UNLV needed a change after another down campaign, finishing 4-8 in 2019. New head coach Marcus Arroyo has served at numerous high-end roles over the last couple decades, most recently coordinating the Oregon offense.
Of course, it won’t be easy to revive the Rebels as they had an early over/under of 3 wins with MWC title odds placing them last in the conference.
The biggest thing for Arroyo is that he has a nice stable of quarterbacks to work with for the future. Kenyon Oblad took over last year and had some nice moments as a freshman, but he’ll have to win the job again under a new coaching staff.
He’ll compete with TCU transfer Justin Rogers, who also has a few years of eligibility left. The hope is that UNLV gets its ground game rolling with three starting linemen back.
No matter who is under center, running back Charles Williams (1,257 yards, 11 TDs) is going to get a lot of work. If he can put in similar numbers this season, the offense has a chance to surpass the 374.3 yards and 24.2 points averaged per game.
Helping the quarterback is a decent set of receivers with Randal Grimes (696 yards, 7 TDs) returning to his top role, as well as Brandon Presley, who was injured last year but led the team with 35 receptions in 2018.
Unfortunately, the defense may have more work to do with just four starters returning to a group that allowed 442.3 yards and 33 points per game. New coordinator Peter Hansen has a big task ahead of him after serving as inside linebackers coach for Stanford the last few seasons.
TCU transfer Adam Plant may be the best thing going for the line, though seniors Nate Neal and Kolo Uasike at least provide experience. Farrell Hester and Vic Viramontes return at inside linebacker so there’s at least a decent base to build around in the middle of the field.
The secondary is a bit more of a toss up with a lot of new faces expected outside of senior safety Greg Francis.
Arroyo has a long way to go in his first season in charge, especially with the limited offseason program. The non-conference schedule doesn’t help as it’s possible UNLV opens 0-5 unless it can beat a team like La. Tech early.
There are plenty of chances for wins in the second half because the MWC’s mid-tier is full of mediocre teams who are mostly inconsistent. Surpassing three wins is possible, but that will require improvement on both sides of the ball.
The offense could get to another level under Arroyo, but it’s a new scheme so that’s far from guaranteed and the same goes for a defense that has consistently struggled. No matter, a bowl game is unlikely to be in the cards for the Rebels unless something clicks once the schedule eases up.
2020 UNLV Rebels Schedule
Aug. 29 vs. California
Sept. 5 vs. Louisiana Tech
Sept. 12 vs. Arizona State
Sept. 19 at Iowa State
Oct. 3 at San Diego State
Oct. 10 vs. Wyoming
Oct. 17 at San Jose State
Oct. 23 vs. Colorado State
Oct. 31 at Boise State
Nov. 7 vs. Fresno State
Nov. 14 at Hawai’i
Nov. 28 vs. Nevada