UNLV’s football team proved that it could handle the stifling 100-plus degree mid-day heat while playing on the artificial turf during its scrimmage at Nellis Air Force Base on Saturday afternoon.
Now the question is how much that will help the Rebels when teams like Northern Illinois, UCLA and Michigan turn up the heat on the playing field come September.
“We talked to our guys (and) we said think about the mission of the Air Force on a daily basis,” UNLV coach Tony Sanchez said. “They do not put their guys in comfortable situations or easy situations to be successful. They put them in the hardest situations so when the obstacle comes and occurs, they’re ready for it. Same thing we did today.
“(This is) probably the hottest environment we’ll play in all year. … I think today was a big part of our preparation and toughness building.” (STORY CONTINUES BELOW)
“This is awesome,” senior quarterback Blake Decker said. “To come out and put on a show in front of the guys who protect our country. … we wouldn’t be out there is it wasn’t for them so it’s awesome for them to let us come out on play on their field and have a good time and jump around. It was fun.”
And hot. Real hot. The turf easily hovered in the 120-degree range with no shade to be found. When I got back to my car a few minutes after the scrimmage ended, the outside temperature gauge read 114.
Decker was arguably the star of the scrimmage, completing 9-of-15 passes for 172 yards — much of it against the No. 1 defense — including touchdown throws of 19-yards to Aaron Criswell and 55-yards to returning freshman All-American Devonte Boyd, who caught four passes for 113 yards.
Sophomore corner Jonavaughn Williams led the defense with a 50-yard interception return of a Kurt Palandech pass while JC transfer Jay’Onn Myles also played well in the secondary. Senior defensive end Efrem Clark made several big plays up front.
“I think there was success on both sides of the ball,” Sanchez said. “Overall I’m pleased with what I saw but I haven’t watched film yet and that can change your opinion real fast.”