Rebels football:

UNLV football notebook: Rebels entering crucial improvement phase

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UNLV center Brian Roth directs his teammates during their spring football game Friday, April 12, 2013.

UNLV 2013 Spring Football Game

UNLV quarterback Nick Sherry hands off to Adonis Smith during their spring football game Friday, April 12, 2013. Launch slideshow »

The end of spring football practice is more important for what comes after it than what was left behind. The work completed was crucial, but a lot of it will be touched on again when fall practice commences. How much bigger, faster and stronger the Rebels are come August is a question answered over the next few months, which is why this next phase is the most important for UNLV.

“It’s where probably the most gains are made,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said.

Well, it’s the most important phase until the next one, anyway. Just as the season is “one game at a time,” so is the calendar year through Hauck’s eyes.

That’s one of several things the fourth-year Rebels coach discussed in his office Monday as the team prepares to embark on its next phase. Here are some other notes from the coach’s desk:

• There aren’t a whole lot of question marks on the season’s first two-deep depth chart. It contains only three spots with multiple guys listed at starters, and although things will certainly change over the next few months, it’s more established than this point in time during any other year under Hauck.

“It’s nice to come out of spring without a bunch of unknowns,” Hauck said. “We know what we have and we feel pretty good about it.”

Hauck added he expects everyone to work and practice like their job is on the line, but there really aren’t a lot of position battles at the top. Not yet anyway.

• One position to keep an eye on, at least if you have an affinity for pass protection and run blocking, is the two guard spots. Brian Roth and Nick Gstrein are both listed as starters at right guard, and Ron Scoggins, a Bishop Gorman grad, will have to hold off senior Brad Overand for his spot on the opposite side.

Roth was the first guy Hauck praised for his recent performance after last Friday’s Spring Showcase while Gstrein is still getting accustomed to the position after moving over from tight end. The tackles — Brett Boyko on the left, Cameron Jefferson on the right — are basically set along with Robert Waterman manning center. In between them could be interesting, though.

• Senior Caleb Herring would likely be the guy under center if something happened to sophomore Nick Sherry, but barring a long-term injury, freshman Troy Hawthorne will probably take more snaps at quarterback than Herring.

After just getting through one full season with a freshman quarterback, Hauck doesn’t want to sign up for another. That’s why Herring, who’s now primarily a wide receiver, would move over if something happened to Sherry. But no matter what, the offense is going to include some packages specifically for Hawthorne, a redshirt freshman from Phoenix.

“Troy’s going to have his things that he does. He’ll be part of it, too,” Hauck said of his most mobile quarterback. “The option stuff, he has a chance to do that.”

• Tani Maka and Max Ehlert, the two seniors battling for one starting spot at middle linebacker, will be the immediate replacements for leading tackler John Lotulelei, who may be a late-round pick in next week’s NFL Draft. The long-term solution, though, may be one spot over with the same jersey number and same last name.

Younger brother Tau Lotulelei, now wearing John Lotulelei’s No. 55, is listed as the starting weak side linebacker, and he’s impressing the coaches despite never having played college football.

“He’s a big, fast guy,” Hauck said of the redshirt freshman. “He can really go.”

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Maybe, just maybe (again if we keep our fingers crossed) good 'ol Bobby will get his 10th win with UNLV next season! We might be able to go on a limb and plan that out for the middle of the season next year. Oh how I do like a reason to celebrate!