REBELS FOOTBALL:

UNLV’s first fall scrimmage proves to be a mixed bag

Herring solid, but offense mistake-prone with opener less than two weeks away

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ELY — UNLV coach Bobby Hauck has been far from disappointed with his team's performance so far in fall camp.

Consider Saturday's one-hour scrimmage in Ely a blip on the radar, of sorts.

"It wasn't very good," he said. "It wasn't good enough. We've got a lot of work to do. We're inside of two weeks from (the Sept. 1 opener at) Wisconsin, and we wouldn't be good enough to play with them today."

The day was a mixed bag. A few offensive highlights were sprinkled in along with a trio of turnovers. On defense, a handful of big hits were combined with some key blown assignments.

A solid depth chart likely won't take form until after Thursday's second and final scrimmage in Ely, but one key area that is starting to look more and more firm for the Rebels is quarterback, where sophomore Caleb Herring was again strong.

He led four drives on Saturday. The first ended two plays in with receiver Marcus Sullivan fumbling the ball away after a 13-yard reception. His second resulted in a 13-yard touchdown toss to fullback William Vea, and the third was capped by a 23-yard Nolan Kohorst field goal. He ended the day with a three-and-out, getting sacked by senior end James Dunlap on third-and-11.

Herring finished the day 5-for-5 for 74 yards and the aforementioned score, and he added 18 yards on two carries. While he has yet to be officially named the Rebels' starting quarterback heading into the opener a week from Thursday, a decision could come any day now, and all indications point to Herring being UNLV's guy.

"I tried to handily myself as game-like as possible," he said. "We tried to come in and play clean, mistake-free football. We've got a long way to go, though, before September 1. There's a lot of mistakes we made that have to be fixed before we can expect to win any games.

"I'd be really disappointed in myself if I hadn't done everything I could to get the No. 1 spot. But we still have some days in camp. It's still like Day One to me."

A few of the offenses mistakes turned into highlights on the other side of the ball. Two included an interception by sophomore Tim Hasson in the end zone on an off-target through by backup quarterback Sean Reilly, then an interception by highly-touted incoming linebacker Princeton Jackson off of a tipped ball on the day's final play.

Still, the three defensive units had struggles of their own.

"Honestly, it was average at best," senior linebacker Nate Carter said. "It's not where we need to be as far as to have a winning season. It's not the effort put forth that's going to get us wins. I feel like we still have a long way to go."

As for some other numbers of note, the current top two running backs on UNLV's depth chart — sophomores Tim Cornett and Bradley Randle — each looked solid. Randle had 22 yards on seven carries, while Cornett totaled 30 on five totes. Both also showed signs of growth, with Randle showing nice patience before hitting his running lanes and Cornett showing an improved ability to squeeze out yards between the tackles.

On the perimeter, Sullivan led all receivers with 53 yards on three catches. His big blemish on the day was on the fumble, but it also came at the end of a play where he turned a catch near the line of scrimmage into a lengthy gain by using his exceptional speed.

Several others showed that they've also improved, but all that matters to Hauck at this point is the Rebels showing that as a whole.

"If teams are better than you, they're going to beat you — Generally, that's the way it is — The team with the best players wins more often than not," he said. "But when you start closing that gap, the things that get you beat are the little things. And when you go out and don't do the little things right, you can see into the future and say 'That's going to get us beat.'

"So we have to emphasize that."

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  1. I like what coach Hauck said about closing the gap, that is so true. If the Rebels can play fundamentaly sound, disciplined assignment football they should have a chance to win some games they shouldn't. That's the million dollar question though, can they do something they haven't been able to do as long as I can remember? When you are athletically inferior you have to be technically sound, that's your only chance against superior competition. C'mon Rebels pull it together...

  2. I'm glad Hauck isn't suger-coating his statements, and knows that they have a long way to go to get competitive. I hope the camp shapes up soon, and good luck Rebels.

  3. Looks like we can expect another sub-par year.....dammit.

  4. So is it a worse than expected offense or a better than expected defense. Be cause in college ball defense wins more than offense.

  5. My prediction stands at about 3 or 4 wins, but I think this is clearly a much more competitive team than last year. I think they're a year away ... next year, with the schedule and veterans across the board, they're contending for 5 or 6 wins.