Game Preview: UNLV vs Nevada – Week 2

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UNLV (0-1) vs Nevada (1-0) – Week 2

The Battle for the Fremont Cannon

 

The highly anticipated first game at Allegiant Stadium for UNLV football will be played on Saturday as the Rebels will look to bounce back from their loss to San Diego State last week. UNLV will host their rival, the 1-0 Nevada Wolf Pack in the Battle for the Fremont Cannon.

 

 

UNLV vs San Diego State
Photo Credit: UNLV Football

The Rebels endured a disappointing loss in their season opener; however, there was a lot from which to learn and grow.

Last week, UNLV fell to San Diego State by a score of 34-6. There was a question about who was going to play quarterback for the Rebels. The game was started by the senior Max Gilliam, although Kenyon Oblad and Justin Rogers each came in the game at some point in the first half.

It was a first half to forget for the Rebels, especially on offense.

The lack of practices and camp before the season seemed to affect the UNLV offense early. The Rebels had a total of 30 yards in the half, including 0 passing yards. They did not pick up their only first-half first down until late in the second quarter on a Rogers 15-yard run. The tough San Diego State defense came out ready and shut out UNLV as the Aztecs went into the break with a 27-0 lead.

Although the Rebels were down by a lot, their second-half performance gave fans a lot of optimism, especially on the defensive side. UNLV was only outscored 7-6 in the second half. Safety Tre Caine and linebacker Vic Viramontes led the Rebels, each with 9 tackles. Max Gilliam finished with 105 yards and a touchdown. Charles Williams had 80 yards on 20 touches. Many people will overreact after 1 game, but UNLV Head Coach Marcus Arroyo wants his players to know they are heading in the right direction, continuing to grow as individuals on the field and as a team.

For San Diego State, the running game was effective all game long. Senior back Greg Bell had 111 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Kaegun Williams had 84 yards, and Chance Bell also provided 2 touchdowns on the ground for the Aztecs. Going into the game, the talk for San Diego State was defense, and they did not disappoint. Dwayne Johnson Jr. led them with 10 total tackles while Caden McDonald had 2.5 sacks and a career-high 8 tackles, leading him to Mountain West Conference defensive Player of the Week.

 

UNLV seeks to get their first win of the season at Allegiant Stadium and keep the Fremont Cannon red.

 

UNLV vs San Diego State
Photo Credit: UNLV Football

Coach Arroyo is still looking for that first win, and there would be no better way to do it than to beat the Rebels’ biggest rival, the Nevada Wolf Pack, in their first game at Allegiant Stadium. To do that, the Rebels will have to find a way to slow down UNR quarterback Carson Strong.

Strong lived up to his last name in his first start last week, throwing for 420 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 37-34 victory in overtime against Wyoming. Wide receivers Cole Turner and Romeo Doubs each had over 100 yards receiving and a combined total of 3 touchdowns.

The Rebels will need to build off last week’s second-half performance and continue that into this week’s game. Their pass defense, which was pretty good in the game vs. the Aztecs, will be put to the test against Strong and the Wolf Pack. Reno did give up 34 points to Wyoming, and they don’t have the same talent level on the defensive side of the ball as San Diego State does, so it will be a game where the Rebels should see how good their offense can be.

The quarterback situation is still up in the air, but Gilliam will once again get the start. According to Coach Arroyo, until one of the three men really pulls away from the pack, we could see them shifting on and off series depending on the situation.

 

The Battle for the Cannon always means a little more than just a normal game.

 

 

UNLV vs San Diego State
Photo Credit: UNLV Football

Players go into games telling themselves it is just another game, but some rivalries are just different. The Battle for the Fremont Cannon is one of those games in which players tackle harder, hit harder, run faster, and play with a little more emotion than normal. Usually, this game is played late in the season during the Thanksgiving weekend. However, 2020 is everything but usual. This year it’s just the second game during Nevada Week.

The last three meetings and 6 of the last 8 meetings have been decided by 7 points or less. In 2018, UNLV rallied from down 23-0 to win the game 34-29, and they followed that with a 33-30 victory in overtime a year ago vs. the Wolf Pack. Oblad threw for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to Stevie Jenkins in overtime to win the game. It was one of Oblad’s best games of his career.

These teams do not like each other. The Rebels and the Wolf Pack will battle it out on Saturday as UNLV looks to keep the Fremont Cannon in Las Vegas and scarlet red for the third straight year.

Both teams will be mindful of not allowing their emotions to spill over and affect the game. The game has been filled with issues that have rubbed each school the wrong way in the past two seasons. In 2018, during their team walk-through, a Reno player urinated on the UNLV logo at Sam Boyd Stadium. That situation was recorded and sent to the UNLV coaching staff before the game started, and it gave the Rebels extra motivation. Last season, in the UNLV overtime win, a UNR player started a brawl that saw each team have players suspended.

Charles Williams told FSM’s Joe Arrigo on Tuesday in the player’s press conference that keeping emotions in check and keeping their composure is a priority this week. “It’s definitely something that we’ve talked about and something that we put an emphasis on. We can’t have anyone getting us in trouble or hurting our team.” Wiliams continued, “We represent not only UNLV but also our families. We don’t want to disrespect our family names.”

 

The Battle for the Cannon will take place Saturday at Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 pm on FS1

 

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-Jarret Thompson – Franchise Sports Media

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