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UNLV Football: Ranking 2022’s Opposing Quarterbacks
The Rebels will have to tangle with a few talented quarterbacks in their climb back to respectability.
Not an easy slate to deal with.
12. Idaho State – Hunter Hays or Tyler Vander Waal or Sagan Gronauer
A messy quarterback situation was just one reason why head coach Rob Phenicie lost his job. The trio above combined to complete just 52.8% of their passes in 2021, averaging a mere 6.1 yards per attempt while throwing 13 interceptions and just 11 touchdowns, so whether it’s good news or bad news that all three are back to compete under new coach Charlie Ragle might depend on who you ask.
11. New Mexico – Miles Kendrick or Isaiah Chavez or CJ Montes
The Rebels had little trouble dispatching the Lobos in 2021 and a major reason for that was a quarterback room that had no reliable answer once Terry Wilson was lost to injury. Will that be the case again this fall?
Both Chavez and Montes could improve if they can stay healthy and upright behind a retooled offensive line, but Kendrick has a real chance to win the job after doing decent work in his time at Kansas. Whoever comes out on top is almost guaranteed to improve upon the 5.3 yards per attempt New Mexico averaged a year ago.
10. Hawaii – Brayden Schager or Cammon Cooper
It seems likely that the Warriors offense under new head coach Timmy Chang and offensive coordinator Ian Shoemaker will be a wide-open one, but the operator of said offense remains to be seen. Schager had his moments in three weeks as a starter last year, but Cooper has the more extensive background in a run-and-shoot from his time at Washington State.
9. Nevada – Nate Cox or Shane Illingworth
The Wolf Pack are certainly fond of tall quarterbacks, huh? The 6-foot-9 Cox and 6-foot-6 Illingworth figure to battle it out throughout fall camp, but both will have a high standard to meet following Carson Strong’s departure: In three career games against UNLV, Strong threw for 1,118 yards and seven touchdowns.
8. Cal – Jack Plummer
The Golden Bears haven’t exactly been known for explosive offenses in recent years, but the Purdue transfer Plummer might actually change that. In three seasons with the Boilermakers, he completed 319 of 492 attempts for 3,405 yards and 26 touchdowns, adding a reasonable 2.0% interception rate that Cal head coach Justin Wilcox surely appreciates.
7. San Diego State – Braxton Burmeister
Burmeister’s lone full season as the starter at Virginia Tech was definitely a mixed bag. On the one hand, he finished second on the team with 514 rushing yards and chipped in two touchdowns on the ground while also averaging 7.7 yards per attempt through the air with a 1.5% interception rate, but he also completed just 55.7% of his passes, too. The potential to lead the Aztecs back to another Mountain West championship game is there, but it could just as easily be a frustrating offense to watch.
6. North Texas – Austin Aune
Aune has tantalized in 12 career starts for the Mean Green, but he hasn’t yet put it all together after two years. He completed 60% of his passes in just two games last season and averaged only 6.8 yards per attempt while throwing nine touchdowns and nine interceptions, so it isn’t out of the question he gets pushed for the QB1 job by incumbent backup Jace Ruder or Memphis transfer Grant Gunnell.
5. San Jose State – Chevan Cordeiro
During his time with Hawaii, the Warriors won three of four matchups against UNLV but it wasn’t always easy. Cordeiro spurred a furious fourth-quarter rally back in 2018, but then he threw two interceptions in just nine attempts the following year and had perhaps his worst game of 2022 against the Rebels. The potential to create big plays with his arms and legs is still there, but might UNLV have figured something out that other teams have not?
4. Air Force – Haaziq Daniels
Daniels is criminally underrated among Mountain West quarterbacks, but Rebels fans probably know exactly how good he can be. After all, his Falcons mauled UNLV in last year’s season finale without even having to throw a pass.
He only had to carry the ball himself seven times in that blowout, but it’s worth remembering Daniels ran for 59 yards and shepherded an offense that ran for season highs in yards per carry (7.41) and rushing touchdowns (six).
3. Notre Dame – Tyler Buchner
The Fighting Irish got good quarterback play out of Jack Coan on the way to 11 wins and a Fiesta Bowl victory, but now it’s Buchner’s turn to play like a champion on Saturdays. Though he only threw 35 passes in 2021, he saw the field in ten different games and flashed a unique skill set, averaging 7.3 yards per carry on the ground with three touchdowns while averaging 8.5 yards per attempt through the air. Chances are there won’t be much drop-off, so the Rebels won’t have it easy in South Bend.
2. Utah State – Logan Bonner
After setting program records for passing yards and passing touchdowns in a season, what might Bonner do for an encore? Even with a mostly new set of pass catchers at his disposal, it’s hard to bet against the Aggies being in the mix for a conference title once again, so expect that Bonner will be back to business slinging it around at will.
1. Fresno State – Jake Haener
Despite nearly toppling the Bulldogs last fall, one reason the Rebels couldn’t finish the job is because Haener put in work (as he often did in 2021). In two career games against UNLV, he’s thrown for 542 yards and six touchdowns on 45-of-65 attempts; finding a way to reverse those fortunes might be easier said than done this year.