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Armani Rogers focused on fixing ‘little things’ in passing game

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Christopher DeVargas

UNLV’s Armani Rogers, throws a pass during their game against Prairie View A&M at Sam Boyd Stadium, Saturday Sept. 15, 2018.

If UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers is still feeling any lingering ill effects from Saturday’s 27-20 loss at Arkansas State — a game in which he passed for just 23 yards on 21 attempts — it’s purely from a physical standpoint.

The 6-foot-5 sophomore was held out of Tuesday’s practice with a boot on his left foot, probably the result of a career-high 26 carries (for 181 yards). But mentally, Rogers said he had already processed his 5-of-21 passing performance and was no worse for wear.

“It was over [Monday],” Rogers said. “We set it to bed after watching film and all that.”

Rogers said a lot of small mistakes added up to create big issues in the passing game. Though Rogers conceded he had never suffered through a performance as poor as his three-interception outing at Arkansas State, he said that game is in the past and that he and the Rebels are now focused solely on solving the problem.

“I definitely watched the film a lot of times to see what I did wrong and what I can do to fix it and just keep moving forward,” Rogers said. “Fix the little things I messed up on and just overcome it and keep pushing to the next game.”

Head coach Tony Sanchez said he was encouraged by how Rogers has moved on from Arkansas State.

“One of the best things you can have in this game is a short memory,” Sanchez said, “and that goes both ways. If you go 20-for-20 for 300 yards and you start walking around like you’re the man, you’re probably not going to play real well in your next game. So that goes for whether you’re 20-for-20 or 5-for-whatever. You want to move past that game and focus on what’s ahead.”

Rogers didn’t participate in practice on Tuesday, but the injury didn’t seem too serious, as he was in pads and a helmet, standing with the coaches during offensive drills.

Through four weeks, Rogers has completed 34-of-82 passes (41.5 percent) for 369 yards, with six touchdowns and four interceptions.

Sanchez said that while the Rebels’ passing game has been centered on pushing the ball down the field vertically, the bye week presents an opportunity to reassess that strategy and consider more short throws to help Rogers get into a rhythm earlier in games.

“We maybe didn’t do enough to help him [against Arkansas State],” Sanchez said. “The quick passing game is something we’ve looked at as a way to maybe get the ball out faster and into the hands of the receivers. Screens, hitches, those types of plays … We have those plays in our offense, so it’s not like we have to install something brand new. It’s about showing it to the guys, managing it and executing it to make things easier and more manageable for Armani.”

Rogers said he is continuing to work with his receivers on timing and chemistry, and that he maintains a constant dialogue with his pass-catchers.

“Me and the receivers definitely are talking,” Rogers said. “They tell me that they need to help me out a little more and I just tell them I’ve got to put the ball in better situations for them and give them better opportunities to make plays on it.

“Just little things,” he continued. “Little details that we have to keep connecting on. Going over it in practice, keep working on it after practice. We have to. And just get on the right page with everybody.”

While a more efficient passing game would obviously help the offense, Sanchez was quick to point out that Rogers brings a lot of production with his running ability and shouldn’t be judged solely on his completion percentage.

“It’s crazy because he’s sitting there as the ninth-leading rusher in the country,” Sanchez said. “He’s giving us a chance to win all these games. That game Saturday night, as bad as the passing game was, the rushing game was that good. He did so many great things for us.”

When UNLV returns to action on Oct. 6 in the conference opener against New Mexico, Sanchez is sure his quarterback will be ready to produce.

“This week is a good week to go back to some of those fundamental things, just to get his mind right,” Sanchez said.

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

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