which begins Aug. 31 against Southern Utah at Sam Boyd Stadium. But players not having to learn new schemes and terminology have taken much of the guesswork out of spring practices as they come off a 4-8 season.

Now it’s more about applying what was learned previously, at least with the returning players.

“It’s great because everybody’s got those (same) expectations, and the coaches hold us to that standard,” linebacker Gabe McCoy said. “When we have that standard, it builds the team up.”

UNLV tends to experience staff changes in some form after most seasons, be it assistants moving on to higher-profile jobs or the head coach deciding a shakeup is in order.

It was a mix of both following the 2017 season. Sanchez fired defensive coordinator Kent Baer and safeties coach Andy LaRussa. Offensive line coach John Garrison left for Florida Atlantic and cornerbacks coach David Lockwood departed for UNR.

UNLV then hired Eric Brown as outside linebackers coach, Steve Irvin to handle cornerbacks, Garin Justice to oversee the offensive line, Al Simmons to coach safeties and Tim Skipper as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. The NCAA allowed a 10th assistant to be hired beginning in January 2018, so that allowed UNLV to replace four vacancies with five coaches.

Sanchez didn’t have to worry about any such juggling this offseason, which also gave the players a much better idea of what to expect.

“This is year two with Skip calling the defense, and we’re going to be better,” Sanchez said. “We’re going to have a greater understanding for it. Offensively, we’ve been under the same system for five years. The level of comfort and consistency is a big, big deal moving forward.”

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

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