Analysis:

Bern’s-Eye View: Rebels unlikely to make a change at quarterback

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Steve Marcus

UNLV quarterback Nick Sherry passes during UNLV’s home opener against the University of Arizona at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013.

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UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring (8) scrambles during UNLV's home opener against the University of Arizona at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013.

Bobby Hauck suggested after Saturday’s 58-13 loss to Arizona that a decision would need to be made at quarterback. On Monday, he offered little insight into that process other than to say that sophomore Nick Sherry and senior Caleb Herring will compete in practice and Hauck will go with one of them Saturday at home against Central Michigan.

“We like our guys, plural,” Hauck said.

Although I suppose a terrible week of practice could change things, I’m confident Sherry will remain UNLV’s starter for this game and the foreseeable future. Here’s why:

First off, there’s a reason the Rebels went with Sherry in the first place despite Herring playing better at almost every fall practice I attended. That reason has to do with Sherry’s current abilities as much as his higher ceiling. Don’t forget, Sherry completed seven of his first eight passes at Minnesota and looked very capable of leading the offense.

Then how to explain the Arizona game? Well, Hauck called it a meltdown, and there’s no use in arguing. Sherry fumbled while not protecting the ball in the pocket, and both of his interceptions were bad reads thrown directly to defenders simply waiting for the ball with nothing but green in front of them.

Part of my confidence in predicting the Rebels won’t make a change is because I don’t think they expect him to play that poorly again. Sitting Sherry for the second half was as much about saving him mentally as it was getting a look at Herring. Because after all these years, the coaching staff knows what it has in Herring.

A fifth-year senior from Moreno Valley, Calif., Herring has started nine career games at quarterback, including one last season when Sherry was injured, and four at receiver. He’s a capable backup with experience who knows the offense from multiple positions, but Herring can’t make any throws that Sherry can’t make.

He’s a career 54.5 percent passer with a little bit of mobility and sketchy accuracy beyond 10 yards. You could say the same about Sherry, who’s at 53.5 percent in 14 career games, but the belief is he’s on the upswing. And the only way to figure that out is to let him get more experience.

Herring doesn’t make this team dramatically better, and you could argue it would be a step back. They’re sort of a coin flip right now.

So as long as the coaches still believe in Sherry and his ability to bounce back — “He’s not easily shaken,” Hauck said — then there’s no reason to make a change because of an awful first half that featured low points for several Rebels.

We probably won’t get the official word until later in the week or maybe even when the offense takes the field Saturday, but I’m confident that Sherry is still the Rebels’ guy.

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

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