Preview 2008 - Offense
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2008 UNLV Offense
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2006 CFN UNLV
What you need to know: It's all about the experience in the
Rebel Shotgun Spread with nine starters returning, several
backups with starting experience, and a whole bunch of hope that
this is the year the attack finally produces on a consistent
basis. The line is big and strong led by emerging star Matt
Murphy at left tackle. The receiving corps boasts one of the
Mountain West's best 1-2 punches in Ryan Wolfe and Casey Flair,
while Frank "the Tank" Summers should be among the league's
rushing leaders. It all comes down to the quarterbacks, and the
issue might not be settled all season long. Four players will
get an equal shot at the starting job, but it'll come down to
Omar Clayton and Travis Dixon to see who can be the most
Passing: Travis Dixon
159-299, 1,873 yds, 8 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: Frank Summers
202 carries, 928 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Ryan Wolfe
66 catches, 784 yds, 2 TD
Star of the offense: Senior RB Frank Summers
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
QBs Omar Clayton & Travis Dixon
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore C John Gianninoto
Best pro prospect: Sophomore OT Matt Murphy
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Summers, 2) WR Ryan
Wolfe, 3) WR Casey Flair
Strength of the offense: Wide receivers, offensive line
Weakness of the offense:
Quarterback efficiency, consistent
Sophomore Omar Clayton will be the starter ... maybe. At
some point. Possibly. The former walk-on became one of the
shocking stories of UNLV's 2007 season as he came from out of
nowhere to come up with two big games in late October throwing
for 304 yards and two touchdowns along with 135 rushing yards against Colorado State and 223
passing yards and a score against
Wyoming. The problem was interceptions throwing five in those
two games. Outside of the picks, he was accurate completing 61%
of his passes for 618 yards and four touchdowns with five
interceptions, while finishing third on the team in rushing with
179 yards and two scores. A broken hand ended his season, but
he's fine now. He has decent size at 6-1 and 200 pounds and
excellent athleticism, but he has to cut down on his mistakes
and he has to be consistent.
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Travis Dixon
started for most of the year and had some success, but he
couldn't quite get the offense over the hump. He has some
brilliant moments, like a 258-yard passing day against Wisconsin
and a 129-yard rushing performance against Utah State. He ended
up losing his job halfway through the season, but he ended up
leading the team with 1,873 passing yards with eight touchdowns
and eight interceptions,and was second in rushing with 324
yards and two scores.
Senior Dack Ishii got a
little bit of work in garbage time and misfired on all three of
his passes. At 6-2 and 220 pounds he has good size and is a
decent all-around athlete, but the former Tennessee Volunteer
has a long way to go to become a consistent passer and will only
get the starting job if he's lights-out better than the younger
options. He has the strongest arm of the bunch, but that doesn't
translate to accuracy.
6-2, 200-pound redshirt freshman Mike Clausen is
considered the future, and he might turn out to be the present.
Last year's star recruit is the perfect fit for the Rebel spread
attack with good size, fantastic athleticism and good passing
skills. He'll need at least another year before he's even close
to becoming a polished player, but he'll get every chance to win
the starting gig.
Watch Out For ... a quarterback controversy all
season long. The coaching staff has four options to choose from
and there might be a quick hook if the anointed number one guy
doesn't produce right away. There's a chance this could be a
Strength: Mobility. It's a prerequisite for the job at
UNLV. Keep your pocket passers at home; these four quarterback
options can all move.
Weakness: A number one quarterback. The Rebels have a
slew of good No. 2 options to come off the bench, but there's
not a franchise player to build the offense around. Travis Dixon
is close, but he's not there yet.
Outlook: It would've been nice if Rocky Hinds had
been able to live up to his billing, but his career was cut
short by a knee injury and isn't with the team anymore. Now
there's a mess of four quarterbacks in the hope to find one who
can play. In a perfect world the offense finds one guy, sticks
with him through thick and thin, and suffers the consequences as
he gets more experienced. This coaching staff doesn't
have that kind of time.
Senior Frank Summers, a former transfer from Cal, barreled his way
to a huge year running for a team-leading 928 yards and six
touchdowns, but "The Tank" ran out of gas late in the season. At
5-10 and 240 pounds he's a big, punishing runner who put
together a nice string of three 100-yard games in a row
highlighted by a 190-yard outing against Utah, and he cranked
out 187 yards against San Diego State, but he only found the end
zone once in the final six games and was held to 63 yards in his
final two games. A terrific receiver, finishing fourth on the
team with 23 catches for 252 yards and four scores; he can be
used in a variety of ways.
