Doug Brumfield is going to start at quarterback for the Rebels on Saturday against No. 25 Arizona State, UNLV football coach Marcus Arroyo announced Monday during his weekly press conference.
That was news to Brumfield, who waited inside the Fertitta Football Complex before replacing his coach at the podium in the media room.
“I feel like I prepare as the starter if I’m not starting,” Brumfield said, moments after revealing that he hadn’t known he was starting until Arroyo told reporters a few minutes earlier. “We all prepare the same because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Brumfield didn’t know he would play Thursday in UNLV’s 35-33 loss to Eastern Washington at Allegiant Stadium. But the offensive struggles with junior Justin Rogers behind center prompted Arroyo to summon the sophomore midway through the third quarter — facing a 14-point deficit.
He responded by engineering 14 fourth-quarter points to force overtime. He completed 5 of 12 pass attempts for 117 yards, threw an interception and rushed for 27 yards and a touchdown.
“He provided a great spark. Really built off of some of the things he did in camp,” Arroyo said. “I’m excited to see him get in with a true week going in as the guy for the first time. Excited to see him grow.”
Brumfield split most of the first-team reps with Rogers throughout the course of training camp, but he missed five days of practice with an ankle injury. Rogers started against Eastern Washington, though the offense lacked a rhythm amid constant pressure in passing situations.
Rogers finished 7 of 11 for 23 yards. Brumfield replaced him and promptly completed a 58-yard pass to Kyle Williams to ignite what had been a stagnant offense.
“Coach Arroyo does a great job of preparing us. Everybody, not just the ones but the twos,” said Brumfield, a 6-foot-5-inch southpaw. ”I feel like (starting) is a great opportunity for me to go down to Arizona and just show what we could really do.”
Brumfield has only thrown 33 passes for the Rebels. But he will be buoyed in the backfield by one of the country’s most experienced runners in Charles Williams. The senior rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns Thursday and leads all active FBS players with 3,117 career rushing yards.
Arroyo figures Williams could help ease Brumfield’s burden.
“When you can hand the ball off to a guy who you feel really confident in being successful in putting you at advantageous downs and distances as a quarterback, that’s always good — not having to direct traffic a ton,” Arroyo said. “It’s a good mix back there.”