After UNLV’s season-ending loss to Nevada, Tony Sanchez said coaching changes would be coming. And it didn’t take long.
Football Scoop reported that Fresno State’s new head coach, Jeff Teford, was swiping two coaches from UNLV. Cornerbacks coach J.D Williams and running backs coach Jamie Christian both played at Fresno State and are both headed back to coach.
Just a couple of days later, Tony Sanchez made a hire. Per the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Purdue running backs coach DeAndre Smith will take the same position at UNLV next season. Smith spent one season at UNLV as the running backs coach back in 2009 when the Rebels ranked 73rd in the nation in yards per carry at 3.91.
This past season, behind an improved offensive line, UNLV finished 15th in the nation in yards per carry at 5.6 yard per carry. Purdue’s run game was one of the worst in the nation in 2016, ranking 122nd (out of 128 teams) in yards per carry at 3.91.
But those struggles appear to be more of an offensive line issue than a running back problem, as Purdue had 23 percent of its carries hit for negative or no yardage. That is the 13th-worst rate in the nation.
Smith has been job hopping for the last decade. This will be the seventh time he has changed jobs in the last 10 years. Like UNLV now, he made two different stops at New Mexico, as well as coaching at Illinois and Syracuse in the last 10 years.
The new running backs coach will take over a talented group. UNLV used four backs throughout the season and all but short yardage specialist David Greene will be back. Freshman Charles Williams ended up as the team’s leading rusher due to Lexington Thomas’ late season injury. Those two combined for 1,405 yards at a rate of 5.03 yards per carry. Throw in Xzavier Campbell, who averaged 56.3 yards per game in November, and the Rebels should continue to see success from their running game.
The most recent hire is David Lockwood to take over as cornerbacks coach. Lockwood has spent time at Notre Dame and Arizona as an assistant. This past season, Lockwood was coaching at the high school level.
The cornerback position was one of the worst for UNLV. The Rebels allowed the second most passing plays of 10 or more yards in the Mountain West. But UNLV was the only team with multiple players to record double digit pass break ups in Darius Mouton and Torry McTyer, the two starting corners for UNLV.
McTyer will be gone next season due to graduation, as will Jay’Onn Myles. Meaning Lockwood will be working with Mouton and Hough as experienced corners next season.