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Notebook: Hauck likely to remain mum on Rebels’ starting QB

Will it be Clayton or Clausen? Answer not probable until Saturday at Utah

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV quarterback Omar Clayton scrambles for a gain against Wisconsin during their season opening game Saturday, September 4, 2010 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Wisconsin won the game 41-21.

Wisconsin vs. UNLV

No. 12 Wisconsin defeats UNLV, 41-21, in the Rebels' season opener.

UNLV-Wisconsin Football

UNLV defensive back Alex De Giacomo walks back to the line of scrimmage as Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien congratulatse wide receiver Jared Abbrederis after a Wisconsin touchdown in the second half of their season opening game Saturday, September 4, 2010 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Wisconsin won the game 41-21. Launch slideshow »

Next game

  • Opponent: Utah
  • Date: Sept. 11, 1 p.m.
  • Where: Salt Lake City
  • TV/Radio: The Mtn./ESPN 1100 AM
  • The Line: Utah by 23
The Rebel Room

WISCONSIN POSTGAME: Some good, some bad, a lot of running

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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.

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A week ago, in his first press conference of the 2010 season, UNLV coach Bobby Hauck made it clear that junior Mike Clausen would start the Rebels' opener at quarterback.

On Monday, that same question could be answered with one word on the updated depth chart: 'or'. That word separates Clausen and senior Omar Clayton atop the QB listings in the two-deep for Saturday's afternoon tilt at Utah.

Both ended up playing essentially for a half in the Rebels' 41-21 season-opening loss to No. 12 Wisconsin on Saturday, and Hauck finds no reason to give Utah any added advantage by rushing to declare a starter again.

"In terms of the quarterback job, specifically, we'll look at it this week and we'll kind of go through practice and make a decision as to who will start Saturday, but I'd assume both of them will play," Hauck said at his weekly meeting with the media. "In terms of the real decision, we may not announce it, because (Clayton and Clausen) do have some differences, and we may keep that under our hat."

What transpires in practice and the film room while preparing for Utah might go further in determining who plays rather than the results against the Badgers.

Clausen went 4-of-10 for just 23 yards and a touchdown pass before sitting most of the second half. In his place, Clayton went 6-of-16 for 82 yards and a score, then totaled a team-best 59 yards on the ground.

In the first half, Clausen hardly had time to breathe under intense pressure from the Wisconsin defensive front. It also kept UNLV from establishing any kind of running game. With the exception of a 16-yard touchdown toss to Phillip Payne off a late fumble recovery, the Rebels had next to nothing to hang their hats on after running just 15 offensive plays before the break.

The failure to produce was hardly on Clausen's shoulders alone.

Clayton had his moments, but Wisconsin's defense had appeared to ease off the pedal a bit late in the game.

Hauck was asked if he was — and still is — hoping for one of the two veterans to seize control of the job, and without saying yes, he pretty much said yes.

"I'd say my preference would be not to platoon the quarterbacks, but if you're placed in that situation, then you do it," he said. "Again, not my preference."

Wasn't all bad, though ...

Hauck said he "wasn't pleased with a whole lot of it" when it came to Saturday's showing as a whole, but he did point out a handful of positives.

"I liked the effort level," he said. "I thought that was good. I liked the lack of penalties. I liked the opportunistic part of the defense, but you'd probably have to stop there."

Comparing those areas to the past few seasons for UNLV, especially on the defensive side of the ball, shows quite the difference.

UNLV's defense played hard throughout the second half despite being down by as many as three scores for much of it. It was a scenario where, in recent years, things went on a downward spiral and made the final score look pretty lopsided.

The Rebels only committed four penalties for 30 yards, with none of them seriously doing damage outside of a personal foul call for a late hit on senior safety Alex De Giacomo, which Hauck even had questions about.

"The guy looked like he's taking a charge in a basketball game," Hauck quipped. "So I didn't lose my mind. I can do that, as you all know. You've seen it ... my mother's so disappointed."

The two forced turnovers were a notable positive after the Rebels last season tied for the fifth fewest takeaways in the nation, notching 16 all year.

Also, despite giving up 278 yards on the ground, Hauck said the tackling was far from porous after reviewing it on tape.

"We tackled pretty well," he added. "Now, (John) Clay ran guys over a couple of times, but we tackled pretty well.

