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Wolf Pack runs Rebels ragged in 63-28 blowout

Sanford’s hot seat gets even warmer as UNLV allows 773 yards of total offense, drops to 2-3


Brad Horn / AP Photo

Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick (10) rushes during the second half against UNLV at Mackay Stadium in Reno.


UNR ran for a school record 559 yards on Saturday and beat UNLV 63 to 28. The Wolfpack earned their fifth straight victory over the Rebels in the Battle for the Freemont Cannon.


UNR's Brandon Wimberly leaps over UNLV's Travis Dixon during the first half in Reno at Mackay Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

UNR POSTGAME: Where to start ...

Ryan Greene and Alex Adeyanju clean up the last bits of UNLV's devastating 63-28 loss at UNR and spin it forward, as life gets no easier for the 2-3 Rebels in the coming weeks.

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Next game

  • Opponent: BYU
  • Date: Oct. 10, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
  • TV: The Mtn. (Cox ch. 334)
  • Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM

RENO — UNLV junior linebacker Ronnie Paulo was asked after Saturday's 63-28 loss to rival UNR at Mackay Stadium if he felt more embarrassed or disappointed.

"I'd say a little bit of both," said Paulo, who had clearly shed some tears in the locker room. "I know we're better than that."

The truth is, both fit, and there are plenty more adjectives that could describe the humiliating performance, which dropped UNLV to 2-3 and turned up the heat on fifth-year coach Mike Sanford.

But the facts tell the story well enough.

Both the 773 yards of total offense and the 559 yards the Rebels surrendered on the ground to the Wolf Pack were the second-highest single-game totals allowed in each category in program history.

On top of that, UNR was 7-of-7 on third-down conversions, averaged 10.4 yards per offensive play and had three players run for at least 170 yards. The UNLV defense bit on play-fakes, allowed big yards on first downs regularly and made the Wolf Pack offense look nothing like the one that came into the annual rivalry showdown with an 0-3 record.

Asked how his defense could look so porous, Sanford offered a generally vague response.

"I won't answer that question," he said. "There's no excuse. I give (UNR) all the credit. They played well today; we didn't play well enough to win."

This came a week after Sanford put the blame for a 30-27 loss at Wyoming on the fact that the Rebels turned the ball over four times and didn't take any back from the Cowboys' offense.

Well, this time, UNLV won the turnover battle, 4-1. The offense even turned three of them into touchdowns.

The first three came in a surprising second quarter stumble by the Wolf Pack, which at one point led 21-7 and appeared to be in full control, with a maddened crowd behind it.

Then, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and tailback Luke Lippincott combined to lose three fumbles in roughly five minutes of game time, and UNLV capitalized with both a 39-yard touchdown pass from Mike Clausen to Jerriman Robinson and a one-yard touchdown run by Channing Trotter to tie the game at the break, 21-21.

However, UNR getting the ball out of the intermission was the only edge Chris Ault's club seemed to need.

It took the Wolf Pack eight plays and a little more than three minutes to take the lead with Mike Ball recording the fourth of his five touchdown runs. And although UNLV would tie it up once more, the Rebels simply didn't have enough firepower to last in a shootout, as UNR showed no signs of backing down. Negating the four turnovers by the Wolf Pack was the fact that the Kaepernick-led juggernaut never had to attempt a punt all afternoon.

The junior quarterback was seemingly invincible to UNLV defenders for the second consecutive year, throwing for 208 yards, running for 173 and accounting for two touchdowns, including the first TD reception of his career.

"Things kinda just went downhill for a little bit for us. We didn't come out ready in the second half," said safety Travis Dixon, who had three tackles and two forced fumbles. "It's the defense as a whole. It's 11 guys who need to make a play."

Added Clausen: "On offense, your goal is to score. But every time, it makes it kind of difficult. Still, it's our job to put points on the board, no matter what the score is."

UNR didn't do anything out of the ordinary late in the game to rub it in UNLV's face, but the holes through which to run seemingly got bigger and bigger as the margin grew wider and wider. The cherry on top came with the Wolf Pack's second-to-last score, with Ball, a Desert Pines High grad, needing five yards on a second-and-seven play to eclipse 100 yards for the afternoon.

Instead, he shot through a seam on the left side of the line, then lost UNLV safety Alex De Giacomo with his open-field speed en route to an 89-yard score.

