UNLV Fires Defensive Coordinator, Safeties Coach
Tony Sanchez made a big move over the weekend.
What is next for UNLV football?
The UNLV defense has been an issue for a while and to a degree has been holding back this Rebel team. Head coach Tony Sanchez made a big change by firing defensive coordinator Kent Baer and also its safeties coach Andy LaRussa.
“I really appreciate the effort those guys have put in over the last couple of years,” Sanchez said via the Las Vegas Sun. “We’re definitely a better football team and we’ve moved in the right direction on defense. At this point, I just feel like we can make some changes that will help us continue to grow in a positive direction.”
This was sort of surprising since this was the third year as coaches under Sanchez, but the defense has been pretty bad under this new staff.
Baer was seen as an amazing hire for Sanchez as he was looking for experienced college coaches since the move from high school to FBS was a big leap for the former Bishop Gorman coach.
Baer has over 30 years of college coaching experience which included stops at Stanford, Notre Dame, Washington, Cal, Arizona State, Colorado and others as a defensive coordinator.
The defense just never materialized to anything great and 2017 saw the defense take a step back. The 2015 unit was the worst in the Mountain West in yards per game and yards per play, but 2016 saw a great jump to being middle of the pack in both categories Yet, 2017 saw a regression to the bottom third and no improvement.
It also did not help that this defense gave up 31.8 points per game and had four games allowing over 40 and two of those were 50-plus. That season-opening loss to Howard was not ideal either where the defense allowed 43 points.
This defense had issues getting beyond the line of scrimmage and was one of the worst in the country at sacks with just 11 which was second to last in the country and fewer than one per game.
No names have come out yet in who the Rebels may hire but expect Sanchez to find a coach that will be more aggressive.
“Some are odd-front guys, some are even-front guys,” Sanchez said. “Obviously we want to match it to our personnel and the guys that we’ve recruited. One of the biggest things is getting a little bit more pressure on the quarterback, being a little bit more aggressive in those situations and then just getting a little bit better against the run.”