The UNLV Rebels took a big gamble this offseason by hiring former high school coach Tony Sanchez to lead the program back on the right path. It would be an incredible upset if UNLV were to go to the Big House and knock off Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines, but there are still a few matchup concerns to keep an eye on.
Devonte Boyd (WR)
Boyd was by far UNLV’s best offensive weapon as a freshman, hauling in 65 passes for 950 yards (the best among freshmen last season). Michigan’s secondary took a few strides last year and only allowed 193.7 passing yards per game, but the overall quality was a far cry from where it should’ve been.
The Wolverines beefed up their secondary a bit this offseason by adding graduate transfer Wayne Lyons at cornerback; Jourdan Lewis will have to be a rock on the other side. Boyd isn’t a blur, but he can usually win a one-on-one matchup in space with his first move and can come down with the ball in traffic.
Blake Decker (QB)
Decker finished fourth last season in the Mountain West in total yards, but he threw more interceptions (18) than touchdowns (15). He’ll be pushed by junior college transfer Kurt Palandech, but the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in April that Decker looked like the starter in spring practices.
So a potentially prolific quarterback who’s maybe a few better decisions from becoming dangerous—that’s something to watch. He’ll obviously have Boyd to work with on the outside (they were perfectly in sync during UNLV’s spring game), but a depleted offensive line will likely give way to Michigan’s tenacious defensive front. Decker does have the ability to move, but he’s still going to find himself under a lot of pressure.
Tau Lotulelei (LB)
Lotulelei was one a few bright spots for UNVL’s defense last season. He led the team in tackles (100) and recorded 10.5 tackles for loss. He’ll be the anchor of a linebacker corps that returns all three starters and should be the strength of the defense.
Lotulelei has good speed on the edge as the weak-side linebacker. He’s considered to have NFL potential, and, interestingly enough, he was unrated as a recruit by both Rivals and 247Sports.