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JONESBORO -- David Duggan didn't get to personally see UNLV dual-threat quarterback Armani Rogers play last year when the Rebels traveled to Jonesboro, but he didn't need to in order to understand the kind of test the Red Wolves face tonight in Las Vegas.

"Armani is a really good athlete. He's a big, physical quarterback, and he can run when he gets out in the open," said Duggan, Arkansas State University's first-year defensive coordinator and interim head coach. "He's a pretty dynamic player. Anytime your quarterback can run the ball, it causes you problems defensively, you got to account for the extra gap. It's going to be a good challenge for our defense."

Today’s game

Arkansas State at UNLV

WHEN 9 p.m. Central

WHERE Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas

RADIO KFIN-FM, 107.9, and KNEA-AM, 970, in Jonesboro; KHLR-FM, 106.7, in Little Rock

INTERNET; Stadium’s Facebook page

RECORDS ASU (0-1); UNLV (1-0)

COACHES David Duggan (0-1, interim head coach); Tony Sanchez (17-32 in five seasons at UNLV)

SERIES Tied 1-1

LAST MEETING Arkansas State won 27-20 last season.

COMMENTS ASU Coach Blake Anderson is still not with the Red Wolves as he deals with the loss of his wife, Wendy, who died of cancer on Aug. 19. … Senior wide receivers Kirk Merritt and Dahu Green are game-time decisions against UNLV, according to interim coach David Duggan. Merritt was knocked out in the first quarter of last week’s SMU loss after taking a big hit over the middle. Green also did not play last week. He has been dealing with a knee injury since fall camp. … Senior wide receiver Omar Bayless caught four touchdown passes last week, tying ASU’s single-game record. … UNLV Coach Tony Sanchez has yet to record a winning season with the Rebels. It’s his fifth season with the program. … The Rebels return 16 starters from last season, including 10 on offense. … UNLV rushed for 331 yards during last week’s win over Southern Utah.

— Trenton Daeschner

Kickoff from Sam Boyd Stadium is slated for 9 p.m. Central tonight, and the game will be broadcast on Stadium's Facebook page. The Red Wolves held off UNLV, 27-20, in last September's rain-drenched meeting at Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro.

Rogers, despite throwing three interceptions and completing 5 of 21 passes, nearly willed the Rebels to a victory with his legs, rushing 26 times for 181 yards and a touchdown. In tonight's rematch, the Red Wolves are expecting more of that athleticism.

"He's a freak," ASU junior defensive end William Bradley-King said. "He's a good athlete. I'm ready to play against him again."

It's not too often quarterbacks can boast of a combination of size and speed that Rogers possesses. He is 6-5, 225 pounds, and is a master at making you pay with his feet.

In six games last year as a redshirt sophomore, Rogers rushed for 565 yards, 8 touchdowns and averaged 6.1 yards per carry. He also threw for 601 yards, 10 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, but his 44.4% completion rate indicated Rogers needed plenty of work as a passer.

During last Saturday's win over Southern Utah, he went 11 of 17 for 144 yards and a touchdown while also tallying 114 yards on the ground and 2 scores on 11 attempts.

The Rebels (1-0) present a much different offensive attack than what ASU (0-1) saw in the opener against SMU with the air raid, whereas UNLV's passing game is more of a complimentary piece. UNLV also leans on running back Charles Williams, who accounted for 143 yards and three touchdowns last week.

"Those guys over there, they play real fast," Bradley-King said. "They got good athletes. We just got to pay attention to the small things."

This will be a week where the Red Wolves' defensive front gets to show its worth. ASU Coach Blake Anderson, who remains on a leave of absence, called the Red Wolves' defensive line "one of the best in the country" at the start of fall camp.

That unit will have a difficult task in trying to contain and pressure Rogers tonight.

"We'll have our hands full defending him," Duggan said.

ASU quarterback Logan Bonner is Rogers counterpart, but he is more dangerous in the passing game. Bonner threw for 324 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start last Saturday.

Duggan spoke highly about the Red Wolves' junior starting quarterback this week.

"He showed that he can lead this football team down the field in critical situations," Duggan said. "It's a confidence level in your quarterback. He's the leader. I felt it from him just talking with him on the sidelines. He looks you right in the eye, he's confident, he carries himself with a confidence, and his field presence was unbelievable."

The Red Wolves hope senior wide receivers Kirk Merritt and Dahu Green will be healthy enough to play tonight, as both have been dealing with injuries.

UNLV's defense was statistically one of the worst in the Mountain West Conference last year, giving up 37.3 points and 459.1 yards per game.

"They looked like a completely different football team this last Saturday," offensive coordinator Keith Heckendorf said of the Rebels. "They showed some different things defensively than what they showed a year ago. You can tell that their roster is improved, and it's going to be a great challenge for us."

Falling to 0-2 before a trip to Athens, Ga., next week to face the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs would create serious concerns, but Duggan said the Red Wolves are sticking to the usual script heading into a key road game tonight in Sin City.

"Right now, we haven't changed the process," Duggan said. "We're not panicking. We've got a mature football team."

Sports on 09/07/2019

Print Headline: UNLV QB knows how to use his legs


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