UNLV senior defensive back Aaron Lewis offered a thoughtful break on Monday morning before speaking about the hardest thing – the only thing – he’s been through this season.
âReally just lose. I really hate losing so that was the hardest thing for me, âsaid Lewis. âI really want to win. “
UNLV haven’t won a football game since November 30, 2019, when they beat rival UNR in the regular season final. It’s been 699 days on Friday, when the rebels return to Reno to play against their rival again. They have lost 13 straight games and run as one of two winless programs at the FBS level.
The other, Arizona, is mired in a 19-game losing streak, the longest in the country.
UNLV is a 20.5-point underdog against UNR and won’t be favored in a single game this season, according to Chuck Esposito, director of sports betting at Red Rock Resort. This means their losing streak could reach 18 games if they don’t win another game this season.
âThey’ve been in a lot of games,â Esposito said of UNLV. âThey had opportunities. There were several games where we actually thought the losing streak would endâ¦ They had chances. Once they win one, maybe that will change.
Rebel coach Marcus Arroyo, whose UNLV first team fell from 0 to 6 last season in a campaign cut short by the pandemic, acknowledged the emotional toll of the defeat.
” It’s human. â¦ You can only be punched in the face a certain number of times. A lot of people don’t get up, âArroyo said. âOur guys get up every time. Go back to work. I am humbled by it. I think they take on the identity of our coaches. The identity of our program. â¦ I’m sick of talking about it because it’s hard to keep getting up. It’s hard.
âThey didn’t flinch. These guys get up every time.
At this point, the Rebels continued to compete for Arroyo, who has sought to instill that kind of mentality since arriving last year from Oregon.
And there seems to be some progress, even if the win-loss record doesn’t reflect it.
The Power Five Arizona State and Iowa State programs dismantled UNLV, but the Rebels remained within a point of their other five enemies. Sometimes it’s turnovers that doom UNLV. Penalties and execution problems played a role in further losses.
Last week against San Jose State, the Rebels simply ran out of time – falling within yards of a potential win score when time expired.
âWhen you lose, it’s like nothing good is coming out of it,â said senior running back Charles Williams. âYou can say you did a lot of good things. But at the end of the day, you put in all that hard work to win. You are not putting all the work to waste. It’s good that you see an improvement over last year, however. â¦ We are starting to look like a real team.
At this point, the statistics show some improvement. The Rebels are allowing fewer yards (445 per game in 2021, 482.7 in 2020) and points (33.7) than last year (38.0). However, they score at the same pace (17.3 points) and are nearly 40 yards less per game.
But the penalties are also down from 6.5 to 5.2
There is certainly additional excitement this week with rival Wolfpack looming and an opportunity to grab the Fremont Cannon: “You really feel it,” said Lewis. âA lot of people really care about this rivalry game. I really careâ¦ and I know my team too. “
Taking back the cannon and ending the losing streak on Friday requires the disruption of UNR’s Carson Strong, one of the quarterback’s best prospects if he makes the 2022 NFL Draft. The Wolfpack just lost 34-32 on the road to Fresno State, a team the Rebels almost beaten as well.
Lewis does everything he can to maintain a positive attitude in the face of the adversity UNLV faces. A win against UNR would certainly help.
âYou’re going to go through tough times, but you have to find a way to keep getting up and keep getting out of it every day,â he said. âYou can’t just give up or give up. Right now we’re going through a tough time, but we’re going to keep trying to find a way to improve each day, and not give up. “