Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 | 12:40 a.m.
- Rebels stuck in different version of same bad movie in 35-27 loss to Washington St.
- UNLV must contain Washington State’s passing attack in chase for first victory
- Washington State’s Mike Leach returns to the national stage against UNLV
- Rebels searching for balance between self-belief and burden of letting others down
- ‘We’re hard to love’: Bobby Hauck and Rebels dealing with reality of starting 0-2
- Offensive line working on keeping its promise to keep Nick Sherry off his back
- UNLV punter Chase Lansford among nation’s leaders after solid debut
- Confident UNLV defense, led by Tim Hasson, making positive strides
- All UNLV Football Coverage
Backup quarterbacks have played a large role in UNLV's last two games, and that’s mostly a bad thing.
Northern Arizona sophomore Chase Cartwright was making the first start of his career in last week’s 17-14 Lumberjacks victory. Similarly, Washington State sophomore Connor Halliday was the starter for just the second time in his career when he stepped in for an injured Jeff Tuel in Friday’s 35-27 victory against UNLV.
At least this time UNLV (0-3) got into the backup action, too.
Former Rebels starter Caleb Herring has been working at wide receiver since fall camp in Ely. UNLV coach Bobby Hauck decided this was the right time to unveil his new weapon, and Herring delivered with five catches for 68 yards.
“It was something we had been talking about for awhile,” Herring said. “This week just seemed like the week to go ahead and move forward with it.”
Despite looking like a natural in practice, Herring said he had never before played receiver in a game. Three of his five catches went for first downs and Herring was the intended target on quarterback Nick Sherry's last-second desperation heave.
“He knows what I’m thinking, so he’s in the right spot at the right time,” Sherry said.
It’s not the easiest thing to work closely with the guy who took your job, but the key is to focus on team results rather than what your individual goals were. And that’s not entirely unique on this team.
There have been several position changes in the past year, but the best example would be Taylor Barnhill. The sophomore moved from quarterback to linebacker in the offseason, and then in fall camp, because of injuries at tight end, he flipped back to offense and has worked hard to be a consistent player both in blocking and receiving. On Friday he caught two passes for eight yards.
Unlike Barnhill, Herring, who’s also the holder on field goals and extra points, isn’t abandoning the quarterback position. If Sherry would go down with an injury, Herring is still the first guy Hauck would turn to.
“He’s smart enough to stay tuned in to the quarterback stuff and he knows the receiver stuff,” Hauck said. “That gave us a little juice (Friday).”
Added Herring, “Looks like it worked so far. Just going to keep working and do what I can to make the team better.”
The heartbreak of three close losses has been difficult to deal with, but Herring remembers last year’s blowouts, including a 59-7 beating at Washington State. There’s a lot different about both teams since that game, and the Rebels believe their change is positive. Being a couple of plays away is better than a dozen, and Herring said he doesn’t see quit in anybody’s eyes. That includes his own, which are now fixated on doing whatever it takes to help the team win, no matter where he is on the field.
“I’ve been here awhile and it’s good to be able to contribute in any way I can,” Herring said.