Terry Tarver's blog

To my eye, it seemed like a match made in Heaven when Coach Sanford paired Kurt Barber and Vic Shealy to run the UNLV defense this season. The relationship pits the fiery, aggressive Barber with the steady, cerebral Shealy. Well, if the performance of the Rebel defense so far this Spring is any indication, it appears to be working.

I know, I know, we have seen Rebel coaches play aggressive defense in camp only to allow the opposing QB's all day for fear of a long play when the season rolls around. I really believe this combo will lend itself to allowing this tough, fast defense see the field at Utah State next season. If this fast, aggressive philosophy carries over, look out. This defense has a lot of speed and it showed on Friday night. Here are some of the players who have benefited from this change of philosophy:

** Beau Bell- Beau looks quicker and more motivated than I have ever seen him. He still looks to be carrying a little too much weight (about 5-10 pounds) but he is as good as I have ever seen him. On one play yesterday, Beau chased Travis Dixon (who was on a full run) down from the backside for a sack. Beau finished with 2 TFL's , 1 sack and 1 PBU while sharing time with multiple players all night long. I will say it again, if Beau Bell can continue to progress, stay healthy and lead this team on defense he will be a first day NFL draft pick, imo. He is simply that good.

** Jason Beauchamp- Jason runs like a deer and this style of defense lends itself to that type of player. Honestly, with the prevailing youth the Rebels have on defense, it really helps a lot of these players. Trying to get young guys to read and react can be pretty tough sometimes. Jason, though, will be a standout player for the Rebels this season as he adds speed to the LB position that might be unrivaled by many LB's in the MWC. This guy can run. Beauchamp finished with 2 sacks on Friday.

** Jacob Hales- As far as DT's go, Hales is pretty athletic…and fast…and big. He has shown himself to be pretty tough to block as the UNLV staff has turned this deep, talented group of D-Lineman loose this offseason.

Some other defensive players who looked good on Friday night: **Goeffrey Howard- I really like this guy. He has good size and speed and he knows how to play the game. He will provide some needed stability to an athletic group of younf DB's.

**Solomon Smart(yep, he is still with the Rebels)- Smart seems poised to be a contributor this season after having a strange career at UNLV up until now. Solomon appears to be getting a lot of minutes with the starters and could be a solid player with his good size and speed. Let's hope Smart keeps it together upstairs and shows the UNLV coaching staff the game that garnered him Pac-10 offers coming out of high school.

**Starr Fuimoano- Looked downright scary coming off of the edge a few times last night. Runs like a DB, hits like an LB. Narrowly missed a few big hits last night but will see his fair share this season.

A couple of defensive players who have been somewhat quiet this Spring…

Jeremy Geathers is still getting his timing down but should form a lethal pass-rushing group of DE's when Larry Dennis and Luke Plante arrive.

Mil'von James who is trying to find out where he fits in (whether it is CB or safety). He has slowly started to assert himself but he may want to be careful because freshman CB Quinton Pointer looks to be the #3 or #4 CB right now and will only get better as he learns to trust his healing knee. James seems to relish the role of big-hitting run support guy and could challenge Darryl Forte for minutes at safety (where he appears more comfortable) if the Rebels can get Smart, Howard, Pointer, et al to handle the duties at CB.

** Offensively, things are a little bit more scattered as the QB position is still trying to shake itself out. Here are a few players who stood out to me on Friday:

**Dack Ishii- All I can say is where did this guy come from? I have raved about Dixon's ability to run the option but it is Ishii who seems to have better control of the offense. He is surprisingly nimble with his feet and throws the best ball in camp. He, imo, looks to be the most complete QB in camp right now. Ishii finished the day with 98 yards passing with two passing TD's (50-yards to Aaron Sraiten and 35-yards to Ronnie Smith).

**Frank Summers- I will do my best to not sound like a broken record but…WOW! If you saw the versatility Summers yesterday you had to be impressed, especially if you saw the leaping TD he made at the goal line. Not very often does a 240-pound man get that much air on his way to the endzone. Summers finished last nights scrimmage with 33-yards on 6 attempts against a very tough UNLV defense. He also had TD runs of 14 and 5 yards.

**Ryan Wolfe- A bigger and stronger version of last year's player. Ryan made a nice catch over the middle last night for around 20-yards in traffic. Good luck playing this guy one-on-one

**Aaron Straiten- Aaron had a nice 50-yard TD reception but the celebration afterwards might have been a way to let off a little steam after a pretty tough offseason for Aaron and his family. Straiten, to his credit, has worked very hard (rather than quit or give up) to be more consistent and it shows in the way he is catching the ball. Very few missed opportunities in a nice Spring for Aaron, so far.

**Robert Pauele- I will say it again, this kid is a gym-rat, blue-collar sort of guy and just makes plays. At 5-8 (maybe) and 210 pounds, he showed good quickness and power in rushing for 20-yards on 3 attempts. The other RB's on UNLV's roster may want to keep their eyes on the rearview mirror because this guy is coming fast and will, at least, demand a look.

**Richie Plunkett-Prototype LT at 6-6 and 300 pounds who is really coming on. He is the son of former NFL player Art Plunkett, Richie is working with Joe Hawley to lead this OL in a positive direction. Big, smart and nasty. Gotta love that combo at LT.

Finally, so much was made about the incident between Tony Cade and Faauo Faga in a negative way last week, I would like to give a little insight in to how this situation has evolved.

I have been told that Tony Cade has earned a lot of respect from his teammates in how he handled himself after the altercation. I cannot get into specifics but suffice it to say Tony has "taken it like a man" and learned from his actions. If you were at last night's scrimmage, you would have witnessed Cade cheering on his defensive teammates and being a positive influence on the sidelines. Keep it up, Tony Cade. You are never too old to learn. Also, say a prayer for the Faga family who lost a member this past week after the incident. Go Rebels!

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