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Live blog: Rebels trounced by Arkansas State, 43-17

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Steve Marcus

UNLV Rebels quarterback Armani Rogers (1) jumps to avoid a tackle during a game against Arkansas State at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019.

Updated Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 | 10:11 p.m.

UNLV did not rise to the occasion on Saturday, as Arkansas State just finished drubbing the Rebels, 43-17.

The score was an accurate representation of how each team fared, as ASU moved the ball at will for four quarters while the Rebels struggled to complete basic pass plays. For the game, UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers went 8-of-23 for 42 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception.

Kenyon Oblad subbed in at quarterback on UNLV's final drive and completed 3-of-3 passes for 70 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown pass to Randal Grimes.

With the schedule now getting significantly more difficult for the next five games, UNLV (1-1) is going to have to regroup and pull off an upset soon if they want to remain in the hunt for a bowl berth. 

UNLV down 33-10 heading into fourth quarter

Heading into the fourth quarter of one of the biggest games on UNLV's schedule, the Rebels trail Arkansas State, 33-10.

UNLV is driving and will face a 3rd-and-6 at the Arkansas State 23 when play resumes. A touchdown on this drive (and a 2-point conversion) would make this a two-score game, so the Rebels still have some life.

UNLV scores first touchdown, still trails 30-10

Arkansas State scored on the opening possession of the second half to go up 30-3, but UNLV responded with its first touchdown of game to trim it to 30-10 with 7:53 left in the third quarter.

After the Rebels' defense forced a punt, Charles Williams broke free for a 78-yard run down to the goal line. Williams got the handoff again on the next play and dove inside the pylon for a 2-yard TD run.

Williams now has 160 rushing yards on 15 carries.

Arkansas State leads UNLV 23-3 at half

UNLV has 30 minutes to stage a miracle comeback, or its bowl hopes will take a major hit just two weeks into the season.

Arkansas State completely dominated the first half and has a 23-3 lead at the break. The Rebels have been unable to accomplish much of anything on offense or defense; Arkansas State has averaged 5.1 yards per play, while UNLV is at 2.5.

Armani rogers has struggled throwing the ball, and that put a major crimp into the Rebels' pass-happy game plan. The junior QB hit on just 7-of-19 passes in the first half, accounting for a mere 32 yards. Rogers also threw a pick-6 on his second attempt of the game.

Arkansas State will receive the kickoff after halftime, so any Rebels comeback will probably have to start with a defensive stand.

Arkansas State up 17-3 over UNLV

The Rebels' pass-happy approach has not paid dividends so far.

Armani Rogers missed on three straight passes on UNLV's last drive, and after a short punt Arkansas State took advantage by scoring five plays later on a Logan Bonner touchdown run. The Red Wolves now have a 17-3 lead with 8:45 left in the second quarter.

The usually run-based UNLV offense has skewed more toward the pass so far tonight. The Rebels have run the ball 16 times for 46 yards, while Rogers has completed 6-of-14 passes for 27 yards.

Rebels down 10-0 at end of first

UNLV is down, 10-0, at the end of the first quarter, but it's not as bad as the score may indicate. On the final play of the quarter, Armani Rogers picked up a 4th-and-inches with a QB sneak to give the Rebels a first down at the Arkansas State 12-yard line.

If the Rebels can cash in with a touchdown on this drive, they'll have steadied the ship after a near-disastrous start.

Running back Charles Williams has run hard on this drive and currently has 32 yards on six carries.

Nightmare start for UNLV against Arkansas State, Rebels trail 7-0

UNLV could not have gotten off to a worse start against Arkansas State, as Armani Rogers' second pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

Rogers was looking to hit Tyleek Collins on a short crossing route on third down, but his throw was high and behind the receiver. The defense deflected it up in the air and Arkansas State corner Jeremy Smith grabbed it and wound his way down the left sideline for the TD.

UNLV went 3-and-out on the ensuing possession, but the defense got a stop and now Rogers will have a chance to engineer a third drive, trailing 7-0 early in the first quarter.