"To lose is one thing," said Clausen, who at that point was done for the day and watching from the sideline. "But to kinda get your pride stepped on is another thing."

How much pride will UNLV have left next week when BYU comes to town? Well, that's the great unknown at this point, as the Cougars will bring an offense to Sam Boyd Stadium which is just as prolific as the one that ran roughshod over, through and around the battered Rebels on an otherwise pleasant Saturday afternoon in Reno.

The Rebels' once-promising season is now on the thinnest of ice — if any ice at all — and the same might be able to be said for Sanford's position as head coach, as he watched UNR celebrate by wheeling the Fremont Cannon off the field for the fifth consecutive year.

"That's the last thing I'm even thinking about," he said when asked about his job security. "All I'm thinking about is getting this team back and finding a way to beat BYU."

Also avoiding specifics on the issue was interim athletic director Jerry Koloskie, who stopped to speak with reporters before boarding the team bus.

"We have seven games to go, and again, we'll evaluate our program at the end of the year like we've always done in the past," he said. "We just gotta bounce back next week, play better, hopefully beat BYU at home."

He repeated the post-season evaluation statement later on when asked if recent events may force a mid-season evaluation, as conference heavyweights Utah, TCU and Air Force still remain on the slate, and all of whom are capable of delivering a morale-busting blow to a team that appears to be on the ropes in the middle rounds.

"Again," he said. "We still have seven games to go and can still have a very successful season."

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Previous Discussion: 34 comments so far…

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  1. Waiting until the end of the season to drop this incompetent loser shows any potential replacement that the administration of this program is not serious about fielding a successful program. Let Cink finish the season. He couldn't possibly do any worse, and it would show that the administration cares about winning football games.

  2. Jerry Koloskie might not have the power to fire Sanford mid season. Koloskie is still just an interm AD.

  3. Jerry is a placeholder and he can not pull this trigger. This would need to be the call of an new AD. Since Jerry is old school UNLV, he would be a scary person to have make this decision.

    Sanford has not done anything to excite an already unmotivated football community. He started getting locals too late in his UNLV career. The guy actually thinks alot about himself and I dont know how he could go bragging around to anyone about who he is.

    He has to go.
    A proven winner - needs to be brought in. Someone to excite football fans. There are plenty of candidates who would be better choices. No - great recruiter (Locksley at NM) with no Head Coaching expirience. I would challenge anyone to look at Coaches that have had the amount of time that he has at one school, that dont have at least one bowl game under their belt!

    He has to go and with the gauntlet of teams in the conference ready to play them - this will get uglier instead of better.

    We just dont have a proven D1 AD to help make this call. So I dont know what is more pathetic at this moment.

  4. I could take over that team tommorrow and have them play with more heart than the embarrassment to the school they've become today.


    Hamrick, you're a dbag

  5. Jerry, this is not the way to get the communities support for your bid to be UNLV's athletic director. I say they fire you. I have given thousands of dollars to UNLV athletic scholarship program, but no more. I can't watch this joke of a team. You have to be an idiot to stand behind this man.

    Every player this man has recruited on defense is suspect, and he has lied to us. He has touted his recruiting to get us to come watch the games and the result has been horrific. I knew we were in trouble the very first game when I saw the same starters on defense as last year. What happended to BJ Bell and all these DB's you supposedly recruited. What about our running back Randle? The coaching is horrendous. If your defense can't stop anyone you should be trying to control the ball. Instead you let your QB run the ball 15 times for 16 yards. Is that why they have running backs?

    I have been watching UNLV football for 35 years and this is the bottom of the bottom. No more rookie head coaches and that means Cink too. The only one worth a damn is Patterson. He recruits the only decent players we have. You need to hire someone who has experience. Then again no more BS athletic directors. If you don't have the power, you better find out who does or resign yourself.

    Then again maybe I should thank you for saving me 10K for the next 4 years.

  6. Why wouldn't an interim AD be able to fire a coach? I think what it really boils down to is this. In life there are absolutes and one of them is always follow the money trail. That is who really could make the difference here with Sanford. Who really controls the university? I'll tell you who - the boosters, the shareholders, and the board of regents. If enough people who give substantial amounts of money to rebel athletics email Koloskie saying they are not putting another penny into rebel athletics so long as Sanford is coach he might listen. I emailed him last week after the Wyoming loss stating that I am done with Rebel athletics so long as Sanford is coach. One thing administrators and AD's understand is the pocket book and the athletic budget fund. It might work & it might not work but at least I'm going to stay true to my word. We don't even have a clue how much money they would lose if thousands of Las Vegan's took this approach.

