No. 18 BYU toys with Rebels in thorough 59-21 beating

Heat turned up on Sanford as UNLV sputters on both sides of the ball


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV head coach Mike Sanford watches as his team plays BYU on Oct. 10 at Sam Boyd Stadium. BYU won the game 59-21 to drop UNLV’s record to 2-4.


The Rebels suffered their second straight lopsided loss, this one by No. 18 BYU. The Cougars piled up 611 yards of total offense on their way to a 59-21 victory.

UNLV vs BYU Football

UNLV wide receiver Phillip Payne reaches for an Omar Clayton pass against BYU on Oct. 10, 2009, at Sam Boyd Stadium. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

BYU POSTGAME: Rebels run ragged ... again

Ryan Greene, Rob Miech and Alex Adeyanju digest all there was to take in from UNLV's 59-21 loss to BYU on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.

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After another lopsided loss, what do you think happens to 2-4 UNLV against 4-1 Utah?

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  • Opponent: Utah
  • Date: Oct. 17, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
  • TV: The Mtn. (Cox ch. 334)
  • Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM

Outside of the UNLV locker room Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium, interim Athletic Director Jerry Koloskie said that his stance hadn't yet changed regarding the status of coach Mike Sanford's job.

"As the athletic director, my position hasn't changed," he said in the wake of the Rebels' 59-21 thumping at the hands of No. 18 BYU. "We're halfway through the season, there's six games to go and my position hasn't changed."

Unfortunately for the Rebels, now 2-4 in a once-promising season that appears to be close to entering a downward spiral, nothing else really changed from last week's humbling 63-28 loss at rival UNR, in which the UNLV defense allowed 773 yards of total offense and was punchless against both the run and in third-down situations.

Big, bad BYU came to town — backed by the majority of a crowd of 25,597 on hand — and had its way from start to finish.

While totaling 611 yards of offense — 291 of which came on the ground — and playing a well-executed, mistake-free, disciplined brand of ball, the Cougars also snatched away any whiff of momentum the Rebels were able to grab in the process.

Each of UNLV's three scores were answered by a BYU touchdown inside of two minutes apiece.

It made for two sound beatings in a row, plain and simple.

"Kinda in the tank, to not be explicit," junior quarterback Omar Clayton responded when asked what the mindset of the team was following another lopsided loss. "The only thing you can do is get ready for the next game and learn from mistakes."

With BYU showing no cracks in its armor for UNLV to jump on and exploit, the Rebels committed one of their three turnovers relatively early, with the game still on an even keel.

Trailing 3-0 on the Rebels' second offensive possession, Clayton, who missed last week's game at UNR with a sore right shoulder, was flushed from the pocket to his right. He floated the ball up in the air, sending it out of bounds as a form of surrender on the play.

Instead, it hung up close enough to the field of play for BYU's Jordan Pendleton to get in the air, snag the ball with one hand and come down barely inbounds. Three plays later, the first of three Harvey Unga touchdown runs made it a 10-0 contest, and the blowout was essentially in effect.

On top of his trio of touchdown runs, Unga compiled for 149 yards on 20 carries before giving way early in the second half to backups JJ Di Luigi and Brian Kariya.

As for senior quarterback Max Hall, who has a reputation of being forced into mistakes when under duress and flushed from the pocket, he operated like a surgeon, completing 21 of his 27 pass attempts for 320 yards and two scores. He was hardly touched all night, and for the first time in six games this season, went without throwing an interception.

"He had time, he was able to hit open receivers," Sanford said. "They had guys open, we didn't cover him and we didn't defend him like we're capable of.

"It's very obvious, we didn't tackle well enough to win."

Sanford pointed out that the Rebels were without junior linebacker and leading tackler Starr Fuimaono, who suffered and ankle injury against the Wolf Pack last weekend, while his top sidekick, junior Ronnie Paulo, was banged up early, spraining his shoulder.

