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April 16, 2014

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Ray Brewer: From the Pressbox

ray brewer:

Analysis: Hauck deserves time to transform UNLV football into a winner

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Stephen Sylvanie

UNLV football players celebrate their first victory of the season, a 38-35 win over Air Force at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday night.

UNLV Downs Air Force

UNLV football players celebrate their first victory of the season, a 38-35 win over Air Force at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday night. Launch slideshow »

UNLV snags first win

KSNV coverage of UNLV's victory against Air Force, Sept. 22, 2012.

Don’t expect Bobby Hauck to be heading to the unemployment office anytime soon.

Many UNLV football fans have called for Hauck to be replaced as the Rebels’ football coach after their rough 0-3 start to the season, saying the program should be more improved in his third season at the helm.

Saturday night, the Rebels’ performance showed improvements are being made.

It wasn’t pretty, especially in the first half, but UNLV held Air Force to seven second-half points and played its best football of the season in a 38-35 victory.

At least for one night, they are a winning football team. And, at least for one week, they are a first-place football team — the game was the Mountain West Conference opener.

The Rebels, who had lost their initial three games by a combined 14 points, finally took the next step in their progression by closing out a game. Unlike the triple-overtime loss to Minnesota in the season-opener, or blowing a 14-point lead the following week in falling to lower-level Northern Arizona, UNLV didn't let this victory get away.

The Rebels learned to win.

That shows they are improved. And, for Hauck’s critics, a notch in the win column provides concrete evidence that the program is heading — slowly but surely — in the right direction.

While Hauck was deserving of the criticism after the three defeats, he’s equally deserving of praise after this one. Win or lose, he’s always had confidence in his players, giving them the belief they can be a winning program.

So, when UNLV fell behind 28-17 at halftime against Air Force, partially because it surrendered 238 first-half rushing yards, that confidence didn’t waver.

The second-half domination included UNLV gaining a first down on eight straight third-down plays in scoring 21 unanswered points. The Rebels controlled the clock with running backs Tim Cornett and Bradley Randle, they forced turnovers and punts on defense, and they started to play with a little swagger.

Air Force, which is known for its clock-draining running game, rarely loses the time-of-possession battle. In the fourth quarter, UNLV had the ball for 10 minutes, 42 seconds, helping it do what many considered unthinkable — win a close game and beat a quality opponent

Sure, it was just one victory. And the grim truth is the Rebels will have a hard time winning again until after Halloween. (Four of the next five games are on the road, where the Rebels have a 16-game losing streak dating back to 2009).

But, for one night, the players can enjoy a different outcome.

They raced onto the field as the clock expired in celebration, briefly shook hands with the Air Force players and headed toward the student section to sing the fight song. It’s a moment some believe won’t be duplicated much this season.

Then again, nobody thought they were improved enough to beat Air Force, which was a 10-point betting favorite.

Hauck needs time to turn the program into a winner. He deserves your patience. I’ve long argued that if he can’t turn perennial-loser UNLV into a winner, then it might not be possible.

Tonight, they are first place in the Mountain West Conference. Let’s enjoy the feat.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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  1. Comment removed by moderator. Name Calling

  2. Hello Rico, were still here.. Yes the rebels won the game, I would not say that this was a turning point though. UNLV is really lucky that Air Force did not show up to play. I will say though that I have never seen a coach try so hard to loose in the final minutes as I did last night... Hauck did not win that game, just goes to show that even a blind monkey can find a banana every now and then. Good old Bobby better change things up on the next game, for back to back running up the middle then a wide out to the side lines and then repeat for the whole game will be figured on very soon...

  3. I was one of those who had given up after the Northern Arizona game - and I'm not quick to give up on a new coach. The Rebels seemed to have no direction and were showing no progress. In the past two weeks, however, the Rebels have shown qualities that were missing early in the season, and for much of the previous two years: heart and fight. Wherever it came from, it is welcome. Congratulations on your first victory, Rebels.

  4. Speaking of blind monkeys GoBruins, how'd UCLA do yesterday? Oh that's right, they LOST! Go Rebs!

  5. Nice Rico,

    I know your comment is removed now, but it's funny how you pick one post and then put your blinders on. Did you comment on my post about buying season tickets back this year because I thought the kids might turn it around? NO
    Did the nice win last night erase losing to a Division II team two years in a row? NO
    Will I still be at EVERY home game this year? YES

    Just because I don't think Hauck makes adjustments at half time or that the play calling is good, doesn't mean I don't love our UNLV teams and support them? Why don't you let me know what your season tickets are and we can have a beer together, because if you don't support the team, then your banter is even weaker than I thought.