  7. They beat Hawaii and Utah one year, and Arizona State one year as well. Also don't forget they beat Wisconsin one year when they were ranked. Let's all get together and rush the field when Sanford beats San Diego State this year...He just needs more time...Turnarounds of this magnitude don't just happen over night. Look at how long it takes to pave the parking lot. Imagine how long it will take to put some stands in the north end zone of that crappy stadium. Sanford is a hero to many of us who get un-deserved extensions. And he needs more time.

  8. His seat is getting warmer????

    His chair should be a smoking pile of ashes by this point.

    Must be nice to have a job where you can be completely incompetent, and be given a free pass by your boss until the end of the year no matter how you produce.

    Jerry K's comment illustrate that no one really cares about football at UNLV. He could axe Sanford and still let the new AD have the hiring decision. But he'd rather do nothing.

    No one cares enough to lift a finger.

  9. UNLV is where coaching careers go to die.

  10. He needs to go today. No question about it. The administration needs to send a clear message that the school is heading in a different direction.

  11. I'm sorry, Kirkland, I was unaware that UNLV had a mystery donor willing to foot the salary of a quality coach that could rescue UNLV from the doldrums.

  12. The game was FIXED!!!

    This was supposed to happen. Ask a few of the players on the UNLV team how much money their family members bet and we will see the truth here.

    The Rebels team should be investigated immediately for point shaving or in this case point giving.

    5 touchdowns in the 4th quarter? Seems hard to believe. The mafioso's really got to the team here.

    Ask the books if they made out like bandits on this game.

    Get the facts people. Sportsbetting in Vegas is fixed.

  13. Relax people. Maybe Reno is just a much better team.


  15. This resume sounds good:
    what happened?
    there was supposedly a lot of new or improved talent on defense this year...

    Wyoming almost lost to a 0-3 Florida Atlantic yesterday, counting us they have now won 2 games... and we made Hawaii and Nevada (shut out by Notre Dame's marginal defense)look like the top offenses in the nation!

    After a fairly promising start against lowly Sac. State and so-so Oregon State, how can this defense be SO BAD against other so-so teams?

    Sanford has had 5 years and he has proven he can't put together a winner... Time for him to go!

  16. I think that we don't have the money to hire another rookie head coach or a coach without a track record of winning...

    However, I think that boosters will actually come up with the money if a quality coach is hired.

    There is Tommy Tubberville and John Gruden sitting out there waiting for a call.If Koloskie can hire one of those, he will get the AD job and the money will poor in.

  17. I was at the game yesterday with some old friends who flew up from Las Vegas. I live in Reno and am a huge University of Nevada football fan.

    And I love keeping up with the UNLV Rebels on the Sun website because the sportswriter here is really good.

    I root for UNLV all weekends that they don't play Nevada. Many folks in Reno recognize that Las Vegas is a great city, the economical engine of our state.

    That's why beating the UNLV football team means so much to us. Nevada's offensive line moved UNLV's front at will Saturday. I can see why UNLV fans get so frustrated with the coach.

    Plus, by reading the Sun and RJ, you've got a dirt, dusty parking lot for your home games? That's terrible!

    Really, if the University System was not in such a budget crunch, your sad sack coach would already have been fired. So I guess you can blame the economy as much as anything else.

    I thought that UNLV had some good players. The WR Wolfe (sp?) could start at Notre Dame.

    I heard some Las Veges folks at the game mumble that UNLV should drop its football program. We would hate to see that in Reno. This rivalry is a good thing for our state.

    Nevada's 1969 team, which played (and won) in the first Nevada-UNLV game was honored at halftime. We respect the UNLV football legacy in the North, Mike Thomas, Coach Ireland, Glenn Carano, Mike Whitemaine, Icky Woods and especially Randall Cunningham. The coaches up here used to call him Superman.

    There have been many years that UNLV has kicked Nevada's butt, that's for sure. But lately, wow.

  18. i agree with the guys on rebel-net.com


  19. RELAX PEOPLE! Mike has already won 2 games...that's his annual allotment, what are you all expecting? The 3 45extra wins last year was just icing on the bowl-less cake....