But no matter who was in, the tackling only appeared to get sloppier and sloppier as the game progressed, ultimately ending with another unsightly set of digits on the scoreboard.

UNLV's offense again couldn't answer every score the Cougars were able to register, and turnovers didn't help that cause.

Clayton was 20-of-32 for 253 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while backup Mike Clausen went 5-of-9 for 39 yards and a pick.

UNLV again abandoned its rushing attack early on as things began to get out of control. Clausen led the team with 17 yards on five carries, while junior Channing Trotter had five carries of his own for 14 yards, giving the team's leading rusher 16 yards on eight carries in the past two outings.

"We're just playing so uncharacteristic right now," said senior receiver Ryan Wolfe, who caught eight passes for 69 yards and, in the process, became the Mountain West Conference's second all-time leading pass-catcher. "We show signs of being able to move the ball pretty well. It takes one guy to do what they're not supposed to be doing to make a play fall apart."

After several of them fell apart, at his postgame press conference, Sanford deflected a question regarding his job status to Koloskie, who was standing in the back of the room.

New UNLV President Neal Smatresk, who was vocal over the last week on the subject, was out of town on Saturday night.

"I'm not gonna answer that," Sanford said. "(Koloskie's) right back there. If you want to talk to him, you can talk to him."

Contacted by the Sun after he left the stadium, Koloskie was asked if he thought it was premature for some fans to want a coaching change immediately.

"It is, in my mind," he said. "Absolutely."

While still mathematically alive to reach its goal of getting to at least six wins and earning a postseason berth, UNLV has a tough road ahead.

Next Saturday, 4-1 Utah comes to town for a 7 p.m. kickoff, having opened Mountain West Conference play earlier in the day with a come-from-behind 24-17 victory at Colorado State.

With all of the speculation and talk going on around the program and regarding its future, the UNLV players know that getting caught up in it would only make matters worse.

"Coach Sanford makes sure that all of our focus goes into the game," Clayton said. "Those things are out of our hands. What we can do is try to play hard, do well in practice and that kind of stuff, so we try not to worry about the coaches' jobs."

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  1. What is the matter with Jerry Koloskie? Will you say the same thing after next weeks pounding by Utah? It's been 5 years. Unlv knows what Sanford can deliver.

  2. UNLV is pathetic and should drop out of the MWC. You do absolutely nothing for the league.

    See you next week.

  3. So let me get this right. According to Jerry K, it's "absolutely premature for some fans to want a coaching change immediately"

    I wish we had someone in the media that would press him on idiotic comments like that.

    We're doomed if he gets the AD job.

    It's hurting UNLV athletics every day he remains as the acting AD.

    His statements are intellectually dishonest.

    He knows Sanford has failed. He knows this team has quit on the coaching staff. He knows there's no chance we're going to a bowl game. He knows that the sooner the change is made, the better off UNLV will be.

    Someone on Maryland Pkwy. DO SOMETHING. Will someone lift a finger? Pretty please? With sugar on top?

    There's nothing left to learn. There are no remaining unknowns. Sanford and Therrell are losers. They have been handed hundreds of thousands of dollars and produced zilch. NO winning seasons. Failure after failure.

    How much longer do they get to take the University, the fans, the city of Las Vegas to the cleaner?

  4. If there is a worse defense in the FBS of the NCAA, I can't come up with it. Two consecutive weeks of giving up more than 700 yards is not only pathetic, it is inexcusable.

    The Sanford experiment has failed. We have two options.

    1. Kill the football program and acknowledge what we all know, that UNLV is a basketball school.

    2. Fire Mike, open the checkbook and go get a coach who has a proven track record both on the field and in recruiting.

    Since I am sure the administration at UNLV will choose the second option and fire Sanford eventually, I can only hope they will go get that top level coach. All it takes is money, right?

  5. I cannot believe the cow dunn talk this KoloSTOOGEskie is ditching out. He must really think we are all a bunch of idiots with no sense at all.

