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Freshman Kenyon Oblad seemed to improve
considerably over the course of the season

I had given up on Tony Sanchez as UNLV's head coach early in the 2019 season. After failing to recognize that Armani Rogers just wasn't working out at QB, Sanchez waited until conference play had started before benching Rogers in favor of Kenyon Oblad. Oblad had an up and down season, but in my opinion, he showed early on that he was the better passer than Rogers. As I said in previously on this blog: UNLV doesn't need another runner; they need a quarterback.

UNLV ended up with a four-win season. I don't know if UNLV would have won another early game or two if they had played Oblad sooner. But I will say that I think Oblad got better over the course of the season, leading the team to two nail-biting (but ultimately meaningless) victories to close out the season. With another 2 or 3 games of experience early in the season, maybe he would have been playing better in the middle and late season, and maybe UNLV would actually have been able to pull out another win or two in conference play. We'll never know because Sanchez stubbornly kept Rogers in until after it was too late to salvage the season.

Tony Sanchez won't even get a single full season with the
Fertitta Football Training Complex that he helped build.

That being said, I do kind of feel bad for Sanchez. Despite his failings on the field, he was actually very successful off the field. His legacy with UNLV will be that he managed to drum up financial support for the team from friends and family, and he is the reason that UNLV now has its fancy, top of the line Fertitta Football Complex training facility. Unfortunately for Sanchez, that facility did not open until October of this year. Despite being the single biggest reason that training facility exists, Sanchez did not even have a single season in which to train his players there.

He's also missing out on the opportunity to coach the team in the Raiders new Las Vegas stadium. A part of me does feel like Sanchez maybe deserved one more year to be able to coach the team for a full season with these shiny new facilities and see what he could do with access to those resources. He worked hard to make them a reality for UNLV football, but he won't ever get a chance to reap their rewards.

UNLV hired Oregon's former offensive coordinator, Marcus Arroyo to a 5-year contract.

Instead, the honor of training UNLV's football team in the Fertitta Complex and coaching games in the Raiders' stadium will go to new UNLV head coach Marcus Arroyo. Arroyo is the former offensive coordinator at Oregon, and he will be coaching the Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day before he moves down to Vegas.

Oregon had one of the best offenses in college football this year, averaging over 35 points per game and over 450 yards per game. He's a high-profile coach from a prestigious division-I university (and even has some NFL experience), and UNLV is paying him the third highest salary in the Mountain West conference.

That all sounds great on paper, but I have to confess that I'm a bit disappointed by the hiring. Personally, I was hoping that the university would look for more of a defensive-minded head coach. UNLV has had competent offenses before. In fact, our running game has consistently been one of the best in the conference during the tenure of both Bobby Hauck and Tony Sanchez. If you ask me, the biggest Achilles' Heel of this team has been its abysmal defense.

Arroyo was the offensive coordinator for one of
the NCAA's top-rated offenses in 2019.

It doesn't matter if UNLV is averaging 30 points per game on offense, if the defense is giving up 40 points every game. We routinely get into shootouts with the likes of Hawaii, Nevada, Wyoming, or Air Force, and our offense has to score 40 or 50 points just to stay in the game. If the defense could hold those teams to more like 17 or 21 points, and the offense doesn't have to keep a pace of 40 points just to stay competitive, then I think this team would win a lot more game.

In fact, we saw a hint of that this year. The defense actually played relatively well in 2019 and kept the team in more games down the stretch. If Kenyon Oblad had been practicing and playing with the starters earlier, and had been developing chemistry with his receivers and blockers, and had been establishing himself as a scrambling and running threat, then maybe UNLV could have pulled out one or two or three more conference wins against teams like San Diego State, Colorado State, and Hawai'i.

Hopefully Arroyo can do a better job than Sanchez at
bringing top talent from local high schools to UNLV.

So while it's exciting to see a successful coach coming down from the PAC-12 to lead UNLV (as opposed to Division-II or a high school coach being elevated), I do wish that UNLV had looked to model the team more closely after a conference foe like San Diego State. In any case, the combination of the Fertitta training complex, the new indoor stadium, and a high-profile new head coach should certainly help to bring some higher-tier recruits to Las Vegas. Sanchez's former position at Bishop Gorman had lead many to speculate that he would be able to bring in top athletes from that school (one of the highest-ranked in the country), but that promise never materialized. Maybe Arroyo can succeed where Sanchez failed, and bring top talent from local high schools like Bishop Gorman and Liberty. Regardless of who Arroyo recruits, I have no doubt that UNLV's offense will be better in 2020.

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