Rebels football:

Sherry expected to start, though UNLV’s offensive line still in flux

Nick Sherry has the green light to play Saturday at San Diego State, a critical game as the Rebels try to finish the year strong

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV quarterback Nick Sherry sets the offense during the Rebels’ game against UNR on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, at Sam Boyd Stadium.

When there are more opening-day starters from the offensive line listed on an injury report than there are left off, it’s hard to hide on game day. That’s one of many things UNLV must deal with Saturday at San Diego State, though the week hasn’t been without its good news, too.

UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said Thursday he expects freshman quarterback Nick Sherry to play when the Rebels (1-7, 1-2) take on the Aztecs (5-3, 3-1) at 5 p.m. The game will air locally on 8 News NOW Plus, a sister station of KLAS-TV that you can find on Cox Communications channel 128.

The game is actually being produced by Time Warner Cable SportsNet, but that channel still is unavailable in Southern Nevada as cable providers continue to negotiate with the station that holds the rights to more than half of this year’s Los Angeles Lakers games.

Right now that television battle probably has as much of some UNLV fans’ attention as does Saturday’s game. That’s because TWCSN also holds the rights to several UNLV men’s basketball games while football interest continues to dwindle after a pair of road blowouts bookending that home heartbreaker against UNR.

The only sure way to win some of those people back this year is to win, a goal helped by Sherry’s health. Now that he’s going to start, barring any setbacks, the focus shifts to the guys tasked with keeping him upright: the aforementioned banged-up offensive line.

Sherry was sacked only twice last week against Boise State, but much like the season opener against Minnesota, he was hit much more often than that. And when the Broncos defenders got to him, they brought him down hard, like the play that knocked him out in the fourth quarter when he got twisted up after throwing an interception.

Sherry bears plenty of responsibility for protecting himself — he occasionally holds the ball far too long — but it starts with the guys in front of him who are trying to keep themselves, and their quarterback, healthy.

“Every week it seems like somebody’s dealing with something,” said senior tackle Yusef Rodgers, who this week is listed as doubtful with a leg injury.

When everyone is healthy, the lineup looks like this (from left to right): Brett Boyko, Cameron Jefferson, Robert Waterman, Doug Zismann and Rodgers. Last week, Boyko missed his fourth game of the year, and he since has spent practice time watching drills in a blue jersey, so he’s unlikely to go this week.

In his absence, Jefferson has moved to left tackle, but he’s dealing with a leg injury of his own and could be limited against the Aztecs. On the other side, Rodgers has missed only one start (against Louisiana Tech), but at Boise State he couldn’t go the whole game and Hauck had to look to his bench. Only Waterman and Zismann have started every game; freshman Ron Scoggins, a Bishop Gorman grad, has made five starts at left guard, which allows Jefferson to move around.

Rodgers and Jefferson have been practicing this week. Despite an injury list that goes 19 players deep — by far the most this season — there were only a handful of guys on both sides of the ball watching practice in blue.

“They’re trying to go as best they can,” Hauck said. "They don’t want to be in blue, which is a culture change around here.”

The attitude in the locker room, Hauck and the players say, still is positive. They understand that despite their record, the upcoming schedule gives them something to play for. For starters, UNLV has 35 Californians on the roster — Rodgers went to Aztecs football camps growing up — and playing against old friends and teammates is good motivation. Beyond that, the remaining four games are all winnable because they’re against the other four teams in the bottom half of the league.

UNLV has failed to execute in its home games and didn’t have the talent to compete on the road. This week, that talent disparity isn’t quite so severe, though that ultimately depends on whom the Rebels are actually able to put on the field.

“It is kind of discouraging because we had high hopes,” Rodgers said of the offensive line. “We feel like with what we’ve got, we’re still doing all right.”

There isn’t a bye week coming to help UNLV get healthy. This is it. Five more weeks and five more chances to finish the year upright.

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 needs to WIN the next 3 out of 5 games if not he has failed to get the job done. The responsibility is on him. If not then change the direction. Losing to NAU and Southern Utah is sad and unacceptable.

    No more excuses his players are juniors now! He needs to stop saying his freshman and young players--- and using lack of experience as an reason for losing.

    I have seen nice improvements on the Offensive of side. Althought his special teams and play calling has really been poor at times.

    The DB's are not good! But I think it's the base 4-3 defense with no pressure to biltz the QB and put pressure on the offense. Throughout the year I've mentioned to change things up on Defense and bring the heat! It seems like that not part of his coaching staff's culture.

    I see no excitement or energy on the Defensive side of the ball. I blame this on coaching.

    Bobby needs 1 road victory to keep his Job!

    If not time to move forward with new ideas!

    Opening with a Big Ten and PAC 12 Teams next year is a stupid move by the AD. Starting the year off 0-2 is really a poor move. I say fire the AD as well if Hawck fails to win 3 out of next 5 games.

    The AD hired Hauck and there are some other guys out there looking for work with new concepts and energy! Maybe they could or change some ideas on Defense!

  2. To: Bobby Hauck,
    You have run out of excuses and are now officialy the worst Coach in the History of UNLV!
    It's time to be "Leaving Las Vegas!"

  3. Sounds like the O-line injuries is gonna be used as an excuse if they get blown out. Let's see how rebels "D" performs, San Diego State is nothing that special on offense-should be no excuses over on defense at this stage in season with lot of seniors and juniors on that side of the ball. Even the freshman that are used are actually redshirts,tired of the inexperience excuse.

  4. 3 out of the last 5 is a must for bobby to keep his job. the schedule is easy enough. unlv is the only team in the mwc that is not bowl eligible thus far in the season. what does that say about our progress?