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.
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 for only 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
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.
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.
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.
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