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Imagine having been held captive in a Turkish prison for a few years and you had been a regular spectator at UNLV football games prior to being incarcerated. You were freed from captivity and you made your way to Sam Boyd Stadium.

You heard all the rumors about how the Rebels were improved, how they had enough talent to go to a bowl game, how head coach Tony Sanchez needed to do just that in order to remain employed. You walk into the old facility figuring things were different.

Guess again.

On a hot early September Saturday night, UNLV showed the same uninspiring traits that marked the regimes of Mike Sanford and Bobby Hauck, being dominated by Arkansas State and losing 43-17 in a game that had the Rebels as 1-point favorites or at pick ‘em.

At 1-1 and with a trip to Evanston, Ill., next week to face Northwestern next up on the docket, UNLV may be hastening the need for Sanchez to hire a real estate agent. It’s losses like Saturday’s that get you unemployed.

This being “80s Night” and all, the music should have been U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

UNLV can’t find a passing game. It still gives up the big play on defense. Its’ special teams are sketchy. The play calling lacks imagination. The team was flagged for delay of game before its first play of the second half for Pete’s sake.

The lone UNLV highlight was running back Charles Williams scampering for 78 yards then scoring on the next play.  

“It was ugly, no doubt about it,” Sanchez said in his postgame news conference. “We have to do some different things to open up this offense.” 

I’m no math major, but given what transpired Saturday night, I’m having trouble figuring out how Sanchez and UNLV get to six wins and a bowl. Four of the next five are on the road and the home game is vs. Boise State. They couldn’t beat a Sun Belt team. How are they beating a Big Ten or an SEC team? Even a bad SEC team like Vanderbilt?

The fans are obviously frustrated. My Twitter line was filled with angry supporters. And who can blame them? They are asked to donate to and emotionally support a program that underachieves and fails to deliver on an annual basis.

Usually, the refrain around here is, “When does basketball start?” These days, it’s more like, “When does hockey start?” Now that’s something a person who had been away from the program for four or five years might find a bit different to hear. 

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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