UNLV Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

Posted Aug 7, 2006

UNLV Rebels Preview 2006 - UNLV Further Analysis

1st and Ten – New Blood or Old Hound? – Let’s be clear about this – it’s a quarterback situation, not a controversy.  It just sounds a little more politically correct, huh?  A situation – well, okay, genius, then how does this situation get rectified?  Senior or transfer?  Experienced or not so much?  Shane Steichen or Rocky Hinds?  The senior Steichen battled through an injury last season to get healthy enough, well, relatively speaking, to start the last game of the season against Colorado State.  Having to grasp the nuances of the Mike Sanford spread attack is tough enough, not to mention having to sit out most of the season, which Steichen had to do.  But, the toughest part for Steichen might be keeping Hinds from taking over the QB position in 2006.  The USC transfer sat out last year, as well, but due in part to his transfer, got a chance to immerse himself in Sanford’s offense as well.  This battle is reminiscent somewhat of the battle between Chance Mock and Vince Young at Texas a few years ago – you knew that Mock was just holding it down until Young was ready to take over.  Hinds is a 6’5”, 220 pound ath-o-lete who is equal parts pocket passer and option QB, which makes him the dream QB in a spread attack, ala VY.  But, is he the right guy for this team at this time?  The excitement of having an uber-stud like Hinds as your QB is so attractive, but in reality it’s a tougher question to answer when you have an experienced guy like Steichen, who now understands this offense as he showed in that Colorado State game, fighting for that starting spot.  It’s not always a cut and dry decision, but the good news for Sanford is that he has athleticism and experience that he can count on at this position.  It’d just be nice to have it in one guy, but sometimes a ‘situation’ just has to work itself out completely for that to be the case.

2nd and Seven – Consistency – Do you realize that it wasn’t until the last two games of the season that the defense played the same 11 guys at the same position for two consecutive games?  That’s amazing.  Sure, injuries and ‘other things’ happen throughout a season, but to not have the same defensive lineup on the field for two straight weeks, that’s insane (okay, the 3-3-5 defense can have some hybrid tendencies, so maybe it’s not insane, but it’s still unusual, let’s say).  So, here’s what the defense was up against last year - the loss of individual stars from 2004 (Ryan Claridge, Adam Seward and Jamaal Brimmer), a new defensive coordinator and staff and inconsistent nature of the defensive lineup.  Perhaps items 1 and 2 precipitated the third, and most important item (which in turn led to a 109th ranked scoring defense, but you probably figured that one already), but those excuses should be null and void in 2006.  Beau Bell at linebacker has the potential to be a first team All-MWC player, and USC transfer CB Eric Wright should legitimize the secondary from day one.  Now, they just have to play each and every week – along with nine other guys.

3rd and Three – Ver-sa-ti-li-ty – Ralph Tresvant, formerly of the best R&B group ever New Edition (and don’t even try to argue) once sang about having “Sensitivity”, but if the former New Edition star wanted to change his lyrics to versatility, he could definitely be referring to the run/receiving threat Erick Jackson.  The Rebels running back led the team in rushing and was second in receiving.  He piled up 673 yards rushing, while also snaring 36 balls for 370 yards receiving.  He’s a tiny guy with some quick feet, and Mike Sanford’s offense is tailor-made for a kid with his skill set.  In his second year in this exciting spread offense, Jackson should make a strong run for all-conference honors by year-end.

4th and One – For Whom the Bell tolls – As mentioned above the Rebels defense suffered through a tough 2005 season, but it wasn’t because of the efforts of middle linebacker Beau Bell.  This guy is one tough, physical and nasty hombre and if he’s not Kirk Morrison reincarnate (former San Diego State star linebacker), then no one else will ever be.  The 6’3, 235 pound physical specimen registered 92 tackles last year, in addition to 7.5 tackles for a loss, and if he can stay healthy, he should definitely be in triple digits this year.  With the dearth of linebackers with experience on campus, Bell will be counted on heavily to ‘carry’ this defense throughout the season.

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UNLV Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
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UNLV Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006
UNLV Preview 2006 - Defense
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