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ASU Football Opponent Primer: UNLV Rebels

A team looking to build off of a tough 2020 season

UNLV v Hawaii Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

ASU’s 2021 Schedule

Sep. 2: vs. Southern Utah (Thu.)

Sep. 11: vs. UNLV

Sep. 18: @ BYU

Sep. 25: vs. Colorado

Oct. 2: @ UCLA

Oct. 8: vs. Stanford (Fri.)

Oct. 16: @ Utah

Oct. 30: vs. Washington State

Nov. 6: vs. USC

Nov. 13: @ Washington

Nov. 20: @ Oregon State

Nov. 27: vs. Arizona

UNLV’s 2020 Season

Marcus Arroyo, the former Oregon Duck offensive coordinator, had a rough go in his first season as head coach in Las Vegas. The Rebels went 0-6 and ranked outside the top 100 in the nation in both scoring offense and defense. Arroyo’s rebuild seems like it’ll take some time as UNLV only scored more than 21 points once.

Key Returners

The hope is that two key skill position players that are returning will help UNLV take a substantial leap next season. Running back Charles Williams was named to Athlon Sports Mountain West Football All-Conference Team Second-Team following his lead role in the backfield last year. Wide receiver Kyle Williams had a big freshman year catching 35 balls for 426 yards and two touchdowns despite weak quarterback play.

The defense should also return 10 starters from last season led by linebacker Jacoby Windmon. He had five sacks and finished second on the team in tackles.

Biggest Losses

Max Gilliam, the primary of the four quarterbacks that saw action last season, is gone. Finding consistent quarterback play will be the biggest item for Arroyo to figure out but he certainly has a large hand to choose from. Former TCU transfer Justin Rogers, sophomore Doug Brumfield and the well-traveled Tate Martell will all compete for the starting job before the season starts.

Reason Why ASU Could Win

UNLV was a bad team last year and still have some rebuilding to do. The Sun Devils’ defense should be able to hold off an offense that certainly struggled last season. This could also be the game that the youthful Arizona State offense could try to really mesh together and use it as a launching pad for the rest of the season. UNLV allowed 38 points per game last year and Jayden Daniels and the passing game should take advantage early to get vital reps before letting the rushing game take over.

Reason Why ASU Could Lose

There’s always a team that is a year early in a rebuild. UNLV is starting to bring in more talent on the recruiting trails but will that translate to the field. With 10 defensive starters returning there’s a chance that there’s a big jump in production from that group. On the flip side, Arroyo has coached good offenses in the past and if the quarterback position is figured out along with two solid players in both the Williams’, that group could also be better and give the Sun Devils a bit of a shock.