Richard Brian / Special to the Sun
Saturday, April 6, 2019 | 3:47 p.m.
Ray Brewer, Mike Grimala and Case Keefer discuss UNLV's hire of T.J. Otzelberger. What are the expectations? What players can he realistically keep? Will he jump to another job at the first sign of success? All those topics and more are covered.
The UNLV football team didn’t feel much of a need to rev its engine at Saturday’s spring showcase. Instead of playing into the fanfare at Peter Johann Memorial Field and putting on a big star-studded show, the Rebels simply focused on the work aspect of the 90-minute session.
That meant limited workloads for the team’s more well-known commodities.
Armani Rogers? The junior quarterback played two series during the intra-squad scrimmage, attempted four passes and called it a day.
Charles Williams? The junior running back carried the ball twice and got off the field.
Tyleek Collins? The sophomore wide receiver got one touch on the afternoon.
If there was a vibe surrounding the scrimmage, it was that UNLV doesn’t have anything to prove — not in April, anyway. The 2019 season will be a pivotal one for the program, and that seemed to be the attitude of the players and coaches as they took care of business on Saturday.
For this team, heading into Year 5 under head coach Tony Sanchez, it’s all about winning real games now, not winning the spring game.
After the event wrapped, senior linebacker Javin White exuded that back-to-work mentality.
“Opening up on Monday, it’s just coming back to work,” White said. “The football part is done, but we’ve got to go back to the weight room, make sure you’re eating right, make sure you have sleep and all that. It’s about being consistent throughout this whole time period until fall.”
Senior defensive lineman Gabe McCoy was of a similar mind. With spring ball finished, he was already moving ahead to the next step in UNLV’s preparation for the 2019 season.
“We’ve got to continue to grind,” he said. “The grind is the main thing. Get in the weight room, get bigger. Myself, I’ve gotten bigger and stronger. Staying in the playbook and getting that camaraderie with each other.”
White and McCoy both played sparingly, finishing with one tackle apiece.
Sanchez mentioned his senior defenders by name when outlining the Rebels’ priorities from now until the start of fall training camp.
“We’ve got to see great senior leadership and we’ve got to have great player-run practices,” Sanchez said. “We’re so limited in what [the coaches] can do. I think Javin White and Gabe McCoy really stand out when it comes to leaders on this team, and they have to do a really good job of organizing themselves and going out and having really good player-run practices so we can jump out there in the fall and have a great season.”
McCoy, who finished last season with 4.0 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss (both team highs), said leading the team in an off-field capacity over the next four months will be more important than playing an extra series or two in the spring game.
“[Leadership] is a big part of my job and I take that really seriously,” McCoy said. “That’s my role. That’s what I came here to do. If I want to win, I have to make sure everybody else wants to win.”
Rogers completed 3-of-4 pass attempts for 45 yards, including a pretty 27-yard touchdown strike to senior receiver Darren Woods.
Williams ran two times for 17 yards. Collins picked up 21 rushing yards on an end-around.
In the backup quarterback battle, junior Max Gilliam went 8-of-12 for 89 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw two interceptions. Redshirt freshman Kenyon Oblad went 4-of-10 for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Junior linebacker Vic Viramontes made four tackles and recorded a pass breakup to lead the defense.