Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018 | 2:06 p.m.
Former Florida assistant coach Tim Skipper is set to be hired as UNLV’s defensive coordinator, according to a source.
The 39-year-old Skipper was Florida’s linebackers coach during the 2017-18 season; he spent the two years prior to that as the Gators’ running backs coach.
Florida ranked 54th in the nation in rushing defense last year, allowing 4.2 yards per carry. The Gators ran a 4-3 base defense, which is different than the 3-4 alignment UNLV ran in 2017.
It’s unclear which system Skipper will implement when he arrives at UNLV, but head coach Tony Sanchez is on record as wanting the Rebels to take a more aggressive approach on defense. Florida ranked 25th in sack percentage last year (7.85 percent), which was worlds better than UNLV’s ranking of 123rd (3.30 percent).
Before joining the Florida staff, Skipper served as the linebackers at Colorado State from 2012-14. Prior to that, he spent five years under Pat Hill at Fresno State, first as running backs coach (2006-08) and then as linebackers coach/run defense coordinator (2009-11).
Sanchez often cites Hill as a professional mentor, so it makes sense that another Hill disciple will wind up as the Rebels’ defensive coordinator.
Defense was the main culprit in keeping UNLV out of a bowl game last year, as the team surrendered 30.7 points per game, including four losses that saw the Rebels give up more than 40 points.
The defensive collapses led to the dismissal of Kent Baer, who had served as the Rebels’ defensive coordinator since Sanchez was hired in 2013.