UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez made a rare jump from high school

Coach Tony Sanchez makes a point during a UNLV training session on Aug. 20.

Coach Tony Sanchez makes a point during a UNLV training session on Aug. 20.

(John Locher / Associated Press)

Nevada Las Vegas Coach Tony Sanchez is 1-0 against UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.

So Saturday, when the Bruins play in Las Vegas, it won’t a problem, right?

Sanchez’s victory was a year ago, when his Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High team defeated Bellflower St. John Bosco and Rosen. Both made a significant jump after the season.

Rosen is coming off an impressive debut in UCLA’s 34-16 victory over Virginia last Saturday. Sanchez was hired by UNLV to fix a program that has had only four winning seasons since 1990.


Sanchez finds some things in college easier.

“It’s bigger staff, there are more guys to delegate to,” he said. “Recruiting, obviously, makes it different. As far as the football organization, I’m not saying it’s easier, but I have a lot more help.”

Sanchez led Bishop Gorman to a sixth consecutive Nevada state championship last season. He then became the fourth high school coach to be hired to run a Football Bowl Subdivision team, joining Bob Commings (Iowa, 1974-78), Gerry Faust (Notre Dame, 1981-85) and Todd Dodge (North Texas, 2007-10).

Success eluded the previous three.

Sanchez’s only college coaching experience was as an undergraduate assistant at New Mexico State in 1996. UNLV was appealing to him because “I know the city well and I had seen the program from outside. I had an idea how to attack it differently.”

The last five UNLV coaches, including former USC and Rams coach John Robinson, had a combined .303 winning percentage.

UNLV lost to Northern Illinois, 38-30, in its opener. . It doesn’t get any easier. After UCLA, the Rebels play at Michigan next week.

UCLA Coach Jim Mora, though, said it would be wrong to assume that Sanchez’s lack of college experience will be a problem.

“I got to go watch Tony coach a couple times and he does an outstanding job,” Mora said. “Sometimes we mischaracterize football coaches because of the level they are at. Whether they are high school, college or pro, good football coaches are good football coaches. Tony is a good football coach.”

A year ago

Sanchez remembers speaking with Rosen last season after Bishop Gorman held on for a 34-31 victory. St. John Bosco nearly rallied from a 34-10 third-quarter deficit.

Rosen passed for 244 yards and three touchdowns.

“He came up to me and said, ‘Ah man, you guys had me, you had me confused, but we almost got you,’” Sanchez said. “We chuckled about it.”

Sanchez has studied Rosen’s college debut—351 yards passing and three touchdowns—and was impressed.

“He looks a year older, a year more mature,” Sanchez said. “And he has weapons around him. Josh doesn’t have to do everything, just manage the game. , If he does that, he is going to be successful.”

Stopping Perkins

UCLA running back Paul Perkins, the Pac-12’s leading rusher in 2014, got off to a slow start against Virginia. The Cavaliers were intent on keeping him from a big day.

“They were going to get their safeties involved and stop the run,” UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. “I would have done the same thing facing the Pac-12’s leading rusher.”

Perkins ran for 30 yards in the first half, 18 on one play.

“They came at us with eight men in the box the entire time,” center Jake Brendel said.

Perkins finished with 61 yards rushing.

Perkins also picked up several blitzes, giving Rosen time to pass.

“Perk is just a great running back,” Brendel said. “No matter what the play is, he is going to do his job.”

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