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Lexington Thomas’ breakout season isn’t enough for girlfriend

160 yards on 19 carries isn’t bad.

NCAA Football: Idaho at UNLV Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

He rushed for 68 yards against Jackson State in the season opener. The following week was a 112 yard effort against the UCLA Bruins, then 113 yards against the Central Michigan Chippewas. Last week the UNLV Rebels running back logged a career high 160 yards on 19 carries. Still, Lexington Thomas’ girlfriend isn’t impressed.

“My girlfriend told me (Monday) that I’ve got to step my game up. … She even gets on me about that,” Thomas said. “I try not to look at it like that. I just try to win a game. She wants me to be No. 1 at everything.”

The Rebels need Thomas and a potent rushing attack now more than ever. Under the leadership of Tony Sanchez, many UNLV fans were looking for the program to take a significant step forward in year two. Last week’s setback, a 33-30 overtime home loss to the Idaho Vandals, was an ugly one. Coach Sanchez wants those losses to hurt, and wants them to be viewed as unacceptable.

“For a long time, everywhere in this community, it was just accepted that (UNLV) won two games, won two games, had a good year, then won two games again. I’m not being critical of the last five years. It has been that way for 10, 12, 25 years. It became one of those things where everyone became O.K. with (losing).”

“Now, all of a sudden, we created a different expectation level, where when you lose a game (like Idaho), people say, ‘You need to be better than that.’ External pressure is not a bad thing.”

Thomas will be critical to changing that culture. Even more so after this week’s news that starting quarterback Johnny Stanton will be out 3-4 weeks with a small tear in his lateral collateral ligament in his right knee and hamstring. Dalton Sneed will start in his place, with Kurt Palandech also taking snaps.

Thomas is third in the Mountain West Conference in rushing. He trails only the nation’s leader, Donnell Pumphrey of San Diego State and Brian Hill of Wyoming. UNLV’s feature back ranks 12th nationally.

The Rebels will look to get back on track Saturday at home against the Fresno State Bulldogs. It’s Homecoming for UNLV, and kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm PT.