ELY — UNLV's offense once again dominated the defense, leaving coach Mike Sanford wondering whether to be happy or upset.
The offense scored on the defense four of five times in a goal-line scrimmage on Sunday, and then this morning scored all four times in a red-zone scrimmage.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Mike Clausen completed an 18-yard scoring pass to incoming freshman wide receiver Michael Johnson, who made the catch between two defenders. Senior tailback Frank Summers ran 12 yards for a touchdown. Clausen connected with incoming freshman wide receiver Phillip Payne, a Western High School graduate, for a 6-yard TD over redshirt freshman cornerback Will Chandler. Finally, sophomore quarterback Omar Clayton tossed a 4-yard scoring pass to senior tight end Ryan Worthen, who attended Palo Verde High.
"The good news is that we need to improve in our red-zone offense and score in the red zone," Sanford said. "I talked to our team about that, and so that's a positive. There's a bad-news scenario in that our defense needs to hold them to field goals and get turnovers down there. So that's something our defense needs to improve on."
The Rebels were last in the Mountain West Conference in red-zone offense last season, scoring on 70.3 percent of their chances inside the 20-yard line. UNLV's defense allowed opponents to score 83.3 percent of the time in the red zone, second worst in the conference only to San Diego State's 93.8 percent.
SAFETY IN NUMBERS
Junior Terrance Lee ran the second team, but Sanford said the two safety spots are still being sorted out. Six players are competing for a four-man rotation, and Sanford said it should be set "by Saturday or after Saturday."
BACK ON THE FIELD
Incoming freshman tailback C.J. Cox (shoulder) and sophomore defensive end Preston Brooks (ribs) returned to practice. Cox was injured Sunday, and Brooks was held out of contact.
Offensive left tackle Matt Murphy and defensive tackle Malo Taumua, both sophomores, wore the black jerseys, meaning they were the standout practice players Sunday.