Projected Top Reserves: 5-9, 195-pound sophomore
Channing Trotter is a powerfully built back with the
potential to tear off big runs. He only saw four carries last
year for 29 yards, and now he'll get much more of a role working
behind Summers. While not necessarily a speedster, he's
quick with excellent straight-line speed. He could grow into
a breakaway back.
Senior David Peeples was supposed to be the team's
running game but he can't stay healthy. A shoulder injury has
been the main problem holding him to 42 yards on just ten
carries. Expected to make more of an impact now that he's
healed, he's a speed back with some of the best wheels on the
team. While he hasn't shown it yet, he could be a home-run
hitter if he's able to get into space on a regular basis.
Junior Chris Brogdon is a compact 5-7 and 215 pounds with
decent power between the tackles when he gets a chance. He got
garbage time over the last two years, but he hasn't shown enough
in practice to warrant more carries and more work.
Watch Out For ... one of the two running back
recruits to play a role at some point. C.J. Cox has more talent,
Thompson could be in the mix for playing time sooner than later. There
might be a logjam of backs behind Summers, but the
coaching staff will use anyone who can bring more pop to a
ground game that averaged just 3.9 yards per carry.
Strength: Variety. Summers is the running game, but
there are plenty of other options to play around with and form a
decent rotation. If Peeples is healthy, the Rebels will
have a great 1-2 punch to revolve the offense around. However
Weakness: Proven No. 2 back. For all the options and all
the backs in the mix, no one carried the load last year outside
of Summers. How shallow was the depth? The team's second and
third top runners were quarterbacks and WR Ryan Wolfe was
Outlook: The ground game puts up nice stats
because the quarterbacks run, but the Rebels have a pounder in
Summers to count on to carry the offense at times. Now he
has to get some good blocking in front of him and he has to be
consistent. A steady, productive second back has to emerge right
away to keep "The Tank" fresh.
UNLV has brought in a slew of good receiver prospects over the
last few seasons, but it's been Ryan Wolfe who has been
the star of the show. The junior has caught 121 passes for 1,695
yards with seven touchdowns in his first two years becoming a dangerous all-around target who'll once again be the
go-to guy. If he had a steady quarterback throwing to him, he'd
be a superstar. As is he's able to crank out big games here and
there with ten catches for 164 yards against Air Force and a 11
grabs to 135 yards and a touchdown against Colorado State, but
he only found the end zone twice last season and was shut down
in too many big games. He has good 6-1, 205-pound size and
enough speed to separate, but again, he needs a quarterback.
Senior Casey Flair is a quick former walk-on who's been
ultra-productive with 153 career catches for 1,820 yards and
nine scores. He had two ten-catch performances last year, but
even though he has the nation's second longest streak of
consecutive games with a catch, 35, he was held in check in too
many games and had a one catch, -1-yard day against Hawaii. He's
a tough, smart target who's usually great at finding the
openings. If everything breaks right and he has another decent
year, he'll finish his career as the school's all-time leading
receiver (but Wolfe could quickly change that).
6-5, 220-pound junior Rodelin Anthony has the potential
to be a matchup nightmare, and he needs a bigger role in the
attack. With his size and hands, he's a home-run threat who was
a decent No. 3 receiver last year leading the team with a
15.8-yard averaged and finished with 19 catches for 300 yards
and three touchdowns. He closed out the season strong and is
expected to put up huge numbers with everyone paying attention
to Wolfe and Flair.
Junior Jerriman Robinson saw a little bit of action
catching two passes for 21 yards. Now he's in the No. 4 role
with 6-1, 185-pound size and good practice skills. A big
surprise after walking on from Texas Southern, he has worked his
way into a starting spot and has the potential to be the passing
game's breakout star.
When the team uses a tight end, 5-11, 255-pound Ryan Worthen
will get the call. The former fullback was used a little bit
last season in a starting role catching three passes for 14
yards, but he'll mostly be used as a blocker.
Projected Top Reserves: Senior Renan Saint-Preux
hasn't been a total bust, but he's been close. A a star recruit who hasn't been able to find his niche,
he didn't make a catch last season and has 35 career grabs for
254 yards and no scores. A phenomenal athlete, he was the
Florida state high school triple jump champion, he hasn't been
able to make his skills translate to the field even with all his
Senior Gerald Rodriguez was a huge recruit for UNLV,
transferred to Arizona, where he was moved to corner, and
transferred back to UNLV where he caught three passes for 17
yards last season. He'll be a quick, experienced backup who'll
work behind Ryan Wolfe.
