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rebels football:

Junior Mike Clausen named as UNLV’s starting quarterback

Clausen beats out senior Omar Clayton for spot under center Saturday against Wisconsin


Justin M. Bowen

UNLV quarterback Mike Clausen, seen running against Oregon State in a September 2009 game, has been named the Rebels’ starter for the season opener against Wisconsin.

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Junior Mike Clausen will start at quarterback Saturday in the UNLV football team's season opener against Wisconsin at Sam Boyd Stadium.

First-year head coach Bobby Hauck made the announcement Monday during his weekly press conference. Clausen beat out senior Omar Clayton, who entered the last two seasons as the UNLV starter.

"Mike had a slight upper hand," Hauck said. "As we said all along, we'd have an open competition, and Mike came out on top."

The left-hand throwing Clausen, who has passed for 1,230 yards and nine touchdowns in his career, is no stranger to starting. As a freshman, he started the final three games and picked up victories against New Mexico and Wyoming.

He also saw significant action last year. He came off the bench against Oregon State and nearly led the Rebels to a comeback victory. UNLV trailed 20-7 when he entered, and he completed 6-of-9 passes for 58 yards and rushed four times for 25 yards in leading the near-comeback.

"I'm not going out wide-eyed or not knowing what to expect," said Clausen, who has four career starts and 21 appearances in two years.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Clausen is more athletic than Clayton and presents a threat in the running game. He has 375 yards and nine rushing touchdowns for his career on 120 attempts.

Clayton will also receive some playing time, Hauck said. He said the quarterbacks posted similar numbers in camp.

"It was really close. We had a great competition," Hauck said.

The full depth chart also was released Monday. At running back, senior Channing Trotter beat out junior C.J. Cox and redshirt freshman Brandley Randle, but Hauck said all three would receive carries. His plan is to limit each to fewer than 20 carries.

In other tight position battles, freshman kicker Nolan Kohorst of Green Valley High will handle the place kicking duties over senior Ben Jaekle, who will kick off.

Juniors Michael Johnson and Phillip Payne will start at wide receiver, with red-shirt freshman Marcus Sullivan of Cheyenne High in North Las Vegas backing up Payne.

On the offensive line, senior captain Matt Murphy still is nursing an injury, and his status for Saturday won't be determined until later in the week, Hauck said. If he can't start at left tackle, sophomore Yusef Rodgers will get the nod.

Other starters on the line include senior John Gianninoto and sophomore Doug Zismann at guard, senior Evan Marchal at right tackle and junior Austin Harrington at tight end.

Defensively, the starters on the line are juniors James Dunlap and BJ Bell at defensive ends, and seniors Isaako Aaitui and Ramsey Feagai at defensive tackle. True freshman Kjelby Oiland will back up Aaitui at tackle.

The starting linebackers are Starr Fuimaono, Ronnie Paulo and Calvin Randleman — all seniors. In the secondary, the starters are Will Chandler at left cornerback, and Quinton Pointer or Deante' Purvis on the right side. The safeties are seniors Mike Grant and Alex De Giacomo.

Led by Kohorst, four true freshmen from Las Vegas are part of the depth chart.

The others (all second string) are offensive tackle Cameron Jefferson from Desert Oasis, linebacker Tim Hasson of Cimarron-Memorial and Eric Tuiloma of Desert Pines at strong safety. Hasson is a walk-on.

• Western High product Paulo, three others named captain

Senior linebacker Ronnie Paulo of Western High in Las Vegas has been selected by teammates as one of four captains for the UNLV football team.

The other three captains are safety Alex De Giacomo, offensive tackle Matt Murphy and center John Gianninoto. All four are seniors.

Hauck will keep the same captains all season. Under previous coach Mike Sanford, the captains changed each week.

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  1. I think this might be as much about next season as this season. I think if they expected Herring to take over next season, Clayton would have gotten the nod. But now this gives them an opportunity to build around Clausen for two years, providing some continuity.

  2. need a little edit........ "Juniors Michael Johnson and Michael Johnson will start at wide receiver" give payne some love. What do you think of the announcement? Thought the reports said that clayton looked better in practice?

