UNLV Football: Three Questions For Spring Practice

UNLV Football: Three Questions For Spring Practice

Mountain West Football

UNLV Football: Three Questions For Spring Practice

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UNLV Football: Three Questions For Spring Practice


The Rebels made a lot of progress last season, but new questions must be answered for Marcus Arroyo’s team to take more steps forward.


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The competitive window is starting to open.

The UNLV Rebels only won two games in their 2021 campaign, but those who paid close attention saw a great deal of improvement on the field. Now, however, the next phase of Marcus Arroyo’s rebuild, from cellar dweller to bowl contender, gets underway.

What needs to be done this spring to lay the foundation for future successes next fall?

How will Marcus Arroyo navigate his new quarterback quagmire?

Four different players threw a pass for the Rebels in 2021, but much of that had more to do with tough injury luck than ineffectiveness: Doug Brumfield and Cameron Friel flashed their potential at different points in the season but both took some lumps. Assuming both are healthy, they’ll now have to compete with Tennessee transfer Harrison Bailey and perhaps sophomore Matthew Geeting.

Or will they? Friel, after all, was named the Mountain West’s freshman of the year after establishing a new program record for completion percentage by a true freshman. Conversely, Brumfield was the first quarterback that Marcus Arroyo turned to during non-conference play and flashed potential as a dual-threat playmaker. It all adds up to a question the Rebels have dealt with many times before, though it’s been a while since identifying the right answer quickly has been so important.

Which up-and-comers could make big strides?

Both sides of the ball have seen their fair share of emergent performers over the last couple years, from Friel and wide receiver Kyle Williams to linebacker Brennon Scott and cornerback Nohl Williams. Many more got glimpses of playing time throughout 2021, so who could step up?

At running back, for instance, someone is going to have to replace Charles Williams, but could incumbent backup Chad Magyar get surpassed by fellow veteran Courtney Reese, former Oregon transfer Jayvaun Wilson or 2021 recruit Sammy Green? Will Kaleo Ballungay push Sheldon Zeon III at tight end for good? Are players like Waisale Muavesi and Leshaun Bell prepared for bigger roles in the front seven, and what about prospects who redshirted in 2021, like Nick Dimitris?

How will the defense replace Jacoby Windmon?

Windmon blistered Mountain West offenses all year and ended up leading the Rebels in total tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks, which makes his departure to Michigan State via the transfer portal one of the biggest individual losses anywhere in the conference.

The Rebels do return a few other veterans in Austin Ajiake, Kyle Beaudry (who replaced an injured Ajiake in the starting lineup last year), and the emergent Scott, giving them some proven pieces that could be moved around, but finding one player to replace all of Windmon’s production seems unlikely. Establishing new depth could be the goal instead, which is where Bell and 2021 redshirts like Marsel McDuffie could find greater importance.

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