"We can't lose our minds because a really top-notch football team got the best of us."

Caught on camera

Hauck was playfully asked about a handful of his profanity-laced tirades that were caught by the Versus cameras, including one with Clayton during a second half timeout.

"Oh, my buddies let me know, yeah," he said with a grin. "I'll tell you, it's not the first time I've uttered a profanity. Probably won't be the last. I get excited sometimes, and occasionally it happens. It's something I've tried to work on over the years."

Youth in numbers

UNLV used 12 true freshmen in its opener, which was tied for the third most of any of the 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks.

Florida took the cake, using 15 newbies, while Air Force and Florida State each played 13. Also using 12 were Auburn, Oklahoma State and Tennessee.

Injury news ... for Utah

UNLV's injury report won't be released until Tuesday, but its upcoming opponent is dealing with a tough ailment of its own.

Utah sophomore quarterback Jordan Wynn is listed as day-to-day with a sprained thumb.

He did not throw during Monday's practice, as senior Terrance Cain took the brunt of the action.

Wynn did, however, finish the game last Thursday after suffering the injury, leading the Utes to a 27-24 overtime upset of No. 15 Pitt in Salt Lake City. He finished the game 21-of-36 for 283 yards, three touchdown tosses and one interception.

UNLV has never faced Wynn, who assumed the starting job over Cain late last season. Cain has a good history against UNLV in his lone start against the Rebels, throwing for 174 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another score in last year's 35-15 Utah triumph in Las Vegas.

Parting shot

Hauck expanding on profanity and whether it makes someone a better or worse coach: "I don't know, my father was one of the best coaches I know and he didn't swear a whole bunch at anybody ... except maybe me."

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  1. Utah is a good football team. Don't be surprised if UNLV is 0-2. Good Luck. Go get the upset if you can. Go Rebels!

  2. Talk about looking past your next opponent . . .
    |
    From the Deseret News:
    "After the UNLV game, the quest to continue closing in on the school record of 26 consecutive wins at home (set from 1928-34) includes 2010 dates against San Jose State (Sept. 25), Colorado State (Oct. 23), TCU (Nov. 6) and BYU (Nov. 27)."

  3. For starters, Omar Clayton will be the starter on Saturday, he is the better QB and his numbers compared to Clausen show it.

    As for Hauck swearing, get over it people, this is football and swearing happens, if you find swearing in football offensive, then maybe you should watch Oprah or the Lifetime channel instead, football might be a little much for you.

    Also, give the Rebels a break, here they have a new coach and stuck playing #12 team in football on their first game. They did better than many expected and they will get better, the schedule this year is a really tough one though.

    Also, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE UNLV pave the Sam Boyd parking lot...

  4. i will agree that omar was the better qb on that night but you must take into consideration the pass protection... and this is something the coaches need to look at. when trotter was in there with omar or mike, it was a sack or a hurry. with cox in there... he picks up the block and that makes the difference of wether a qb makes a completion or gets sacked...

    hopefully they give clausen a chance with cox in there or randle. they are both good QB's but i would like to see clausen get a real chance. good luck rebs.

  5. A football coach using profanity? Shocking! What will you tell me next, that we breathe air?

    I saw progress Saturday. Hope lives!

  6. We're going to have to get used to small improvements for a few years and temper our expectations. We gave Sanford a fair amount of time to turn it around-we have to do the same with Hauk. And forget about paving the parking. You thimk the program makes enough money to afford that?

  7. If this turns out to be a losing season whose fault will it be? Remember the former coach, considered by many when he was hired, as a real winner. Sanford turned out to be a nothing coach... He as supposed to improve on John "The Loser" Robinson after he left. So far all the coaches have given us is a BIG NOTHING and they have left richer financially than they came, padding their retirements and getting a piece of the PERS RETIREMENT PACKAGES.

  8. Clayton will be the starting quarterback at Utah in my opinion.

    Swear all you want to Coach Hauck if it gets your player's to play and win

  9. Couple of observations...

    Yeah Wisconsin hung 200+ rushing yards on us... But this was on a defense that got NO support from its offense in the first half... I think they had Wisconsin at almost 26 minutes time of possession in the first half...Then they come out in the second half and basically give the ball back to them...But overall this defense looked tough against what is probably the best rushing attack in the nation... They got out there and were hitting, and not backing down, you actually saw Rebel jerseys swarming to the ball... Hats off to the defense... You guys played a hell of a game...

