If their last game against Colorado State was a must-win for UNLV, then this game against San Jose State is imperative to keep the Rebels postseason hopes alive.
Just to recap the CSU game, the Rebels offense was stagnant, the defense was equally as bad, giving up 26 first downs and special teams couldn’t help UNLV out of their first half woes. On the other hand, San Diego State steamrolled San Jose State 42-3 so Rebel fans can feel a little better that the Rebels only lost 26-7 to the Aztecs on Oct. 8. The Spartans have won the last six meetings including a 33-27 overtime victory at Sam Boyd Stadium in 2015. Tony Sanchez and Co. are looking to earn their second road win of the season and keep their heads above water as their remaining schedule is going to be an uphill battle after the Spartans.
Spartan’s QB Kenny Potter is going to be relying on his run game more than his arms just like UNLV’s freshman QB Dalton Sneed. It’s going to be an interesting battle between the two quarterbacks as Potter goes into Saturday’s game leading the team with four rushing and nine passing TDs but Potter’s been taking a serious beating from their opponent’s defense.
Potter has been under heavy pressure and even with a veteran offensive line, the Spartans have allowed the most sacks in the country with 38. UNLV is ranked second in the nation with just four sacks allowed, while SJSU is 128th. With similar playing styles, the QB that can control the ball is going to win this match-up.
While the Spartans have gone two consecutive games without committing a turnover, the turnovers they’ve already committed have favored highly for their opponents. San Jose State’s opponents have scored 75 points off 14 turnovers this season while UNLV is tied for first in the Mountain West for fumbles recovered with seven. If Potter doesn’t do a good job of protecting the ball and UNLV’s defense pressures him in the pocket, it’s likely that this matchup could similarly end up like the Jackson State game.
In that season-opener, the Rebels defense shined in the second half converting two consecutive turnovers into points for UNLV. It’s possible but it’s also UNLV, so it could go either way knowing their lopsided defense.
Continue the run game
UNLV has a run-orientated offense so they need to take advantage of that week in, week out. Sneed was the Rebels leading rusher against CSU for 96 yards on 15 carries while running backs Lexington Thomas and Charles Williams only combined for 54 yards rushing. Thomas did have a 37-yard touchdown reception that was his 10th overall TD of the season.
Thomas and Williams are going to share most of the backfield workload for UNLV and with Sneed’s ability to run, the trio should have no problem controlling the clock against the 117th ranked rush defense.