Earnie Grafton / Associated Press
Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 | 2 a.m.
- Sherry expected to start, though UNLV’s offensive line still in flux
- UNLV quarterback improving but still not cleared to start on Saturday
- Mountain Best: Teams around the league doing their best to avoid a meltdown
- Another backup quarterback will take aim at UNLV’s secondary this Saturday
- Sherry injured as Rebels drop forgettable 32-7 decision at Boise State
- Take 5: Looking through the Rebels’ remaining games for potential victories
- All UNLV Football Coverage
They’re nothing if not consistent, these 2012 Rebels. Not on the field, of course. When it comes to game day, UNLV has been like the prize in a Cracker Jack box: You don’t know exactly what you’re going to get, but you probably won’t like it.
UNLV is consistent away from the field, though. After practice, after games and at press conferences like Monday’s at the Lied Athletic Complex, UNLV coach Bobby Hauck and his players have presented a united front. Banged up and beaten, the Rebels have remained positive during a 1-8 season and continue to talk about hope, which is better than the alternative but doesn’t retroactively add victories to the schedule.
This week presents something a little different, as UNLV (1-8, 1-3) returns to Las Vegas for homecoming to play New Mexico (4-5, 1-3) at 1:06 p.m. Saturday on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. The Rebels will be the favorite (-3.5 as of Monday evening) for the first time since they lost as 13-point favorites against Northern Arizona.
“This is a great opportunity to turn this season into something positive,” junior linebacker Tim Hasson said. “We can either feel sorry for ourselves or we can look at it as a four-game season.”
UNLV tried this earlier in the year, too. Especially after the NAU loss, the Rebels focused on looking forward to the 11-game season still remaining and not focusing on what was behind them.
This time, it makes a little more sense to view the remaining games as their own entity because they all have something in common. And that link is that, like UNLV, none of the opponents is very good.
New Mexico, Colorado State, Wyoming and Hawaii are a combined 2-14 in league play and have eight victories among them, half of which belong to the Lobos. UNLV has common ground with these teams, which is more than it could say the past month with road games against the likes of Utah State (7-2), Louisiana Tech (7-1) and Boise State (7-1).
The Rebels and Lobos are kindred spirits in their battles against injuries, too. UNLV’s offensive line already was banged up going into last week’s San Diego State game, and it took another hit when senior guard Doug Zismann went down in the fourth quarter. At this point, there’s no telling whether he, senior Yusef Rodgers or sophomore Brett Boyko will be completely ready for the game.
“We’ve just got to go with what we’ve got, and I don’t know who that is right now,” Hauck said.
One of the guys who likely will be there is freshman Ron Scoggins, a Bishop Gorman grad who just before signing day changed his mind and chose UNLV over New Mexico. Had he honored his original commitment, Scoggins wouldn’t know whom he’d be blocking for this week.
The Lobos lost two quarterbacks in last week’s 49-32 loss to Fresno State, a bizarre game that Bob Davie’s team led 21-0 before giving it away. New Mexico ranks last in the country with less than 55 passing yards per game, so it’s not as bad as losing top running back Kasey Carrier, who two weeks ago set the single-game league record with 338 rushing yards.
In fact, the unknown at quarterback could end up helping New Mexico as Hauck prepares his players for both the Lobos’ base offense and an extensive wildcat package that could feature any number of running backs running zone-reads off direct snaps. If the Lobos have success with that or their traditional runs, it’s not going to matter that it’s most likely going to be third-stringer Quinton McCown at quarterback.
“If we don’t stop the run, they don’t have to have a big playbook for him to make big decisions,” Hasson said.
Most opponents haven’t been able to achieve that against New Mexico this year. The Lobos average the fifth-most rushing yards in the nation out of a system Hauck said is closer to UNR's than Air Force's, though the passing numbers certainly resemble an academy team's.
Whomever the Lobos look like, the Rebels are confident they can beat them. That goes for the other three games in this four-game season, too. Most of the past evidence suggests this is ludicrous, but Hasson said they don’t have time to listen to that negativity. This year is mostly a lost cause as far as the preseason goals are concerned, so the Rebels are trying to get a jump-start on making 2013 more consistent on and off the field.
“These last four games in November give us something to look forward to, to spring us forward to next season,” Hasson said.