LAS VEGAS — Arizona’s players didn’t get any time to roam the Las Vegas Strip when they arrived Friday night, and won’t get any pool time before tonight’s game at UNLV.
But, hey, road trips are all about perspective.
“I’m just excited that we get to fly and it’s not high school where we have to take a yellow school bus to the game,” freshman cornerback Devin Holiday said.
Tonight, the Wildcats will try to turn Sin City into Win City. That could be a tougher challenge than it looks.
Yes, the Rebels only have six wins over the past three seasons. Current coach Bobby Hauck has a 6-33 record in his tenure. But, UNLV will have one big advantage tonight.
Notably, that it’s big.
“It concerns me that we are so small and that we’re smaller than everyone we play against other than NAU,” UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. “This team here, size-wise, we don’t match up with them and that’s a little concerning.
“We better play with great technique.”
Hauck’s team isn’t just big on the offensive and defensive lines; the playmakers are big boys, too. Quarterback Nick Sherry is listed at 6 feet 5 inches and 235 pounds, and the Rebels’ top wide receiver, Devante Davis, is 6-3, 210.
And UNLV’s top performer on offense — running back Tim Cornett — is listed at 6-0, 210. He ran for 1,232 yards and seven touchdowns last season as a junior.
Cornett is “a prime example” of the matchup problems, Rodriguez said.
“He’s a big, physical back. He’s got good feet; good ball skills. He has a lot of experience,” Rodriguez said. “We don’t have anyone in our program like that, so not tackling anyone like that could be a big concern for us in the beginning of the game.”
But the Wildcats do have playmakers of their own.
Running back Ka’Deem Carey is expected to make his 2013 debut tonight after being suspended for the opener against NAU. Rodriguez said earlier this week that senior Daniel Jenkins will start, but Carey will play in the first half.
What quarterbacks play in the first half remains a mystery.
Senior B.J. Denker is an obvious choice and will start. But, after ripping off a 61-yard run for a touchdown last week, redshirt freshman Javelle Allen could certainly get another look tonight. Rodriguez said junior Jesse Scroggins and true freshman Anu Solomon are also still in the mix.
The coach wouldn’t reveal any set plans he has for playing time at that position.
Asked Wednesday about Allen’s playing time, he said it would be “kinda by feel.”
Whoever the main man ends up being will try to lead the UA to a rare road nonconference win.
The Wildcats have just two nonconference road wins in the past 12 seasons. They won at Toledo in 2010 and at San Diego State in 2001.
The latter game was John Mackovic’s first as the UA’s head coach.
“This is a short trip, so it’s not that big of a deal, but it is an unfriendly crowd,” Rodriguez said. “You have to be prepared for some crowd noise and some adversity. I’ve talked to them quite a bit about handling adversity, particularly on the road.”