Notebook: Hauck still anti-playoff, but quite impressed with TCU

Rebels coach knew topping Horned Frogs would require flawless performances by both teams, so to speak

UNLV vs. TCU Football

UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck puts his hand on his head during the second half of their game against Saturday, October 30, 2010. Fourth-ranked TCU won the game 48-6. Launch slideshow »

UNLV vs. No. 4 TCU

No. 4 TCU stormed into Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday night and maintained its perfect 2010 season with a 48-6 victory over UNLV, who dropped to 1-7 under first-year coach Bobby Hauck.

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When asked after Saturday's 48-6 loss to No. 4 TCU whether seeing the Horned Frogs up close would change UNLV coach Bobby Hauck's mind on whether the BCS needed to be replaced with a playoff system, all he could do was crack a smile.

"Never — I'm too scarred," he said. "I've had too many good bowl experiences, and enjoyed the playoffs about that much."

While saying the "that much" line, Hauck formed his left hand to depict a zero.

OK, so the coach who guided Montana into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs several times in recent history, but also went to many bowl games as an assistant at Washington and Colorado, won't budge.

But it didn't mean that TCU was not brutally impressive in his book.

He asked for a score from the media of the game earlier in the evening between Baylor and Texas. Baylor, who has obtained bowl eligibility for the first time since 1994, improved to 7-2 with a 30-22 victory over the favored Longhorns. Earlier this season, TCU smashed Baylor, 45-10.

"They hung it on Baylor," he said. "That's a fairly good indicator, because Texas, regardless of their (4-4) record, is a gifted group. TCU, I would think, can play with anybody."

Sadly, no matter what TCU accomplishes the rest of the way, the Horned Frogs may not get the national title shot they covet so much. As long as undefeated Auburn and Oregon keep rolling, the Horned Frogs, along with Boise State, may merely be on the outside looking in.

It all could become a moot argument for the Horned Frogs (9-0 overall, 5-0 Mountain West) if they can't get past No. 8 Utah (8-0, 5-0) next weekend in Salt Lake City.

Utah topped TCU in a thriller at home two years ago, which was, oddly enough, the Horned Frogs' last regular season loss.

Payne returns

Junior receiver Phillip Payne returned from his two-game suspension following disparaging remarks made about the UNLV program on his Twitter feed.

And as was the case in last year's game against TCU, he was held in check by the Horned Frogs' skilled secondary.

The preseason All-Mountain West Conference selection had just two catches for 27 yards. He was targeted a few other times but was silenced.

"He brings some play-making ability to the offense," Hauck said. "Part of that gets deleted because TCU's talent level in the secondary is what it is."

For the season, Payne now has 25 catches for 416 yards in six games played.

More injury news

The injuries seem to be getting stranger for the Rebels as they continue to pile up.

The latest occurred when starting center Andrew Mack was scratched from the starting lineup, as he was taken to the hospital with appendicitis shortly after arriving at the stadium on Saturday.

Hauck said he believed that Mack would have his appendix removed this weekend at some point. In the pinch, John Gianninoto moved back to center from his guard post, while sophomore Yusef Rodgers made his first career start at right tackle.

The other new injury of note came in the second half when the team's leading rusher — true freshman Tim Cornett — left the game with what appeared to be a left knee injury.

He did not return, but Hauck said that it does not appear to be serious.

Cornett on the night had 26 yards on 11 carries.

Hauck added that the mounting injuries continue to make things difficult for his team. He said that if his team had lost more than one cornerback due to injury on Saturday night, he would have had to move running back Deante' Purvis back to the defensive side of the ball, as the Rebels only had three healthy corners coming in.

Next up

Arguably UNLV's two most winnable games of the five remaining on the 2010 schedule are the next two.

That stretch starts at BYU next Saturday.

To hear the Cougars (3-5, 2-2) called beatable sounds strange, but they've been just that for many teams this season.

BYU's biggest struggle this season has been in stopping the run, where they entered this weekend ranking 99th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision programs, allowing 190 yards per game on the ground. At times this season, they've been ranked much lower.

The other struggle for the Cougars has come in terms of making highly-touted freshman quarterback Jake Heaps comfortable.

The Seattle area native hasn't had the same weapons to work with that Max Hall did over the past few seasons, and so far this year has completed only 52.2 percent of his passes for 1,057 yards, two touchdowns and seven interceptions.

A win will be brutally important for BYU, who likely will need to sweep its upcoming stretch against UNLV, Colorado State and New Mexico to become the Mountain West's fifth bowl-eligible team.

BYU holds a 14-3 edge on UNLV in the all-time series, having won the last five meetings. The Rebels' last trip to Provo was in 2008, where they led the Cougars in the final minutes only to see that lead slip away in a 42-35 loss.

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  1. Hang in there, Coach Hauck. You've earned your salary this season!