Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Farewell to 2016: UNLV Rebels

2016 was a season of recurrent dominance on one side (San Diego State), and a resurgence on the other (Wyoming). The strength of the MWC was once again on the Mountain Division side of the league, as both Boise State and Air Force finished with 10 wins after bowl season was over with, and New Mexico finished with 9 wins. Wyoming, finished with 8 after being one of the worst programs in America in recent seasons. The Cowboys made it to the MWC title game after holding off charges from both Boise State and New Mexico, and while the season could have finished better for the Cowboys, the surge in success in Laramie had to be recognized as a huge move forward for Craig Bohl and his Cowboy program. In the West, Hawaii showed signs of life under Nick Rolovich, but the rest of the division, not including San Diego State, tanked once again, that side of the league will have 3 new head coaches in 2017. Here is a look back at the season that was in 2016.

UNLV Rebels
4-8 (3-5)

2016 Schedule
Beat Jackson State 63-13
Lost to UCLA 42-21
Lost to Central Michigan 44-21
Lost to Idaho 33-30
Beat Fresno State 45-20
Lost to San Diego State 26-7
Beat Hawaii 41-38
Lost to Colorado State 42-23
Lost to San Jose State 30-24
Beat Wyoming 69-66
Lost to Boise State 42-25
Lost to Nevada 45-10

MVP Offense: RB Lexington Thomas, WR Devonte Boyd
With a passing game that was incredibly innefficient all season, the Rebels needed something out of their running game, and although that run game could have broken through more than it did at times, one player stood out in Lexington Thomas. Thomas rushed for 642 yards, but provided 8 TDs on the season. He averaged 5.18 yards per carry, and had he not scored when he did, the offense may have suffered from complete anmeia in the scoring area. 
Despite a complete mess in the QB area (again), Devonte Boyd was a bright spot at WR, catching 45 passes for 746 yards, and averaging16.58 yards per reception. He only caught 4 TDs on the season as the leading receiver, but that was more of an indictment on the issues with the QBs than with his play.  MVP Defense: LB Tau Lotulelei, DB Darius Mouton, DB Torry McTyer
LB Tau Lotulelei was a rock star in 2016 on the defensive side. He led the team with 117 tackles (9.75 per game), finsihed with 16.5 TFLs, and had 3.5 sacks. He also broke up 3 passes on the season. He finished in double figures in tackles a whopping 8 times, including a season high 15 tackles against Idaho in a loss, and had a season high 3.5 TFLs against Colorado State.
Darius Mouton was also a star in the secondary, as he finished with 51 tackles, but his big contribution came in pass defese, where he led the Rebels with 13 PBUs on the season. 
DB Torry McTyer was also a big time player in the secondary, as he finished with 12 PBUs to go with his 49 tackles. McTyer led the team with 3 INTs, one of which that went for a score.  Others of Note
UNLV averaged just 162.9 yards passing per game in 2016, and used 3 different QBs. Kurt Palandech was the only of the 3 to reach 50% in completions, and barely at just 50.5%. 
Charles Williams, a freshman, led the Rebels in rushing with 763 yards, but scored just 3 times, while only averaging 11.75 carries per game. UNLV averaged 241.5 yards rushing per game. 
Boyd was the only Rebel receiver to pass 20 receptions on the season. 
Senior DB Troy Hawthorne finished second in tackles with 107, one of 2 Rebels to finish with over 100 in 2016.
LB Ryan McAleenan finished with 89 tackles. averaging 7.42 per game. 
The offensive line allowed just 10 sacks all season. The defense collected just 19.
The Rebels defense forced 15 fumbles. Opponents only forced 3 fumbles against the Rebels all season. 
Best Win: Wyoming 69-66
The Rebels ran dog for dog against the Cowboys, who won the Mountain Division in a thrilling 3 point win. It was the best quarter to quarter effort by the offense all season. 
Worst Loss: Nevada 45-10, San Jose State 30-24, Colorado State 42-23
The Rebels completely imploded against rival Nevada in losing the Fremont Cannon. It was their toughest loss to take all season long. Losing to San Jose State was a tough loss to a losing team that the Rebels should have likely easily have won, and they needed that win to get to a bowl, and the loss to Colorado State completely eliminated the Rebels from the bowl picture.The team finished 4-8, and winning any 2 of these three games could have had the Rebels in the postseason. 
2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/2 Howard, 9/9 at Idaho, 9/23 at Ohio State, 11/11 BYU
The Rebels beat Howard with ease, but it gets tough after that. Idaho has owned the Rebels in recent years, and even though they drop to FCS football, this is still no easy grab. Losses are likely against Ohio State and BYU. 

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