Instant analysis: Loss to BYU leaves Mike Sanford hanging by a thread

Cougars rack up 613 yards of total offense on way to 59-21 victory over UNLV


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV head coach Mike Sanford sprints off the field after a 59-21 loss to BYU Oct. 10 at Sam Boyd Stadium.


The Rebels suffered their second straight lopsided loss, this one by No. 18 BYU. The Cougars piled up 611 yards of total offense on their way to a 59-21 victory.

UNLV vs BYU Football

UNLV wide receiver Phillip Payne reaches for an Omar Clayton pass against BYU on Oct. 10, 2009, at Sam Boyd Stadium. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

BYU POSTGAME: Rebels run ragged ... again

Ryan Greene, Rob Miech and Alex Adeyanju digest all there was to take in from UNLV's 59-21 loss to BYU on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Reader poll

After another lopsided loss, what do you think happens to 2-4 UNLV against 4-1 Utah?

View results

Next game

  • Opponent: Utah
  • Date: Oct. 17, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
  • TV: The Mtn. (Cox ch. 334)
  • Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM

I suppose it was never a matter of whether UNLV was going to beat Brigham Young tonight but whether the Rebels would play well enough for embattled head coach Mike Sanford to keep his job another week.


I suppose that remains to be seen.

While the Rebels didn’t lose 63-28 like at Nevada-Reno last week, they did lose 59-21. While they didn’t allow 773 yards like at Mackay Stadium, they did allow 611 yards.

What UNLV and Sanford needed was a game against New Mexico. Or the UFL’s California Redwoods, which lost 30-17 to the Las Vegas Locomotives on the same swatch of field turf on Thursday night.

But Sanford has no control over who the Rebels play and when. And so now he may have no control over whether he still has a job on Monday morning.

• It’s hard to believe that halfway through the season the Rebels are still such poor tacklers. Stripping the ball from UNR quarterback Colin Kaepernick is one thing, stripping it from Harvey Unga, who has hands like vice grips, is quite another. Yet that’s what the Rebels kept trying to do.

Three Rebels tried to strip Unga on a 33-yard touchdown run; another tried to strip his helmet from his shoulders on a second long first-half touchdown run of 52 yards. That didn’t work, either.

• I never thought I’d be saying this, but UNLV quarterback Omar Clayton seemed on the verge of becoming a liability in the first half. After throwing just four interceptions over all of last season, Clayton threw two more in the first two quarters, giving him seven this year. And the first one — an afterthought attempt at a throwaway along the Rebels’ sideline — was atrocious.

• Clayton’s 75-yard touchdown pass to Michael Johnson on the Rebels’ first possession of the second half seemed better thought out. Had he thrown like six more of those, UNLV might have had a chance.

• UNLV’s performance in five words of less: So long New Mexico Bowl.

• Mike Sanford’s job status in five words or less: Hanging by a thread.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 20 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy.

  1. Oh, great writing and great comments. I would like to add one more person to the firing line and that is KolSTOOGEoskie. Those two deserve to be with one another. Bye, bye, so long and good ridance.

  2. kolSOOGEoskie? AHHAHAHAha

  3. damn i missed the "t" in stooge. now they'll know you've been drinking, lenny.

  4. I heard there were 4 or so recruits at the game. They must have been checking out BYU.

    BetOnBlack you were right.

    I am a new UNLV rooter so my hope ran a little long.

    After seeing the Defense UNLV has, its seems there is no hope even if Monte Kiffin was the DC.

    All of the freshman redshirts should package up to a different school.

    My question to anyone who will answer becomes, is there a D1 team that is as rock bottum as UNLV this year?

    GOD is with the patient.

  5. I love the pic adbove of mike sanford running for his football life lmao.

    who loses there job first

    bobby bowden -7
    mike sanford + 9 1/2

  6. The Rebels Defense gave up over 600 yards of offense for BYU tonight...Mike Sanford needs to go.

  7. During the UNLV Football Broadcast tonite - which I could not tell if it was a BYU broadcast or a UNLV one with McCann hammering home the BYU TD call (sorry their Play by Play gig is taken Dave), the excuses were flowing. Main excuse should be recruiting and that is all on him. What Sanford does with them once he gets a kid is about coaching.

