November 14, 2018 Currently: 67° | Complete forecast

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Armani Rogers predicts bowl game for Rebels

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Steve Marcus

Quarterback Armani Rogers speaks with reporters following the UNLV Rebels Spring Showcase at UNLV Saturday, April 14, 2018.

Armani Rogers described the first day of UNLV training camp as the football version of Christmas Eve, comparing the Rebels’ first official preseason practice on Friday to the excitement of awaiting presents.

The difference is, instead of one night of anticipation, Rogers will have to wait another four months to find out if he and the Rebels get what they really want this year.

The sophomore quarterback made it clear that the top item on his wish list for 2018 is a bowl game, something the Rebels came up short of accomplishing in his first season as a starter.

“Go to a bowl game and compete for the Mountain West this year,” Rogers said when asked for his prediction for the upcoming season.

UNLV was tantalizingly close to bowl eligibility last year. The Rebels went into the final week of the season needing a win at UNR to earn a postseason berth, but the offense struggled in a 23-16 loss. Rogers completed just 12-of-23 passes on the day for 160 yards, and he was unable to convert a 4th-down attempt deep in UNR territory in the final minutes.

Despite the bitter ending, Rogers’ first season at the helm showed his vast potential. He played in 10 games, set the school record for rushing yards by a freshman and earned Mountain West Freshman of the Year honors.

The only weakness in his game was passing accuracy. Rogers completed 52.4 percent of his passes (99-of-189) and was intercepted five times. For context, backup QB Johnny Stanton played three games and completed 62.5 percent of his throws.

If Rogers can make strides throwing the ball as a sophomore, there's no telling how effective the UNLV offense can be.

Head coach Tony Sanchez said Rogers looked like a more confident player in Friday’s practice, and the fourth-year coach believes that being more comfortable in the offense will make Rogers more accurate this season.

“He looks good,” Sanchez said. “It really comes down to decision-making. I think that with the style of offense we’re playing now, how we’ve kind of geared it toward him, I think it’s going to help him be a more efficient passer.”

Rogers said accuracy was one of his offseason objectives. In addition to working with receivers on his own time to develop chemistry, he also tweaked his mechanics. But he expects experience to be the biggest factor in his search for improved efficiency.

“Just some little, different fundamental things,” Rogers said of his tweaked technique. “And recognizing defense slows the game down tremendously, so it helps me out a lot.”

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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