    Both he and Sanford need to pack up and leave for another planet because when they leave, no one on earth is going to hire them.

    UNLV will finish putting themselves in the dog pound if those two stooges stay around. I have lost all respect for UNLV.

  6. UNLV is screwed!! We have Mickey Rooney running the athletics department and Ernest coaching our defense.
    (Tell me Therrell isn't Ernest reincarnated)!!!

    What is more disrespecting? Keeping Sanford and this loser Koloskie at UNLV or thinking that us fans are as stupid as them? Sanford doesn't have the stones to quit...

  7. Sugarbowl, the hiring of Utah's former offensive coordinator is killing us. Utah should take him back and pipe it down.

    I doubt you'll see many rebel fans at the game next week.

  8. I have said it before and I say it again. Fans, Alumni, Students REVOLT, REVOLT AND REVOLT. Make enough noise and boycott the UTAH game. Maybe if the Powers-that-be at UNLV see their donations and contributions dwindling and an empty stadium,they might take action and fire Lowell and Hardy.

    What a joke those two are.

  9. By the way, have you all noticed that the article Instant Analysis regarding Sanford being left hanging by a thread has been removed. I wonder who is responsible for that. When I clicked on the thread, it came back Page not Found. Hmmmmmmm

  10. Sugarbowl,

    it takes the lowest breed of human kind to kick someone who's down. Go to hell.

  11. I feel for the players because they do not deserve what is happening to them. No leadership, no proper coaching and lots of excuses given by the coach after each loss. The reason the players are down is due to lousy coaching. The players have stopped listening to him.

  12. Bahasunrise- He is the link to Instant Analysis.

  13. I will be out there with my fire Sanford and fire Jerry Koloskie sign!

  14. Now I will not support UNLV until Koloskie is gone. What an idiot.

  15. Hopefully Sanford is gone by the end of the week.

  16. To Coach Sanford and his Entire Staff,
    How come you don't do the following:
    1. Enforce defensive fundamentals in practice (tackling, defensive stances, overunning plays, bad reads, not making adjustments after they've burned you on the same play twice, etc.)
    2. Enforce discipline in practice and on/off the playing field as well...players make tons of mistakes and you keep them in the game,
    3. You have NO GOAL LINE DEFENSE.....all the other team has to do is show up in the RED ZONE and they can score any way they want,
    4. QUIT as head coach...

    If you follow these simple rules, you can retire and let someone else coach that has a clue on how to coach D-1 football......

  17. Oh my! You armchair quarterbacks are great entertainment. Yeah, the football program is in dire straights and, yeah, Mike Sanford should go. How would you want your firing to be handled by your employer? I guess it would be okay for your colleagues to put up banners or something that said how bad an employee you are and really needed to go. Oh yeah, and when your boss didn't act when you wanted him to, you'd start in on him too.

    Despite what or how you think, Sanford needs some respect and if Koloskie just came out and said things to make you "fans" happy, then shame on him. They are both public officials and in the spotlight, but that doesn't make a hiring/firing any different than for you and me.

    Did you actually think that Koloskie would come right out and say, "yeah, the guy needs to go. He's done nothing for our program?" That is not the right thing to do. If Sanford wants to step down, that's his choice but will probably do more to hurt the men he's coached than to help you "fans" satisfy your desires.

    Firing Sanford today would solve nothing. It won't send UNLV football to a bowl game this year but would probably make things even worse, but I'm sure you all think it couldn't get worse.

    But then it would make you whiners least until the next issue that you want to complain about.

  18. You folks need to match what they paid coach in Alabama to get real contender. I would not think the school has stomach for that kind of money. You get what you pay for.

  19. JahReb Not sure what glory you're talking about and I think that you're putting meaning into what I said that simply isn't there. I don't think that a hiring or a firing needs to be managed through the press or blogs.

