UNLV did the job against New Mexico’s Kasey Carrier last football season, holding him to 52 yards rushing.
Now the Rebels face him again at 5 p.m. PDT Saturday in Albuquerque, N.M.
Does their prior success matter when preparing to face Carrier again?
Coach Bobby Hauck said the carryover in facing Carrier might be minimal, but added “familiarity” with the opponent in general is helpful.
“We were just talking about him upstairs,” Hauck said Monday at his weekly news conference. “He’s good with the ball, and he’s a good player. He’s got good vision, and he has playmaking ability.”
This is a big game against New Mexico (1-2) for the Rebels (2-2) as they try to build on their momentum entering the Mountain West opener for both teams. UNLV comes off consecutive victories for the first time in Hauck’s four seasons, and now the Rebels are trying to gain their first road victory under him and end their skid of 23 overall.
To do so, the Rebels can’t allow Carrier the kind of production he usually gets. He rushed for 1,469 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, when he finished second in the conference by averaging 122.4 yards per game.
As a senior this season, Carrier leads the Mountain West with 367 yards rushing and has four touchdowns. He is the only conference running back averaging more than 100 yards a game, with his 122.3 average topping the 88.2 by Wyoming’s Shaun Wick.
UNLV, though, can’t just be concerned about Carrier.
Even in last season’s 35-7 victory over the Lobos, New Mexico still managed 307 yards rushing out of its triple-option offense. The Lobos average 267 yards this season, second in the Mountain West to Air Force’s 276.2. Both teams run the same offense.
The Rebels have faced mostly run-oriented teams this year, with opponents doing most of their damage early in the season. Minnesota rushed for 221 yards and Arizona 397 — both UNLV defeats.
Since then, UNLV allowed 113 yards rushing to Central Michigan and 197 to Western Illinois in a pair of wins.
The Rebels probably won’t come close to holding New Mexico to those kinds of totals. But they would take a similar effort to last season, when Carrier wasn’t much of a factor.
“We will study the film,” defensive tackle Tyler Gaston said. “I’m sure we’ll find something we can tip off of, but we’ll play him as if he’s the best (running back) in the nation.”
■ NOTES — ROOT Sports will televise the game at New Mexico, but that network isn’t available on Cox Cable. It might be picked up by another channel, however. DirecTV (683) and DISH (414) subscribers can watch the game, and DISH also provides a high-definition channel (5414). The game also is available for free online at unlvrebels.com. ... Punter Logan Yunker, a sophomore from Arbor View High School, was named the Mountain West special teams player of the week. He averaged 44.7 yards per punt against Western Illinois, dropping two inside the 20-yard line. Yunker is the first UNLV punter to win the award since Gary Cook in 2003.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.