Full Gear Rebels
Aug. 10, 2009
LAS VEGAS - Hitting returned to Rebel Park as UNLV football practiced in full pads for the first time after five days of acclimation, and the excitement could be felt throughout Monday morning's last practice on campus.
From the first hitting drill, it was evident that football had truly returned in earnest, with defenders popping opposing ball carriers and offensive linemen dolling out blocks.
"It was a physical practice today with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm," UNLV head coach Mike Sanford said. "The defense outshined the offense today, and we have to get tougher on offense."
The defense shined during the two-hour practice, particularly during a short-yardage drill that featured the interior of the Rebel defense going against the offense and running backs. In order to get a "win" during the drill, the offense needed to gain three yards, and in seven attempts the defense stopped the offense six times.
"The defense really showed up today," said senior linebacker Jason Beauchamp (San Diego, CA/Steele Canyon HS). "Everyone was hyped up and ready to play. The first day of pads went great and it was a great feeling to have them back on."
Today's practice also brought a return to the Las Vegas heat, as temperatures were in the mid 90s during practice, a stark contrast to the unseasonable cool weather during the first five days. With about a half-hour left in practice Sanford said the team hit a bit of a wall as it got sunnier and hotter out, and Kyle Watkins (Phoenix, AZ/Scottsdale CC) missed the last half of practice due to the heat.
Veteran wide receiver Rodelin Anthony (Immokalee, FL/Immokalee HS) said the offense wasn't as sharp today as it needed to be, and while he said the heat was a factor, it is something that players need to work through.
"We were a little rough around the edges today, and a lot of that was the defense changing its looks and us not being able to adapt," Anthony said. "The heat is there and if you are going full speed during every rep, you are going to feel it when you first get all your gear on. But it is something you have to get used to and try not to let it affect you."
HIT OF THE DAY: Rebel defenders were flying to the ball during Monday's morning session, and that was especially true early on during the short-yardage drill, which resulted in the first big hit of camp.
Freshman running back Bradley Randle (Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS) took a handoff and went through the middle of the line, where he was stood up by junior defensive lineman Daniel Mareko (Pago Pago, America Samoa/Faga'itua HS). Redshirt freshman Beau Brence came flying in untouched and finished off Randle, giving the rookie a physical welcome to college football.
"A hole opened up and then he (Randle) then just disappeared," said Jason Beauchamp, who had a great view of the hit. "I didn't know what happened to him. It was an awesome hit."
BLACK JERSEY: The first Black Jersey of Fall Camp was awarded to Quinton Pointer (Cape Coral, FL/Mariner HS), following a strong practice Sunday, which was the first time the entire team had practiced together.
"It feels great and I was pretty determined to be the first one," Pointer said. "I am back to 100 percent and I want to show my grit and toughness."
Pointer has turned in an impressive camp thus far and appears fully recovered after he was forced to sit out spring practice after having right shoulder surgery. Pointer also played his sophomore season with a brace on his left elbow after dislocating it in fall camp, but still finished with 44 tackles and a pair of interceptions.
BLUE SKIES: UNLV football will charter to select away games with Jet Blue Airlines, and the Rebels will be using the airlines to fly to Wyoming (Sept. 26), at New Mexico (Oct. 24) and at Air Force (Nov. 14).
SCHEDULE: UNLV will now move to its off-campus practice site, where the Rebels will spend the next 10 days before returning to Las Vegas on Aug. 20. CAMP REBEL at unlvrebels.com will have daily updates on the Rebels as they prepare for their season opener against Sacramento State at Sam Boyd Stadium on Sept. 5 at 7:00 p.m. (PT).