    The players have talent and it takes talent and coaching to win games. I'm afraid I don't see how a talented team could be successful in the absence of a coaching squad. If Sanford were let go now, who would step in? Who could shape the existing talent into a team that could go 6-0 from here out? Is one of the assistant coaches capable of rallying the players and formulating successful offensive and defensive strategies? I don't know and I know you don't have the answers either because we're all speculating here (well except for insufferable succotash - he clearly knows how to run things).

    I agree with you that coaches and ADs know they live their working lives in the public eye and that the public criticism goes with the job. It doesn't mean I have to agree with it.

    Accountability - absolutely. But it goes back to what I said before. There are professional, respectful limits about what could or should be said in public. Koloskie can see the problems too. And he will act with the appropriate decorum, respect, and professional integrity that should occur in any employer/employee relationship and that is demanded by the AD job. Based on what I have read here, I do believe that the only thing that will satisfy the unhappy comments is for Koloskie to state that Sanford has to go or that the football program is in trouble, or something along those lines. So, as for acknowledgement, I'm confident that he knows full well there are problems and I don't think he needs to acknowledge it to you or me.

  20. "It's very obvious, we didn't tackle well enough to win."

    What an understatement. We didn't get a junior Urban Myers with this deal from Utah folks. Hopefully the University President will put us out of our misery and send this guy packing. UNLV.....the joke of the MWC

  21. The Sun is reporting that President Smatresk was at the game and he was one of the last ones to leave the stadium, while the RJ is saying that Smatresk was out of the state yesterday and did not see the game. Does anybody know what the real truth is?
    If he was out of the state considering the condition of this program it is my hunch he is looking for a real athletic director if this is really the case. Hopefully not his loser friend from Hawaii!!

  22. North Carolina fired their Football Coach mid season - the he will finish out the season comment. ESPN praised the decision, as it gave the school the opportunity to be the first University with an opening to look for a new Coach. They get Butch Davis.

    The crowd was much smaller than previous BYU games and will continue to dwindle next week. The bleeding right now is too bad and a change has to be made.

    Jerry is a good guy, but not the guy for the job at this time. Let him know he is gone, start a national AD search and find us a BCS guy who understands how to make this happen.

  23. I have not heard anyone mention this: Why doesn't UNLV go after Mike Pritchard as our new (HC)? I know Mike he said he doesn't want to coach but most former players say that then you see them standing on the sidelines somewhere. He is a local guy who won a national championship in college, was a very good player in the NFL, has great football knowledge, a ton of passion for the game, knows what it takes to win, he would get top recruits no doubt about it, & put a winning product on the field. Does anybody reall know how many good football contacts Pritchard has and could bring into this university? To me that is a no brainer at least make him the offer.

    I think Pritchard would do nothing short of wonders for UNLV. He would be another Mike Tomlin IMO!!

  24. No $$$$=No talent=No "real" coach.

  25. Whatever fan base that was left has made a mass exodus to the position of protest.

  26. You really can't hire a coach until you find a permanent athletic director, or risk confusion and unneeded drama within the program that pays the bills. The two have to be one the same page. That said, in order to preserve whatever quality within the 2010 recruiting class, you have to fire Sanford right now. Can you imagine a young man, who has other offers choosing to go with the Rebels with all the uncertainty? With an interim coach the recruit knows that steps will be taken to get the program on the right track. Tradition means everything in college football, that said, UNLV has to get rid of the high school uniforms. They look exactly like my little league unis from 20 years ago. Find something that symbolizes UNLV, a scheme that is instantly recognizable as a Rebel uniform without seeing a name. You see Penn St, BYU, Florida, Tenn, and you know who they are because they have the same look, the same logos as their unis did 25 years ago. In building the football program you have to decide to do it right, not on the cheap, or go down a division, maybe even dropping the program. Men who have proven themselves as a HEAD coach and as THE athletic director have to be hired, no more coordinators or retreads from retirement.
    Sanford has a bad habit, I never see great coaches do: he blames his players taking no responsibility himself. He controls who the players are, how they are taught, the off and def schemes, no one else. To state the difference in the BYU game was the interceptions is plain stupid. Max Hall has a well known INT problem what does his coach say about it: "we need to call the right plays and avoid forcing it deep". I won't comment on the slowness of the scout team or injuries, last night opponent lost two offensive lineman before the first game as well as the services of the best running back who is just coming back, and they were without the 5 top special team players and the #1 WR. All teams have injuries, stop making lame excuses for your ineptitude Mike.
    The MWC NEEDS to have its keynote city having a quality program, instead of dragging down the league with the all too visible bad play.


