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By the Numbers: Rebels offense picks up the pace in 2013 opener

UNLV ran 14 more plays than it averaged last season, plus the defense prepares for the nation’s defending leading rusher



UNLV quarterback Nick Sherry (3) throws against Minnesota in the second quarter of their NCAA college football game, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

Rebels vs. Gophers

UNLV players Jake Phillips (46) and Tim Cornett are dejected during the fourth quarter against Minnesota during an NCAA college football game in Minneapolis, Thursday Aug. 29, 2013. Minnesota defeated UNLV 51-23. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King) Launch slideshow »

The most important number so far in UNLV’s season is that one on the wrong side of the win-loss column. Still, there are a few other interesting figures surrounding the program right now.

The Rebels (0-1) open the home slate of their season against Arizona (1-0) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. The Wildcats are a speedy threat featuring the nation’s leading rusher in 2012:

1,929 — Arizona junior Ka’Deem Carey begins his race towards surpassing last year’s nation-leading rushing total this week after sitting for a one-game suspension.

Carey had multiple offseason incidents that led second-year coach Rich Rodriguez to announce last Friday that Carey would sit out the season-opener against Northern Arizona. One was a domestic dispute for which the charges were dropped in June and in January Carey was kicked out of an Arizona basketball game after a verbal confrontation with Wildcat officials.

That means the consensus All-American will be fresh and ready to make his debut at Sam Boyd Stadium.

“Had he not been a true sophomore I assume we wouldn’t have seen him,” said UNLV coach Bobby Hauck, suggesting Sundays are in Carey’s near future.

Carey already would have had a tough time matching his 1,929-yard output from last season. With one fewer game he’s almost guaranteed to fall short of that mark, but that’s little consolation to a Rebels defense that has to find a way to stop him.

85 — In its loss at Minnesota, UNLV ran 85 offensive plays. That was 24 more than the Gophers, about 14 more than the Rebels averaged per game last season and nine more than UNLV ran in its 2012 opener. That game went to triple overtime.

The offense’s uptempo pace was noticeable watching the game but it’s still surprising to see that big of a difference. The question now is whether this is a trend or an aberration.

It seems clear Hauck and new offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach want to use a lot of no-huddle, spread attacks. Still, 85 plays may be a benchmark the team doesn’t reach again.

It seems likely they could average in the high 70s this year — still a noticeable difference from last year — but those three return touchdowns skewed the numbers. Knock that number down and Minnesota gets one or two more drives, thus keeping the ball out of the Rebels’ hands and dropping that total play number down.

20 — The NCAA allows 20 hours per week of practice and competition time. This includes the games, practices and any required meetings or weight training sessions.

This was brought up at Monday’s press conference in relation to any possible practice changes to the Rebels’ special teams. Hauck said nothing would change because he’s not allowed to.

“Our time in any given week is mandated by the NCAA,” Hauck said. “We get what we get. We’ve got to utilize the time we have.”

It’s true the total time is limited but there doesn’t appear to be anything on the books about the minutia of working on kickoff returns a little longer. Hauck said the punt team gets five minutes each practice and the kickoff return and coverage teams get about 10 minutes each Tuesday and Wednesday. All three of them get a combined 18 minutes on Thursday.

Giving special teams more time could mean less time to work on offense or defense. That may be what Hauck was trying to get at, although Rebel Park does have two practice fields.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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