Barry Odom's first game is against FCS opponent Bryant at Allegiant Stadium Saturday at 1pm
The Barry Odom Era kicks off Saturday as UNLV meets FCS opponent Bryant of the Big South Conference at Allegiant Stadium
UNLV Football opens the season vs Bryant University at Allegiant Stadium Saturday at 1pm Photo credit Lucas Peltier

UNLV has a new head coach in Barry Odom and a retooled roster heading into the season-opener at Allegiant Stadium against FCS opponent Bryant University from Smithville, Rhode Island.

Odom is not concerned about his Rebels overlooking Bryant. The approach was to see them as a "nameless, faceless opponent." Odom said this week that he told his team to not be anyone but who they are on the field.

Everything is new with this Rebel team including the Go Go Offense, pioneered by coordinator Brennan Marion. The defense under first year coordinator is Michael Schearer. UNLV will have a base 3-3-5 defensive look and the defense is going to be aggressive. And, since the Spring around three dozen new players have joined the team, many from P5 programs.

For the first time since he has been at UNLV, Doug Brumfield has been QB1 since Spring camp. He has gotten a bulk of the repetitions for UNLV in both camps. He is comfortable running the offense and he is finally a vocal leader. Brumfield will try to stay healthy this season. He will run the fast-tempo offense which has a variety of weapons, including himself, who can run the ball. William and Mary transfer Donovyn Lester is on the Senior Bowl Watch List. He was originally recruited by Marion when he was at that school and is a Grad Transfer now at UNLV. Courtney Reese returns for UNLV. The scatback average over 7 yards a carry also. Look for Pitt transfer Vincent Davis to be in the mix as well as freshman Jai'Den "Jet" Thomas, who has impressed in the Fall camp. Speed is evident everywhere including at wideout. The receiving corps should be led by Ricky White, the second season pass catcher from Michigan State. White had 51 receptions for 619 yards. He caught a 72-yard TD from Brumfield in last year's opening game vs Idaho State. Senika McKie returns for his senior season. Brumfield says he "catches everything in sight," when he throws to him. Lookout for WR Jacob De Jesus who was the star of the Spring game. He is hard to catch in the open field. The offensive line returns two starters on the right side of the line - guard Amani Trigg-Wright and T Tiger Shanks who must guard Brumfield's blind side.

The Rebel defense has looked fast and is quick to the ball in Spring and Fall camp. There has been a lot of growth in the defensive unit. The D line in the 3-3-5 will feature anchor Darius Johnson in the middle, with Jalen Dixon returning and Tatuo "Tat" Martinson, who has earned a starting spot. Look for LSU transfer Zavier Carter and returning edge rusher Elijah Shelton to put a lot of pressure on opposing QBs. The linebackers are Marsel McDuffie in the middle with Arkansas transfer Jackson Woodard, who captains the defense, along with Jerrae Williams who moves up from the secondary. You will see a lot of nickel and dime packages in the secondary with starters Cam Oliver, who had three INTs last season and newcomer Thomas Anderson at corner. The starting safeties are Jaxen Turner, the University of Arizona transfer and Jonathan Balwin, who had 56 tackles last season. There is a lot of depth in the secondary.

Special teams should be much improved too, with James Shibest, the two-time National Special Teams Coordinator of the Year, taking over coaching duties. He has worked extensively with the kickers. Jose Pizano, who transferred from Missouri State should start on placements and walk-on Andre Meono will be kicking off. Marshall Nickels, who averaged 42 yards per punt last season will start. Shibest has worked on Nickels' consistency. The Rebels have a crop of speedy returners including DeJesus, Jerrae Williams, and true freshman Deangelo Irvin Jr.

The Rebel defense will be tested by the Bulldogs QB Zevi Eckhaus, who has thrown for 300 yards or more six times already through two seasons. Bryant averages 32 points and 404 yards on offense over the past 22 games.

Saturday's game kicks off at 1pm at Allegiant Stadium. For tickets go to or 702-739-FANS.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Lucas Peltier