It’s been 14 days since UNLV announced Marcus Arroyo will be its new football coach. However, he has not fully focused on his new job yet, he will still be coaching with Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
With the change at head coach, UNLV did not sign any players at the early December signing period. Arroyo will wait to meet with all 11 players who committed to UNLV, and for the February period to put together the 2020 class.
Arroyo has been splitting his time in Eugene, Oregon and Las Vegas. He already has a lot on his plate, and he’ll have more once he fully takes over at UNLV.
This has all been going on during the holiday season. Today is Christmas and many people had their own “Wish List” of what they wanted. So, in anticipation of the new era of UNLV Football, I created a list on what I want to see from Arroyo for 2020 and beyond to help make UNLV a successful football program.
Re-recruit the Current Roster
Continuity is key, and Arroyo will need to keep as much of the current roster for his first year. This item on the list is much more important for Arroyo, as he does not want too many holes to fill ahead of the 2020 season. UNLV has some quality players on offense that can fit in with what Arroyo wants to do.
One of those players is Charles Williams. Williams, who lead the conference in rushing, told the Las Vegas Sun that he will be returning to UNLV for his senior season. Williams will be a focal point of Arroyo’s offense next season.
UNLV returns some backs behind Williams that could be important pieces in the future, like Courtney Reese and Chad Magyar. They also have Randal Grimes and Tyleek Collins leading the receivers.
On defense, seniors Drew Tejchman and Nick Dehdashtian can provide leadership to the side of the ball that needs to improve the most. Continuity with the defense, as far as some of the players, can help give the new staff a foundation to build with in their first year.
Salvage the 2020 Recruiting Class
Do not judge Arroyo by what happens in the 2020 class, but there is still importance in this recruiting class. I do not expect all 11 commits, who committed to Sanchez, to stay committed to the Rebels. With the February signing period, Arroyo will have over a month to find players to fit what his vision at UNLV.
It is too early to tell how many players could possibly transfer out of the program, but there is likely to be a few. So, with whatever holes that need to be filled, Arroyo will have to find some transfers and freshman to fill the roster.
He needs freshman to fill depth, and he must find some players that he and his coaches can develop into leaders for the program in the future. Transfers bring in experience and can play right away. Whether its transfers, or freshman, the new staff must identify the type of player they want in their program and go after those players.
Find a Quarterback
The biggest UNLV entering the offseason was “Who will be the next head coach?” Now, that we have that answered, the next biggest question is who will be the quarterback next season?
Armani Rogers started the season for UNLV, but, after an injury and inconsistent play, the Rebels turned to redshirt freshman Kenyon Oblad. Both had their ups and downs. Oblad showed some improvement from his first start to the end of the season, he might be someone Arroyo might want to keep around.
But the question is if Oblad can play to a level to make UNLV a consistent winner. He showed some potential, but he has a long way to go in his development.
Rogers might not be there, he could transfer out and play somewhere immediately. Whoever Arroyo puts behind center will be the face of the program, and be an essential piece in UNLV becoming a winner.
Get Playmakers on Both Sides of the Ball
UNLV has lacked spark on the defensive side of the ball for a while. This most recent season, seniors Javin White and Rayshad Jackson provided the ability to make big plays for the Rebels, but it cannot be just one or two guys any longer.
Arroyo will need to get instant impact players, likely players from the transfer portal, to improve the play on defense. UNLV has struggled on defense for a while and they have had a lack of star power. It will be important for Arroyo to find a new group of players to lead his defense in the future.
On offense, UNLV has some players with potential, but adding new players can elevate the new offense to another level. The Rebels do not need Alabama caliber players, just enough quality players to compete in the Mountain West.
Build a Solid Staff
To help create a real culture change at UNLV and to make the Rebels a winner, Arroyo needs to put in his own guys to put his mark on UNLV. He’ll need to utilize his west coast ties to help bringing coaches that can recruit and develop players at a high level.
There are rumors circulating around some assistants. He might bring some coaches from Oregon or Oklahoma State, where he has previously coached. One of those rumored names is Kasey Dunn (current Oklahoma State wide-receivers coach), who will be the offensive coordinator.
The assistants must be on the same page with Arroyo and know how he wants to run the program.
Create Excitement Around the Valley
When UNLV hired T.J. Otzelberger as its head coach, UNLV sent him out on a Caravan Tour. He went out and about all over the Las Vegas Valley, and created excitement around the upcoming basketball season. UNLV has to do the same for football. One thing former Tony Sanchez did well was being out in the community and bringing the Las Vegas identity to the program.
There is already a buzz because UNLV is moving into the new Allegiant Stadium, but after a while, that buzz will go away. And Arroyo will have to work to put butts in the seats of Allegiant Stadium. It will be an embarrassing sight to see 15,000 people inside a 65,000 seat stadium.
Arroyo should be out at the local football games, like NYS and high school to be out there. The more he is out and about, and able to communicate with the community, the more goodwill he will have with the locals.
Give UNLV an Exciting Identity
With the change of coaches should come a change in identity. During the Sanchez era, UNLV was a ground and pound team with solid running backs behind a good offensive line. Arroyo will likely want to adopt a completely style of play.
There needs to be excitement around the program, and Arroyo can implement the style of offense that excites people. Even if UNLV loses 47-43 shootouts in the first few years, people will be excited that UNLV is scoring over 40 points per game.
It is all a part of the new age of football, a big aerial attack with a lot of points gets everyone’s attention. UNLV will never be the exact same as Oregon, in terms of the style and pace of play, but Arroyo can make get the Rebels pretty close.
Utilize Your New Toys
Every child loves getting new toys on Christmas, and Arroyo has a few new toys at his disposal. There is the new stadium on the strip and Fertitta Football Complex, two toys that have elevated UNLV to a more even playing field with other Division 1 schools.
No other UNLV coach has had a new stadium they shared with an NFL team. Or, a new, state of the art practice facility on campus. He has to sell to recruits that they are going to be playing and working out in outstanding facilities.
Also, this is Las Vegas. It is one of the best cities in the conference and a much better place to live than Laramie, Wyoming or Logan, Utah.
Just Win, Baby
UNLV will be sharing its new home, Allegiant Stadium, with the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders. So, Arroyo must apply the motto of former Raiders owner Al Davis. Out of all the items on this list, this item is the simplest, but at the same time it will be the hardest.
Winning has been hard for almost every coach that has stepped onto UNLV’s campus. And if Arroyo can win at UNLV, he will be idolized and remembered forever. He is stepping into the best situation compared to any previous UNLV coach, and I think he has the ability to make UNLV a winner, but time will tell.
Arroyo will not change UNLV overnight. He will need time to mold the program into his own vision, Sanchez even said at his final press conference that the fans need to give the new guy time, so give him time.
This list is long and extensive, but it is what Arroyo must do to succeed. This is the time for UNLV Football to succeed, and Arroyo just might be the Christmas miracle the Rebels need to begin changing its losing culture.