AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
Published Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 | 1:37 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 | 4:06 p.m.
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- After rough debut, UNLV offensive line preaching consistency
- Notebook: Hauck likely to remain mum on Rebels’ starting QB
- Rebels run down by No. 12 Badgers in Hauck’s debut, 41-21
- All UNLV football coverage
SALT LAKE CITY— UNLV turned a promising start into another disappointing road defeat Saturday.
No. 20 Utah (2-0) took down UNLV 38-10 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. UNLV played right with Utah for most of the first half and actually led in total yardage with 40 seconds remaining before halftime.
But that’s when freshman Sidney Hodge fumbled a punt return at the 20-yard line. Utah took advantage by scoring on the next play, a 20-yard pass from Terrance Cain to Jereme Brooks. That changed the score from a manageable 10-3 to a daunting 17-3.
UNLV never got closer than two touchdowns in the second half. Although Nate Carter blocked a field goal that Tim Hasson returned 18 yards for a touchdown to make the score 24-10, UNLV could not build on the momentum.
The Rebels allowed a highlight-reel 77 yard punt return touchdown to Utah’s Shaky Smithson, who also caught a 55-yard touchdown pass.
Those weren’t the only errors. The Rebels also botched a punt snap that set up a Utah touchdown and had a 90-yard kick return from Bradley Randle called back because of holding.
In the end, the Rebels dropped another conference road opener. The last time they won their first conference road game was 1994.
Third quarter, 1:00 remaining, Utah up 31-10
He's shaky alright.
Utah's Shaky Smithson scored a touchdown on a made-for-TV 77-yard punt return midway through the third quarter. He fielded the Brendon Lamers punt and almost immediately stopped, presumably misleading UNLV into thinking it was a fair catch.
Whatever his intentions, they worked. Five Rebels near him froze and Smithson took off. He weaved his way in and out of the white jerseys and sprinted down the sidelines for the memorable touchdown.
UNLV kick returner Bradley Randle took the ensuing kickoff back to the 11-yard line, but it was called back 90 yards after a holding penalty. UNLV has not been able to get anything going in the two possessions since.
Third quarter, 9:00 remaining, Utah leads 24-10
Walk-on freshman and Cimarron-Memorial graduate Tim Hasson caught the attention of the UNLV coaching staff during preseason practices. Hauck and his staff thought he could contribute immediately.
Hasson just showed why. He was part of a group of Rebels that brought a ton of pressure during a Utah punt. Nate Carter ultimately blocked the punt and Hasson scooped it up and ran it 18 yards for a touchdown.
UNLV has life after all. The Rebels trail the Utes 24-10. UNLV will still need to find a way to get its offense moving. On the first possession after halftime, they went three and out.
Third quarter, 13:00 remaining, Utah up 24-3
The second half started equally as bad as the first half ended for UNLV.
Barely a minute into the third quarter, Utah's Terrance Cain threw a bomb to Shaky Smithson for a 55-yard touchdown. For UNLV, it appears this game has transformed from battle to blowout.
The Utah drive was a total of three plays for 80 yards. Cain is now 9-for-12 for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Jereme Brooks is Utah's top receiver with four catches for 77 yards. The touchdown was Smithson's first catch of the day, but he also had a 30-yard punt return to set up a field goal on Utah's opening drive.
Halftime, Utah leads 17-3
The final minute of the first half went down disastrously for the Rebels.
With 45 seconds remaining, Utah punted to UNLV. Sidney Hodge fielded the kick around the 15-yard line and juked away from some Utah defenders before taking a big shot from Eddie Wide. It caused him to fumble.
Utah recovered the ball at UNLV's 20-yard line with 37 seconds remaining. On the first play of the drive, Terrance Cain found Jereme Brooks in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown. Utah leads 17-3 in a game where the score doesn't come close to reflecting the play.
Although the score doesn't indicate it, UNLV has played much better than it did in last week's opener against Wisconsin. Omar Clayton is 10-for-16 for 105 yards. The Rebels have 162 total yards and actually led in that category before the touchdown.
UNLV went into halftime against Wisconsin with only a 17-14 deficit, despite having 12 yards of total offense. Hodge's fumble is the kind of mistake that costs upset-minded teams games on the road.