Ryan Worthen is the blocking tight end, and 6-3, 230-pound
redshirt freshman Austin Harrington will move over from
defensive end to do a little of everything. A good, physical
athlete, he'll grow into the job over the next few years.
Watch Out For ... more shots down the field. This
is a veteran receiving corps with plenty of talent and returning
production. There hasn't been a quarterback since Rocky Hinds
who can push the ball deep, but there will be more long throws
to stretch things out.
Strength: Experience. This is one of the deepest most
experienced receiving corps the Rebels have ever had, and that
was the case last year. Ryan Wolfe and Casey Flair will finish
their careers as 1-2 on the UNLV all-time receiving charts (in
one way or the other), and Rodelin Anthony has been around long
enough to blossom into a major star.
Weakness: The quarterbacks. The coaches might want to
open up the passing game a bit more, but there isn't a steady
enough passer to make it happen. This receiving corps would blow
up with a consistent, pro-style quarterback.
Outlook: This should be one of the Mountain West's
better receiving corps, even if the stats don't necessarily show
it. Wolfe and Flair form a brilliant 1-2 punch, while Anthony and Robinson are exciting options
who'll get more involved. It would be nice if there were more
options to emerge in the mix, like Saint Preux or Knutsen, but the passing game will work just fine with Wolfe and
The key to the 2008 Rebel line is the move of junior Joe Hawley
from center to guard. The 6-3, 295 pounder is more natural at guard,
playing on the right side, and he should be far more productive. He
wasn't bad in the middle, but he should be better now that he can just
line up and hit someone. Athletic and quick, he turned down places like
Wisconsin and Arizona to be a Rebel.
With Hawley moving to guard, sophomore John Gianninoto will step
in and quarterback the line. The 6-3, 295-pound center got a little
practice work as a true freshman as the standout of last year's class
full of line prospects. He has to shine or else Hawley has to move back
to the middle.
The star of the front five is sophomore Matt Murphy, a tough 6-4,
300-pound mauler who was the surprise of 2007 having taken over the
starting role early on and becoming the line's best player. While he
still has work to do in pass protection, he was terrific for the running
game and consistently plowed over end after end. He earned honorable
mention All-Mountain West honors, and he's only going to get better as
the anchor of the line at left tackle for the next three years.
Eventually, 6-4, 315-pound senior Johan Asiata will start at left
guard after spending most of his time at tackle. Battling with Ramsey
Feagai for the gig, Asiata was out this spring to get his banged up
shoulders healthy. While he isn't Feagai's size, he's a big blocker
who's good for the power running game and has the experience to build on
to have a more consistent season. He was a star from Yuba College before
coming to UNLV and has seen enough playing time to be a solid blocker
next to Matt Murphy.
It'll be an ongoing battle for time at right tackle with sophomore
Evan Marchal getting the first look since Richie Plunkett is
injured. The 6-6, 295-pounder is still developing and is still getting
stronger with room to add another ten pounds on his frame, but first he
has to keep improving and hold down the job. He's a smart player who
won't make many mental mistakes.
Projected Top Reserves: Battling for the starting
left guard job will be sophomore Ramsey Feigai, a massive
6-2, 360-pound run blocker who can play either guard spot and
provide some serious power. While he's not going to do too much
against the lightning quick tackles, he'll steamroll over the
smallish ones when he's able to lock on. He could also play
center if needed.
Looking to push for the right tackle job is senior Richie
Plunkett, a Colorado State transfer who sat out a year and
was a starter throughout last year for a time. He's 6-6, 290
pounds and experienced, but he has back problems and was out
this spring and will be a question mark all season. If he's 100%
healthy he's the likely starter.
Watch Out For ... the combination to be tinkered
with throughout the year. There are several veterans and several
versatile players able to move around and switch spots. The best
five linemen will be out there no matter what.
Strength: Experience. Four starters return and a few
backups are good enough to start. If everyone's healthy there
are talented, veteran options for each spot.
Weakness: Pass protection. The quarterback had something
to do with this considering they held on to the ball for a while
and trued to use their mobility to produce. Even so, the line
had problems with good defenses with athletic defensive fronts.
Outlook: While it's not saying a lot, this should
be the best line of the Mike Sanford area. There's experience
and even some talent to get excited about. Murphy has the
potential to be special and sophomores Gianninoto and Feagai will grow into their roles over the course of this
season and be fixtures for the next few years. There's size,
depth, and good returning production. Now it all has to lead to
more offensive output.