Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010 | 2:15 a.m.
- Opponent: Utah
- Date: Sept. 11, 1 p.m.
- Where: Salt Lake City
- TV/Radio: The Mtn./ESPN 1100 AM
- The Line: Utah by 23
Ryan Greene, Ray Brewer and Case Keefer talk about the highs and lows from UNLV's 41-21 setback against No. 12 Wisconsin to start both the 2010 football season and the Bobby Hauck era.
- Box Score: Wisconsin 41, UNLV 21
- Rebels run down by No. 12 Badgers in Hauck’s debut, 41-21
- Instant analysis: Despite loss, Hauck has Rebels headed in right direction
- Notebook: Starter at QB for Utah game to be decided this week
- Ground game key for Wisconsin in rout of UNLV
- Live Game Blog: Wisconsin grinds UNLV down en route to 41-21 victory
- All Sun UNLV football coverage
A week ago, in his first press conference of the 2010 season, UNLV coach Bobby Hauck made it clear that junior Mike Clausen would start the Rebels' opener at quarterback.
On Monday, that same question could be answered with one word on the updated depth chart: 'or'. That word separates Clausen and senior Omar Clayton atop the QB listings in the two-deep for Saturday's afternoon tilt at Utah.
Both ended up playing essentially for a half in the Rebels' 41-21 season-opening loss to No. 12 Wisconsin on Saturday, and Hauck finds no reason to give Utah any added advantage by rushing to declare a starter again.
"In terms of the quarterback job, specifically, we'll look at it this week and we'll kind of go through practice and make a decision as to who will start Saturday, but I'd assume both of them will play," Hauck said at his weekly meeting with the media. "In terms of the real decision, we may not announce it, because (Clayton and Clausen) do have some differences, and we may keep that under our hat."
What transpires in practice and the film room while preparing for Utah might go further in determining who plays rather than the results against the Badgers.
Clausen went 4-of-10 for just 23 yards and a touchdown pass before sitting most of the second half. In his place, Clayton went 6-of-16 for 82 yards and a score, then totaled a team-best 59 yards on the ground.
In the first half, Clausen hardly had time to breathe under intense pressure from the Wisconsin defensive front. It also kept UNLV from establishing any kind of running game. With the exception of a 16-yard touchdown toss to Phillip Payne off a late fumble recovery, the Rebels had next to nothing to hang their hats on after running just 15 offensive plays before the break.
The failure to produce was hardly on Clausen's shoulders alone.
Clayton had his moments, but Wisconsin's defense had appeared to ease off the pedal a bit late in the game.
Hauck was asked if he was — and still is — hoping for one of the two veterans to seize control of the job, and without saying yes, he pretty much said yes.
"I'd say my preference would be not to platoon the quarterbacks, but if you're placed in that situation, then you do it," he said. "Again, not my preference."
Wasn't all bad, though ...
Hauck said he "wasn't pleased with a whole lot of it" when it came to Saturday's showing as a whole, but he did point out a handful of positives.
"I liked the effort level," he said. "I thought that was good. I liked the lack of penalties. I liked the opportunistic part of the defense, but you'd probably have to stop there."
Comparing those areas to the past few seasons for UNLV, especially on the defensive side of the ball, shows quite the difference.
UNLV's defense played hard throughout the second half despite being down by as many as three scores for much of it. It was a scenario where, in recent years, things went on a downward spiral and made the final score look pretty lopsided.
The Rebels only committed four penalties for 30 yards, with none of them seriously doing damage outside of a personal foul call for a late hit on senior safety Alex De Giacomo, which Hauck even had questions about.
"The guy looked like he's taking a charge in a basketball game," Hauck quipped. "So I didn't lose my mind. I can do that, as you all know. You've seen it ... my mother's so disappointed."
The two forced turnovers were a notable positive after the Rebels last season tied for the fifth fewest takeaways in the nation, notching 16 all year.
Also, despite giving up 278 yards on the ground, Hauck said the tackling was far from porous after reviewing it on tape.
"We tackled pretty well," he added. "Now, (John) Clay ran guys over a couple of times, but we tackled pretty well.
"We can't lose our minds because a really top-notch football team got the best of us."
Caught on camera
Hauck was playfully asked about a handful of his profanity-laced tirades that were caught by the Versus cameras, including one with Clayton during a second half timeout.
"Oh, my buddies let me know, yeah," he said with a grin. "I'll tell you, it's not the first time I've uttered a profanity. Probably won't be the last. I get excited sometimes, and occasionally it happens. It's something I've tried to work on over the years."
Youth in numbers
UNLV used 12 true freshmen in its opener, which was tied for the third most of any of the 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks.
Florida took the cake, using 15 newbies, while Air Force and Florida State each played 13. Also using 12 were Auburn, Oklahoma State and Tennessee.
Injury news ... for Utah
UNLV's injury report won't be released until Tuesday, but its upcoming opponent is dealing with a tough ailment of its own.
Utah sophomore quarterback Jordan Wynn is listed as day-to-day with a sprained thumb.
He did not throw during Monday's practice, as senior Terrance Cain took the brunt of the action.
Wynn did, however, finish the game last Thursday after suffering the injury, leading the Utes to a 27-24 overtime upset of No. 15 Pitt in Salt Lake City. He finished the game 21-of-36 for 283 yards, three touchdown tosses and one interception.
UNLV has never faced Wynn, who assumed the starting job over Cain late last season. Cain has a good history against UNLV in his lone start against the Rebels, throwing for 174 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another score in last year's 35-15 Utah triumph in Las Vegas.
Hauck expanding on profanity and whether it makes someone a better or worse coach: "I don't know, my father was one of the best coaches I know and he didn't swear a whole bunch at anybody ... except maybe me."