2013 UNLV Preview - Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - UNLV Rebel Offense
Preview 2013 - Offense
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2013 UNLV Offense
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What You Need To Know: Offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach has an offense with the potential to be the breakout star of the Mountain West. All the pieces are there to be far better after years of building to this point, but the attack has to be far more consistent and more explosive. After a year of working the kinks out, quarterback Nick Sherry should be more efficient with Devante Davis and all the top receivers returning. The line was a plus last year, and now it gets back three starters and banged up tackle Brett Boyko to generate a push for Tim Cornett, one of the league's best running backs.
Star of the offense: Senior RB Tim Cornett
Passing: Nick Sherry
226-426, 2,544 yds, 16 TD, 17 INT
Rushing: Tim Cornett
242 carries, 1,232 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Devante Davis
61 catches, 854 yds, 4 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore QB Nick Sherry
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Ron Scoggins
Best pro prospect: Junior OT Brett Boyko
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Cornett, 2) C Robert Waterman, 3) Boyko
Strength of the offense: Experience, Receivers
Weakness of the offense: Passing Efficiency, Consistency
The passing game was painfully inefficient and sputtered way too often, but it was a good season for the emergence of sophomore Nick Sherry a 6-5, 235-pound bomber with a huge arm and the potential to start pushing the ball down the field far more. A good recruit, he was on his way to Colorado but changed his mind after Dan Hawkins was canned. He went through some growing pains with three picks in the opener against Minnesota, but he threw for 357 yards and three scores against Washington State and 378 yards and four touchdowns against Louisiana Tech, finishing with 2,544 yards on the year with 16 touchdowns. However, interceptions were an issue finishing with 16 including three in the finale against Hawaii. He's not totally immobile, but he's not a runner.
6-3, 200-pound senior Caleb Herring has had chance after chance, and while he completed 58% of his throws for 301 yards and two touchdowns last season with a great day in the loss to Hawaii, he doesn't provide the same spark or have the same talent as Sherry. Just mobile enough to add something different, and with a winning résumé taking his high school team to back-to-back California state high school championships, he's at the very least a good experienced backup. Athletic, he saw time as a receiver when Sherry was under center, catching 18 passes for 136 yards as a short-range target.
Redshirt freshman Troy Hawthorne is a 6-3, 195-pound curveball option who could end up playing safety. Very quick and very tough, he's an Arizona high school champion leader who did a little of everything playing receiver, defensive back and quarterback over his high school career, and he could get a shot if the offense isn't moving.
Watch Out For … Jared Lebowitz, a 6-4, 195-pounder from Pasadena with excellent upside. A pure pro-style quarterback with a live arm, he's a diamond in the rough flying under the radar throughout the recruiting process, but UNLV could have come up with a future star.
Strength: Experience. Sherry hopefully worked out the kinks in his first year under center, while Herring is a good veteran who can step in and start without a problem. The Rebel passing game is hardly starting from scratch.
Weakness: Efficiency. There big plays down the field were at a bare minimum and there were way too many picks. Sherry threw 17 on the year and only completed 53% of his throws, but for the offense to work he needs to threw fewer than ten interceptions and hit over 60% of his passes.
Outlook: The Rebels have options. Sherry is the type of talent who could rise up and become the reason the offense starts to rock, but he has to cut down on his mistakes and he needs to be in better command of the passing game. Herring is a veteran No. 2 who can add more of a rushing element.
Unit Rating: 5.5
Junior Tim Cornett has been the bright spot for the offense over the last two seasons, following up a 671-yard, seven touchdown freshman season with 1,232 yards and seven touchdowns in a terrific 2012. The 6-0, 210-pound veteran tore off eight 100-yard games with 141 yards against Northern Arizona and starting out the year with a tough 127 yards and two scores against Minnesota. A speedster who can hit the home run from anywhere on the field, he averaged 5.1 yards per carry and added a little to the passing game with 14 catches for 108 yards. Tough, he can handle the ball 20 times a game without a problem.
The Rebels need a No. 2 running back, and the hope is for Northwestern transfer Adonis Smith to be more than just a complementary back to Cornett. At 5-11 and 200 pounds he has decent size and track star speed, able to be used as a third down target and more than good enough to carry the workload from time to time. However, he could be pushed out of the way immediately by star recruit Keith Whitely, a fantastic get out of Houston who had his choice of several BCS offers but chose to stay with the Rebels. At 5-9 and 185 pounds he's a shifty speedster who could blossom early on as a kick returner and a slippery runner inside or out.
The Rebels use a combination of fullback and H-Back with 6-2, 240-pound sophomore Tyler Bergsten and 6-4, 240-pound junior Taylor Barnhill to combine forces. Both of them are big, strong blasters who can get physical and pave the way, but they need to catch the ball. Barnhill caught 14 passes for 106 yards and two scores and got one short-yardage carry, while Bergsten caught just one pass for 16 yards but has the potential to be a bigger part of the blocking scheme.
Watch Out For … Niko Kapeli. All the attention might be paid to Whitely, but Kapeli could be an X factor. At 5-8 and 205 pounds the Las Vegas native is great around the goal line and tough between the tackles. He's an inside runner who can move the chains by providing a big pop.
Strength: Speed and quickness. Cornett is great in the open field and has terrific speed, while Smith and the freshmen can all move. Give this group a little bit of room and they'll tear off the big play.