Live blog: Three keys for UNLV football vs. Arkansas State

UNLV and Arkansas State are on the field and going through warmups at Sam Boyd Stadium, so let's run through three keys to today's game:

Protect the ball

If the Rebels want to improve to 2-0 for the first time in decades, they'll have to avoid game-changing giveaways—especially on special teams. UNLV has been haunted by punt and kick return turnovers in recent years, and that trend continued in Week 1. If the Rebels make a mistake like last week's intentional/unintentional safety again against Arkansas State, it's hard to see how they win.

Let Armani run

Quarterback Armani Rogers had the worst passing game of his career last year at Arkansas State, completing 5-of-23 for 21 yards with three interceptions. But that was also one of the best rushing games of his career, as he pulled it down and ran 26 times for 203 yards. If Rogers can run the ball anywhere close to that today while completing the short passes that made him effective against Southern Utah, that's the ideal UNLV offensive game plan.

Pressure the edge

Arkansas State is a pass-first offense. In Week 1, the Red Wolves threw it 50 times and they'll probably stick to a similar philosophy today. The Rebels aren't equipped to cover that on the back end, so it's crucial to get pressure from the defensive line in order to disrupt ASU quarterback Logan Bonner. For the Rebels, that means linebacker Gabe McCoy and defensive end Nick Dehdashtian have to collapse the pocket.

Previewing UNLV football vs. Arkansas State with reader questions

As much as it may sound like hyperbole for a Week 2 matchup, UNLV's home tilt against Arkansas State today is shaping up to be a must-win for the Rebels. With the schedule about to enter a two-month stretch of difficult games against powerful opponents, starting out 2-0 is vital for UNLV's bowl hopes.

Can the Rebels get the job done? Let's preview the game with some reader questions:

@Pbruck

Will our secondary be able to slow down Arkansas State’s passing game?

@MikeGrimala

This might be the most important matchup of the game. UNLV is confident that its defense is as deep as it’s ever been under Tony Sanchez, but that only goes for the defensive line and the linebackers. The secondary is thin, by Sanchez’s own admission.

That could be a problem against a team like Arkansas State, which dropped back and passed 50 times last week. The Red Wolves are very comfortable spreading the field and throwing the ball, and they are probably salivating at the thought of getting UNLV’s third and fourth cornerbacks on the field against ASU’s multi-receiver packages.

I don’t think UNLV’s secondary is quick or athletic enough to hold up for long stretches against a varied, pass-first attack like Arkansas State’s. So that puts the onus on the front seven to create pressure in the backfield and limit quarterback Logan Bonner’s time in the pocket. Bonner completed 32-of-50 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns last week in his first career start; if he produces a line like that against UNLV, it will be very difficult for the Rebels to win the game.

@StreetPerry

Are special teams a part of college football?? Is that part of the game that is coached??? Grimala you have exposed yourself once again! UNLV should create opportunities on special teams just like offense and defense. It is the first play of the game and sometimes the last…

@MikeGrimala

This question is referring to my story from this week which posited that the Rebels should consider major changes to its return units before it ends up costing them dearly.

Special teams ARE a part of football, and it IS part of the game that is coached. But the only “opportunities” UNLV are creating on kick/punt returns are opportunities for the kicking team to recover fumbles. There are no return yards to speak of, no field-flipping runbacks or momentum-shifting touchdowns. UNLV’s production in the return game is nonexistent, while their fumble rate is through the roof. If they can’t find a way to protect against turnovers, it’s worth asking how much longer the Rebels should attempt returns at all.

@MtbHi

Dude…great job on radio today!

@MikeGrimala

Technically not a question, but flattery gets you in the mailbag.

@cisow77

Over/Under on Armani Rogers passing yards Saturday night: 224.5

@MikeGrimala

Under. Way under. I can’t imagine any game in which I would wager on Rogers to throw for more than 200 yards. He’s got a big arm, but the Rebels aren’t built to win that way. They are at their best when they control the action via the running game—a strategy that includes heavy doses of Rogers carrying the ball—while minimizing their intermediate and downfield throws.

Sanchez mentioned in his Monday press conference that he anticipated Rogers having to throw the ball deep more against Arkansas State this week, but I’m guessing that was a smokescreen intended for the ears of the Arky State coaches. There’s no way Sanchez is going into a must-win game like this with a plan of letting the result ride on Rogers’ passing touch.

 

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