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Freshmen, walk-ons get playing time for Rebels

Updated November 27, 2020 - 6:51 pm

With the problems UNLV has had keeping players on the field for a number of reasons, it has opened the door for plenty of players to gain experience.

Of the 51 players the Rebels used in their 45-14 loss to Wyoming on Friday at Allegiant Stadium, 12 were freshmen and seven were walk-ons.

“I’m excited for some of the young guys that got a chance to get out there,” first-year coach Marcus Arroyo said after UNLV fell to 0-5. “To see them step up over the course of the week, my hat’s off to them having to jump in. That’s something, top to bottom as an organization, we’ve got to make sure doesn’t get swept under the rug.”

Freshmen getting on the field has been a theme for the Rebels through their first five games. Kyle Williams is the team’s leading receiver, and Nohl Williams and Sir Oliver Everett have been the starting cornerbacks.

But more are making a mark as the season nears an end. Receiver Zyell Griffin made his first career start, and quarterback Doug Brumfield and tackle Tiger Shanks made their debuts Friday.

Brumfield, the fourth quarterback the Rebels have used this season, led UNLV with 93 yards passing and scored his first touchdown on an 8-yard scramble in the fourth quarter.

“It’s awesome (for the freshmen),” Arroyo said. “That’s what you want is for the guys to fly around and do it in live situations. It’s great to see those 12 true freshmen, and my hat’s off to the seven walk-ons. Some of those guys have only been there a handful of days, and to see young guys go out there and continue to develop, that’s what it’s all about.”

No fans in the stands

UNLV was allowed to have 2,000 fans for its first two home games, against UNR and Fresno State.

But after a spike in COVID-19 cases in Southern Nevada, UNLV followed advice from the Southern Nevada Health District to not have any fans for its final two home games, Friday against Wyoming and next Friday against Boise State.

Windmon adds a half sack

With a half sack Friday, sophomore defensive end Jacoby Windmon has five for the season, the most for any Rebel since Siuea Vaesau had five in 2014.

He needs 1.5 sacks in the final two games to match Jason Beachamp (2009) and James Dunlap (2011) for the most at UNLV in the past 15 seasons.

Lack of penalties a plus

UNLV was averaging 7.5 penalties for 64 yards per game, but was mostly clean Friday.

The Rebels were called for three penalties for 20 yards, and one of those, a delay of game in the fourth quarter, was taken intentionally to give the punt team more room to operate. The other two were on the offense, a false start in the first quarter and holding in the fourth.

“I like that we only had three penalties, coming off a game a couple weeks ago when we didn’t do that well,” Arroyo said. “I’m proud of the way those guys worked this week.”

Quick turnaround for Wyoming

The Cowboys (2-2) will return Dec. 5 to play New Mexico at Sam Boyd Stadium.

New Mexico has made Sam Boyd its home field for the rest of the season because of COVID-19 restrictions in the state.

Contact Jason Orts at jorts@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2936. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter.

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