Terry Tarver's Rebel football practice report

As most of you have probably heard, Friday's practice had an ugly, unfortunate incident which put a damper on things. The saddest part may have been that, prior to a fight between Tony Cade and Faauo Faga, many of the people who had been watching practice had remarked about how well this team was preparing.

They looked focused and energized through nearly every phase of this (and most of the practices this season for that matter) until the fight broke out. Here are some of the notes from Fridays practice.

** First, as much as I hate too, let me deal with the sideline altercation. Let's face it, this sort of thing happens all of the time. Usually, though, it is offense versus defense and not two defensive players. That being said, this situation just simply sucked however you look at it.

I really believe Tony Cade is trying to do the right thing by being a vocal leader on defense. Unfortunately, I am not sure he understands (well, he may after Friday) that how he says certain things comes across like he is trying to belittle his teammates. Sad, really, because I think this team really needs that leader on defense. Hopefully, Cade can learn from this and still be a leader on defense because his experience in calling out coverages and such is a necessary tool on this defense. I just pray that Tony Cade uses this as a learning tool and doesn't perpetuate the cycle by going back after Faga when he get's healthy. Things like this can make or break the respect players have for one another and I hope Tony does the right thing.

Secondly, I would like to talk about Faauo's involvement. If any of you have met Faauo Faga you would know that he is a neat kid with an engaging personality. He is also a fiery competitor and that may have gotten the best of him. What I would be willing to bet on with Faauo, though, is that he will handle this like a man. He will respect Coach Sanford's decision's(whatever they may be) and have no qualms about looking Tony Cade in the eye and getting past this situation. He is a good young man from a solid family and, hopefully, he will be able to get past this. .

Finally, I would like to talk about how the team reacted to this situation. Honestly, I couldn't believe how they handled themselves. There were no Rebel players jumping around and prolonging the problem. The fact is, once Coach Sanford and staff got Faga off of the field (and for those of you who think Sanford has lost control of this team, you should have seen him take control and his players react to his voice with a very healthy respect) the coaches/players went right back to work. Of course, there were some players talking about what happened with a whisper but there was no Us vs. Them mentality. I think this lack of squaring off is says a lot when you have a fight between players of differing racial backgrounds on a football team. On many occasions, I have seen it happen that players immediately pair off with players of their own race and stand strong, quickly dividing a team. I can say that, thankfully, this never happened. These guys stayed together as a team and avoided any juvenile celebrations common to young men in that environment. Very proud of how this was handled by everyone involved, except the two men who were directly involved. Regardless of how the naysayers (most of whom were not there to form their own opinion's) will paint this situation, it says a lot about the make-up if this TEAM.

** Now, let's talk some football. I have to say that Friday was owned by the offense in many respects. The most surprising player of the day was Dack Ishii. He did a great job running the offense and leading his team on two scoring drives. He has shown himself to have the best ability to get the ball downfield to his receivers which has been a problem for the QB's this Spring. Travis Dixon, on the other hand, looks amazing running the option. He makes the proper read and runs decisively. In fact, he looks to have some of the best open-field ability on this football team. He can flat out run the option but is still having some difficulty throwing the ball, He still has some time, though. .

** I have said many times how good Frank Summers looks running the football even though he is still getting himself in to shape. Another player I am getting more and more impressed with is RB Chris Brogdon. This kid looks really good. He also has good vision, nice quicks and very hard. What I like best is he has a low center of gravity and keeps his pad level down in the hole. He is slowly making a play for time in the backfield with the absence of RB David Peeples.

** Speaking of RB's, UNLV has a transfer (who should be able to play this year with some summer school) from NMSU who has really shown how much he loves to play the game of football. His name is Robert Pauele from Wailuku, Hawaii. This kid isn't big at 5-8 but he is a well-built 205 pounds and he plays with every ounce of it. He runs hard, plays fast and loves contact. He also seems to be able to catch the ball fairly well. This guy will be a crowd favorite on special-teams if nothing else, he is as old school as it gets.

** The offensive line looks to be gelling fairly early and the guys are already calling out blocking assignments at the line. That shows these guys are putting in the time to learn the game which is a good sign because this group has the chance to be pretty good with some hard work. Perry Eppenger has also been moved to the OL which is good for depth right now but could also pay real dividends later. He is a big kid at 6-3 315 pounds and has the chance to be a pretty good OG when he learns the offense.

** Aaron Straiten is back on campus after some tragedies in his family. He is working hard and has made some really nice catches since getting back. It was great to see Aaron get back to work. I am hoping for a big season from him.

** I love the depth and talent at WR. We have some guys who bring different skill-sets to the table. It helps the staff bring versatility to the offense.

** RS/freshman DT Tim High is a big kid and he looks really good early on. He and Malo Taumua are in a battle for the spot opposite big Jacob Hales. The competition is helping both of those guys and may have been the reason the staff could move Perry E. to offense. You guys are going to see Hales make a major splash this season. He is a DT in the mold of the BYU/Utah player. He is big, tough, mature and athletic. I will say it again, this DL could be a major force this season with the addition's of Larry Dennis and Luke Plante in Summer. Kurt Barber is working his tail off and it shows.

** Beau Bell is a freaking mountain of an LB. I just hope he learns to harness the passion he has shown (at various times in his UNLV career) for an entire season. If he can do that, he could change the face of this defense and work his way in to the NFL. If he cannot sustain his play for the entire season (or stay healthy) look for Jason Beauchamp to pick up a lot of the slack.

** All-in-all this is a team with solid, albeit young, talent. These guys need to believe that they can compete with anybody if they are going to turn the corner. Let's hope that these Rebels are the team that starts something good and shows the young guys how to win. It could make all of the difference for the future of this program.

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