UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers is expected to start when the Rebels face No. 16 Boise State on Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium. But Rebels coaches are preparing a backup plan just in case.
Rogers, who suffered a sprained knee Saturday at Wyoming, shared first-team repetitions with Kenyon Oblad in practice Monday.
“Armani can play,” coach Tony Sanchez said. “What level of functionality does he have? That’s the biggest thing. We don’t need to determine that now. We’ll wait as we get through the week. He looked good today, but he was definitely not 100 percent.”
This is the only time the Rebels (1-3, 0-1 Mountain West) are home during a five-game stretch. They are trying to end a three-game losing streak as well as bounce back from Saturday’s 53-17 loss at Wyoming.
Boise State (4-0, 1-0) will challenge the Rebels with an aggressive defense. The Broncos have allowed three second-half points all season, with Air Force kicking a field goal in the third quarter on Sept. 20.
So whether it’s Rogers or Oblad, or both, UNLV’s quarterback will have a difficult task leading an offense that in the past three games has scored 17, 14 and 17 points.
The quarterback position is the most visible reason for those struggles, but hardly the only one. UNLV’s receivers haven’t performed well and its offensive line hasn’t played up to expectations, prompting some shuffling. Justice Oluwaseun has moved from right to left tackle. Justin Polu has moved from right guard to right tackle, with Julio Garcia II stepping in at right guard.
As far as quarterback, if Oblad has to go in against the Broncos, he could benefit after receiving game experience at Wyoming. Oblad, who went to Liberty High School, completed 16 of 31 passes for 176 yards but had no touchdown passes and threw two interceptions. Oblad did rush for a touchdown.
“We’ve got to settle him down. As he grows and gets more experience, he’ll get better and better,” Sanchez said.
Oblad is a traditional dropback quarterback compared to the dual-threat Rogers, so some adjustments are made to the offense depending on who’s calling snaps.
Rogers’ running ability “puts a lot of pressure on defenses,” Sanchez said. “If you take that out, 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.”