Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010 | 2:15 a.m.
- Opponent: Utah
- Date: Sept. 11, 1 p.m.
- Where: Salt Lake City
- TV/Radio: The Mtn./ESPN 1100 AM
- The Line: Utah by 23
Ryan Greene, Ray Brewer and Case Keefer talk about the highs and lows from UNLV's 41-21 setback against No. 12 Wisconsin to start both the 2010 football season and the Bobby Hauck era.
When things are going right, the offensive line is regularly overlooked.
When a line struggles, everyone notices. That was the case for UNLV's veteran front five on Saturday in a 41-21 loss to Wisconsin at Sam Boyd Stadium.
On Tuesday, the veteran group had a chance to sit and see just what went wrong on film.
"I think the mood was frustrated and a little bit down at the time," senior guard John Gianninoto said of the film session. "We know we're better than what we saw on that film. We have been in the past. We know that we're not living up to expectations and have to get that done.
"There weren't any key culprits. Everyone took a turn doing something."
UNLV coach Bobby Hauck reiterated that consistency was the main issue with the offensive line, and that not often enough were all five of the big men up front all on the same page.
"The consistent theme was we had breakdowns by different people at different times," he said. "All it takes is one of five to have a breakdown and a play breaks down. We have to shore that up and it has to be better."
The worst of it came in the first half, when the Rebels were relegated to just 15 offensive snaps, picking up only 12 net yards and two first downs.
Still, UNLV went into the halftime locker room trailing by only three at 17-14, thanks in large part to a pair of huge defensive plays by junior cornerback Will Chandler.
"The scoreboard said it was that close, but getting 15 plays, it really wasn't that close," said senior right tackle Evan Marchal. "The defense made turnovers and helped us out a lot and kept us in that game. In the second half, we thought we had a really good chance to come out and beat that team, but we lost it for our defense."
The Rebels found some rhythm on offense and ended the night with 217 yards, though the Wisconsin defense appeared to ease off of the pedal some later on with the game in hand.
"I think we were a lot more physical in the second half than we were in the first half, and that's something we're going to build on," Marchal added.
Unfortunately, the second test under Hauck won't be any easier than the first.
Hauck said that schematically, the front four for Utah — who the Rebels take on this Saturday at 1 p.m. in Salt Lake City — is much different than Wisconsin, but in terms of physicality, the Utes are quite similar.
There's no question that Utah can produce results and disrupt an opposing offense, as its 27-24 overtime victory last week over then-No. 15 Pitt provided plenty of evidence. They shifted all of the pressure to Pitt freshman quarterback Tino Sunseri by holding Heisman hopeful running back Dion Lewis to just 75 yards on 25 labored carries.
UNLV wasn't able to get its stable of backs going in the ground game last Saturday, but plans to try to do so again against the 20th-ranked Utes.
If it's going to be successful, the offensive line knows that plenty of it falls on its shoulders.
Also, it's key for the veterans to step up, as the staff is hoping to not have to burn the redshirts on some of its promising-yet-inexperienced offensive line prospects, such as 6-foot-6 left tackle Cameron Jefferson and 6-foot-7 guard Brett Boyko.
"It's a new system, it takes a little time," Hauck said of his offense, which is more balanced than the shotgun spread of recent years. "I don't think that our offense is simple, I don't think that it's easy to pick up. It takes some time, and it'll improve consistently, I believe.
"I'm not a big excuse maker, but it's got some validity. We're playing. We've got to play well. That's what it is."
Injury report released
UNLV released its weekly injury report on Tuesday for the game at No. 20 Utah:
Out: LB Beau Orth (back), RB Imari Thompson (foot), OL Shane Watterson (leg).
Doubtful: CB Quinton Pointer (leg), FB/LS Anthony White (leg).
Questionable: DT Isaako Aaitui (leg), LB Starr Fuimaono (shoulder).
Probable: WR Mark Barefield (leg), DE B.J. Bell (leg), CB Sidney Hodge (shoulder), DE Daniel Mareko (leg), LT Matt Murphy (leg), CB Deante' Purvis (leg), OG Doug Zismann (foot).