Notebook: Wolfe takes on added duties; Clayton questionable

Senior receiver one of two spokesmen on roster this week; Shoulder has junior QB’s status in the air

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Sam Morris

UNLV wide receiver Ryan Wolfe reaches for the ball after colliding with Hawaii defensive back Mana Silva in the second half of the Rebels’ 34-33 victory over the Warriors at Sam Boyd Stadium on Sept. 19.

The Rebel Room

Wyoming reflection, UNR prognostication

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Ryan Greene and Christine Killimayer, back safely from Wyoming, discuss what went wrong for the Rebels in a 30-27 loss to Wyoming, then take a look at how it translates forward for Mike Sanford's 2-2 club. Plus, Dan Hinxman of the Reno Gazette-Journal chimes in to offer some insight on UNR, who UNLV faces up in Reno this weekend in a must-win for both sides.

Next game

  • Opponent: UNR
  • Date: Oct. 3, 1 p.m. Vegas time
  • Where: Reno
  • TV: None
  • Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM
  • Line: UNR by 3.5

What others are saying

Read what other writers are saying about UNLV's upcoming game against UNR:

Being relied upon is nothing new for Ryan Wolfe.

The UNLV senior receiver is now both the program's all-time leading pass catcher and the leading active receiver in the entire country. He's the guy who Rebels quarterbacks can turn to on sticky third-down situations, time and time again, and know that he'll make something happen.

Now, he's been selected this week along with junior linebacker Starr Fuimaono to be the 'voice of the team' as part of coach Mike Sanford's attempt to narrow his squad's focus with a must-have game coming up Saturday at UNR.

In front of the media, they're the ones speaking for the 2-2 Rebels who now must atone for a disappointing 30-27 loss at Wyoming last weekend.

"If the head guy says that I'm the man, then I've gotta be the man," said Wolfe, who leads the team in both receptions (31) and receiving yards (384) this season. "With more limited distractions this week, me and Starr are mature enough to be able to handle that. We'll handle the burden and let the rest of the guys get after it."

Judging by both the current four-game skid against the Rebels' rivals up north and the game tape from last week in Laramie, there's plenty for them to get after.

That's especially true for seniors like Wolfe, who both see the 2009 season as not only their last chance to reach postseason play, but also to claim the Fremont Cannon.

"Every time they wheel the Cannon out in blue," Wolfe said of his most vivid memory of the rivalry. "It's a pretty intense atmosphere there, because their hostility and intensity is aimed at us. The confinement of everything. It's just gonna be us, 50-something players, however many coaches, however many fans make the trip, it's us against the world when we go up there."

The Rebels are fortunate in sort of a twisted sense heading into this week's contest, as they've already had to bounce back from a brutally tough loss this season, coming off of a 23-21 last-second loss to Oregon State to down Hawaii the following week, 34-33.

Plus, even though UNLV's coaches and players claim they're strictly focused on this week's game, it's tough to ignore the gorilla in the middle of the schedule, which has them playing BYU and Utah at Sam Boyd Stadium on back-to-back Saturdays immediately after.

Still, they claim the Wolf Pack is all that's on their minds.

"I think with the intensity of this game, this rivalry, it forces you to shift your attention somewhere else," Wolfe said. "And that works to our advantage."

Who'll start at QB? It's up in the air

Junior quarterback Omar Clayton, who is 85-of-129 for 983 yards, with six TDs and five interceptions this season, was held out of Tuesday's practice with a sore right throwing shoulder.

UNLV coach Mike Sanford said nothing is structurally wrong with the shoulder, and that was confirmed with additional X-rays early this week. He said that Clayton was held out of practice strictly because of soreness from the injury which was sustained during a second-half touchdown drive on Saturday.

"I'd say I'm even more optimistic today than I was yesterday," Sanford said of Clayton's status. "There was a chance there was something broken in there.

"He'll practice (Wednesday). He'll practice Thursday. I would say it would be a game-time decision on him."

If he can't go, the reins would be given to sophomore Mike Clausen, who has appeared in all four games and is 10-of-14 for 95 yards and two scores.

Other injury notes

Senior safety Marquel Martin, who did not make the trip to Laramie, is good to go after recovering from a concussion suffered against Hawaii. He has eight tackles and one for loss in three games.

As for junior defensive end Daniel Mareko, who is sporting a cast on his right arm which goes up to the shoulder, he has a broken forearm and will be out until late October at the earliest.

It's still a day-to-day situation with senior receiver Rodelin Anthony, who also suffered a concussion against the Warriors.

His 6-foot-5 frame was sorely missed in the red zone last weekend, as he is tied for the team lead with three touchdown catches in three games played.

Some minds are elsewhere

An earthquake which rocked American Samoa earlier in the day on Tuesday had a couple of Rebels concerned.

Mareko and junior defensive tackle Isaako Aaitui both hail from Pago Pago and were unable to reach family members in the wake of the disaster as of Tuesday evening.

