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Rogers will start for Rebels on Saturday, with Oblad ready to step in

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Steve Marcus

UNLV Rebels quarterbacks Armani Rogers, left, and Kenyon Oblad warm up before a game against Arkansas State at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019.

The Rebel Room

Quarterback questions

Ray and Mike discuss UNLV’s suddenly wide-open quarterback competition and whether the Rebels have a chance at Northwestern.

UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers will start Saturday’s game at Northwestern, but there’s no guarantee he will finish it.

After Rogers completed just 34.8 percent of his passes and threw a pick-6 in the Rebels’ 43-17 loss to Arkansas State, coach Tony Sanchez was more critical than he’s ever been of his third-year starter, calling out Rogers for low passes and general inaccuracy.

Sanchez dialed it back in his Monday press conference, proclaiming Rogers the starter against Northwestern, but he also left the door ajar for impressive redshirt freshman Kenyon Oblad to see some action.

“Armani’s still our guy,” Sanchez said. “Obviously we’re getting Kenyon ready. We’re always preaching competition all the time. We have to have a better performance [at quarterback].”

With Rogers rendered ineffective against Arkansas State, Oblad came in for the Rebels’ final series and looked sharp, completing 3-of-3 passes for 70 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown strike to Randal Grimes.

Except for injuries, Rogers has been the unquestioned starter at UNLV since the spring of his redshirt freshman season in 2017. Now the California native is being pushed for the first time, but he said he hasn’t given any thought to potentially losing his spot atop the depth chart.

“I know being a quarterback is stressful at times,” Rogers said, “but at the end of the day this is what we signed up for. It comes with it.”

Though he’s the face of the program, Rogers said he has no problem tuning out potentially distracting talk about the quarterback competition.

“It’s not too tough. Just don’t pay attention to it. Me, personally, I never really pay attention to it," he said. "I just talk to my family. I know what I need to get better with, and I just continue to work.”

Rogers completed 52.4 % of his passes as a freshman, then saw that drop to 44.4% as a sophomore in 2018. Through two games this season, he is completing 47.5%.

Oblad, who set the Nevada state record for passing yards from 2014-17 while at Liberty, has gotten into both games this season and completed 10-of-14 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown.

Sanchez said Oblad has impressed in his two appearances this season, but also noted that he didn’t face the kind of pressure that Rogers saw from Arkansas State’s first-string defense.

“I think as of late he’s done a really good job,” Sanchez said. “He’s had limited action. In the last two games he’s come in at the very end, obviously the ball comes off his hand really clean and with confidence. But he didn’t get sacked six times, either.”

If Rogers falters early at Northwestern, the Rebels could turn to Oblad to spark the passing game. With a bye looming next weekend, that opens up a scenario where UNLV could make a change and have two full weeks of practice to prep Oblad for the starting role before the next game, Sept. 28 at Wyoming.

“I definitely want to be out there every drive, but at the end of the day we have to do what we do,” Rogers said. “Competing is going to make me and Kenyon even better.”

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

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