    .....seriously though, enough is enough. After FIVE YEARS, this should not be happening against Reno. Last year's Reno game was bad enough, but this year "Sanford and Sons" even took it down another unfathomable notch, and it was the most embarassing performance I can remember. Sanford has passion, I'll give him that....I just wish passion won games and after five years, I've learned it's just not enough.

  20. never boycott...that's wrong and does FAR more damage than you think it does.

    Too many players, recruits, recruits' parents and coaches, etc.... are collateral damage when you boycott....

    ..that said, the casual fan is sure to not show up anyway....and our fan attendance is already fairly poor...so, the point is, attendance shouldn't affect this decision...it's gotta be over regardless of butts in the seats...you can't progressively get worse with your own players and keep your job. Sanford would have to make a bowl at this point, and that's not happening with this team...they've got no heart...

  21. yes it will do damage, but it wont even come remotely close to the damage we have had for 5 years under this guy! we need to send a message to these idiots, and a boycott, even if it is for a couple of games sends a very big message!

  22. Dream on UNLV fans: UNLV=new coach=new team=new plan=new destiny=same old results. UNLV is a bushleague athletic school and will remain so in ad infinitum (Thats on into infinity for you Jock-types tht didn't do much studying).

    20 years from now UNLV athletics will be exactly where it is today---nowhere. Why because it is bushleague.....

  23. Really? The boosters will pay a Tommy Tubberville or a Jon Gruden to come to UNLV?

    Then why haven't they opened their pocketbooks to pay for Mike Sanford's go-away money?

    UNLV does not have the booster support to hire a real coach. I don't even think they could afford to pay Gruden more than he makes at MNF.

    Reno ran a chickensht veer offense and we made it look like the second coming of a Chuck KNOX offense.The veer will if you don't prepare for it have that effect.What is Therrell doing at practice?
    What is He doing calling the Defense from the sidelines?.. I will bet you...NOT ALL the PLAYERS ARE READING HIS SIGNALS.To much in decision..watch off the ball
    Ryan you know Sanford runs the offense- he really doesn't have any input about the Defense.
    come on now-go after the realistic job change NOW!!
    Is it not obvious to you?What this teams problem is.
    here is a hint-Go gat at the players for the truth..ask them..what is the problem? huh ? RYAN ,pretty good?
    come on scoop.Greene!
    + a tip for you- if you can't figure it out ..
    love, moni

  25. Bring the rain - so you were at the UNLV practices where Larry Coker was present? Dont you think that a guy who has a national championship to his credit understands that the money at UNLV is not the same money at Alabama or Michigan? Of course he does. Why would he be there other than to let people know that he would have an interest in this challenge. He certainly was not there to learn about play calling.

    Sanford's salary would sound pretty good for plenty of Coaches who are sitting on the sidelines right now. Go and find out what Coaches are really making before you make your comments. Turner Gill would be a great choice - who makes more money him or Sanford? Derek Dooley of LA Tech -do you think he is making more? Kevin Sumlin at Houston do you think he is making more? David Cutcliffe of Duke got his team to 4 wins last year - hell that is only one less than Sanford - who do you think is making more $.

    The phone rang off the hook when John Robinson took the job at UNLV. While he spent his last years collecting a retirement check and not Coaching that much - he brought excitement back to the program.

    There is a significant list of Coaches who turned their programs around in only 2 years. Sanford has not done it. Pat Hill of Fresno has not gotten a contract extention for 2010 - I would take Hill any day! He at least can recruit Nevada kids from day 1, not go after a kid once he has an offer - as is the case with Sanford. Just ask Mike Ball of DP and Nevada about this.

    No one is saying that UNLV will be getting Les Miles or Pete Carroll. But, there are Coaches on the sideline who can do a better job and proven D1 Coaches making less than Sanford that would take his job in a minute.

    We just dont have a D1 AD who understands what a football program can actually bring to an entire Athletic Department. Hire this person and he will be hiring who he wants - someone who can turn this around instead of making lame excuses.

    BYU, Utah and TCU have this conference flying high. Colorado State is a solid team. Air Force will be there in the end as well. Only New Mexico is a bigger disaster from what we have seen over the past 2 weeks. Where are you going to find 4 more wins this season Mike Sanford?

    Wont matter - he will be gone soon enough.

  26. what about Prince ,the coach who was at K*state.
    Turned that program real around.

