UNLV Rebels in store for tough challenge against No. 14 Iowa State

Source: Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Arroyo knows UNLV will have its hands full Saturday night against #14 Iowa State. Despite that, the Rebels are excited for the challenge ahead of them to face a good football team that’s experienced with a lot of depth. 

The Rebels dropped to 0-2 after a 37-10 loss at Arizona State last week. UNLV jumped to a 10-7 lead in the second quarter before losing the lead before halftime, and eventually allowing three straight touchdowns beginning late in the third quarter to fall significantly behind. 

Throughout the early portion of the season, head coach Marcus Arroyo has been quick to mention the growth his team has made through the fall and first two games. Arroyo pointed out the positive things the team does in the game. Part of that comes from Arroyo and his staff working to be honest with his team, which will help them grow to their full potential. 

“It’s just being honest with guys and being organic, being authentic and being in it with them,” Arroyo said at his media availability Monday. “That’s the thing that’s different, if you’re in it and able to give feedback, be honest with them, take ownership, continue to show them how they’re growing, what they’re doing well and better… you can get better as a team.” 

Arroyo was able to list off many issues the Rebels need to clean up this weekend. Offensively, UNLV needs to capitalize and finish on long drives. Last week, the Rebels went on a 16-play drive that ended with a field goal. And the offensive line has to improve its protection around whoever the quarterback will be Saturday. 

Doug Brumfield’s status is still unknown. He left the game in the 3rd quarter after taking a hit to the ground against a Sun Devil defender. Arroyo said Brumfield stayed the night in Arizona as a precautionary measure to make sure he was okay. At media availability on Monday, Arroyo said he is day-to-day and that he will have all of the other guys ready to go just in case. 

When Brumfield has been out there for UNLV, there is a noticeable difference in the energy of the team. Arroyo said it is contagious and impacts everyone on the team to want to go out and make plays for the team. 

“When he’s out there, the ball is moving, he’s a factor,” Arroyo said. “The factor grade shows up and anyone who has a factor grade on our football team has an influence on the way we can grow. It’s exciting to see him generate that kind of execution and get that energy up for us to see guys on either one of the three phases to make a play and make a difference on the team.”

In practice, Brumfield has not yet thrown with the team. Justin Rogers, Cameron Friel, and even Tate Martell have all gotten some throwing time during the limited practice time open to the media. 

The UNLV offense will have to go against a very tough Iowa State defense that ranks 7th in the country in yards per game with 224. They are also 7th in opponents yard per rush at 1.7 yards. The Cyclones so far this season have only allowed one second half touchdown. While Iowa State has had its struggles on offense, it’s been the defense that has carried them. 

Against Iowa in the annual “Cy-Hawk” rivalry game, Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell benched starter Brock Purdy in the fourth quarter. Despite Purdy’s struggles, Campbell is still confident in the program’s winningest quarterback

One thing Campbell wants to see from his offense is more big plays. They only have five rushes that have gone for more than 10 yards and four passes that have gone for 20 or more yards. And scoring points has been a struggle, as the Cyclones have only mustered three touchdowns on offense in two games

After barely edging out FCS Northern Iowa in Week 1 and last week’s tough performance, the Cyclones could be in store for a breakout game. Purdy was a Heisman caliber candidate before the season started and a game against the Rebels could be exactly what he needs to return to form. 

Prudy has thrown three interceptions this season while the Rebel defense has forced four turnovers on the season. So there is an opportunity for UNLV’s defense to force turnovers and give the offense the ball back, as long as they are disciplined, the Rebels could have a chance of containing Purdy and forcing him to make a mistake. 

“I just have to be disciplined with the calls coach Hansen puts in,” defensive back Nohl Williams said. “Containing the quarterback’s legs and our guys are going to get after it, I trust my guys up front. They’re going to contain, and if [Purdy] gets loose, then the secondary has to rally.”

Arroyo faced Campbell in his first year at Iowa State and knows the challenges they present to their opponent. He knew that program would be trending the way they have been by how they played and how well coached they are. With how physical and tough Iowa State is, UNLV will have a tough challenge to try and pull the upset, but they are excited to get back home and put in the work to try and pull their first win of the season. 

“I think the other opportunity is to get home, get in Allegiant, get our fans out there for the second time, finally get the student body out,” Arroyo said. “And continue to put people behind us and trust the process, that’s exciting to me. We’re fired up, I couldn’t be more excited.”

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