Rebels football:

Blog: Cornett’s condition the concern for UNLV after 38-14 loss

No. 17 Fresno State ends the Rebels’ winning streak at four games. UNLV hopes it hasn’t lost more than just that streak

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Fresno State University President Joseph Castro and Athletic Director Thomas Boeh applaud Fresno State alumni Jerry Tarkanian during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, in Fresno, Calif. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)

Updated Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 | 10:15 p.m.

UNLV vs Fresno State

Fresno State University President Joseph Castro and Athletic Director Thomas Boeh applaud Fresno State alumni Jerry Tarkanian during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, in Fresno, Calif. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian) Launch slideshow »

Fresno State 38, UNLV 14

Game over

Aside from Tim Cornett's injury, this 38-14 loss was an OK game for the Rebels. No. 17 Fresno State is clearly the better team and played like it, but the game didn't get completely out of hand.

The problem is Cornett did go down in the third quarter; that could be the far more important loss.

The Bulldogs' Derek Carr was his usual self with 412 passing yards and four touchdowns, all of them to Davante Adams. Fresno ran the ball well, too, finishing with 206 yards on the ground. UNLV's defense had some bright spots and only gave up 10 second-half points, but that was more about Carr and Co. choosing short routes.

Cornett's condition is going to dominate the postgame conversation, even though we're unlikely to get much info on it tonight. If he's OK, then this game was just fine for the Rebels. They didn't get embarrassed and UNR is on the horizon.

But if Cornett can't play in that game? Now that would be a crushing loss.

Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from the Rebels' defeat.

Fresno State 38, UNLV 14

End of the third quarter

The Rebels are finally opening up their passing game a little beyond the swing pass that has defined their attack tonight. Caleb Herring is 24-of-31 for only 131 yards.

Without Tim Cornett for the time being, that may be the way UNLV has to play for the rest of the game. That's not a bad thing, though the reason for it (injury) is obviously not ideal.

Fresno State 38, UNLV 14

3:00 remaining in the third quarter

The Bulldogs have tacked on a field goal, but UNLV has bigger concerns right now. Tim Cornett went down on getting hit on the knee and his long-term health is more important than the final score tonight.

The Rebels were always going to have a hard time keeping this close. They still have a chance for a backdoor cover but it won't be much better than that. That's why Corentt's knee is a much bigger concern tonight.

Fresno State 35, UNLV 14

9:57 remaining in the third quarter

Wherever Derek Carr looks on the field he can find a mismatch. UNLV simply doesn't have enough answers on each play and though the defense is trying a lot of different things nothing much has worked as Carr hit Davante Davis for the pair's fourth touchdown.

When the Rebels blitz Carr is throwing toward one-on-one coverage. So far the Rebels have done well in those matchups but it's still a risky proposition. And when they've only sent a a three-man front, Adams is killing the secondary.

Then throw in the solid rushing game and you can see why this defense hasn't been able to force a punt yet today.

Fresno State 28, UNLV 14

Halftime

Fresno State threatened again just before halftime but UNLV held and will go into halftime down only 14 after giving up a touchdown on the first offensive play of the game.

Derek Carr is 19-for-30 with 287 yards and three touchdowns, all of them to Davante Davis. The Bulldogs also have 117 yards on the ground.

UNLV's offense was able to counter pretty well in the second quarter. The team has 112 rushing yards and Caleb Herring is 15-of-18 for 93 yards and a score.

The problem early for the Rebels is the offense couldn't sustain a drive and handed the ball right back to Fresno State. The only non-touchdown drive for the Bulldogs were Carr's interception by Frank Crawford and the drive that went to the 12-yard line just before halftime.

Crawford returned that interception to midfield and set up the Rebels' second score. The Rebels also had a chance at an interception early in the half but weren't able to execute. They're likely going to need another play like that to keep this game close.

Fresno State 28, UNLV 14

1:07 remaining in the second quarter

Tim Cornett needs only five yards to become the all-time leading rusher in program history. He's a pretty good blocker, too.

Caleb Herring had enough time to find Marcus Sullivan for a 13-yard touchdown pass in part because Cornett did a nice job picking up a blitzer. The drive was set up by Frank Crawford's interception inside the 10-yard line, which he then returned to midfield.

That was a huge swing for UNLV if — and it's a big if — it can keep Fresno from getting another score in the final minute of the first half.