    They did not have Ronnie, Star and were banged up among their leading tacklers. The play at safety was horrible, they dont know how to get into the play and make mistakes over and over. Of course this is such an easy position to play lets put our old QB there. But, it was awful tonite. Missed tackles, not breaking down and then watching Unga blow by them and no pressure up front. Offensively - what is Clauson doing in his first pass throwing into double coverage on a deep ball coming into the game? No running game. Take away a kickoff return and one pass play where a WR got matched up with a LB in single man coverage and there was not much to talk about. Where is that Stud redshirt QB that we can look to the future about? Not there.

    The "throw away" by Clayton which was picked off, showed why he was a walk on. Looking at the sidelines -no energy no bounce.

    They will lose to Air Force, TCU, Utah, Colorado State with New Mexico and SDSU as their only possibles.

    What did Sanford say about UNR - that school up North when he was hired. Still has not beaten them. Against BYU in Vegas - UNLV still has not beaten them. Of course on the road in conference - still no win. These are all goals a Coach puts up when they are hired. All measuring sticks beyond going to bowl games.

    Eddie Wide of CM comes to town next week with Utah with Sylvester Stevenson on D - what will they say about how UNLV treated them under Sanford when they were in High School. Local talent again - playing elsewhere.

    Meanwhile - Kevin Sumlin is killing it at Houston. Butch Jones at Central Mich is looking at his 4 th straight bowl game. Rob Akey is 5-1 at Idaho in year 3 - oh yes with Vegas kids starting. Of course, Tubberville, Fulmer, Barnett, John L Smith are all sitting on the sidelines just waiting for a call.

    Think about this - Dick Tomey went to San Jose State in 5 years at a horrible program he is 23-25. Mike Price is 30-30 at Utep in 6 years. Coming into this season Sanford is 11-36. Why does he have a job? Mike Stoops is 25-34 in 6 years at Arizona - but they went to a bowl for the first time in 10 years under him - so there is progress.

    This is not progress and anyone without the last name of Hamrick could see this. Now this mess is on the hands of a new Administration who need to look at the results of other Coaches with his time frame around the country - most have been fired.

    He has to go and the rest of the staff will need to join him.

  8. First of all, they need some new uniforms.
    Good football teams don't play in black socks.
    I remember decades ago playing football in Texas and a new kid moved to town, from somewhere up east. The first day he came out for practice he was a little late, and wearing black socks. The coach let him go through a couple of drills with the team, then walked over and picked him up by the collar and threw him on the ground. When he got up, the coach told him to go to the house, he could come back tomorrow when he was ready to work, but never, never come back out wearing black socks to practice football. When workouts are harder than games, that's when you know you're a prepared football team.

  9. Run, Mike, run and keep on running until you are far, far away from Vegas and UNLV. Run fast so that all we see of you is the dust cloud left behind as you pass on by. And, oh please, grab KoloSTOOGEskie on your way out of town. Both of you run to another unsuspecting school. What am I saying? There are no school left on this planet that would want these two jewels.

  10. Mike needs to go...or at the very least his defensive coordinator.

  11. kirkland, all great points. Unfortunately, the answer is a simple one. It starts at the top. Total. Complete. Incompetence. And it's been that way for a long, long time. Koloskie = Exhibit A. In way over his head.

    In order to win big, one must think big. At UNLV, we have a bunch of small minds that lack the ability to bust out of that vacuum of incompetence. I mean, last time I checked the budget situation has hit every school hard...the only difference? UNLV uses it as an excuse to do nothing...cause you know, it's hard out there! Meanwhile other programs look past the excuses and do what needs to be done.

    When there is a will, there is a way. And it's been made perfectly clear by the UNLV Admin. that there is no will.

