#95 UNLV Football 2012 Preview

UNLV Rebels
Overall Rank #95
#8 Mountain West  

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The Rebels have been the basement dwellers of the Mountain West for a long time. They have not qualified for a bowl game since 2000 and have only won a combined four games in the last two seasons under newly hired coach Bobby Hauck. Entering his third year this is a critical season for Hauck and the Rebels and progress must be made.

2011 Record: (2-10, 1-6)
2011 Bowl: None
Coach: Bobby Hauck
Offensive Coordinator: Bent Myers
Defensive Coordinator:  J.D. Williams

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tim Cornett, RB, 691 yards
Passing: Caleb Herring, QB, 1,004 yards
Receiving: Austin Harrington, TE, 164 yards
Tackles: John Lotulelei, LB, 60
Sacks: Princeton Jackson, LB, 2
Interceptions: Tani Maka, LB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Dionza Bradford, RB Bradley Randle, K Nolan Kohorst

Key Losses: WR Phillip Payne, WR Michael Johnson

The Rebels struggled at virtually every facet of the game a season ago but did show some signs of life. Their kick returns were outstanding, ranking fourth in the conference, which help set up their stagnant offense with good field position. UNLV also played well against the run compared to their conference counterparts, ranking fourth. Their offense ran the ball effectively, ranking 48th in the nation.  The Rebels greatest strength, however, is making tackles for a loss, forcing turnovers, and protecting the football. They ended up with a positive turnover margin and the 38th best mark in the nation. Although this did not translate into wins last season, if that trend continues it will certainly pay dividends and should help them win a few more games. This is a very positive stat for the Rebels and something they need to continue to improve in order to climb up the ranks in the Mountain West Conference. 

The Rebels only managed to win two games all last season, so weaknesses are abundant. The root of their problems lie within their passing offense. Their passing attack, or lack thereof, was ranked 118th and dead last in the conference. Football, at all levels of the game, has become more and more pass happy and if you cannot throw the ball effectively it is difficult to win games and score points, as evidenced by UNLV’s measly 17.25 points per game average. The inability for the Rebels to throw the ball hurt their total offense as well, as they could not move the chains or escape from unfavorable down and distances. To make matters worse they also could not protect their trigger man, allowing 2.92 sacks per game, ranking 106th in the nation. The protection and passing attack of the Rebels needs to be improved in order for them to be more successful. This will prove difficult for the Rebels as they lost their top two receivers from a season ago.

The Bottom Line:
UNLV looks to have another rough season in store for them. They struggled mightily last year and the outlook does not look positive this year. They have a lot of young pieces so there should be signs of improvement but the Rebels will struggle to come out on top. Hauck is entering a critical season as coaches can start to be fairly assessed in their third year. UNLV should be improved and win more than just two games this season if their young players, such as quarterback Caleb Herring and running back Tim Cornett, progress as expected. This season will be measured not by wins and losses but by improvement for the Rebels as they are still clearly in a rebuilding phase.

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 164.25 (48 in the nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 109.58 (118, 8)
Total Offense: 273.83 (117, 8)
Scoring Offense: 17.25 (114, 7)
Rushing Defense: 194.17 (99, 4)
Pass Defense: 249.00 (90, 8)
Total Defense: 443.17 (105,7)
Scoring Defense: 40.42 (118, 7)
Turnover Margin: .25 (38, 4)
Sacks: 1.17 (108, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.92 (92, 4)