  3. Michael Johnson and Michael Johnson are stating at wide receiver?

  4. Tarkus is right but this also isnt surprising given Hauck's desire to run the ball more. Omar was the handoff king in the spread...he NEVER kept it. You can tell he isnt comfortable running the football & whats the point of running spread if your QB isnt a legit running threat? Then Clausen came in (along with the 2nd team WRs) and he NEVER handed it off...so we were uber predictable in the ways we used both QBs. Atleast we'll be harder to defend now because Clausen can throw it & make you pay on the ground. And Omar aint a bad option to have in a relief role because he can sling it. I like it.

  5. Ray,

    Is there any word on who will be redshirting? It sounds like most of the freshmen were going to sit.


    After Clausen's injury he was given a lot of chances for the time he missed. In those opportunities he gained a lot of ground. I just think Hauck understood that Mike is better running the ball when needed and can punish db's if they try to to tackle him. He also throws a very nice ball.

    The only real surprise was Channing as the starting RB and Randle as 3rd string. However, I don't think it makes that much of a difference because of the way Coach uses his backs. They'll all get their touches.

  6. why no link with bio fo DeGiacomo?

  7. Moni,

    Because he's that badass.

  8. where has the coverage been lately?.... been pretty quiet from you guys since ely.

  9. Clausen is the right choice. I like Omar he is a good QB but I believe he has hit his ceiling and his best is behind him. I'm excited about the season & coach Hauck but kinda nervous about Saturday. Wisconsin is a real good Big 10 team and aruguably could contend for that conference. They have 5 beasts on the O-line and a tailback that runs forever. The only chance the rebs have is to hold the Badgers to 4 yds a carry & under or this game will be over in the 3rd quarter. Anyways Go Rebs!!!

  10. I guess Tim Cornett is going to redshirt? I was looking forward to seeing his speed.

    Omar did a good job for us the last few years and I think he will still see a lot of playing time.

    Wisconsin is a tough way to start the season and I wish all our guys the best. Good luck and kick some butt.

  11. Hey Reb4life: Tim Cornett, the freshman speedster from Texas, is listed as the second string kick returner behind Michael Johnson and Deante' Purvis. Also, sorry for the confusion on the wide receivers. I accidentally put Michael Johnson's player page in twice instead of Phillip Payne's. I will let everyone know when there is an update on red-shirts. ...

  12. unlvrunrebs:

    Ray has been a little busy since he's been back in Vegas actually having a LIFE. Remember, there is NOTHING to do in Ely but drink, fish (cave lake is cool), and write articles. Oh and go to a brothel (sorry Ray if your mom reads this).

  13. Rebelfever2: I didn't make the trip to Ely. :)

  14. There is so many questions about this team but I think (or is it a hope) the defense will play better at the end of the game (meaning they wont lose on the last drive) and we will see more diversity on offense. I am looking forward to seeing UNLV opening some eyes. Go REBELS!!

  15. This team will be better than last years. I think most of the players that are Seniors need to set the pace for the young guns to pick up next year and years to follow!! Good luck to this ALL NEW coaching staff and team this Season! See you Saturday against the Cheeseheads!!

  16. Throughout both of their UNLV careers, Omar has proven to be a more accurate passer, especially downfield, with Clausen being no question the stronger runner. You would think with Hauck's more conventional spin on the spread, that Omar would be the best choice. Did Clausen look that much better making all the throws in camp? If so, rock on!

  17. LMFAO!!! Did anyone see this garbage kid play last year?! He's not productive on offense whatsoever, and has atrocious passing accuracy. Omar is GOD compared to Clausen. I definitely see UNLV getting smothered easily this game now. Hellp 3-10 season! This city and country sucks.

  18. Like above said, defense needs to be at least average. Not a one on a grading scale 1-10. If defense can play at least half butt, it will compensate for the lack of points we will have this year. Its almost disgusting to put a newbie, unproductive QB against a ferocious Wisconsin team who people are predicting in the BCS Championship game. Wasn't going to the game to begin with but now, highly doubt I'll even watch the massacre. With Omar in, at least it would've provided the rebels with consistency on offense. My prediction is defense will hold Wisconsin off for the first quarter while our offense is down the drain, Wisconsin will run rampant from the 2nd quarter on.

