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    The Rebel HD-2

Football

UNLV at Iowa

todaySeptember 26, 2021 1

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By: Matt Raftery

UNLV’s second home game of the season ended in a decisive loss to No. 14 Iowa State. The Rebels, down to an 0-3 start on the season, began the game without quarterback Doug Brumfield, out due to an ankle injury — foreshadowing a difficult night.

Iowa State’s offense got out to an early lead on a 72-yard drive that culminated in a touchdown from Breece Hall, capping off a 70-rushing-yards first from the running back. UNLV struggled to adjust defensively, and ended the quarter trailing in the opening frame for the first time this season. Iowa State would come back to score again at the start of the second, with another 1-yard run that would see the Rebels fall behind 14-0. UNLV’s offense was helmed primarily by Freshman quarterback Cameron Friel, in his first career game played. Friel would start his tenure with some mild yardage gain. Despite the effort, UNLV’s offense stagnated, punting on subsequent drives, and giving up an interception as they struggled to overcome Iowa State’s eighth ranked defense.

The Rebels failed to score before the halfway mark, as Iowa State would start the third ahead 24-0.

UNLV opened the quarter by allowing Iowa State to score, raising the deficit to 31-0. Head Coach Marcus Arroyo would later insert Junior Tate Martell. He would mark his on-field debut for UNLV with 2 completions for a total of 27 yards gained, helping the Rebels set up for their first points of the night — a 30 yard field goal. Kicker Daniel Guiterrez would keep his streak of makes alive this season at 6-6, raising his overall percentage to 81.8%, the highest in school history per UNLVRebels.com.

However, this would mark UNLV’s only successful drive of the game, as Iowa State would reel off two more touchdowns and a field goal. The game would finish in a 45-point blowout, the largest since a loss in 2018 to Fresno State, coincidentally next week’s opponent, which also happened to close at 3-48.

Per UNLVRebels.com, the team’s defense this season has allowed for an average of 190 rushing yards per game, which Iowa State fell short of by 6. Still, the Rebel’s defensive woes allowed for opponent Iowa State to exceed their average rushing yardage by almost 50 total yards — more than UNLV had the entire game. The Rebel’s defense has also allowed for 81 points scored in the Red-Zone since the start of the season, a deficit of -41.

UNLV’s offense isn’t also without blame, as the team finished the game without a touchdown scored. Which has highlighted an issue with the offense, as UNLV’s average points-per-game dropped from 17.33 to 15.33 this season. The Rebels average yardage has also dropped over 111 yards-per-game since last season, with total passing and rushing YPG dropping 85 and 35 YPG, respectively. All of this data, coming from UNLVRebels.com, points to a concerning inefficiency from both sides of the ball.

Per Sports Reference, the Rebels SRS on the season, a number that takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule, falls to -22.40, the second worst mark in school history, and the worst since 1995. For reference, last year’s winless season came in at -20.68. Those numbers are in spite of this year’s squad landing in the top 20 in the rankings of strength of schedule for UNLV since 1978, thirteen places higher than last year’s winless team.

UNLV’s loss to Iowa State continues to mark a tumultuous chapter for the team, one which has forced fans to find optimism between the cracks of a mounting number of losses. UNLV’s record in the Arroyo Era remains winless, as the Rebels have gone 9 consecutive games since their last victory.

 

The Positives:

While it may be easy to focus solely on the bad circumstances of a team that loses at home by 45 points, let’s look at a few things that’ll help fans of the team keep their heads up, and out of their ovens. UNLV this season has improved slightly on the margins, as our total yards-per-play allowed has dropped from 7.2 to 6.6.

We’ve also got to highlight how great it is to see two new players see the field in Cameron Friel and Tate Martell, who was recently cleared to play after a thumb injury. Giving these players a chance to gain experience in-game is an invaluable resource. We’ve got a lot of raw talent at that position as UNLV’s choices at quarterback are relatively inexperienced. Friel made his debut in this game, passing for 67 yards, which is over 66% of UNLV’s average per game total passing yards this season. Injured QB Doug Brumfield only played in 2 of the 6 games last season, so he’s not alone in adjusting to the college game. It was also great getting to see Tate Martell show his ability in the run game, and hand Arroyo another potential option at the position.

What this means is that this season is a chance for these players to reorient themselves in the right direction as the season progresses.

UNLV is also slated to begin play against in-conference opponents, teams that are much more familiar and easier to overcome than two top-20 ranked schools, which should present an opportunity for the team to potentially grab a win in the Arroyo Era. UNLV moves on to play Fresno State, hoping to make something to be optimistic about a little easier for all fans of the program.

Written by: Ashton Ridley

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