LAS VEGAS – Doug Brumfield received all the notifications.
The calls, the texts, the tweets – you name it – after his near-perfect game at quarterback in UNLV’s season-opening dismantlement of Idaho State at Allegiant Stadium.
The national recognition, of course, was nice for a moment. But there are much bigger goals in the Rebels’ locker room this season.
Enter coach Marcus Arroyo.
“I’m trying to get them uncomfortable and trying to rip down the rear-view mirror,” Arroyo said. “Make sure all of the pats on the back go away quickly because it’s a short ride from the penthouse to the outhouse in this world we live in. So you’ve got to make sure you get right back in the driver’s seat and get ready to go.”
After throwing for a nation-leading 356 yards and four touchdowns – nearly all of which came in the first half – and being named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week, Brumfield and his teammates have pushed the heady praise aside as UNLV (1-0) braces for Pac-12 opponent Cal (1-0) at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday in Berkeley.
The Rebels enter as a 13-point underdog against the Bears, who struggled early over the weekend before defeating Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponent UC Davis, 34-13, at home.
Brumfield, who finished with the second-most efficient passing game in school history against Idaho State on August 27, will lead UNLV in its first ever meeting with Cal. Brumfield, along with defensive lineman Eliel Ehimare, wide receiver Ricky White and offensive lineman Preston Nichols, were all selected to Pro Football Focus’ ‘Team of the Week’ over the Rebels’ bye week.
After a brief celebration, Arroyo reminded his team the mindset was to “get after it” all bye week, during Labor Day weekend and the days leading up to game day.
“When you have the whole world congratulating you on a great performance, you need somebody like Coach (Arroyo),” Brumfield said. “He’s going to keep you level and focused on what you need to get better at. Truth be told, you don’t need 1,000 people telling you that you did great. That really doesn’t benefit you.”
Brumfield and senior linebacker Kyle Beaudry acknowledged practices were “still intense” during the team’s bye week and that the main focus has remained controlling what they can control and not getting caught up in the uptick in competition and physicality they will see headed into their first road test of the season.
“We say nameless-faceless opponents,” Beaudry said. “It’s really more about us than it is about them. … I don’t really think it matters if it’s Cal or we’re playing FCS teams. Football is a physical game – doesn’t matter who the opponent is or where you play or what time you play. You always got to win the physicality battle of the game.”
- Senior defensive lineman Naki Fahina, the Rebels’ starting nose tackle, is listed as day-to-day after exiting the Idaho State game with 13:12 left in the fourth quarter with a lower leg injury.
- The Idaho State victory (52-21) marked only the third season-opening UNLV football in the last 13 years. The Rebels will now be playing for their first 2-0 start to a season since 1999 (the first under coach John Robinson).
- The last time UNLV played a Pac-12 school was last season at No. 23 Arizona State. The Rebels, who were up 10-7 midway through the second quarter, surrendered 30 unanswered points and fell 37-10. They had just 19 total yards of offense in the second half. UNLV entered the game a 33.5-point underdog.
- UNLV’s new defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach Keith Heyward spent the 2021 season overseeing the Bears outside linebackers before coming to town along with inside linebackers coach Michael Bruno, who was on the Cal staff from 2018-21 in a quality control position.
- Cal marks the ninth member of the current Pac-12 configuration to face UNLV in football with only Stanford, Washington and Colorado never having played the Rebels.