Las Vegas, NV——After a 5-7 record last season new coach Barry Odom knows he has a lot rebuilding to do but he likes the direction his young team is heading.
It was a defense-first kind of day at the UNLV football spring showcase on Saturday, and that was more than fine with coach Odom. In the days leading up to the scrimmage, Odom said he wanted to see both sides of the ball play well. But given his defensive background, he had difficulty hiding his excitement after watching his crew come away with six interceptions in an 11-on-11.
The scrimmage featured four quarters and halftime, with referees and continuous down-and-distance situations, simulating a real game. Quarterbacks wore black jerseys that prohibited them from being tackled, but the rest of the contest featured full contact. The defense controlled play for most of the afternoon at Allegiant Stadium. In addition to snagging six picks, they held UNLV’s quarterbacks below a 50% completion rate on the day. Odom practically beamed after the game when asked about the new-look D.
“Defensively, I thought we played smart. We’ll evaluate the film, but it seemed to me we played really fast,” Odom said. “On the back end, secondary-wise, they made some plays, competitive balls. It was good to see.”Junior cornerback Jett Elad, a juco transfer from Garden City Community College in Kansas, was the star in the defensive backfield with a pair of interceptions. Junior corner Dordyn Morgan, freshman safety Cameren Jenkins, junior corner Johnathan Baldwin and senior safety Davone Walden each recorded picks of their own. With the coverage sticking tight, it proved to be a tough day for UNLV’s quarterbacks.
It is still early to predict anything but Odom’s SEC background will help him build a solid program at UNLV, and knows to be truly successful he has to keep his backyard talent home.
“This has got to become Vegas’ team,” Odom said. “And we can get this place rocking.”