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UNLV football:

Injury forces change at quarterback as Rebels prepare for Fresno State

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Steve Marcus

Freshmen Xzaviar Campbell (35), Dalton Sneed (18) and Darren Woods Jr. pose during UNLV Football media day at Sam Boyd Stadium Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015.

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Junior quarterback Johnny Stanton is out at least a few weeks with a knee injury and redshirt freshman Dalton Sneed will make his first career start Saturday against Fresno State, UNLV coach Tony Sanchez announced today.

“We were planning on moving forward with Johnny and coaching him up a little bit, but maybe this is a spark,” Sanchez said.

Stanton, a transfer from Nebraska and Saddleback College, has been struggling against Division I competition, completing 42.1 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and six interceptions over the last three games. Sanchez said Stanton wasn’t sure at what point during Saturday’s 33-30 overtime loss to Idaho that he got injured, but the coaching staff found out Monday afternoon that he wouldn’t be available.

Sneed, a Scottsdale, Ariz., native, was the lone UNLV commitment when Sanchez took over for Bobby Hauck. Listed at 6-foot and 195 pounds, Sneed is a dual-threat option just like Stanton and Kurt Palandech, whom Sanchez said would also play in Saturday’s homecoming game against the Bulldogs (1-3), which kicks off at 7:30 p.m.

Back in August, Stanton and Palandech were in a battle for the starting spot and Sanchez said Sneed was well behind. Then right before the season, Palandech injured the rotator cuff and bicep on his throwing arm, which meant a lot more practice time for Sneed.

“He’s slowly but surely started to progress and get more confident, and we feel more comfortable with him right now,” Sanchez said.

Palandech has worked his way back toward 100 percent and was even Stanton’s backup in Saturday’s loss to Idaho. But Sanchez is still concerned about putting him out there for an entire game, so he’ll work in for a couple series against Fresno State.

“He’ll get out of it, but (Palandech’s) been a little more tentative running the football where Dalton’s been a million miles an hour downhill,” Sanchez said.

Sneed has made two appearances this season, completing his only pass attempt at the end of the Jackson State victory and coming in for one hand-off after Stanton’s helmet came off at Central Michigan. As a senior at Horizon High, Sneed threw for 3,565 yards and 28 touchdowns while rushing for 984 yards and 14 scores.

Stanton’s injury is minor and might heal on its own in three to four weeks. If it doesn’t, he could undergo season-ending surgery, and either way true freshman Armani Rogers is preparing in case he might need to play this season.

UNLV (1-3) had hoped to redshirt Rogers and that’s still plan A, but the Rebels worked him into practice with the first- and second-string units in case he’s needed.

“I told Armani, ‘Get yourself ready,’ ” Sanchez said. “ ‘Right now there’s three healthy guys on the roster. You need to prepare like everybody else, prepare like a starter.’ ”

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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