UNLV Football engaged in fierce competition on the gridiron this weekend against the Nevada Wolf Pack as they claimed victory by a score of 45-27 and took home the Fremont Cannon for the second year in a row.
Though the victory was convincing, on the road no less, some key takeaways from the game could show how the Rebels rest of the season will play out.
JAYDEN MAIAVA IS THE REAL DEAL
UNLV freshman quarterback Jayden Maiva came into his own in his first start as the QB1 for the Rebels.
After coming on in relief of Doug Brumfield in Week 3 of the season when the Rebels took down SEC opponent the Vanderbilt Commodores, Maiava continued to propel the UNLV offense like a well-oiled machine.
From the flashes of offense, we saw in that game as he propelled the Rebels to a thrilling 40-37 win and proved to his head coach Barry Odom that he deserved a few more looks under center of the new look Rebel offense.
From that point on, he took the Rebels to a record of 5-1, four of which came with him as starting QB for the Rebels as they entered the game against the Wolf Pack on a three-game win streak.
Maiava did not disappoint as he had his best game yet in a Rebel uniform, completing 20-of-25 passes for a total of 267 yards and two touchdowns in the emotional win.
Now on a four-game win streak, the Rebels are headed back home to the Homecoming matchup against the Colorado State Rams, a matchup in which Maiava will surely get the call again.
THE REBEL SECONDARY NEEDS TO IMPROVE IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON
While the new-look Rebels under head coach Barry Odom has looked impressive on the field, there is one glaring hole, and that is in the defensive secondary.
The UNLV 5-1 record looks good on paper, and their offense has the firepower to back it up, scoring 40 plus points in five out of their six matchups this season, but in each game this year, there have been defensive lapses.
It is important to note that this does not extend to the entirety of Odom’s defense, as the defensive line and the linebackers in coverage have been impressive in the first half of the season, even with the loss of star edge rusher Jerrae Williams.
The hole can be seen on the deep shots many teams have been taking when they have the opportunity to get the passes off; in the game against the Wolf Pack, two of its three touchdowns can be attributed to this fact.
UNR quarterback Brendon Lewis still put up some impressive offensive numbers in the lopsided loss, completing 16-of-31 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns, with a large chunk of that yardage coming in the form of deep passes.
This is highlighted by the Wolf Pack receiver’s stats, with three averaging over 20 yards a catch with less than five receptions each.
This will need to improve, especially in the second half of the season and a tough test coming into Allegiant Stadium in the Colorado State Rams.
THE REBELS ARE ONE WIN AWAY FROM A BOWL GAME
With the win this past weekend on the road in Reno, the Rebels are set up with an opportunity to clinch their first bowl game since 2014 before Halloween.
The passion that coach Odom has brought to the team and the willingness to get the best out of each player has yielded positive results.
While they are one win away from a Bowl appearance, that does not mean it will be easy as the competition for the second half of the season is stiff, including a game against the Colorado State Rams, who took Deion Sanders Buffaloes to the breaking point before falling short in overtime .
They will also have a matchup against Fresno State, which was ranked nationally at No. 25 for two weeks in a row.
However, if the defense can continue to contribute and the offense continues to put up the numbers that they have, it is a real possibility that come the Holidays, UNLV will have secured a bowl appearance.