    Wisconsin 44 UNLV 6

    Definitely see no TD's with the terrible running game and now present, terrible passing game. How disappointing. SMH

  19. Hey reagan21 I think only three true freshman will be playing this year the rest will be redshirting.

  20. htownreb,

    I'd agree with you if this were 2008 or maybe 2009, but Omar has shown his apprehension to run the ball in the spread. He handed the ball off 95% of the time. It may have been a subconscious, or even conscious, fear of getting injured for the third striaght season. Defenses never followed Omar because the knew he was going to hand it off.

  21. I think the point spread is 17 - can the rebels fall within that? Do you believe in miracles?

  22. Clausen is the correct choice to start against Wisconsin

  23. reagan21,
    I'm reading between the lines and haven't been able to see any of the practices myself (I live in Houston), but my impression that Hauck wants a more traditional rushing attack with the RB's getting most of the carries with less read-option plays with the QB (which seemed to be 50% of Sanford's running game). Since Omar seemed to be more consistent and accurate passer throughout their careers, especially the deep ball, which is why I would think he would get the nod.
    Hey, maybe Hauck wants to run the read-option more, or a more traditional roll out option. Maybe Clausen has thrown the ball especially well in camp. Maybe Omar has been a bit tentative in the pocket or running the ball, he has gotten hurt ever year here. I was saying from my perspective I would have guessed Clayton from the (far) outside looking in.

  24. I saw a recent practice and Clausen looked really sharp not only on the run but on passing situations.

    He looks bigger and stronger with a lot of zip and accuracy on his passes. Seemed to have a real confidence about him running the new scheme.

  25. Hey reagan21, The real surprise is u and the rest not really knowing, what was really going on in camp.Including the reporters. Just believe what you read!

  26. catdaddy,


  27. Reagan21, Sounded like u thought Trotter was a surprise at number one? When the bullets start flying, Trotter has produced,even while being under used. Check the numbers. Cox doesn't have the numbers, nor has he Todd Berry favoring him anymore. And Randle needs some more time. Because the best players r going to be on the field. And because Trotter is going to be healthy.He is the best first option at tailback. And I love Clausen getting the nod! Trust the coaches! And hello 2 betonblack!

  28. Listen up all you REBELS! You're lineing up against 11 men who put their pads on and lace up their shoes just like you do.

    It was on his hospital bed that he is purported to have delivered the famous,"Win just one for the Gipper" line. He apparently said this line to Knute Rockne, the football coach of Notre Dame. The full quotation from which the line is derived is:

    " I've got to go, Rock. It's all right. I'm not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, ask them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy. "

    Rockne used the story of Gipp, along with this death bed line that he attributed to Gipp, to rally his team to an underdog victory over the undefeated Army team of 1928 at Yankee Stadium.

    To you who don't know,watch that badger named Clay this Saturday night , be tormented by #22 .ON THE REAL. lol."ya'll just don't know". Reagan I too am surprised at the outcome in the assignment of starters. I Had Randle as the man. Clausen starting is fantastic..Omar, does a okay job.However ,Mike Clausen is punishing and has just as much a arm as Omar.
    Trotter..wow! He,has no first step. C.J is money!!
    Ray? theLINK??

  30. ...thanks Rudy...I mean Zipper.

  31. It just got weird in this section...


  33. catdaddy,

    When did I say that I dontt trust the coaches? I said it was surprise, and Why? Because every practice I attended I watched Trotter play with the 2nd and 3rd string defense. Not because of something I read in the paper. Get off your high horse.

  34. Hey reagan21, that last comment was 4 (Moni). But I stand by my comments. Not on any high horse. You, Ray Brewer nor myself were in Ely. U r in Vegas, and I am not. U went 2 practices, and I did not. Yet if u check the Wisconsin website, u will c who they are concerned w/.Also check who unr talked about last year. Trotter beat both Cox and Randle in the 40, he tied a record 4 bench press, and his camps were (not) probobly, as u read. Check the video game,2 see who they rate where. Remember Trotter is 5.2 for career. While Cox is 3.7.NO more (Todd Berry), alot less Cox.These coaches r different, they don't tip their hands like those b 4.Say hello 2 moni, and betonblack, 4 me. Check the numbers, please! This is not conjecture. Don't think u r hating, just malinformed. Don't trust ur own eyes.TRUST THE COACHES! GO REBELS!!!