UNLV travels to take on BYU this weekend in an old Mountain West matchup. The big question on the Rebels side heading into this game surrounded the status of starting quarterback Blake Decker. Decker left the Rebels game last week against Air Force, one UNLV lost, 48-21, when he was taken down awkwardly by a Falcons defender.
Decker was limited in practice all week but he will be under center starting against BYU. There is no chance that Decker would miss this game against BYU because just last year he was cut by the Cougars and forced to continue playing college football somewhere else.
"From a team mentality, it's another game on the schedule," Decker told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "It's another game as a team, collectively, we want to win, but I'd be lying if I said there wasn't some personal relevance there, that there wasn't a little fire and added motivation after walking out of the coach's office telling me I was never going to play there."
Decker has weapons to go up against BYU's secondary with a pair of wide receivers in a healthy Devante Davis and freshman Devonte Boyd. BYU's secondary is banged up with injuries this year and is an area that UNLV could exploit, and must do so if they are going to get a rare road win.
The Rebels also need Shaquille Murray-Lawrence to have a big game running the ball because BYU's front seven has been solid on the ground this year so UNLV will need Lawrence as well as Keith Whitely and George Naufahu to help run the ball well and make the Cougars defense fatigued with multiple backs.
Overall, the UNLV offense has not been that great this year and BYU's defense is able to make plays and in its last game against Middle Tennessee State, it held the Blue Raiders to 207 total yards.
Not only does the offense need to be good for UNLV but its defense as well. BYU is without starting running back Jamaal Williams who suffered an ankle injury and is done for the year. Had Williams played against UNLV, he likely would have had a big day, but now the Cougars are down to Algie Brown, Paul Lasike and Adam Hine. Neither are great but the trio will provide enough fresh bodies to possibly wear down the Rebels front seven.
Backup quarterback Christian Stewart has taken over for the injured Taysom Hill and the UNLV coaches see Stewart as a better passer than Hill, and that is not too far off. With the UNLV defense allowing teams to basically march up and down by allowing 505 yards per game.
If the Rebels are going to pull off this upset they need a great defensive effort and also Davis and Boyd to have a big game receiving the ball. There is a reason the line on this game is 26 points in favor of BYU and that is because UNLV has struggled all year.