It’s no secret. UNLV football is missing some of its most important players.
Sophomore quarterback Doug Brumfield, who coach Marcus Arroyo said is still considered day-to-day in concussion protocol Monday, may be the most notable on the Rebels’ injury report.
Against Air Force, however, another key player’s absence was felt throughout the game.
Senior Adam Plant Jr. didn’t play in Saturday’s 42-7 blowout loss, sitting out with an undisclosed injury. Arroyo confirmed Monday that the senior defensive end is also day-to-day, but expects Plant to return to practice this week, possibly as early as Tuesday.
“We’ll see how he feels,” Arroyo said
UNLV plays Notre Dame (3-3) at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.
Plant has been a valuable part of the Rebels’ pass rush. He leads UNLV with three sacks, tied with senior linebacker Austin Ajiake. The former TCU defensive end also has 6.5 tackles for a loss, costing opposing offenses 31 yards, and his 15 tackle assists are tied for third best on the team.
“Adam is one of the leaders of the defense and the team,” Ajiake said. “Whenever someone like that goes down, somebody else has to step up.”
Without Plant, UNLV turned to freshman Ryan Keeler, a recent transfer from Rutgers. In just his second game, the defensive lineman totaled seven tackles, including one for a loss while playing a significant portion of the snaps.
Ajiake and Arroyo were complimentary of Keeler for how he handled the additional workload. Arroyo said he’s been a standout since arriving late in training camp, and Saturday was a good opportunity for the freshman to get live-game experience. Arroyo also appreciated Keeler’s positional versatility.
“We’re getting a chance to see some guys,” Arroyo said. “It’s not what you’d like to do, obviously, in a situation where you have all your guys rolling, but it was good to see Ryan get in there and mix it up.”
Plant’s absence was still significant, especially while facing Air Force’s option offense. Falcons running back Brad Roberts 144 yards and four touchdowns, and John Lee Eldridge III had 116 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries.
Without Plant, the Rebels (4-3) only had one tackle for a loss and Air Force rushed for 406 yards.
Plant and Brumfield aren’t the only UNLV players with day-to-day labels. Starting running back Aidan Robbins, who left Saturday’s game early in the second quarter with a knee injury, also has questions about his availability.
“We’ll know more in the next 24-48 hours,” Arroyo said.
Robbins’ hot start has cooled off during the past two weeks. He rushed for 55 yards on 13 carries during the Rebels’ 40-7 loss against San Jose State. The former Louisville running back then ran for 30 yards on eight attempts against Air Force before his departure. Robbins hasn’t scored since UNLV’s Sept. 30 win against New Mexico.
His replacements, juniors Courtney Reese and Jordan Younge-Humphrey, combined for 42 yards rushing Saturday across the final three quarters.
“We need to get healthy as a team, that’s obvious,” Arroyo said. “We’ve got a lot of new guys in starting, contributing roles that we need to get developed as quickly as we can.”