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2011 College Football Preview: UNLV Rebels

2010 Record: (2-11, 2-6 in MWC)

Head Coach: Bobby Hauck (2-11 at UNLV, 82-28 All-Time)

Last Bowl Game: 2000 Season Las Vegas Bowl: beat Arkansas 31-14

2010 Pre-Season Preview


9/1: at Wisconsin (2010 result: lost 41-21)

9/10: at Washington State

9/17: Hawaii (2010 result: lost 59-21)

9/24: Southern Utah

10/8: at Nevada (2009 result: lost 63-28)

10/15: at Wyoming (2010 result: won 42-16)

10/29: Colorado State (2010 result: lost 43-10)

11/5: Boise State

11/12: at New Mexico (2010 result: won 45-10)

11/19: at Air Force (2010: result: lost 35-20)

11/26: San Diego State (2010 result: lost 48-14)

12/3: at TCU (2010 result: lost 48-6)

2010 Offensive Statistics:

Scoring: 18.4 ppg (7th in MWC, 110th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 103.3 yds/game (last in MWC, 109th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 170.9 yds/game (6th in MWC, 98th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 274.2 yds/game (8th in MWC, 118th in Nation)

2010 Defensive Statistics:

Scoring: 39.7 ppg (8th in MWC, 116th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 222.69 yds/game (8th in MWC, 116th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 227.8 yds/game (last in MWC, 77th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 450.5 yds/game (8th in MWC, 109th in Nation)

2010 Misc Stats:

Turnover Margin: -0.08 per game (4th in MWC, 62nd in Nation)

Penalties: 59.0 yds/game (last in MWC, 92nd in Nation)

Returning Starters:

Offense: 7

Defense: 5

Kicker/Punter: 1

Top Returning Statistical Leaders:

Passing: QB Caleb Herring, Soph (28 of 56 for 365 yds, 4 TD, 3 INT)

Rushing: RB Tim Cornett, Soph (144 for 546, 6 TD)

Receiving: WR Michael Johnson, Sr (51 rec for 571 yds, 5 TD)

Tackles: DE B.J. Bell, Sr (51)

Sacks:DB Sidney Hodge, Soph; DE B.J. Bell (1.5)

Interceptions: DB Will Chandler, Sr (2)

New Head Coach Bobby Hauck got a little dose of reality last year in his debut season at UNLV. The Rebels lost 11 games last year, that's one more than Bobby had lost at Montana in his last five seasons. Now that he has seen the reality it will be very interesting to see if he can turn the ship around at UNLV. In seven seasons at Montana, Hauck never had a losing season. At UNLV they have not had a winning season since they went 8-5 under John Robinson way back in the year 2000. We talked to Jacob from SB Nation's Mountain West Connection website to get his thoughts on the 2011 version of the UNLV Rebels.

Last year in our preview you said you were hoping for 6 or 7 wins. Unfortunately, the Rebels only won 2 games. What were the biggest issues with last years team that need to be addressed in order for them to be successful this year?

The Rebels had two big issues last season. First off, injuries hurt the team badly. About half the team was on the sidelines for Spring Training last season and a couple of our star players on defense were lost even before the season began. Another big issue was our secondary was atrocious. This could be attributed to the fact that Quinton Pointer, who is considered to be NFL-level talent, was out with an injury all season, but the secondary in general was horrible. No one knew how to play a man one-on-one from the line of scrimmage and as a result, we got beat right from the start very often. On top of that, the safeties weren't exactly the best. That unit was so horrible that Mike Clausen, who transferred from a QB position mid-season, started in the final few games of the season. The secondary being bad can easily be off-set by a good defensive line, but the Rebels were even weaker there than they were in the secondary. UNLV was so horrible in the trenches that quarterbacks regularly had more than 5 seconds to find an open receiver.

UNLV's offense actually has some bright spots, with 3 running backs returning, a highly touted QB coming in and a strong receiving core coming back, but none of that will work if they can't fix the horrible issues they had last season on the offensive line. The most time the QB ever got to pass the ball was 3 seconds and the run-blocking was atrocious.

After going 5-7 in 2009, the Rebels went 2-11 in Bobby Hauck's debut season. What are the overall thoughts on him after his first season?

I don't think you can really blame Hauck for last season's record, since he had players that were suited to play a style exactly the opposite that he was trying to run. All of those players, especially in the trenches, were undersized and speedy. 
My perception of him certainly hasn't changed, when you are having to run a system that is suited to the players that you have never run before, there are going to be some definite problems. That should change this year, now that Hauck has brought in tons of size and strength. 

For those that don't follow the Mountain West that closely...tell us a little about the best players on this team.

I've already mentioned Quinton Pointer, who is considered to be NFL level talent, but he isn't the only one who should be good in the secondary. The other defensive back is Will Chandler, who had 5 interceptions (two of them returned for touchdowns) last season.

On the offensive side of the ball, Tim Cornett, Phillip Payne, and Caleb Herring are our best players. Cornett's statistics from last season don't really stand out, but that was because he was the starting RB for only about half the season. Cornett was a true freshman last season that matured quickly and was able to grab the starting job. With an influx of size and strength coming in along the offensive line, don't be surprised if he has a breakout year.

Phillip Payne had a bit of a down year in his junior season. Payne had about 650 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns in 2009, and got similar numbers in 2010 after being expected to break out for a big year. Payne had off-season issues and his season overall just got off track. Hopefully he can improve this season and become a threat at wide receiver for the Rebels.

Caleb Herring is a redshirt sophomore QB who was highly touted coming out of high school. He sat behind Omar Clayton last season, but in the time he got, he had some great moments. I wouldn't be surprised to see Herring, who is a better fit for Hauck's system, have a great season.

What do feel are the key games for UNLV this year?

Realistically, I guess you could call it a good season if we beat the teams that we can beat. When you look at the Rebels schedule, there is a distinct line between the good teams and the bad teams. The teams that UNLV has a good shot at beating are Washington State, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado State, and Southern Utah. I think it would be a successful season if we could beat those teams and go 5-7.

What are the biggest reasons to be optimistic about UNLV football this year?

The biggest reason to be optimistic about the football team this year is change in the trenches. Hauck's first true recruiting class was stocked with JUCO players who can contribute immediately and most of the recruiting class had a huge amount of size and strength. That should definitely help in the trenches on both sides of the ball since the Rebels were simply too weak to be able to pull off anything substantial. That, combined with some exciting young talent at the skill positions, could make for an exciting season.

What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?

My gut feeling on this season is that the Rebels will be 5-7. They have 5 games that could definitely be a win, and hopefully this influx of strength will be able to get those wins for them. I guess I would also consider that to be a successful season as well because all of the rest of the teams on the Rebels schedule were either ranked or receiving votes during some time last season.

Next Preview: Wyoming

Previous 2011 Team Previews:

C-USA- Houston

Mac- Buffalo, Central Michigan, Temple

Sun Belt- North Texas


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