The powerful quake spawned tsunami waves, killing at least 82 people and leaving several missing.

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  1. Confidence is what our players need.
    QB scrambling, RB screens, and outside running game. The reason they recuited 28 Randle is because he was a homerun hitter on any given play. We so need that.

    The games we won besides Sac Stat could have all been losses.
    If HU Warriors QB did not overthrow a his wideouts so many times the score may have been much different.
    OSU's QB seemed to have a bad game as well.

    As for us, we have been getting lucky if you will.
    Our running game is only short yardage and seems to be used mostly to set up the play action.
    Our QB seems to need more heart when scrambling. It seems as though he is afraid of being injured. Kinda like being in a car crash. You drive timid for a while afterwards.

    I like Clausen. He will throw it long and scramble hard. Clayton was great last year. This year confidence looks to be lacking.
    Maybe that is why our red zone stats look different this year. Maybe that is why on 3rd and 1 we pass or run out of the pistol and don't QB sneak.
    I heard the TE's were wide open at least 4 times at the Wyoming game and were not thrown to.

    All i am saying is we could have lost every game just about. The weapons are not being used with confidence.
    I have been impressed by Phillip Panyne at the back of the endzone and that's it.

    Prayers up for the families in Somoa.

  2. IMO the O looks good. The passing game has had a few picks but overall they've moved the ball. Playing in a spread with no TE or FB to lead block Trotter has done a good job running the ball. He's a good back. I think they could run the ball a little more to wear down defenses, use more clock, and keep the opponents offense off the field. But the Rebs have moved the ball and scored points.

    The team needs to play better on D! They need a pass rush. They need to tackle better and find a way to cover better. It is far too easy to move the ball through the air on them. The run D does look a little better. Just a little. UNR will test that this week with all those option plays.

  3. Wolfe is absolutely a class act. Love Fuimaono's effort too. If only the coaching staff could provide the needed leadership, we might have something here. I've been more than willing to give Sanford a chance, hoping he could capture some of the magic he had at Utah. just don't see it happening now. In my opinion, if Rebels don't get it done this weekend, he and his crew need to go!

  4. Sanford, please forget about the offense for a minute and worry about your poor defense. Defense has been nonexistent since your arrival to UNLV.

  5. ...a DELAY OF GAME out of a TIMEOUT!!!!!

    ...sorry, still in disbelief!!

  6. The Defense is drowning right now. They need to address it. Scoring hasn't been a problem. But stopping teams from marching down the field has. Some silly penalties and some questionable coaching has been as well. This team could easily be 4 and 0 right now looking at possibly going bowling. Tighten up this week and focus on stoping UNR. One game at a time, one quarter at a time, one posession at a time.

  7. Ryan, you and Christine, I must ask you.
    Are You Scared? Kind of? Scared to report and tell what you saw?
    Christine I heard you ,almost , get to the Real Deal on the broadcast but... ya didn't
    ...Just say it!!...Our defense was terrible ,and it was due to the coaching by Therrell.
    The style of coaching signalling in EVERY play from the sidelines would not, did not and will not work against a hurried up offense! And HELL this was not a surprise, Wyoming did this the week before!!(what fu#@king film where you watching Therrell? you call this prepared?)
    I was told that anyone in the stands could see what was happening ,it was that apparent, the coach got plays signaled to the players late,alot of mis assignments and in the second half it was though that they didn't know what he was signalling.This Guy Therrell doesn't cut it.We got talent galore... Defensive backs even the great ones (if you don't know ,can only cover someone so long,
    ...no pressure to the QB is the problem...Where is Bell? Make him A D-lineman quick, agile is what we need.Our Linebackers are superb..however they don't JAM.. which sucks.and actually they arn't doing crap on a pass
    So what is up with you two ? Ryan Christine . Us fans anxiously sit at home,can't get the game,no radio signal the net is not showing it ,nada. Bewildered we await for you reporters to report to us .Then what do we get?
    Hell I ordered a shot of Bourboun ? and you gave me tea! I'm sure you both know what you are serving is not what is IN ORDER here.Just get to telling what is REALLY GOING ON!

    ?SCARED?

  8. i enjoyed christine's insight as well... i think she needs to cook out some articles.

  9. Therrell is the worst defensive coordinator in D 1 football. This defense couldn't stop the traffic on Maryland Parkway if they were standing in it during rush hour. I will predict right now that Sanford will not make it through the season. After they lose to Reno he will be thrown out on his keester. I heard Ryan Wolfe yesterday on 1100am and he is so politically correct, dodging every question about what is really going on with this team like he is dodging a safety across the middle. He is possibly the best receiver in the country but a horrible interview. It was obvious Sanford had scripted him on what to say when talking to the media. I could hear Sanford talking through Ryan during that interview, nice try coach but the fans still aren't buying it!!!