UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers is listed as doubtful to play on Saturday at Fresno State, and backups Kurt Palandech and Johnny Stanton have different skill sets, different strengths and weaknesses and different levels of experience.
Stanton, in fact, has been playing as a linebacker the past two weeks. In last week’s loss to Utah State, when Rogers was knocked from the game with a head injury, Stanton was the Rebels’ fifth-leading tackler with six, including four solo stops.
He again is on the depth chart at quarterback this week – Rogers, Palandech and Stanton all separated by the ambiguous and potentially unnerving “or.”
But that uncertainty hasn’t forced the Bulldogs’ defensive staff to change much when preparing for UNLV and to extend runs of nine consecutive quarters without allowing a touchdown and nine consecutive halves without allowing 200 yards of offense.
“If you spend too much time focusing on them, you’re really not spending enough time on your own squad,” defensive coordinator Orlondo Steinauer said. “While we acknowledge what may be going on over there, we can’t get caught up in their percentages and this and that. We go in with a game plan that the guys can understand and can execute.
“After the first half a day or so (of practice), the majority of the focus is on us and our execution. Guessing doesn’t do anything, I know that.”
Rogers is the more dangerous threat and has been an important piece in the Rebels’ zone read run game, rushing the ball 13.6 times a game, second-highest on the team to running back Lexington Thomas. With him on the field in that loss to the Aggies, UNLV averaged 7.9 yards per play and scored four touchdowns.
With Palandech on the field for the final drive of the first half and all of the second half, the Rebels averaged 3.3 yards per play and did not score any points. Palandech has 15 carries for 76 yards (5.1 yards per play) this season and completed 8 of 19 passes (42.1 percent) for 48 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
Stanton has not run the ball this season, but a year ago he had 40 carries for 231 yards (5.8 yards per play) and scored one touchdown and completed 50 of 107 passes (46.7 percent) for 647 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
Two keys for the Bulldogs there are the completion percentages with the Rebels’ backup quarterbacks. Last year and this, Palandech and Stanton have a combined passing efficiency rating of just 106.93.
Thomas is much more of a dual-threat, if he is on the field. If he is not, the Bulldogs’ task becomes less tricky, but not necessarily any easier.
Palandech and Stanton both have 100-yard rushing games in their careers and the Rebels are ranked second in the Mountain West and 11th in the nation in rushing offense, generating 281.3 yards per game.
“I anticipate we’ll see the starter, but we’ll see,” coach Jeff Tedford said. “We have to be ready for their offense no matter what. We have to just stay dialed in on their schemes. Personnel is a different story – we can’t control that. But their schemes are something that we can stay dialed in on.”
He still is wearing a brace but has been upgraded, Tedford said, from a status where he would be used only in the event of an emergency and could play against the Rebels.
With Rivers down, freshman Jordan Mims and sophomore Josh Hokit got the majority of the running back reps. against the Aztecs, Mims rushed for 112 yards on 21 plays, both career-highs. Hokit rushed for 77 yards and three touchdowns on 14 plays.
Hawaii TV – The Bulldogs’ Nov. 11 game at Hawaii will be televised by KSEE24. It will include a 30-minute pregame at 7:30 p.m. Kickoff is 8 p.m.
Single-digit D – Fresno State has allowed Mountain West opponents an average of 8.5 points per game – Nevada scored 21, San Jose State 10, New Mexico zero and San Diego State three.
There has not been a MW team that has held opponents to less than 10 points per game in conference play since 2009 when TCU allowed only 10 touchdowns and 75 points, 9.4 points per game.
The Bulldogs have allowed four touchdowns and two field goals, 34 points.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
UNLV AT FRESNO STATE
- Saturday: 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium (41,031)
- Records: Bulldogs 5-2, 4-0 Mountain West; Rebels 2-5, 1-3
- TV/radio: AT&T, ROOT (AT&T UVerse 757, 1757; DirecTV 684)//KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Of note: The Rebels lost at home to Utah State on Saturday, 52-28. UNLV has now allowed an average of 42.3 points over its past three games. … The Aggies rolled up 578 yards of total offense, 323 passing and 255 rushing. They converted 8 of 14 third downs, taking advantage of a soft spot in the UNLV defense. … The Rebels entered having allowed opponents to convert on 44.2 percent of their third downs, ranking 10th in the Mountain West. … UNLV does have one of the top running backs in the conference in Lexington Thomas, who racked up 161 yards and two touchdowns against Utah State and is averaging 125.3 yards per game with 12 rushing touchdowns.