Team preview: UNLV

The Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook previews the 2006 UNLV Rebels, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: July 31, 2006, 1:51 PM ET
Blue Ribbon Yearbook
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(All information as of July 1, 2006)

COACH AND PROGRAM

A five-game losing streak isn't exactly the way a long-time top assistant coach wants to conclude his inaugural season as the boss of his own Division I-A program.

But even as his Rebels skidded toward the end of the 2005 campaign, Mike Sanford was able to find the silver lining in an otherwise gray, dreary year.

Fresh off having their heads handed to them by eventual league-winner TCU, the Rebels gave Colorado State all it could handle in front Senior Day crowd at Sam Boyd Stadium.

UNLV actually led, 27-17, in the third quarter before succumbing on a fourth-quarter Rams touchdown on a punt return. But the numbers, other than the final score, painted a bright picture for the Rebels. A team that finished last in the Mountain West with just 108 yards per game on the ground totaled 190 yards on 41 carries. And the Rebels' defense, fifth in the conference at 405.6 yards allowed per game, limited the Rams to 329 total yards.

Best of all, players on both sides of the ball -- particularly on the offensive line -- finally seemed comfortable with Sanford's systems and style.