The UNLV Rebels open their 42nd season against the Sacramento State Hornets on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at Sam Boyd Stadium. This will be the first time the football team will play Sac State home or away.
Coach Mike Sanford will try to get the Rebels their fourth straight season-opening victory, something that hasn’t been done in the football program’s history.
The Rebels are 23-7 all time versus the Big Sky Conference and after Saturday will have played every team in the Big Sky except Eastern Washington.
The Hornets gave Colorado State a scare last season but ultimately were defeated 23-20. The message is simple for the Rebels: come out firing on all cylinders on offense and defense to get the win.
"We know we are going to get a big time effort from them," wide receiver, Ryan Wolfe said. "They’re trying to get a name on the board by playing us tough."
Saturday night will be a special night for Wolfe as he will receive the Tom Weisner Award. He will be the first receiver to win the award.
The Weisner award was created in honor of the late Tom Weisner, who was very influential in Rebel Athletics from their inception, until his death in 2002. The award is given to the top senior who exemplifies Tom Weisner’s courage, enthusiasm, dedication and toughness.
"[The Weisner Award is] voted on by the seniors, so it’s big for me to know that I have the respect of my teammates," Wolfe said. "Everything the award stands for, – it’s not only making plays on the field, its more about leadership and toughness you show an everyday basis."
However, Wolfe is not the only Rebel making an impact on his peers.
Starting quarterback Omar Clayton is the first quarterback to start back-to-back openers since Kurt Nantkes in 2003-04.
As for the Rebels’ crowded backfield, look for hard-nosed junior Channing Trotter to get the start in a modified 5-man backfield rotation.
The scouting report on Sac State is incomplete and leaves are a lot of unknowns with this team. The team has many junior college players this year and they use three quarterbacks.
Sac State is also a run-heavy team that could potentially give the Rebels’ previously 110th-ranked rush defense a problem.
The Hornets’ defense will not return many players from last season, so it’s unsure what kind of front they will give the Rebels.
"I think the bottom line is they are a very good and solid program," Sanford said.
"The thing concerning us is the fact they went into Fort Collins and took Colorado State down there to the end. Colorado State had to kick a field goal to win the game. We need to start this off with a win."
According to Sanford, the Rebels need to start the season off with a win.
The season will not get any easier for the Rebels, with the next two home games against Oregon State and Hawaii – expect the Rebels to come out firing on all cylinders.