  27. I really think Lon Kruger would do a great job ... i know I'm half joking but seriously: he'd probably recruit better athletes (i think wink would have been the best DB on campus), he'd probably get more competent and knowledgeable assistant coaches, and his players would never lack the heart or motivation to finish a game ... think about that I honestly think Kruger would be a better option right now... don't get me wrong Sanford seems like a nice enough guy but i honestly think he cannot face his own reality ... how can you even face the media after that poor effort ... don't sit and tell me Reno has better athletes theyll win 4 games tops after kaeper-lick showed how much of the fumblies he has ... i feel bad for quality players like Ronnie Paulo his talents are being wasted ... the d-line is worthless they're a bunch of undersized borderline juco starters and sanford is completely to blame I don't mind showing up to reno and taking my licks after a loss but when a team quits on a rivalry game it makes you sick... There's so many people that invest their time and effort for this team and what they left out there was disgrace. I'm not asking for LSU or even Boise State just a group that shows improvement and effort from start to finish and they haven't showed that for a whole season for as long as I can remember... disheartening

  28. Lon Kruger has enough problems with Basketball.

    Lon Kruger can't recruit in Basketball, how is he going to recruit in Football. Playing golf all day is not going to land you 25 studs on the Football recruiting circuit.

    Kruger/UNLV finished in 5th place in the MWC last year. This bum Kruger will be lucky to finish in 6th place in the MWC this season.

    Kruger is no savior for UNLV Football. The guy can't even get UNLV Basketball into the Top half of the MWC and you want this joker running the Football team? Kruger will be on the seat with Basketball come January. The fans will be singing a different tune about this Kruger character come 2010. Your eyes will all be open in March, mark my words.

    UNLV Basketball is not good. Kruger is not a good recruiter, he is HORRIBLE at RECRUITING.

    Mike Sanford has under 60 days left as the UNLV coach. Kruger isn't far behind. Kruger will feel the pressure from fans during this coming season. Kruger is not the answer, he is part of the problem. When all of the problems are removed, UNLV Athletics can move forward.

    Kruger's days are numbered.

  29. I was unable to stay up and watch Game Time on Sunday night, so I don't know how Sanford represented himself. But, nothing short of an apology to the students and alumni of UNLV, as well as the people of Southern Nevada, would make this even close to right. I am EMBARRASSED to call myself a UNLV Football fan. What was the point of the media lockdown last week? How could Sanford and Sons be so ill-prepared for this game? I wasn't even expecting a win against Reno. But, show some heart, and don't throw in the towel after three quarters. Outscored 42-7 in the second half? What did he do, draw up his mom's recipe for lentil soup on the chalkboard at halftime? Sanford should've done the right thing on Monday: tendered his resignation at the end of the season and/or fired the Defensive Coordinator. How do you spin this as anything but a complete failure? I'm sorry, but even NICE GUYS can suck at their jobs. Get the eff out of Vegas, Sanford. You've more than worn out your welcome.

  30. Hate to say this but UNLV and those Regents will only get rid of Sanford if the students, alumni and the people of NV will start making enough noise to be a force to reckon with. If it starts hitting the big pockets, ie alumni stop making contributions, etc.

    You got to give it to the guy that hired Sanford and then gave him an extension. He was wise enough to make a beeline out of UNLV and leave the mess behind. Payback time.

  31. What a joke. We thought we were getting the guy who made that Utah offense run...we thought we were getting Urban Meyers Jr and all we got was FRED SANFORD the JUNK MAN. He coaches like a junk man. This team quit on him...they don't respect him. Time to put this mistake behind us and move on. They should've hired Norm Cho (USC).

  32. Wasn't UNR also -4 in turnovers in the 1st half?

    They could have won this by 100.

  33. LOL...this is the stupidest sh!t I've ever heard. UNR played Missouri tough-they are not a bad team at all. UNLV stinks and has no defense.

    Watch what BYU does to them.

    By VegasInsider
    10/4/09 at 11:55 a.m.
    Suggest removal The game was FIXED!!!

    This was supposed to happen. Ask a few of the players on the UNLV team how much money their family members bet and we will see the truth here.

    The Rebels team should be investigated immediately for point shaving or in this case point giving.

    5 touchdowns in the 4th quarter? Seems hard to believe. The mafioso's really got to the team here.

    Ask the books if they made out like bandits on this game.

    Get the facts people. Sportsbetting in Vegas is fixed.