  6. One game doesn't prove anything. I still stand behind my call to have Hauck fired....a coach who A) shouldn't have been hired in the 1st place and B) shouldn't have received an extension last year. Great game by the players....I won't take the win away from them. Doesn't mean the coach is worth anything.

  7. Wake up nay sayers! You've sucked for so long you can't even enjoy a quality win. Players don't go out and win games on their own, nor vise versa with coaches. Do you really believe a quality coach wants to come to UNLV? Really? You have no football tradition, can't recruit your cities best players, and second to the "Original" Nevada school, who know what success feels like. And now you say they shouldn't have hired Bobby Hauck in the first place. Really! You're entire team for the last ten years has been FCS (I-AA)level players, maybe. And you think you can turn a middle of the road FCS school into a I-A level winner? Right! I for one, believe UNLV will go to a bowl game in two years. With Bobby Hauck! Mr. Hauck can recruit, he is a proven winner, and is maybe your last hope of staying an FBS school. Go Rebels! Vegas is full of fantasies, and most of you are dreaming if you think you're getting anything better out there.

  8. I'm not clear who calls plays for the Rebs...does Hauck make the offensive/defensive calls or does he defer that to his coordinators? All I know is that he "coaches" special teams, which is the worst unit on the team. All the credit should go to whoever is calling the offensive plays, since the quick slants/outs helped the Rebs move down field and have manageable third downs. That was super refreshing opposed to watching a predictable run game. Also, big credit to the offensive line and Sherry. Sherry had all day to throw, and made some really nice passes with good touch (not counting the interception).

    As for the defense, it was good to see the half time adjustment to the triple option. The Rebs had trouble with AF's speed until they just started laying some wood to the runners. I would credit the pass defense, but AF didn't really throw downfield at all. #17 wasn't on the field, which seemed to help with keeping some WOs from being wide open.

    Anyway, the overall lack of discipline (stupid penalties) reflects Hauck's leadership. The fact that he "coaches" special teams and that unit is terrible (kick off out of bounds!), and the lack of killer instinct for the team, illustrate the Reb's success is due to an improved offensive game. It doesn't really matter if Hauck stays or goes, just make sure we keep the offensive coordinator in place.

  9. To the author:

    YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR MIND.

    One win and you give him a pass? Oh.my.word.Get.a.grip.

  10. I agree, and I'm a born and raised Vegas guy, this is the only home football team I've ever known. I think Sherry over the next 4 years will continue to get better and better, hell, he's improved over his first 3 starts! In 2-3 yrs, UNLV will have the best passing game in the league. Their defense is improving. I expect recruiting to also keep improving as more home grown talent stays home to fight for the home team; as it should be. Once we get a new stadium built, this program can take it to the next level and dominate in basketball and football. This is my vision, and Hauck is the guy who will take us there. This isn't the last upset of the year either. They'll have one or 2 more then be favorites by the end of the season as Sherry and the OL continues to improve. All that is missing at this point is home support. After a road win, I hope they finally get the support they deserve.

  11. LMFAO at all of the homers that all of a sudden came out of the woodwork....where were you for the past 3 weeks when we were losing games we were SUPPOSED to WIN?! Quiet as a mouse....why? Because you had nothing to say at the time...you don't stand behind your convictions until the players win O-N-E game....which proves N-O-T-H-I-N-G....

    We couldn't win against a D-II school, yet homers are anointing Hauck the best coach we can get? That the program is moving forward?! That's a joke....

    One thing it proves, homers will always be homers....

  12. The jury's still out on this team. Congratulations though on defeating a quality Division 1 team. Air Force has been to beaucoup bowl games in the last decade: UNLV has not. This win sets the stage for the remainder of the season. We shall see.

  13. The way I see it UNLV is starting the climb up he mountain and will arrive on the top around 2017 when their campus stadium is complete. Sherry will continue to improve over the next 4 years and can become an NFL QB. He has the size and arm strength. As long as the Rebels can play everyone tough this year and win 4 or 5 games, they'll be well on their way to a 6-7 win season next year and winning seasons for decades to come! Having the new high tech stadium approved was pivotal. Recruiting big, strong, physical players and improving the defense what the first baby step I feel Hauch has accomplished. As he lands more and more top notch local talent moving forward, his teams will win more and more games. I envision UNLV becoming a top 20 team within 7 years year. This town is all about the money and the honey's, what kid wouldn't want to play here if we had a good program! I tell you who would, future pro's.