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Robbins shows potential in performance against North Texas

When junior running back Aidan Robbins committed to UNLV from Louisville in the spring, it looked as though coach Marcus Arroyo was trying to answer the question of who would replace Charles Williams, the school’s all-time leading rusher.

While Robbins established himself as the lead running back in fall camp, he had not yet put together a breakout performance during the Rebels’ first two games.

In UNLV’s 58-27 win over North Texas, Robbins had his coming out party. He rushed for 227 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 7.8 yards per carry. Robbins’ play earned him Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week honors.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Robbins said Saturday.

Robbins only appeared in 11 games during his three seasons at Louisville. Arroyo said Robbins’ eagerness and enthusiasm excite him. He’s also seen Robbins become a quick study, picking up on key nuances of the running back position.

Arroyo specifically mentioned Robbins’ ability to cut and quickly react to pre-snap reads has helped him grow more comfortable in the Rebels’ run scheme.

Against North Texas, Robbins benefited from a solid performance from UNLV’s offensive line. That’s no accident.

“The run isn’t effective unless the o-line is blocking,” Arroyo said Monday. “They’re doing a heck of a job. Those guys are communicating well and starting to jell.”

Robbins wasn’t the only Rebel to have a big rushing day against North Texas. Sophomore quarterback Doug Brumfield rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

Brumfield’s ability to run is a weapon Arroyo said he will continue to utilize. “Doug’s feet, the ability to extend plays and get some yards, it’s something we are emphasizing,” Arroyo said.

Coming into the season, much of the attention centered around the Rebels’ depth at wide receiver. Along with junior Kyle Williams, the Rebels added Michigan State transfer Ricky White and several junior college transfers, such as Jeff Weimer.

While the Rebels want to establish more of a passing identity, they understand that being effective in the running game is necessary to help the offense reach its full potential.

“It’s dynamic because you don’t know what to stop,” Williams said. “We’re running the ball and throwing the ball, so we have multiple weapons.”

Arroyo said he and his staff have drawn from their experiences at their previous stops to incorporate both the run and pass in the offense, focusing on drawing up plays in which Robbins can flourish.

With the recruitment of Robbins already is paying off, Arroyo said his featured running back has become more comfortable at his new school because the team around him allows him to be himself.

“Anywhere you can create an environment that allows you to be who you are, you can flourish,” Arroyo said. “If you suffocate that, you maximize the risk of guys not reaching their full potential. Their personality is a big piece of that.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.

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