Nation Gets Early Look at 2001 Hogs

Arkansas opens the 2001 season on Thursday, August 30th with revenge on its mind. A national television audience on ESPN will join a War Memorial crowd for a rematch of last year's Las Vegas Bowl. The UNLV Rebels stunned the Razorbacks 31-14 in Vegas and the Hogs are in no mood to give the Rebs a cordial welcome.

UNLV returns 15 starters (seven offense, seven defense, kicker) including quarterback Jason Thomas. Thomas put up some impressive numbers last season, throwing for 1,911 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushing for 599 yards and 11 more touchdowns. Amazingly, he played most of the season with what was later diagnosed as a stress fracture in his right foot.
 
Quick Glance: UNLV Rebels
UNLV Athletic Department | Mountain West Conference
Coach: John Robinson 11-13 UNLV (2 years) 115-48-4 (14 years)
Roster | 2001 Schedule | 2001 Outlook | 2001 Spring Review
2000 Season: 8-5 Overall, 5-3 Mountain West
Returning Starters: 7 Offense, 7 Defense, Kicker

Thomas had arthroscopic surgery on a sore shoulder after spring practice but looks to be healed and explosive by the end of August. Need more proof? ESPN reports that "UNLV is poised to make a huge statement on the gridiron this fall. The Rebels, under John Robinson's eye, are also trying to mount a Heisman Trophy campaign for their latest star, Jason Thomas. Sound crazy? Not if you know anything about the 6'5", 235-pound junior QB." [ Read Article ]
 
The UNLV passing game will be enhanced by a couple of excellent receivers in Troy Mason and Booby Nero. Senior center Peter Tramontanas will anchor the offensive line. UNLV lost their one-two tailback punch of Jeremi Rudolph and Kevin Brown so the running game is a mystery. A healthy QB Thomas is a threat to turn upfield at any time.
 
The Rebel defense held Arkansas to just 296 in total yards and no second-half points last December. Defensive end Anton Palepoi, cornerback Kevin Thomas and free safety Sam Brandon are the heavy hitters. Eight of the team's top nine defensive linemen return.
 
This summer, UNLV's football team received its first-ever preseason top-25 ranking by a national publication. The Football Digest also lists UNLV junior quarterback Jason Thomas as one of six players nationally "who will battle for the Most Exciting Player in the Game moniker."
 
In just two seasons, Coach John Robinson took a UNLV team that went 0-11 in 1999 and led the Rebs to an 8-5 season last year -- good enough for third place in the Mountain West Conference. He expects even higher performance from his team in 2001.
 
UNLV will obviously be an emotional opening game for Razorback players, coaches and fans. The Rebs are no pushover but Arkansas has had this date circled since last year. Look for War Memorial to be rocking and ESPN to broadcast the nation's first look at the 2001 Razorbacks.
 
 

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