Sept. 22, 2010
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com.
If the UNLV Rebels eye the New Mexico Lobos the way a homeless man eyes a free Thanksgiving dinner, who can blame them? They'll get the same look back.
The Rebs, like the Lobos, are 0-3 and starving for a win. They are favored to get exactly that when the Lobos invade Sam Boyd Stadium at 8 p.m. (MT) Saturday.
"We are going to play a team very similar to ours," said Lobo coach Mike Locksley.
Like the Lobos, the Rebs do not refer to the scoreboard or the won-lost column when trying to find positives about their team. The Rebs played OK in a season-opening 41-21 loss to No. 12 Wisconsin.
The Rebs didn't do as well on the scoreboard in a 38-10 loss to Utah, but the stats did not suggest such a beating. UNLV had four more first downs than the Utes, 319 total yards to 338 and won the time of possession battle by 13 minutes.
The Lobos did not fare as well in their 56-14 Utes' spanking. But both Lobos and Utes hurt themselves by giving up big plays.
The Rebels worst game, so far in 2010, was their 30-7 humbling by Idaho. This was a game the Rebs thought they could win. They were very wrong.
"Pretty disastrous," said Vegas' first-year head man Bobby Hauck in a quote that applied to the Rebs' first half at Idaho. Those words also could apply to the Rebs' 0-3 start, the Rebs' offense, and the Rebs' defense.
UNLV had 67 total yards at the half. Idaho had 247. The game was pretty much over when UNLV trudged off the field at half down 24-0.
Hauck is standing in an unusual spot. The coach, who went 80-17 at Montana and played in three national championship games, is getting his playbook handed to him at the big-boy level. There already are howls in Vegas town. Hauck is getting heat.
He is looking at a chance to quiet the rowdy. Locksley is too.
But Haucks's Rebs are hurting. The quarterback he started the season with, Mike Clausen, is now on defense. His No. 2 choice, senior Omar Clayton, got benched vs. Idaho for redshirt freshman Caleb Herring.
Clayton and Herring got sacked six times (total) at Idaho. UNLV averages 91 yards per game on the ground and 2.6 yards per carry. They average 12.9 yards per pass. So, the Rebs can't run and don't always have time to pass.
The sight of Reb quarterbacks eating the turf has Hauck contemplating taking a couple of promising freshmen linemen off redshirt status.
On defense, the Rebs give up 381.7 yards per game, 6.2 yards per play. UNM is yielding 536.7 total yards and 7.0 yards per play battling Oregon, Texas Tech and Utah.
In the games vs. Utah, UNLV had 310 total yards, UNM had 230; UNLV gave up 338 yards; UNM gave up 462. The Rebs lost at Utah by 28. UNM lost at home by 42 points.
UNLV has to be encouraged by UNM's visit, but the Rebs are still a team in search mode. Mostly, the Rebs are searching for a win.
The lean favoring Rebs over Lobos, in part, is based on UNM giving up an average of 60 points per game - worst in all D-I football. The Rebs have to see the Lobo defense as a way to move the chains and the numbers on the scoreboard.
Still, as Hauck told the Las Vegas Sun : "We're 0-3 and you aren't going to be real confident at 0-3."