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Rebels continue to struggle on offense in loss to Boise State

UNLV’s offense did not help out the defense, who held their own against the 16th ranked Boise State in their 38-13 loss.

NCAA Football: Boise State at UNLV Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

With a redshirt freshman making his first start against the 16th ranked team in the country, many did not expect much from UNLV’s offense against Boise State. And, not much happened for the Rebel offense in their 38-13 loss to Boise State on Saturday night.

Kenyon Oblad made his first career start for UNLV, filling in for Armani Rogers who was not 100 percent, and he looked like a redshirt freshman. There were plenty of missed throws and mistakes by Oblad. UNLV struggled to move the ball and create any momentum.

What was even more frustrating was UNLV’s defense played well, by UNLV standards. They held Boise State to 17 through the first two quarters, but the Rebel offense had zero points. UNLV did give up a few big plays. Boise State went down the field 70 yards, in two minutes to go up 7-0. And, the Rebels gave up a 76-yard touchdown pass from Hank Bachmeier to John Hightower. But UNLV forced a turnover on downs and a fumble in the first half. UNLV also made Boise State punt a season high eight times this season.

Eventually, with the offense not producing, the Rebel defense got tired and exhausted from being on the field for so many plays they let up late in the game and gave up two touchdowns in garbage time.

A problem for the Rebels is they did not commit to the run early. Charles Williams, who came into the game 10th in the country in rushing, only had 11 rushing attempts and 57 yards. The Rebels welcomed back Chad Magyar, who did not play in the first four games due to a personal issue, and he showed some flashes. But it wasn’t enough. Boise State outrushed UNLV 182 to 69.

“I think we should have committed to it (the run game) more early on,” Sanchez said about the lack of rushing plays on offense early in the game. “We need to be able to come out and do that a little bit earlier.”

Looking at the stats, UNLV had an advantage in time of possession, penalties and penalty yards, first downs, and third down efficiency, the both teams only committed one turnover each. But how close the numbers were on the stat sheet did not translate to the scoreboard.

Oblad finished the night with 262 passing yards on 24/55, two touchdowns, and an interception. He averaged 4.8 yards per attempt, leading to a 6.3 QBR. Expect UNLV to stick with Oblad if Rogers is not fully healthy. And once Rogers is back to 100 percent, the Rebels need to turn back to him. Sanchez said that Rogers is at about “65-70%,” and because his mobility is a bit limited, that it was best to go with Oblad. He even hinted that there could be a scenario were we see both guys play.

Even though Oblad is a redshirt freshman he is deemed to be the better passer between him and Rogers, but he has not shown it yet. So far this season Rogers has attempted 79 passes, and Oblad has attempted 78. Oblad has a slightly better completion percentage, 52.6% to Rogers’ 51.9%. Yes, Oblad has played in fewer total games, but he has not made any statement that he is much better than Rogers. With Armani, UNLV can open the play book because of his dual threat.

The Rebels must go back to the drawing board to try and figure out a way to get the offense going. Tony Sanchez said there could be a change in how they manage the offense. Whether it be the game scheme or play calling, the Rebels need to find a solution quickly. Current offensive coordinator Garin Justice was thrusted into the position when Barney Cotton stepped away due his health and needing a heart transplant.

“There are some hard conversations we’re going to have to have in the staff room about some of the things we’re doing to do, and we’re going to do some things a little differently,” Sanchez said of potential adjustments to the offense. “I think you’re starting to see in these tough games down the stretch, figuring things out offensively, that change definitely hurt a bit. But I know we can come back and fix that.”

UNLV has averaged 15.3 points during their four-game losing streak and have not scored more than 20 points during that stretch.

The Rebels head out on the road for their next game at Vanderbilt, Saturday at 1 pm.