The No. 17 ranked Bulldogs (6-0) will take the field Saturday night when the UNLV Rebels (4-2) come to town for the first home game of the month. Coach Tim DeRuyter sat down for his weekly press conference to explain how the 'Dogs look coming off of their bye week, and how they will handle homecoming festivities.
"Off weeks are really good for you," DeRuyter said. "After awhile it's nice to get back on a normal schedule. I'm really excited about homecoming this week. I know a lot of exciting activities are surrounding the game. Calvin Jordan is doing a great job trying to rally former players for our "bring it home" weekend, and he's leading the charge with our Dan Brown Legacy Fund outing over at Doghouse which will be a great opportunity to see some former 'Dogs as well as raise money for that fund. We'll have a pep rally this weekend on Friday and then of course the game on Saturday against a really resurgent UNLV team."
With UNLV on the schedule this week the 'Dogs are facing a confident and dangerous opponent. After dropping their first two games of the season the Rebels have since won four straight and are coming into Bulldog Stadium expecting nothing less than to leave with a win.
"I think their success goes back to their Central Michigan game," DeRuyter said. "They were down 21 at half and they came back to win, and teams that can do that have a certain moxie that you gain by learning how to win tight games, a lot of teams can't do that, and I think the more you can do that the more confidence you have."
When discussing the game plan for the Rebels, DeRuyter emphasized the 'Dogs need to contain their star receiver Devante Davis as one of the biggest challenges of this week's matchup.
"81 [Davis] is a really good player, physically he's an imposing guy, he'll be a little bit of a tough matchup for some of our guys," he said. "They're doing a great job of getting him the ball so we'll have to figure out a plan to try to slow him down."
The Bulldogs' offense has been dominate against each opponent they have faced this year, but midway through the season the defense is still a question mark. However, after putting together their most complete game of the season against Idaho, the defense's confidence is continuing to grow.
"If we continue to force takeaways and limit explosive plays while playing tough red zone defense then we'll be ok and have a chance to improve and get better every week," DeRuyter said.
The 'Dogs are hoping that the bye week will be an advantage come Saturday night. The Bulldogs are entering their second half of the season healthy and focused to continue their run at another Mountain West championship and an undefeated season.
"We're hoping that our batteries got recharged this week," DeRuyter said. "We gave our players the weekend off and had a team meeting last night. I was excited when everybody was here early and ready to go, no reports of anything dumb going on over the weekend, and our guys are excited to go into the second half of the season. I think we're relatively healthy, I think having a few extra days off will help guys like Tyeler [Davison] and Nikko [Motta] who have been banged up a bit from that cumulative effective of people banging on you all the time, so hopefully they'll look a little more fresh."
The Bulldogs are back on their normal schedule this week and preparing for what is shaping up to be another exciting game in Bulldog Stadium on Saturday night against the UNLV Rebels where they hope to continue their climb up the rankings.
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