Weakness: Backup experience. Bradley Randle decided to take off early for the NFL after running for eight scores and 635 yards, and he ended up getting a free agent contract from Minnesota. Smith has upside and talent, but he has to prove himself for the Rebels after running for 55 yards for Northwestern.
Outlook: This could be one of the team's biggest positives. Cornett is an all-star talent with the ability to carry the workload and the offense, and Smith has the wheels to be a dangerous option to take away a few carries here and there. The Rebels should put together 2,000 yards on the ground.
Unit Rating: 7
The Rebels got a the season it needed out of junior Devante Davis, a 6-3, 200-pound talent with speed to go along with his size leading the team with 61 catches for 854 yards and four scores averaging 14 yards per catch. He blew up on Louisiana Tech for eight grabs for 186 yards and a score and hit New Mexico for seven catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. Steady, he was a go-to target when needed and showed the ability to hit the home run with the talent to be the team's No. 1 guy for the next few years. He'll be backed up by 6-1, 210-pound junior Taylor Spencer, a former defensive back who started to blossom a bit last season making nine catches for 116 yards and a score. The upside is there to be fantastic with a few more chances his way.
5-9, 195-pound junior Marcus Sullivan is extremely quick and has the skills to be a bigger playmaker after finishing second on the team with 55 catches for 659 yards and four scores. Steady, he was good for around four to six catches per game, and while he only had a few blowup moments, highlighted by a six-catch, 136-yard, two score day against Washington State, he didn't make enough big plays considering his speed. He'll work in a rotation with sophomore Anthony Williams, who busted out as a true freshman finishing third on the team with 23 catches for 232 yards and a score. At 5-11, 190 pounds he has decent size and the potential to eventually become the team's top target.
6-5, 255-pound sophomore Jake Phillips is a very big, very physical tight end who finished fourth on the team with 23 catches for 232 yards and a score. He's not a field stretcher, but he's a big hitter for the ground game and a good short-to-midrange target. While he might not be explosive, he has the potential to grow into a bigger role. 6-6, 240-pound redshirt freshman Andrew Price is more of a tall wide receiver than a big-hitting tight end, and he could turn into a matchup problem.
Watch Out For … JUCO transfer Jack Killian, a 6-0, 195-pounder from San Joaquin Delta College catching 55 passes for 992 yards and 14 scores for the Mustangs. The receiving corps needs experienced options in the rotation, and Killian should step in and instantly become one.
Strength: Size and upside. The Rebels have been building the receiving corps over the last few years, and now the expectations are there for the payoff. Sullivan isn't tiny, and Davis, Spencer and Williams all have good size and the tight ends are all big.
Weakness: Deep plays. Davis and Sullivan came up with a couple of home runs, but overall the receiving corps didn't come up with nearly enough game-changing moments averaging just 11.4 yards per catch.
Outlook: It was a year of transition for a receiving corps that was full of decent veterans in 2011, but didn't do anything. The young prospects showed up and now there's the potential for a terrific passing attack with rising quarterback Nick Sherry with a little experience and with all the top targets back. This Rebel receiving corps looks the part, and now it has to be steadier and more explosive.
Unit Rating: 5.5
The line turned into a positive last season doing a decent job in pass protection and a good job for Tim Cornett and the ground attack. Several key players are back led by junior Cameron Jefferson, a 6-6, 300-pound tackle who started out his career at left guard, worked at left tackle, and now will work on the right side with terrific athleticism. Built like a big tight end, he's perfect for the outside. He's moving over because of the return of junior Brett Boyko, who had knee problems last season limiting him to just four games. The massive 6-7, 310-pound left tackle from Saskatchewan has had a problem staying healthy over the last few years, but he's a great talent who'll upgrade the line.
6-3, 335-pound sophomore Ron Scroggins stepped into the starting job and turned in a nice year as the starting left guard. A strong recruit, he's big, bulky and tough for the ground game. He's an anchor for the line and will be the one the team will work around for the hard yards for the next few years. Also returning is veteran center Robert Waterman, a starter for the last few years after being thrown to the wolves as a freshman. At 6-2 and 290 pounds, the junior beefed up over the last few seasons but he's still quick. Originally a tackle, the coaching staff wanted to move him to guard and he's now a fixture at center.
Partly a center, 6-5, 300-pound junior Brian Roth will battle for the starting right guard job. While he's versatile enough to play anywhere, and he's built like a tackle, he's going to be a good athlete on the inside. 6-4, 285-pound sophomore Nick Gstrein is a terrific athlete who can play anywhere up front and could even be used as a big tight end in jumbo packages. A high school safety and defensive lineman, he's being moved inside but he could be a good option for either tackle spot if needed.
Watch Out For … C.J. Backland, a JUCO transfer from Finland who started out a Chabot College and now will push for time at center. At 6-4 and 265 pounds he's not big, but he's quick and very, very strong. He could see time at guard if needed.
Strength: Experience. This was a young but veteran group last season, and now there's more than enough returning talent to see a huge jump up in production. There's good size, nice versatility, and enough time logged in to make this a plus.
Weakness: Physical play. This isn't exactly a finesse line, but other than Scoggins, there's not a ton of power. The idea is to wall off defenders, but it would be nice if this group could throw a front four into the fifth row. That's not really what the UNLV line does.
Outlook: It's been a work in progress, but it all seems to be coming together for the offensive front. The 24 sacks allowed last year just weren't that bad, and there was a push for the ground game. Now the line gets back three starters, not including Boyko, and should finally be what the coaching staff has been pushing for.
Unit Rating: 5.5
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