UNLV FOOTBALL:

Notebook: With finale now in the past, focus shifts solely to program’s future

Rebels underclassmen set early goals for 2010 season, which will begin under new leadership

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Justin M. Bowen

The UNLV defense smothers San Diego State running back Brandon Sullivan during Saturday’s game at Sam Boyd Stadium.

San Diego State vs UNLV

UNLV overcame a 17-point deficit to send its 16 seniors and Mike Sanford out on a 28-24 win over San Diego State Saturday.

UNLV-San Diego State Football

UNLV receiver Phillip Payne beats Dey Juan Hemmings of San Diego State for a touchdown during the season finale for both teams Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium. UNLV won the game 24-20. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

POSTGAME EDITION: Rebels produce winners across the board on busy day

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Ryan Greene, Christine Killimayer and Ray Brewer discuss a busy day in UNLV athletics, including the hoops squad's resounding 76-71 victory over No. 16 Louisville at the Mack and the football team's sendoff to coach Mike Sanford and its 16 seniors coming in the form of a 28-24 come-from-behind victory at home over San Diego State.

As soon as Ryan Lindley's last-second heave for San Diego State hit the turf on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium, a new era in UNLV football began.

Who will lead the Rebels into the future? Well, that's yet to be determined.

Still, the fact that UNLV has yet to decide who will be its 10th football coach in program history — or the school's new athletic director, for that matter — hasn't deterred those set to return for the Rebels from thinking forward.

"I have one year left to play college ball, so I'm really just looking forward to it — That's all I can do," said junior quarterback Omar Clayton. "We have to come into the spring with a positive attitude, be looking forward to it. Tonight was great, but we still didn't meet certain goals that we had for our team this season, and whatever we did last season wasn't good enough. Whatever we did in winter conditioning wasn't good enough, spring ball it wasn't good enough, summer it wasn't good enough, because we didn't come out and win games that we should have won and could have won during the season, which means our season is over now.

"It's our job to make a difference with the team, and that's what our goal is."

Clayton will obviously be the most vocal leader the UNLV offense will have on the field by the time next year's opener at home against Wisconsin rolls around.

Without question, whoever takes over as the program's head coach will have some pieces to work with.

Outside of Clayton, sophomore receiver Phillip Payne could be poised for a breakout season as a junior, as he continues to blossom into an all-around threat. Junior tailback Channing Trotter ran hard and had a nose for yards after contact all season long. Plus, four of five starters could be returning on the offensive line.

On defense, junior defensive end Malo Taumua and junior linebackers Starr Fuimaono and Ronnie Paulo will form the foundation of a unit which ended 2009 on a positive note.

That, however, doesn't mean UNLV won't be labeled by some as a rebuilding project in 2010.

"I think it is and it isn't, because we don't know what we're putting in," Clayton said. "We don't know what offense we're running, what defense we're running. We don't know what kind of coach the guy is.

"He can come in and have some guys he can work with, but at the same time, we have to learn something completely new."

Plus, the roster could see some changes once a new coach is named, be it new faces added to the fold in recruiting or current guys transferring out.

Most current underclassmen will need to wait and see once things develop.

"Stay tuned" will be the motto for the next couple of months.

Spectacular senior showings

Several UNLV seniors went out with clutch showings.

Senior running back Chris Brogdon, who backed up Trotter all season, carried the ball nine times for a team-high 49 yards.

While Payne elevated himself to play the role of No. 1 receiver in Ryan Wolfe's absence due to injury, seniors Rodelin Anthony and Jerriman Robinson each made several big plays. Anthony had four catches for 46 yards, while Robinson also caught four balls for 77 yards.

On the defensive side, Jason Beauchamp's 15 tackles with 2.5 for loss and a sack led the way.

Behind him, defensive back Terrance Lee had six tackles, a sack and an interception, which resulted in the Rebels' lone defensive score of the season.

Where Sanford ranks

Mike Sanford's 16-43 record at UNLV gave him a win percentage of .271 at UNLV over five seasons.

That puts him eighth all-time in that category out of nine UNLV head coaches, ranking ahead of Jeff Horton, who posted a .228 percentage in five seasons from 1994-98.

Final notes ...

... UNLV went 4-3 at home this season, giving them the program's first consecutive home winning records since the Rebels went 4-2 in three straight seasons from 1985-87 ... By scoring 21 unanswered points to finish the game, it tied as the Rebels' third-biggest comeback in school history ... Jason Beauchamp played in his 48th career game as a Rebel, which is a program record ... Beauchamp's 334 career tackles rank second in UNLV history ... Channing Trotter's ninth touchdown run of the season made him the first Rebel to run for as many in a season since Jason Thomas had nine back in 2002.

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  1. Alex De Giacomo#22,Fantastic game.Hope next year your efforts don't go unnoticed by the media.6 tackles ,1 pass breakup/1 interception.
    Thank you for your efforts.

  2. moni, you've criticized The Sun all year and you've been wrong every time! This time, the stats you posted are less spectacular than those that Ryan already posted.

    Ryan, you've done a great job all season! Thank you for keeping it real.

  3. WRONG- PLEASE BE SPECIFIC.
    How typical -a blogger to make a statement without any foundation.
    My major points have been on(a) defense-rotation does not work based on oppponent.(b)Therrell is terrible.(c)Rob M "cant sing /nor predict football games.UTAH ?! Last SYNGERM-nothing Ryan said was wrong please read my blog again. Sorry ask your sitter to read it to you. Oh- my last statement to the "SUN".To much negative not enough positive with respect to the players.

  4. Rofl.

    I'll ask my sitter to read it to me when you have your English teacher compose it for you. ;-)