Nonconference primer: Arizona
July, 14, 2014
By Kevin Gemmell | ESPN.com
Today we start a new series looking at each team’s nonconference opponents in 2014.
UNLV, Friday, Aug. 29
UNLV, Friday, Aug. 29
- Coach: Bobby Hauck (13-38), fifth year
- 2013 record: 7-6, 5-3 Mountain West
- Returning starters: eight offense, six defense
- Offensive headliner: Wide receiver Devante Davis caught 87 balls for 1,290 yards and a school-record 14 touchdowns last season.
- Defensive headliner: Safety Peni Vea had 108 tackles and two interceptions last season.
- The skinny: The Rebels return four of five starters on the offensive line (much like the Wildcats), but are still undecided on a starting quarterback (much like the Wildcats). Quarterbacks Nick Sherry and Blake Decker are battling to replace Caleb Herring, and the Rebels must replace their all-time leading rusher in Tim Cornett (much like the Wildcats and Ka’Deem Carey). For all the similarities, let's not forget Arizona blew out the Rebels 58-13 last year in Vegas.
- Coach: Larry Coker (19-15), fourth year
- 2013 record: 7-5, Conference USA
- Returning starters: nine offense, 10 defense
- Offensive headliner: Running back David Glasco II returns as the leading rusher from last season after posting 496 yards and five touchdowns on 95 carries.
- Defensive headliner: Safety Triston Wade is back after posting a team-high 94 tackles with a pair of interceptions and five breakups.
- The skinny: The Roadrunners are done with their transition and are now a full-fledged NCAA Division I FBS team and eligible for postseason play. They closed last year on a five-game winning streak, but have to replace quarterback Eric Soza, the only quarterback UTSA has known since its inception. Look for UTSA to be in contention for the CON-USA title.
- Coach: Brian Polian (4-8), second year.
- 2013 record: 4-8, 3-5 Mountain West
- Returning starters: seven offense, nine defense
- Offensive headliner: Cody Fajardo is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback who threw for 13 touchdowns last year (to just three interceptions) while also rushing for 621 yards and eight scores. If he played on a higher-profile team, he’d probably get some Heisman buzz.
- Defensive headliner: Senior defensive end Brock Hekking has posted 24.5 tackles for a loss and 17 sacks over the past two seasons.
- The skinny: The Wolf Pack struggled in the second half of last season, dropping tight games to San Diego State, UNLV and BYU, snapping a streak of eight straight bowl appearances. But with Fajardo at the helm, they are always a threat to score. Polian tabbed Scott Boone, a longtime and very successful FCS coordinator, to fix a defense that ranked 102nd nationally in 2013 (34.4 points per game).