Video Credit: SDSU

The FSM Essential Recap: UNLV vs San Diego State – Week 1

Week 1 – UNLV (0-1) vs SDSU (1-0)


It was Game 1 in the Marcus Arroyo era as UNLV football’s head coach and the Rebels took on the San Diego State Aztecs to open the shortened 2020 season.


Photo Credit: UNLV Football

No one knew what to expect out of the Rebels since they didn’t have a spring to perfect coach Marcus Arroyo’s offense and just a few weeks to get ready for the season due to COVID-19. The Rebels did return running back Chuck Williams as the centerpiece of the offense, but the big question going into the game was who would start as the Rebels’ quarterback?

As reported in the Franchise Sports Media UNLV 2020 Season Preview, Max Gilliam took the Rebels’ first snaps, while Kenyon Oblad and Justin Rogers also got into the game. Oblad replaced Gilliam on the Rebels third series, and Rogers took over for him on the fifth series. Sadly for the Rebels and their fans, UNLV couldn’t find a rhythm in the first half and failed to score a point.

SDSU took control of the game on their second possession when they marched down the field and scored their first touchdown of the season. UNLV’s defense forced an Aztecs punt on their third possession and recovered the muffed punt, but missed the 47-yard field goal. The Rebels’ defense then gave up another touchdown as SDSU controlled the line of scrimmage all game.

UNLV didn’t pick up a first down until late in the first half after Rogers ran for 15-yards and finished the half with just 30 total yards, which included none in the passing game. The halftime score was 27-0, and UNLV went into the locker room to regroup.


UNLV showed in the second half that they weren’t going to roll over and quit.


UNLV vs San Diego State
Photo Credit: UNLV Football

On the second half’s opening drive, Williams seemed to find a rhythm and gashed the Aztecs defense. Led by Gilliam, who played the all but the Rebel offense’s final play, UNLV marched down the field and scored a touchdown on a Stevie Jenkins TD reception. UNLV missed the extra point, and the Rebels were down 27-6.

San Diego State’s running back Greg Bell looked sharp as he rushed for one TD and 111 yards on 19 carries. His running mate Chance Bell was in the mix, too, providing San Diego State with two touchdowns. Williams ran for 80 yards on 20 carries for UNLV, and Jenkins led the Rebels receivers with 44 yards on five receptions and the touchdown.

Linebacker Vic Viramontes played an excellent game in defeat. “Vegas Vic” was all over the field, showing his athleticism, and Colgate transfer Tre Caine, who got the start at safety, also tied Viramontes for the team lead with 9 tackles. Defensive tackle Jalen Graves also had a solid game batting down passes while TCU transfer Adam PLant Jr. had the Rebels’ first sack of the season. Jacoby Windmon also showed why the staff has been so high on him as he was another player all over the field making plays.

After the game, UNLV head football coach Marcus Arroyo said, “We didn’t get what we wanted tonight, but I think our guys will learn from this…excited to get more reps underneath us…not how you want to turn out…we’ll play better.” Arroyo went on to say, “The guys are obviously upset, but we played a really, really good football team tonight. Hats off to coach (Brady) Hoke. (With not much time to prepare) we finally got to see some speed and live tackling, and it took some time for us to adjust. We calmed down in the second half and did things we were practicing. We’ll do better at that moving forward.”


UNLV Game Notes:


UNLV vs San Diego State
Photo Credit: UNLV Football

UNLV wore white helmets in a game for the first time in its 53-year football history. The program started the season as one of just 11 in the FBS to have not done so.

-The Rebels fell to 24-29 all-time in season openers and 6-20 when they happen away from Las Vegas.

-Senior quarterback Max Gilliam saw the field for the first time since 2018 by making his eighth career start. He finished 13 of 21 for 105 yards and was sacked four times.

-Safety Tre Caine, who sat out after transferring to UNLV from Colgate last year, made his first career start on defense and tied for the team lead with nine total tackles.

-All-time UNLV head coaches fell to 5-7 in their debut games.

UNLV got its first turnover of the season by recovering a muffed punt by SDSU in the first quarter.



UNLV opens its home schedule with a historic first appearance inside its new home at Allegiant Stadium next Saturday. The Rebels host UNR for the annual Battle for the Fremont Cannon starting at 7:30 p.m. PT in a game that will be shown nationally by FS1.



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