Editor’s note: During our 10 days of UNLV football, we’ll run a UNLV list a day leading up to the Heart of Dallas Bowl on New Year’s Day.
The Rebels’ 2013 season was largely a tale of redemption, both for individual players and the team as a whole.
After a wildly unsuccessful last couple of decades, the Rebels went onto the field in 2013 with something to prove — and sent the school to a bowl game for the first time since 2000. Here are six of the best quotes from the season.
1. “When you think back to all the players who have been here and didn’t win … you want to do it for them as much as for anybody else.”
Offensive tackle Brett Boyko had that to say in the leadup to the Battle for Nevada.
The game was an important one — easily the most important on UNLV’s schedule up to that point. Players and coaches agreed a win was imperative, mostly for the sake of the current season, but also because UNLV hadn’t won since 2004 and it was about time the Fremont Cannon came home.
2. “Anytime you get a chance to redeem yourself, it’s definitely something you want to take advantage of.”
Two years after more or less handing a win to UNR — not to mention eventually losing his starting job — quarterback Caleb Herring had a chance to redeem himself in Reno.
Boy, did he ever. Herring seemed to be tossing touchdown passes left and right, leading to a 27-22 UNLV victory,
He said after the game that the game was a chance at redemption, and bringing home the Fremont Cannon was enough for him.
3. “I’m loyal to UNLV and our fans. I know they would love to see me back. I don’t really think about the NFL much.”
Devante Davis uttered these words after an impressive performance versus UNR in October.
One of the Mountain West’s top receivers, Davis has been a consistent good performer all season, leading to talk about a potential NFL bid in the near future.
He quelled the fears of UNLV fans who were just starting to feel optimistic about the program, though, saying he plans to return to the school next year.
4. “I just told our guys that hell may have just frozen over. The Rebels are bowl eligible.”
Bobby Hauck said that after UNLV soundly beat Air Force in miserable weather in November to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2000.
If you had asked UNLV fans before the start of the season which was more likely to happen, most of them wouldn’t have answered “bowl eligibility.”
They had only had won more than 20 percent of their games a handful of times in the past decade and a half.
They had won two games a season every year under Bobby Hauck.
Shocking the nation, the Rebels pulled it out, though, and in incredible fashion, beating Air Force 41-21.
5. “I don’t have one player that’s ever been in a bowl game. I don’t have one player that’s ever been part of a winning season.”
Third-year coach Dan McCarney said this in reaction to being invited to the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
He said he’s dreamed of going to a bowl since he first took the job and that no one on the team is taking the opportunity for granted.
“We all appreciate everything we have,” he said.
6. “When we first got here in 2010, I thought we were one of the worst teams in college football. The same in our second year.”
No one knows more than Bobby Hauck what was on the line this season, or how much potential Rebel football had to become this season’s Cinderella story.
When UNLV was invited to play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on New Year’s Day, no one was more proud of the players than Hauck, who pointed out that the same players who had endured loss after loss their freshman and sophmore years had learned from it and believed in themselves throughout this season.