Rebels football:

Another backup quarterback will take aim at UNLV’s secondary this Saturday

The Aztecs’ Adam Dingwell came in and led his team past UNR last week and now he’ll face a Rebels squad uncertain about its own signal-caller

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV defensive back Fred Wilson tackles UNR wide receiver Richy Turner during their game Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012 at Sam Boyd Stadium. UNR came from behind and won the game, for the eighth consecutive time, 42-37.

The prospect of playing against a backup quarterback is generally a positive experience for teams or, at the very least, for their fans. It invites thoughts of attacking an inexperienced or underdeveloped guy who was second string for a reason.

That’s not the feeling this week in Las Vegas, where the Rebels (1-7, 1-2) are preparing to travel to San Diego State (5-3, 3-1) for Saturday’s game at 5 p.m. on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. That’s partly due to the fact there may be two backups starting the game, as there was no update Monday on UNLV quarterback Nick Sherry's health after he left last week’s loss in the fourth quarter with a back injury. The other reason that not even fans can get excited about facing the Aztecs’ Adam Dingwell is that he’s the fourth backup the Rebels will face this season, and they’re 0-3 in those games.

The obvious counter to that is UNLV isn’t much better (1-4) in its other games, so it doesn’t really matter who’s starting at quarterback. But that’s sort of the point.

UNLV coach Bobby Hauck joked that the other teams’ backups were more experienced than his starters, which has some truth when compared to Sherry but mostly just sounds good. All three of them — NAU’s Chase Cartwright, Washington State’s Connor Halliday and UNR’s Devin Combs — are sophomores, as is Dingwell. None had much time on the field except for Halliday, who may deserve an asterisk as he’s basically split time with Jeff Tuel this season depending on whom coach Mike Leach trusts more at that moment.

Dingwell entered last Saturday’s game at UNR when San Diego State starter Ryan Katz went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter. In the first real action of his career, Dingwell was superb, completing 14-of-23 passes for 177 yards, three touchdowns and one decisive two-point conversion.

The Aztecs scored 10 points in the final four minutes to force overtime, and then after UNR scored seven points on its first possession, Dingwell threw a 21-yard touchdown. Instead of kicking an extra point to tie the game, Aztecs coach Rocky Long went for broke and Dingwell made his coach look like a genius, completing a pass to Adam Roberts for a 39-38 victory.

Hauck watched the game live after returning to Las Vegas on Saturday night and queued it up again the next morning. The offense didn’t change with Dingwell, he said. Like Katz, Dingwell has the threat of tucking the ball and running at any time but will try to do most of his damage picking holes in the secondary.

That group for UNLV has probably faced more scrutiny than any others, and a lot of it has to do with a propensity for giving up big plays. All but one opposing quarterback has been able to carve up the Rebels for big chunks of yards. The exception was Air Force’s Connor Dietz, who attempted only 10 passes in the Falcons’ loss.

Fixing those issues is a seasonlong project that has yielded poor results. Inconsistency in the lineup hasn’t helped things, as performance and injury-related issues have caused Hauck to go with six secondary combinations in the first eight games.

Senior Kenny Brown has started two games at cornerback and the past three at safety this season. He had hoped for a better send-off to his college career, but at this point in the season that’s out of his mind. The new focus is salvaging something for the future classes to build on.

“It’s not about us as a senior class,” Brown said.

This group’s legacy is no longer on the line the same way it was at the beginning of the season. Now it’s more about trying to set things up for the future by accomplishing little goals, such as defeating a backup quarterback.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Bobby Hauck is joking about-UNLV- lack of experience. This is his third year and the ownership needs to be on him. Winning 1 game is unacceptable and losing to NAU is a Joke!

    When is the AD or President going to raise the Bar of Expectations and make it official inform- Bobby - start winning or your gone. Maybe Bobby should fire this defensive coaches because they seem to not have what it takes to motivate and put the players in a position to be successful. I am tired of the excuses. His players are juniors now! I question the 4-3 base Defense with no energy to put the Heat on the QB. The more time the QB has the more they seem to pick a part the DB's.

    With New Mexico, Wyoming, CSU and Hawaii coming up Bobby's future should be clearly on the line. If he cannot win at least 3 of the last four then he should be Fired!

  2. he's got to win 2 more to stay. Let's hope for 3 or a sweep.

  3. TDUNLV has some good points,although Hauck does get a pass considering the talent level that was here,but he uses the inexperience excuse too much. The season does start now,the team has gotten more experienced at this point,and if Hauck losses most of these upcoming games,questioning his future is valid. SDSU is not a high octane passing team,relies more on rushing without use of the pistol or triple option. There is no excuse for D not being able to contain this offense with back-up qb. Questions with injuries on O-line but might be opportunity to prepare for future by replacing undersized right tackle. If Sherry dinged up,should try to establish run game with Cornett more to set up pass.

  4. A pee wee league team could tear up houck's unlv football team. What an embarassment to that school. All the talk in the world cant clean that mess up.

  5. Have they announced how the game is going to be televised yet? The UNLVREBELS website still says TBA.