Tuesday, July 23, 2019 | 8:17 a.m.
Mike Grimala, Ray Brewer and Case Keefer dive into a new UNLV football season, one that will be integral for the future of the program, for the first time. How can Tony Sanchez secure an extension in the last year of his contract? Where will the Rebels stand heading into playing in the new stadium next year? What's a realistic record expectation? Those are among the many questions they address.
Heading into a pivotal season for UNLV football, the Rebels have been picked to finish fifth in their division in the Mountain West’s preseason poll.
The league released its poll ahead of today's media day at Green Valley Ranch, and UNLV was a consensus pick to finish near the bottom. The Rebels garnered 51 points, ahead of only San Jose State (21 points) in the West Division.
Defending MWC champion Fresno State was predicted to win the division, receiving 17 first-place votes and 122 points. San Diego State (three first-place votes, 106 points) was chosen second, followed by UNR and Hawaii.
In the Mountain Division, perennial power Boise State collected 15 first-place votes and 120 points to land the top spot. Utah State was picked to finish second, followed in order by Air Force, Wyoming, Colorado State and New Mexico.
Only New Mexico and San Jose State tallied fewer points than UNLV, unofficially placing the Rebels 10th overall in the 12-team conference.
The 2019 campaign figures to be an important one for the UNLV program and especially for head coach Tony Sanchez, who enters his fifth season at the helm with a 16-32 record. Sanchez’s contract runs through the 2021 season, but Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois has made it clear that Sanchez needs to steer the Rebels to a bowl game to keep his job.
UNLV went 4-8 last season but finished with a stirring comeback victory over UNR.
Polu earns All-MWC nod
The league also released its preseason All-Mountain West teams, and UNLV’s lone representative was senior guard Justin Polu.
The Silverado product started 10 games as a junior in 2018 and helped the Rebels rush for 216.2 yards per game, which ranked 21st in the nation. Polu is projected to start at right guard in 2019.