Utah gets the ball to start the second half. UNLV will need to shake off the late first half woes fast.
Second quarter, 7:44 remaining, Utah leads 10-7
UNLV will need to do a better job keeping up with Utah receiver Jereme Brooks if it wants a shot at this game.
Brooks had two long receptions, one for 29 yards and another for 19, on an 80-yard Utah drive that just ended with a three-yard touchdown run from Eddie Wide. Utah has taken the lead, 10-3.
Brooks' biggest catch came on a 3rd-and-long when no one seemed to be near him down the field. The good news is UNLV's offense has looked more than competent this afternoon.
Clayton is 8-for-12 for 89 yards, with three of the completions going to Michael Johnson who has 45 yards. Utah only has a slight edge in total offense, 132 yards to 114 yards.
The Rebels rush game still has its holes, though. C.J. Cox, Channning Trotter and Omar Clayton have combined for 14 rushes and only 25 yards.
First quarter, 1:00 remaining, UNLV 3, Utah 3
Now that's what UNLV coach Bobby Hauck would call a productive drive.
The Rebels drove 79 yards on 18 plays before Nolan Kohorst converted on a 33-yard field goal attempt. The drive took up 9:15 of the clock and Omar Clayton completed numerous passes on third down to prolong it.
UNLV has since recovered a fumble and has the ball again.
First quarter, 12:40 remaining, Utah leads 3-0
Although it didn't even get the ball first, Utah got on the board in a hurry.
Joe Phillips just booted a 44-yard field goal to make the score 3-0. UNLV had an uninspired first possesion.
C.J. Cox picked up three yards on first down, but quarterback Omar Clayton nearly threw an interception on second down and couldn't complete a pass on third-and-3. Utah's Shaky Smithson returned a wobbly Brendon Lamers punt 30 yards to immediately put the Utes in field goal range.
But it could have been worse. A third-and-5 pass from Utah quarterback Terrance Cain flew through the hands of receiver Jereme Brooks. If Brooks would have caught it, it was a sure touchdown.
SALT LAKE CITY— Welcome to Rice-Eccles Stadium, where the fans are starting to filter in on a 72-degrees day with nothing but clear blue skies.
In other words, weather is not going to be a factor when UNLV kicks off against No. 20 Utah in a little more than 30 minutes. What will undoubtedly be a factor is who plays quarterback.
There's uncertainty in that area for both the Rebels and the Utes. UNLV coach Bobby Hauck stayed true to his word and didn't announce who would start between senior Omar Clayton and junior Mike Clausen. Score Clayton as the favorite for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most notable being that the offense clicked better with him in the game in last week's 41-21 loss to Wisconsin.
As for Utah, quarterback Jordan Wynn sprained his thumb in last week's overtime victory against Pittsburgh. He didn't practice this week and if he's not ready to go, Terrance Cain will lead the Utes. Cain started the first eight games for Utah last year, including the 35-15 win at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Some conflicting information has arisen here. Wynn is listed as the starter on the depth chart distributed in the press box (UNLV's says "Omar Clayton-or-Mike Clausen"), but Cain is taking snaps on the field with the first team offense. Guess the definite answer won't come until the Utes line up on offense.
No matter who it is, Utah is going to run the ball. Much like Wisconsin last week, that's this team's identity. They use a similar attack to the Badgers as well. Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide form a thunder-and-lightning-type of combination.
Asiata is the 230-pound engine who has never heard of shying away from contact. Wide, despite his misleading name, is only 190 pounds and more of a traditional running back relying on speed and elusiveness. The Cimarron-Memorial graduate was 49th in the nation in rushing last year with 82 yards per game. Both should cause problems for the Rebels, whose rush defense didn't exactly impress against Wisconsin last week in giving up 278 yards.
That tidbit brings us to prediction time.
Utah 38, UNLV 10. To stay in the game, I think UNLV needs to steal momentum early and score first. I don't see that happening. Utah's defense should keep UNLV in check for most of the day, while a first drive like Wisconsin's last week for Utah would not be out of the ordinary.
Stay tuned to lasvegassun.com and we'll keep you updated during the game.