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September 12, 2010

Grading The Rebels: at Utah

UNLV 17 Utah 38

Rush Offense

D

Winning the time of possession battle handily is usually a strong indicator of a stellar running performance. But that wasn't the case today. The Rebels cracked the century mark as a team, but it came on 43 carries for a meager average of 2.4 yards per attempt. For the second week in a row, the Rebels are losing the battle in the trenches and runners are being met with initial contact at the line of scrimmage or behind. The Rebels two primary runners, CJ Cox and Channing Trotter, combined for only 40 yards on 19 carries.The duo has rushed for a combined 65 yards over two games now. The most effective runner was shifty redshirt freshman Bradley Randle, who had eight rushes for 29 yards.


Bradley Randle

Pass Offense

C

It appears that Coach Hauck has found somebody to lead the offense. While the offense only managed three points of their own, Omar Clayton showed the potential to move the ball down the field with poise. Clayton found seven different Rebel receivers, with Michael Johnson being his favorite on the day with seven receptions for 94 yards. As a team, the Rebels caught 18 passes for 217 yards. However, Phillip Payne needs to become a bigger factor. Payne caught four passes foronly 30 yards.

Some credit has to go to the offensive line (and running backs) for pass protection. For most of the day, Clayton was given time to settle in the pocket. And the backs were able to pick up most Ute blitzes effectively.


Phillip Payne

Rush Defense

C-

Giving up only 131 yards on the ground to a much more physical squad doesn't seem too bad. The Utes averaged 4.7 yards per carry, though. Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide combined for 116 yards on 23 carries. The Rebels never really slowed the Ute ground attack; however, the lack of offensive opportunities did. Utah's modest offensive numbers were mostly due to only 48 plays from scrimmage in only 23+ minutes of possession.


Isaako Aaitui

Pass Defense

D

The secondary allowed for several long plays, most notably a 55-yard toss to Shaky Smithson on the third play from scrimmage in the second half to give the Utes a 24-7 lead. However, the lack of pressure by the Rebel defensive front is as much to blame for the easy connections as the secondary.For the second game in a row, the Rebels failed to register a sack.

On the surface it doesn't look too bad as the Rebels only gave up 207 yards through the air. However, that yardage came on only 13 completions - two of which were for scores. That paints an ugly picture for the Rebel secondary and pass rushers.


Will Chandler

Special Teams

D-

Special teams was one feast and a buffet of famine for UNLV. In addition to a spirit shattering fumble (Sidney Hodge) at a seemingly insignificant point of the game, the Rebels looked to have Shaky Smithson pinned on a punt return, but he shook the Rebels and raced 77 yards for the score to put the Utes up 31-10. UNLV coverage allowed a 30 yard punt return after a short 38 yard punt to set up the Utes first score. UNLV also botched a kickoff (Deante' Purvis) in the first quarter that resulted in a drive starting at the Rebel 10 yard line. And the long snapping part of the game left a lot to be desired. Punter Brendon Lamers avoided disaster by scooping up two short snaps - but he had no chance on another errant snap that sailed well above his head, resulting in prime field position for the Utes.

On the flip side, Nate Carter blocked Sean Sellwood's punt attempt in the third quarter. The loose ball was picked up by Tim Hasson for the touchdown to bring the Rebels within two scores at 24-10.


Nate Carter

Coaching

C

The Rebels came into the game as three touchdown plus underdogs for a reason. Not only is Rice-Eccles a tough venue for anybody, but the Utes have a big, physical, talented team. But Coach Hauck and staff came up with a game plan that allowed the Rebels to stay close and maybe steal one they had no business stealing. In the first half, the offensive attack was balanced and the Rebels were sharp in third down conversions. The decision to start - and stay with - Omar Clayton appeared to be the right choice.

However, untimely turnovers and key isolated mistakes left the Rebels scrambling to get back into the game, something they failed to do.


Coach Bobby Hauck

Pivotal point of the game

UNLV was poised to head into the halftime break trailing only 10-3. The confidence that took 39 plus minutes to build shattered when Sidney Hodge coughed up the ball on a punt return with only 37 seconds remaining in the first half. The Utes recovered the UNLV mistake on the Rebel 20 yard line. On the very next play, the Utes picked up the Rebel blitz and quarterback Terrence Cain connected with Jereme Brooks over the middle with a soft touch for the score to put the home team ahead 17-3. Up until that point, UNLV had every reason to think they could beat the Utes, having dominated time of possession and out-gaining the Utes in total offense.


Rebel-Net.com Player of the Game

Although his effectiveness declined as the game marched on, Omar Clayton gave the Rebels a chance to stay in the game with the way he orchestrated the offense in the first half. The offense only put up three points, but the ball control kept the Utes offense - and more importantly, the Rebel defense - off the field and kept the game closer than most anticipated. He connected with pass completions on four third downs to keep the Rebel scoring drive alive. That may not seem like much, but considering the way the Rebels failed to move the ball against the Wisconsin Badgers, it's something to build upon. For the game, Clayton finished with 217 yards through the air on 18-37 passing.


Omar Clayton



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