Fresno State 28, UNLV 7

10:20 remaining in the second quarter

Derek Carr is now has the most touchdown passes in Fresno State history, one of a few career records he may set tonight.

All three of Carr's touchdown passes tonight have gone to Davante Adams, the team's top receiver coming into the game. Obviously it's easier said than done, but UNLV has got to stop him. Even if it leaves someone else on the field open, that right now would be better than letting a guy who's killing you continue to do so.

Fresno State 21, UNLV 7

11:49 remaining in the second quarter

It wasn't a sustained drive but it was long. Shaquille Murray-Lawrence put UNLV on the board with a 73-yard scamper right up the middle.

UNLV's offensive line opened a giant hole and Murray-Lawrence sprinted right through it and untouched down the field into the end zone. The problem is there's nothing to stop Fresno State from coming right back down the field this drive, but at least the Rebels got something going on that play.

Fresno State 21, UNLV 0

12:44 remaining in the second quarter

Add a rushing touchdown to the Bulldogs' two through the air. If UNLV doesn't come up with a solid offensive drive here they're going to be on the wrong side of the point spread very quickly.

Fresno State is three-for-three on offensive drives and shows few signs of slowing down. Derek Carr isn't playing mistake-free, though, and UNLV could really use a big turnover or sack soon, too.

Basically what I'm saying is they better do something quickly or it's going to take another one of those vastly improved second halves to get this thing even remotely close.

Fresno State 14, UNLV 0

End of the first quarter

Fresno State is off to exactly the type of start it wanted: Derek Carr is throwing all over this defense and the Bulldogs are threatening again as we begin the second quarter.

UNLV's main problem right now is the offense not being able to sustain a drive. If the Rebels leave their defense out there very long this is exactly what's going to happen. The offense needs some long drives to help them out.

Fresno State 14, UNLV 0

4:42 remaining in the first quarter

Fresno State is running the ball a lot, seemingly because they just feel like it. Because there's no reason for the Bulldogs to do anything except throw all over this defense.

Davante Adams now has two catches and two touchdowns as he finished off the Bulldogs' 79-yard drive with a 28-yard catch. Adams caught it in traffic in the middle of the field and wheeled around into the end zone.

Earlier in the drive Fresno kept it going with four straight rushes, including a five-yard run on fourth and four. There was no reason for it other than a desired balance that would give the Bulldogs an even stronger hold on this game. But make no mistake, so far any time Freno runs the ball it's because they want to, not because UNLV is shutting down the pass.

Fresno State 7, UNLV 0

14:51 remaining in the first quarter

We all know Fresno State's offense is a high-powered machine so we can't be shocked here. But still, Derek Carr and Davante Adams made things look even easier than normal with a 75-yard touchdown on the first offensive play of the game.

This was always going to be a difficult game for UNLV's defense — and the line actually did OK with pressure, which Carr avoided nicely — but if they're getting beat on deep posts it's going to be an especially long evening.

UNLV defense likely to be under fire tonight at Fresno State

Today will most likely not go well for UNLV. Barring a miracle, the key for success is keeping the game as close as possible and getting out in good health.

UNLV (4-2, 2-0) kicks off at 7 p.m. tonight at No. 17 Fresno State (5-0, 2-0). The game at Bulldog Stadium will stream at the top of this story via Campus Insiders as soon as it kicks off.

Now let’s not completely ignore a possible UNLV upset. With offenses this good and defenses with a lot of questions, you don’t always get what you expect.

The problem for UNLV is that its defense would have to play by far its best game of the season to keep it close. We’ve seen that in single halves, but those came in second-half performances after the unit gave up 21 straight to Central Michigan and 400 rushing yards to New Mexico.

Maybe one good half is all they really need — and it’s certainly a factor for anyone taking the 25.5 points today — but you could just as easily see Derek Carr throwing all over this defense for the entire game. That’s what he does against pretty much every opponent, and most of them have a better, more-tested secondary than UNLV.

UNLV’s best chance is to run the ball effectively and keep the Bulldogs’ offense on the sideline as long as possible. If they get into a shootout, the Rebels certainly have a chance to hang around awhile, but they would much prefer to stay out of a type of game that plays right into Fresno State’s hands.

Bern’s prediction: I often fall into this trap when UNLV basketball hits the road, too, but I think the Rebels will cover. Fresno State certainly seems to be about four touchdowns better than UNLV, but I don’t think the scoreboard will quite reflect that. Fresno State 49, UNLV 25

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

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