Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010 | 11:27 p.m.
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Ryan Greene, Ray Brewer and Case Keefer talk about the highs and lows from UNLV's 41-21 setback against No. 12 Wisconsin to start both the 2010 football season and the Bobby Hauck era.
- Opponent: Utah
- Date: Sept. 11, 1 p.m.
- Where: Salt Lake City
- TV/Radio: The Mtn./ESPN 1100 AM
Players on the UNLV football team jogged onto the field at Sam Boyd Stadium 40 minutes before the start of their season opener against No. 12 Wisconsin, took their place on the north side of the field and began the pregame stretching routine.
The players took off their helmets and carefully placed them on the field line they were stretching in front of. All of the helmets where perfectly aligned.
Yes, everything first-year coach Bobby Hauck has installed in the program has a purpose behind it. One of his biggest messages since being hired last December is paying attention to detail — whether that’s keeping helmets in a line during warm-ups or executing a play during a crucial moment of the game.
That attention to detail can partially be credited to the Rebels staying competitive in the first half against the national respected opponent in a 41-21 defeat. There were few dumb mistakes — a staple of previous coach Mike Sanford’s five-year tenure — and the improvements were glaringly obvious.
Even though the Rebels gave up 24 unanswered points to open the second half, and the final score is definitely an eyesore, it was a small step in the right direction.
Those improvements start with Hauck’s obsession for the details.
Most of spring practice was spent making sure players knew where to be on the field and when to be there — something defensive back Will Chandler seemed to get right by stepping in front of a Wisconsin pass in the first half for an interception and returning it for a 19-yard touchdown.
UNLV was outgained 279-12 in the first half, yet only trailed 17-14 at halftime. They only got into positive yardage on Mike Clausen’s 16-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Payne with 1:08 to play in the half.
The excitement displayed by the players when they ran off the field for halftime hasn't been seen by the scarlet and gray in sometime. The players truly believed they belonged competing against the likes of Wisconsin.
While the excitement ultimately faded, and Hauck won’t be satisfied with a moral victory, the end result was a solid debut.
Here are some more observations from the game.
• Rush defense still a problem : Last year, the Rebels ranked No. 112 nationally out of 119 teams in run defense, allowing 220 rushing yards per game. They surrendered 278 rushing yards to Wisconsin, giving up 123 yards and two touchdowns to John Clay. Sure, Wisconsin has one of the nation’s best ground attacks, but similar results later in the season will continue to spell disaster.
• Establish the run : The Rebels only rushed the ball 27 times for 112 yards with more than half of the yards coming in the fourth quarter against Wisconsin's reserves. In the first half, each of UNLV’s three tailbacks — Channing Trotter, C.J. Cox and Bradley Randle — received one carry each. More times than not, football games are won by the team that best runs the ball. Wisconsin had 166 more rushing yards than UNLV — enough said.
• They didn’t break : You have to give credit where credit is due — the Rebels didn’t quit. And in past seasons, they would have surely rolled over after being physically outmatched and dominated in virtually every facet of the game in the first half. The two big defensive plays by Chandler gave the Rebels more than a spark, it gave them confidence for future games.