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2007 UNLV Preview - Offense
Posted May 21, 2007

Preview 2007 UNLV Rebel Offense Preview

UNLV Rebels

Preview 2007
- Offense

- 2007 UNLV Preview | 2007 UNLV Defense Preview
2007 UNLV Depth Chart
| 2006 CFN UNLV Preview 

What you need to know:
The Rebel Shotgun Spread has basically misfired over the first two seasons, but the potential is there for a huge turnaround. QB Rocky Hinds, a disappointment in his first season after coming over from USC, played with a torn ACL almost all season, and now he'll be healthy. He'll have a loaded receiving corps to work with led by Casey Flair and Ryan Wolfe, but all eyes will be on Aaron Straiten on the outside. The star JUCO transfer of last year has million-dollar talent, but now he needs to use it. The emergence of Frank Summers as a powerback should help out the running game, which already has speed -rusher David Peeples, but the offensive line has to do more to pave the way.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Rocky Hinds
194-59, 2,148 yds, 8 TD, 13 INT
Rushing: David Peeples
133 carries, 519 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Casey Flair
67 catches, 818 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Rocky Hinds
Player that has to step up and become a star: Tackles Johan Asiata and Richie Plunkett
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore C Joe Hawley
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Aaron Straiten
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Hinds, 2) WR Ryan Wolfe, 3) WR Casey Flair
Strength of the offense: Wide receivers
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line depth


Projected Starter: Fine, so junior Rocky Hinds didn't exactly the world on fire as expected after transferring from USC, but he showed just enough promise to be the leader of the offense going into this season. He's 6-5, 220 pounds, and far more mobile than his -49 rushing stats from last year might indicate. He completed 54% of his passes for 2,148 yards and eight touchdowns with 13 interceptions, but he saved his best for last with a 351-yard, two touchdown day against Air Force despite playing with a torn ACL he suffered in the second game of the year. While he missed spring ball to recover, he should be as good as new by the fall and should be the all-around playmaker everyone expected him to become last year.

Projected Top Reserves: With Hinds out, others got a chance to shine. The most impressive was redshirt freshman Travis Dixon, a runner who adds even more athleticism to the mix. He was a top high school passer, but his real talent is in making plays on the move. A major unknown before, now the coaching staff has more faith in him after the good spring.

The third man in the mix will likely be senior Jarrod Jackson, a former starter who had a nightmare of a time with interceptions when he got his chance in six games in 2005. He's a good athlete who isn't a bad emergency option.

6-2, 220-pound junior Dack Ishii was considered in the hunt for the number two job going into spring ball, but he's fighting for number three and could struggle to do that with top recruit Michael Clausen on the way this fall. He's good enough to make a big splash right off the bat.

Watch Out For ... Dixon to make more of a push for the starting job this fall than you might think. Hinds might look like the franchise quarterback, but if Dixon is more effective at keeping the chains moving, he'll be the guy.
Mobility. Hinds should be far better on the move now that his knee is healthy, and Dixon is even faster and more athletic. The emergence of the Rebel spread attack depends on getting more running from the quarterbacks.
: A proven number two. Yeah, Dixon should be a good backup and yeah, Jackson has seen time, but Dixon hasn't seen any time and Jackson stunk when he played. The coaching staff really doesn't want to have to deal with the backup situation before getting Dixon some live reps.
Outlook: Hinds needs to be the main man, and he will be for stretches once his knee is 100%. The backup situation went from being a potential disaster to a possible plus with the emergence of Dixon, but he needs to be brought along slowly behind Hinds. Don't be shocked if Clausen, who has the game and the confidence, quickly becomes a factor.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starter: Going into the fall, junior David Peeples will be the number one back, but he has to prove he's back healthy after being out this spring recovering from a shoulder problem. He led the team with a pedestrian 519 yards with seven touchdowns, and he didn't do enough for the passing game with just 12 catches for 61 yards. While he's one of the team's fastest players, he didn't tear off enough big plays and only averaged 3.9 yards per carry.

Projected Top Reserves: Even if Peeples is the lead back, he'll share time with Cal transfer Frank Summers, a junior who was one of the best players in spring ball, showing off good quickness to go along with his power. Now he has to prove he can be a consistent runner and can be the back to bring the hammer to combine with the speed of Peeples.

Third in the hunt for time will be senior Ronnie Smith, a transfer from Nebraska who ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns in a limited role. He's a speed back who could do far more if he can get the ball in space.

Sophomore Chris Brogdon is a compact 5-7 and 210 pounds with decent power between the tackles. He saw a little bit of time rushing for 26 yards in six games, but he's the clear fourth man in the mix.

Watch Out For ... Summers to possibly be the main man come fall. Peeples didn't set the world on fire last year and could split time 50/50, or play a reduced role, if Summers starts to produce.
Now, there are different backs to work with. Summers brings a desperately needed big runner to the mix, while Peeples and Smith can move.
: Receiving. While it isn't always necessary for the backs to be playmakers in the passing game, it would be nice if these did more to become safety valves. With some speed backs in the mix, they need the ball in the open. The coaching staff has to invent more ways to use the athleticism.
Outlook: The ground game was mediocre last year, partly because it was average, and partly because the team got down so big so fast that it had to start bombing away. If needed, the backs are in place, thanks to the emergence of Summers, to start to add more balance to the attack. For the Rebel Shotgun Spread to work, the backs need to start getting involved. They will be.
Rating: 5.5


Projected Starters: The Rebel receiving corps is loaded with experience and potential led by sophomore Ryan Wolfe, who led the team with 911 receiving yards and five touchdowns averaging 16.6 yards per catch. One of the surprises of the season, he turned into the go-to target when the passing game was looking for a big play, and he was consistent with three or more catches in every game but one. He has good size at 6-1 and 205 pound with good speed at the H.

