Rebels’ QB job up for grabs ahead of Air Force game

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UNLV quarterback Doug Brumfield fights for yards against the New Mexico Lobos during the Rebels' 31-20 win Friday night at Allegiant Stadium, Photo from Isabella Pupo, a special to The Scarlet & Gray Free Press.

UNLV football is looking to regroup after a 40-7 loss last week against San Jose State at its homecoming game against Air Force Saturday night at Allegiant Stadium. 

Not only did the Rebels suffer their first Mountain West Conference loss, but they also lost starting quarterback sophomore Doug Brumfield to an injury in the first quarter. 

UNLV’s offense got off to a slow start before Brumfield’s injury. Sophomore quarterback Cameron Friel was called off the bench to take over for the injured Brumfield. 

The first snap of Friel’s season debut resulted in a fumble and led to a long night for the Rebels. Friel completed 15 of 22 passes for 153 yards and one touchdown. 

The touchdown was a 14-yard pass to junior wide receiver Senika McKie. That was the only points scored by the Rebels.

For the upcoming game against Air Force, the Rebels’ offense will have to find points without Brumfield. Head coach Marcus Arroyo said Brumfield is dealing with a head and ankle injury.

“He’s day-to-day with our doctors and until they clear him, we’ll be ready to roll,” Arroyo said at his weekly media availability. “We’re going to make sure we get him back the right way, we’re not going to hurry anything.” 

Friel and sophomore quarterback Harrison Bailey, a Tennessee transfer, are listed as co-starters for the Rebels ahead of Saturday night’s homecoming game. Arroyo said their performance this week at practice will determine who starts.

“I think it’s a great week for these two to go after it and battle it out and see what we can do, I’m excited about it,” Arroyo said.

Friel was the starting quarterback for the Rebels last season. He was named to Mountain West’s freshman of the year after he ended the season with a 62.4% completion rate and 1,608 passing yards.

The Rebels are coming into another tough game against Air Force, who defeated them 48-14 last season. Arroyo said that his team will have to step up and realize that everything is still in front of them, and they have to go back to work. 

“You can’t let one loss beat you twice, let alone beat your whole season,” Arroyo said. “We’re not going to do that, I don’t think our guys will flinch.”

Although the Rebels have tough competition ahead of them, junior running back Aidan Robbins said that nothing changes in their preparation when it comes to having a bounce-back game. 

“I come back in, get right back to work and stick to my preparation. It’s not about who we play, it’s about how we prepare,” Robbins said. “I’m going to keep being me, keep working hard and doing what I do.”

Junior defensive back Nohl Williams feels like energy is a big factor when it comes to the Rebels’ success. 

“We need to bring more energy into these types of games,” Williams said. “The energy has to be magnified ten times more than we did in the beginning of the season.”

UNLV (32.7 PPG) and Air Force (31.8 PPG) are two of the top-scoring offenses in the Mountain West and are both looking to rebound from road conference losses. 

The Rebels are looking for their first win over the Falcons (4-2) since 2013. It will also be the Falcon’s first appearance in Allegiant Stadium; kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Despite suffering a blowout loss last Friday, Arroyo said it doesn’t derail the success the Rebels have had halfway through the season.

“Halfway through the season, we’ve got some really good things that we’re excited about and strong indicators of a real program rise,” Arroyo said.

The game will be broadcasted live on UNLV’s student radio station, KUNV 91.5 The Rebel HD2.

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