    Offense? uhhhh... 12 yards in the first half total... with minus rushing... Problem that offense is going to have is they are not built for the run game.... This is a spread offense... At times they were lined up in a power formation... I agree with Coach Hauck on trying to establish a run game, unfortunately he just does not have the players yet to do this.... They are small and fast...

    I think they figure out some of the offensive problems this week they will have a great shot against Utah on Saturday... Go Rebels!!!

  10. one aspect of the game that needs to be fixed.

    Punting.

    Whoever had that job on Saturday was horrible.

  11. Hey sportsguy702, Trotter never played w/ Clayton in the second half. But you were probably drunk by then. Yeah that d-line of Wisconsin, really got shut down in the second half!

  12. didnt drink bud, i am pretty confident he was in for one series in the 3rd quarter. i dont have the game on DVR, if you do then check it. i could be wrong, but it still doesnt negate the fact that trotter= zero blitz pick up.... which in-turn gave clausen no time.

  13. The whole offense gets an F. The defense played with a lot of heart but they just don't match up well with big, strong, physical teams. The d-line still cannot get off of their blocks. I agree with chickenlittle this team is not built for the power run game. The Badgers have a good defense but the rebels made them look like the 85 Bears 46 defense.

  14. I agree that Clayton will be our starter, if not against Utah, then in the next few weeks. I just hope that when Coach Hauck makes his decision, he sticks to it for the rest of the season. I don't think teams that have a quarterback controversy are ever successful. I think the team (especially the offensive line and receivers) need to be in-synch with one quarterback. I think consistency and certainty are important keys to success. That being said, I understand that there are numerous factors that will prevent a "successful" season this year--this quarterback question is just one.

  15. @ Jerrywayne

    agreed a 34.38 yard punt avg. is not good no matter how you look at it. According NCAA of all punters that punted 4 or more times this past weekend he finished 63rd of 66 nationally.

  16. I did drink, and i got it on tape. Trotter didn't play w/ Clayton. And no one on the offensive side of the ball blocked well. Clayton was more confident, and bought time w/ his legs better than Clausen. They also ran some different plays in the second half, when both Clausen and Trotter were out.

  17. As far as the coach throwing F-bombs, hey lots of coaches cuss. Look at Rex Ryan on "Hard Knocks."

    I watched on TV from Reno and it was distressing that Hauck's F-bomb tirade in the 2nd half looked like he was having a melt down. Building this program is going to be tough and to lose it like that in Game No. 1 as the Rebs' coach may be a concern.

    Also, Big Sky Conference coaches who make the step up to the Mountain West or Pac-10 have not done well lately. Joe Glenn, who won the 2002 I-AA national title at Montana, was fired at Wyoming after the 2008 season, although he had one good year with the Cowboys, winning the Las Vegas Bowl in 2004.

    Washington State Coach Paul Wulff, who came from the Big Sky's Eastern Washington, is a complete disaster. His win percentage is the worst in school history.

    It is obvious that UNLV does not have the players yet to run a smash-mouth type of offense. Too bad UNLV doesn't have Las Vegas product Mike Ball, who is second-string up here in Reno with the Wolf Pack.

  18. That was the worst offensive performance I've ever seen. We were so bad, a high school defense could have stopped us.

    That said, I was extremely pleased with our play on defense despite the yardage. When the offense is that putrid, you're going to be spending far more time on defense than normal and that's going to have an effect, especially with Wisconsin (where I'm from) which has big, tough offensive linemen and punishing running backs like Johnny Clay, who went to the same high school I did (Park High in Racine, WI). Park, incidentally, is a traditional I formation power running team as well.

    I also agree the punting was pathetic. But then again, I also see signs of improvement. The first year of a new coach is, generally speaking, going to be ugly. I saw that happen with Bobby Petrino in Arkansas and it'll be the same thing with Hauck. Hopefully the team will continue to improve in later years.

  19. Oh and I also think Clayton should be starting. I don't care how bad the o-line is, you can't misfire as often and as poorly as Clausen did Saturday.