The Broncos will play without senior left tackle Rees Odhiambo and possibly junior right tackle Mario Yakoo, an unusual confluence of injuries that could pose significant problems for the offense.
Odhiambo is out after breaking an ankle against Wyoming. Yakoo is questionable after missing the Wyoming game (undisclosed injury).
Sophomore Archie Lewis will take Odhiambo’s spot. Lewis has started three games this season at right tackle. He also started five games last season, including four at left tackle when Odhiambo was injured.
“He definitely has proven himself to the line, and we have total confidence in him ... if he has to go in at any position,” senior center Marcus Henry said.
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If Yakoo doesn’t play, the Broncos could move junior Steve Baggett out from right guard to right tackle, where he started full time last year. That would open the door for a backup interior lineman — sophomore Mason Hampton, sophomore Andrew Tercek or junior Kellen Buhr. Coach Bryan Harsin said redshirt freshman tackle Andres Preciado also is prepared to play.
The offensive line is coming off one of its better performances of the season, allowing the Broncos to rush for 207 yards and not allowing a sack.
At UNLV, the group will face a quartet of defensive tackles who average 304 pounds but an overall defense that allows 5.1 yards per rushing attempt, which is tied for 106th in the nation.
“Obviously we’re going to miss Rees tremendously,” offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz said. “He’s an outstanding football player, a great leader for us. He’s somebody who anchors that left side. ... The thing about football is it’s like life — it goes on. So we’re going to have to have somebody step up and perform at a high level.”