UNLV football looking for home win against North Texas

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Offensive lineman Preston Nichols (left) and Amani Trigg-Wright (right) celebrate coming off the field in UNLV's season opener against Idaho State on Aug. 27. Photo by Jordan Anders-McClain.

UNLV football is looking to bounce back for their upcoming game against North Texas Saturday at Allegiant Stadium.

The Rebels’ game against California last Saturday went down to the wire, but they couldn’t take advantage of opportunities to take the lead. Penalties (eight for 105 yards) and UNLV’s inability to capitalize on third downs (1-of-12 on third downs), were major setbacks in the loss to the Golden Bears 20-14 at the California Memorial Stadium. 

The Rebels were put under pressure late in the game and in preparation for the upcoming week head coach Marcus Arroyo learned a lot about his team. 

“They’ll fight, they’ll scrap, they’re together, they like adjustments and there’s no negative talk,” he said.

Starting quarterback Doug Brumfield had a slow start against Cal. But Arroyo is driven to get Brumfield and his offense back on track for this week’s game. He’s looking for consistency within the team and believes the current mindset of the team will help with that.

“There’s accountability in this group right now.” Arroyo says. “It’s a we, not a me deal, and if you think it’s a me thing, I’ll find some me for you and I’ll show the whole group.” 

UNLV leads the all-time series (4-1) against the North Texas Mean Green. The Rebels are hoping to win two of their first three games of the season for only the second time since 2009 and first time since 2018. 

“Going into North Texas at home, noon kick, it’s fired up man.” Arroyo said.

Coming back home, senior linebacker Austin Ajiake and junior center Leif Fautanu strive to feed off of the energy from their 12th man at Allegiant Stadium. 

“Being at home in front of our fans is where we like to play,” Ajiake said.

Fautanu shared similar sentiments, believing the crowd could help them get off to a better start. 

“Having (the fans) in that atmosphere really helps us when the momentum starts going,” he said. 

The Rebels will need to continue to come up with key plays on special teams and defense in what is expected to be another close game. 

Junior defensive back Jerrae Williams came up with a crucial interception and had seven tackles. Sixth-year placekicker Daniel Guttierez recovered his own onside kick that set the Rebels up with prime field position to try and pull off the win against Cal.

Several members off of UNLV’s roster are from Texas including sophomore defensive back Cameron Oliver who made an impact, bringing in five solo tackles against Cal. 

Arroyo mentioned Oliver in his weekly pregame press conference as someone who has improved in his second season. Oliver is looking to have a productive second season with the Rebels.

North Texas (2-1), out of Conference USA, is another non-conference matchup for the Rebels before their first Mountain West Conference game at Utah State on Sept. 24. 

Arroyo said the physicality of the Mean Green from head coach Seth Litrell and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett is what the Rebels will need. 

Although the Rebels’ last meeting in 2014 with the Mean Green was a loss at the Heart of Dallas Bowl, they’re coming into this week looking to back on the winning side and improve to 2-1.

The close loss at Cal gave this UNLV team a test of what being in a close game will be like. Arroyo now wants to see the Rebels close them out.

“You’ve got to finish them.” Arroyo said. “Now you need not just counterpunches, not just rhythm, you need a knockout punch.”  

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