The team's leading receiver was junior Casey Flair, a quick walk-on who has made 99 tackles for 1,198 yards and six touchdowns over the course of his career. More than just a possession receiver at the inside Z, he had two 100-yard games and averaged 12.2 yards per catch. He's a tough, smart target who always seems to find the openings.

The star-in-waiting (at least that's the hope) is senior Aaron Straiten, a top JUCO transfer who didn't break out as expected last year catching just 22 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns. He's 6-2 and 195 pounds with tremendous speed. Considered to be a cross between former USC stars Keyshawn Johnson and Curtis Conway, he could be a difference maker for the team's season if the light goes on.

When the team uses a tight end, 6-3, 245-pound senior Chris Butler will return to his starting spot. He was underutilized last year as the offense rarely used a tradition tight end, and now he's expected to catch far more than five passes for 66 yards and a score.

Projected Top Reserves: The Rebel offense often uses four wide receiver sets adding a Y receiver. When that happens. 6-5, 220-pound sophomore Rodelin Anthony will step in providing a matchup nightmare. He caught 17 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns and showed the potential to be a far bigger part of the offense. With his size, he should be a sure-thing in one-on-one coverage.

Junior Renan Saint-Preux was a star recruit who hasn't been able to find his niche. Used inside and out, he has the size and strength to be a tough target at the X or Y, but his speed makes him a natural at the outside X. Now he has to start hitting some home runs after only averaging 6.8 yards per catch on 17 grabs last year.

Junior Lorenzo Bursey Jr. is a small target at the H behind Wolfe, but he's one of the fastest players in the corps.

Watch Out For ... Straiten. The underground buzz about him going into last year set up unrealistic expectations that weren't remotely close to being met. With NFL-caliber talent, he's due to break out.
Experience and talent. Overall, this might be the deepest and most talented receiving corps the program has ever had with with the top five wide receivers from last year returning. If Wolfe and Flair do what they did last year, and if Straiten turns out to be the playmaker he's supposed to be, the sky's the limit.
: Sure-thing deep threat. There's more than enough speed to go around, but no one has become a consistent field -stretch. Oh sure, there have been big plays here and there, but someone has to open things up for everyone else and become a game-changer.
Outlook: The corps is loaded with veterans who should come together to provide plenty of options for the coaching staff to work with. If each starter plays up to his capability, there's no reason why this can't be the Mountain West's most dangerous passing attack. Wolfe and Flair form a great 1-2 punch to work around, while Straiten and Saint-Preux could take things to another level.
Rating: 6.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: The Rebel line has an interesting mix of players with several experience reserves needing to shine in starting roles. Tim Goins and Mike McKiski are the only two returning starters, each at guard, but they have to fight to hang on to their jobs. Goins started off as the main man at center before spending more time at guard, and then he took over a starting role last year. He's not huge for a guard at 6-4 and 295 pounds, but he can move. McKiski is a space-eater on the right side at 6-6 and 310 pounds. The former walk-on has been a steady starter, but he's not going to dominate anyone.

Sophomore Joe Hawley will take over at center, where he's considered to be the rising star of the line. A solid 6-3 and 280 pounds, he's athletic, quick and very talented having turned down places like Wisconsin and Arizona to anchor the UNLV front five.

6-4, 325-pound junior Johan Asiata is one of the team's biggest blockers, and he has a little bit of experience starring for Yuba College before joining the Rebels. He redshirted last year and is ready to hit the ground running on the right side.

6-6, 290-pound sophomore Richie Plunkett brings the attitude on the left side. The Colorado State transfer had to sit out last year and showed this spring that he's ready to be a major blocker in all areas.

Projected Top Reserves: Pushing hard for one of the starting guard jobs will be Ramsey Feagai, a 6-2, 360-pound run blocker who can play either guard spot and provide some serious power. He can also play center.

Junior Mario Jeberaeel, at 6-4 and 265 pounds, is a smaller, more athletic option than Plunkett at left tackle, while 6-6, 295-pound redshirt Evan Marchal is a rising star on the right side working behind Asiata.

Watch Out For ... better run blocking. Last year's group had a hard time dominating early on in games and ended up becoming a pure pass protection unit. That should change with the addition of Plunkett and Asiata, who can both hit.
Potential. Hawley has all-star ability, the tackles appear to be stronger, and there's good competition for the guard spots. The line could grow into a strength.
: Quality reserves. The overall talent level has been raised, but there's nothing in the way of veteran depth to rely on at any of the five spots. There will be big problems if injuries strike early on.
Outlook: This should be a good line in time, but it'll have to find just the right combination to make it happen. The run blocking has to be better, and to do that, there has to be a meaner, more physical attitude that was lost when the unit had to focus more on the finesse side of things.
Rating: 5.5


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2007 UNLV Preview
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2007 UNLV Preview - Defense
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