Rebels football:

Caleb Herring’s debut at receiver a bright spot in UNLV’s third-straight loss

Herring, the backup quarterback and former starter, caught five passes for 68 yards after practicing at WR since fall camp

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV quarterback and occasional wide receiver Caleb Herring gains yardage against Washington State during their game Friday, Sept. 14, 2012 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Washington State won the game 35-27, dropping UNLV to 0-3 on the season.

UNLV vs. Washington State

A UNLV fan hangs his head late in the fourth quarter of their game against Washington State Friday, Sept. 14, 2012 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Washington State won the game 35-27, dropping UNLV to 0-3 on the season. Launch slideshow »

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.

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

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  1. I was impressed by Herring's debut at receiver. He made some nice catches with positive outcomes. If he can sustain his ability to catch the ball, he will be a needed addition to the offense.

  2. Caleb looked great. We need the bigger receiver. Anyone remember Drew Bennett? Qb at ucla but receiver for the Titans???

  3. From q. b. to receiver tough

    He looked very good in his new role

  4. I attended the game Friday Night. I did like some things from the Rebels. So here are my positives, The young QB is showing improvement and I like his toughest to shake off the hit and to stay in the game. The fact the team did not give up was good to see. My negatives on the game is the play of the DB's. WSU dropped some passes which would have produced additional TD'S. The DB's are pretty weak. Regarding my position for the President to step up and address the AD and Hauck I still feel strongly about. With 10 games to go the performance of the number of Wins should be a clear indicator and evaluation that if Hauck continues to lose games he is not the best coach for this team. Losing to NAU and Southern Utah and New Mexico makes be very ill just like it does Hauck. He needs to be accountable. Winning 4 games in 3 years at this point is not good performance and the Fan base is at an all time low. So how do you fix it? You bring excitement to the game of football you score lots of points and bottom line you must WIN Some Games! Fans want to see the urgency like Oregon UCA, ASU have implemented. The snap the ball at 25 seconds on the play clock they do not allow the Defense to make sub's or changes. This is the new college football which is what future players and fans want.

    Part of a performance PLAN the President needs to address is you must WIN 4 out of the next 10 games or UNLV will be searching for a replacement.

    Airforce will be a challenge for UNLV. The toughness of the defense will be tested and I think it would be a huge upset for the Rebels to WIN. Rebels need to win the special teams and turn-over battle. If the Defense can create some stops and create turn-overs and the Offensive can score 35pts then we may have a chance. The line is AF by 12.

    Most likey Hauck will be 0-4 come Sunday AM.