September 29, 2022 - 2:05 pm
UNLV football coach Marcus Arroyo made a plea to fans to show up to Allegiant Stadium for Friday’s game against New Mexico.
His invitation list wasn’t as long or specific as that of Aces forward A’ja Wilson, who invited everyone from the governor to Floyd Mayweather as the Aces began their journey to an eventual WNBA championship.
But Arroyo’s message was just as straightforward as Wilson’s. He hopes to see the community rally behind the 3-1 Rebels — off to their best start since 2008 — as it has with other sports.
“Getting our fans, our students, our community and everybody involved at Allegiant Stadium on Friday night would be an awesome thing,” Arroyo said. “It would show such growth in everything we’re doing.”
Arroyo said he has noticed support around the program grow after the fast start. He said the players have been feeding off the energy and felt the crowd’s impact in the first two home games.
“The buzz around the city and the campus is there,” senior linebacker Austin Ajiake said. “We really feel it, and it’s something that we definitely feed off.”
The Rebels have been feeding off the crowd at home and on the road. Ajiake said the hostile road crowd for the Mountain West opener Saturday at Utah State provided motivation in the Rebels’ 34-24 victory.
Arroyo was impressed with how physically and mentally tough his team was on the road. He credits the speed and physicality the Rebels are practicing with now, saying they are “practicing at a whole different level than a year ago.”
“We’ve been having great practices, which has been showing up in the games,” Ajiake said. “Practice is the time where we earn our confidence, and we have to earn it because nothing is given to us.”
Not everything has gone the Rebels’ way this past week, as they will be short-handed Friday.
Arroyo said Monday that senior transfer wide receiver Jeff Weimer will be out after he suffered an apparent shoulder injury against Utah State.
Junior wide receiver Kyle Williams’ status is in question because of a leg injury. He was listed as a starting receiver on the depth chart, but there is no update on his status.
UNLV’s depth at wide receiver was highly touted during fall camp and will be put to the test. Arroyo said junior college transfers Senika McKie and Nick Williams should get more playing time against New Mexico.
Williams is listed at the starting receiver spot that Weimer held. Williams had three catches for 53 yards against Utah State in limited action.
Arroyo said he’s looking forward to seeing how those receivers play in an expanded role.
“There’s no choice.” he said, “It’s next man up.”
Who: New Mexico (2-2, 0-1) at UNLV (3-1, 1-0)
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Allegiant Stadium
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: KWWN (100.9 FM, 1100 AM)
Line: UNLV -14½; total 44