    If anyone thinks Koloskie is going to lift a finger to do anything out of the box i.e. firing Sanford mid-season, you're dreaming. All he's going to give us is the same ol, same ol.

  12. I like how ch 8 news was on mike sanford case hard last night the sports guy said mike sanford with another excuse! lol

  13. As a Utah fan that lives in Vegas, I thank God every night that the loser Sanford left town as soon as he could. I hope my Utes put the final nail in his coaching career this week.

    Go Utes!

  14. UNLV is becomming the joke of the MWC. Let's give up on the football program...if not, play only high school teams. Maybe we'll have a winning season. Maybe not with Fred Mike Sanford as coach.

  15. Next AD/Football Coach at UNLV Chris Ault. Why not???? Hell he said it himself 2 years ago that LV can be a sleepng giant.

  16. Sanford was asked after the game this question: "If you were the AD of UNLV would you still have a job ?" Sanfords answer - That is not a fair question and I am not going to answer that.

    Mike Pritchard pointed out right away that it is going to be in the good players minds to transfer away from UNLV after this loss. I know Mike is not allowed to give his opinion over the air & is forbidden by ISP sports to do so but you can tell he is not down with Sanford's style. He was opening up a litle more last night because that competitive spirit was coming out and he almost blurted out on air what is really wrong this program.
    Why doesn't UNLV go after a former great college player who won a national championship & played good years in the NFL to coach this team? I know Pritchard said he doesn't want to coach but most former players say that. He is a local guy with a ton of football knowledge, he loves the game, he knows what it takes to win, he could be a diamond in the rough IMO.

  17. Chris Ault is a 62 year OLD MAN.

    UNLV went after Ault 15+ years ago and we couldn't get him. If Ault was going to come to Las Vegas, that was his chance.

    Ault is ready to retire. He has maybe 1 or 2 years left in him. I wouldn't be surprised to see him retire after UNR's bowl game at the end of this season.

  18. Washington goes 0-12. Hires an Assistant AD from LSU. He goes out and hires a new Football Coach Steve Sarkesian in December. He has only beaten USC, got robbed at Notre Dame in a loss and has 3 wins already this season - with losses to Stanford and LSU. Program is on the upswing.

    The Good Old Boy Network at UNLV needs to come down. I dont disagree that this is not the time for Jerry to take over as AD. The program needs someone with experience with a BCS school. Fact remains that he was a part of the administration that kept Sanford, kept a baseball coach who can not get any spotlight away from a local JC program and could not figure out that by playing at Hawaii gives UNLV an extra home game. The Department cries poverty, but travels to Hawaii and does not add an extra game? Sorry but I could not find a single non conference opponent who did this in the past 10 years. He was on board as these decisions were made.

    Does UNLV want fans to wear bags over their heads at the next game? They dont seem to care how attendance continues to plummet each year once the team is out of it.

    I just find it interesting how posters on the RJ site root for Sanford to stay, while the SUN with the higher volume of posters want him out now!

    UNLV should be concerned about those fans that they can not get and stop being concerned with the out of touch fans who post on the RJ site. But, that is all a part of the problem with the local community and UNLV.

  19. when asked about the cubs' poor performance in the 1960's ernie banks said sometimes you have to back up in order to get a running start; maybe this is the game plan for UNLV and we dont know it yet.

  20. Saying Mike Sanford is a joke implies that there's something funny, or some kind of punch line, to all this. I don't find anything about the football situation even slightly amusing. This man rode Urban Meyer's coattails, conned UNLV into hiring him, and has made us the laughing stock of the D-1 ranks. Watching the BYU sidelines Saturday night was like being privy to some family reunion. They were smiling, laughing, joking, and having a great time, all at our expense. Teams look forward to seeing us on their schedule, because they can chalk it up as an easy win to pad their records. Rebels on the Rise? Try Rebels in a Rout, or Rebels on the Run. This is nothing short of humiliating...