  28. GO LOCOS !!!!!!!

  29. Um - I buy tickets to see UNLV play, as do many who are posting on this site. My company has sponsored UNLV under Sanford, so quit the blanket statements.

    First off his name is Sanford - not Stafford (confused with the Detroit Lions QB I am sure).

    Donating has gone on for long enough, results are what counts right now. It is not getting done. I can give you a list of current College Football Coaches and what they have been able to accomplish in 5 or less years on their campus. Truth be told - anyone with this poor of a record has been fired. We play in a conference who gets national recognition through the efforts of programs like TCU, BYU and Utah. Colorado State made a Coaching Change, as did Air Force. Both had Coaches who had won in the past, but started to show a slide in their program. They were replaced with Coaches who last year in their first seasons both went to bowl games.

    People would show up to games if they were given a reason to show up. This Coach has never connected with the local community, he goes un noticed at his local grocery store - I have seen it happen in person. The defense has been poor annually and the people who have been given the role to improve it have been his hires.

    Fans like you who dont seem to understand that College Football actually does mean something at just about every college campus in the country. If the team does not perform after a Coach is given time to bring in a complete recruiting class - which Sanford has, they are let go. Would you keep an employee who has not hit their goals in a 5 year time frame? Your thinking says that you would.

    This is College Sports and if the basketball program showed the same poor results - the entire town would want the Coach to be gone. Why is football given a free pass for lack of results? Should we not expect to beat Nevada? Should we not expect to have a team that can play defense? Should we spend our money each week and just say oh well- the kids are strong and fast and just need to blitz more? We all know that this is not Notre Dame. But, Utah fired a long time Coach who was not producing. They hired a Coach from Bowling Green by the name of Urban Meyer and the program is now a national power. BYU did the exact same thing with Lavell Edwards. Because we are UNLV we should not have the same expectations?

    He had his chances to make personel changes, but his part of the company is failing while his competition has made changes and has improved.

    The Coach is the CEO and a motivator. If he can not get his talent to improve and get better over 5 years - then changes need to be made. That is College Football and last time I checked UNLV is playing against teams who think exactly like this. When we get our fans to expect results, then you will see more on board and money coming back into the program.

  30. Yea if the team would earn the support they might get it !

  31. Wow, "dt" it's people like you that give the rest of the real fans bad names. Do you have to use extra Windex to wash the crayon off of your monitor?

    Does "the_Prophet" know who the next head coach is? Do all of the Stafford's in the prospective coaching pool need to line up? I agree with your technical points on the defense and think that the D Coordinator is an absolute joke. Your demeaning comments about "holding sausage", I had to give up my season tickets because of the scholarship fee, but still support the team.

    It is sad when Wyoming can find a coach that can motivate his players who are stuck in the armpit of the college universe to play 10 times harder than our kids.

  32. Sergio you are no prophet:

    You have no idea who you are talking to on this board or how much money I or anybodys else has, or how much I have personally invested into this failed athletics department over the years. I find it really hard to believe that you are a winner at anything because your words contradict the character of a true winner. You wouldn't accept failure in high school but now you do with this program? You are mediocre at best and definately not an athlete, probably a male cheerleader, but oh you can play a nasty game of chess while wearing your argyle sweater and pennyloafers!!

  33. @Sergio-

    Your admissions are steps in the right direction. Couldn't have said it better. Too bad you're preaching to an abattoir of screeching imbiciles.