We have an answer as to who will be UNLV’s starting quarterback against Eastern Washington this Thursday night. Well, sort of. The Rebels released their depth chart for their season opener and had both Doug Brumfield and Justin Rogers listed as starters for the game.
Head coach Marcus Arroyo has yet to commit to one guy to be the starting quarterback throughout fall camp. We won’t know who that will be until the Rebels first snaps on September 2nd against Eastern Washington. Regardless of who that is, both quarterbacks have spent the entire fall camp getting prepared in case they get called to start.
“They both know that at any point we could say ‘you’re going to roll out there,’ they’ve both prepared that way,” Arroyo said after practice on Monday. “We’ve switched them off with the ones the entire camp, we switched them off with the ones the entire spring ball. Neither of those guys have flinched… Both of those guys have prepared to be the starter.”
Last year, four different quarterbacks took snaps for the Rebels. Not having spring ball, summer workouts, or a full fall camp before a shortened season put the quarterbacks in a less than ideal situation. Instead of having all that time in the offseason to evaluate the quarterbacks, much of that evaluation came in-game last year.
Camp Reps Making a Difference
Now, the quarterbacks have had a complete offseason to get the maximum amount of reps and time with the team and system. Arroyo said the quarterbacks were able to get roughly 2,000 reps during the spring and fall. Each of those were valuable reps that they did not get last year, and that’s something all the quarterbacks have taken advantage of this fall camp.
“Both those guys [Brumfield and Rogers] and the entire quarterback room,” Arroyo said, “have done a good job of understanding ‘wow, with this type of reps and this type of teachings, we get a much better chance to evolve at a much better progression.’”
While the quarterback competition will be a high-pressure battle between everyone in the room, it hasn’t impacted the relationships between everyone. Rogers said that the quarterback room is very tight and everyone has built a strong relationship with one another. And for Rogers, this past month of fall camp has been a valuable opportunity for him to grow as a quarterback.
“It’s been great for me,” Rogers said, “just because over the last year and a half I’ve had so much stuff going on outside of football. This was the first camp, really since I’ve been in college, where everything was clicking, the mind was clear… So it’s been good for me this past month, it’s probably been the best I’ve had in a while.”
Brumfield surprised many last season when he got playing time as a true freshman. Getting that experience in live games last year and getting to go through a full offseason this time around has helped how he sees the game. He missed a few practices earlier in the spring with a “tweak” that put him in a boot, which also helped him see the game in a different light.
“Just slowing everything down,” Brumfield said. “Last year I was young and everything was moving so fast, and I was kind of robotic out there. Now I feel like I’m slowing things down and seeing for what it really is… I’m seeing it as football.”
Throughout camp, Brumfield has worked on reading coverages better and understanding where he needs to get the ball. The game slowing down for him has helped him with that. He said he is far more confident in those areas right now compared to the beginning of camp.
The Hot Hand
Earlier in camp, Arroyo did not dismiss the possibility of playing multiple guys in a game. Brumfield said that he would be fine playing in a rotation if needed and he expects the coaches to put the best guy out there on the field Thursday night.
“If necessary (on the possibility of rotating in Rogers and Brumfield), we’ll go out there with a starter and see how it goes,” Arroyo said. “They’ve both done a fantastic job in camp. And, if one guy gets a hot hand, that’s ideal. There’s no real rotation set like there might be at some point when you plan on it. We’re going to see if one guy can go out there and go by the time we get to kickoff and play it by ear.”
Both quarterbacks are ready for whatever opportunity or situation they will face this year. They, along with the rest of the team, are ready to get back on the field and get the bad taste of a winless season last year out of their mouths. The time spent this offseason in camp has created good energy around the team, which they hope will translate into a successful season.
“I feel like our team bond is much closer,” Brumfield said, “we have a lot more guys who are bought in this year, we have a lot more guys who want to win… Everybody out there this year is locked in and ready to go.”
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