Rebels won't let weather dictate game plan at Air Force


The last time UNLV ventured to Colorado, the Rebels were greeted with a kickoff temperature of 28 degrees and snow during the game.

They committed four first-half turnovers, three of which led directly to Colorado State touchdowns in the Rams’ 33-11 victory nearly a year ago to the day.

Now the Rebels prepare for another November trip to that state, and once again they could be forced to play football in frigid and snowy conditions in the 6:30 p.m. Thursday game at Air Force, which is located just north of Colorado Springs.

As of Monday, weather.com forecast a high of 32 degrees that day and a low of 12, with a 60-percent of chance of snow during the day and 40 percent at night.

The difficult conditions probably are a reason Air Force (2-8, 0-6 Mountain West) is favored by a point over UNLV (5-5, 3-3). It would be tricky enough for the Rebels to defend the Falcons’ deceptive triple option offense in clear conditions and moderate temperatures.

“I lived in Colorado for four years, and if you don’t like weather, just wait five minutes,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said. “So we’re not going to worry about it too much. We’ll dress for it, and I think this football team’s mentally tough enough to go and play hard regardless of what the climate is.”

Hauck and his coaching staff have committed themselves to running a balanced offense, and the Rebels have called 371 running plays and 412 through the air. Because UNLV quarterbacks have been sacked 18 times, the official breakdown is 389 rushes and 394 passes.

If Air Force coaches believe the appearance of snow will cause UNLV to turn more conservative than a tea party member in a red state, they might want to pull out video of the Rebels’ game at Colorado State last season.

The Rebels committed to both parts of the game that night in the wintry conditions, calling 36 passing plays and 27 runs, though part of that strategy had to do with falling behind early.

“The way that we are a balanced offense is kind of a way to counteract a weather situation like that,” quarterback Caleb Herring said. “If the weather does become a problem, we’re more than capable of running the ball or throwing if we have to, anything we need to do.”

Hauck maintained after the loss at Colorado State that weather had little to do with UNLV’s struggles. He mostly stuck to that position in Monday’s news conference, but wouldn’t completely dismiss the inclement conditions as a factor.

“I thought the pregame warmup our guys were enthused to be there, and when we kicked it off, I thought our guys were fired up to play,” Hauck said. “I don’t know if the weather had an impact on us, but we turned the ball over for touchdowns three times in the first half, and that’s what cost us the game. We didn’t handle pitching or catching the ball or holding on to it, and maybe that had something to do with the weather.”

Hauck’s general approach is to not worry about what can’t be controlled, an attitude he has tried to instill in his players.

“I think the way you have to go into a game is if weather’s not a problem,” Herring said. “If you let that become a distraction, you’re letting it beat you before the game even starts.”

■ NOTES — UNLV’s Nov. 30 regular-season finale against San Diego State at Sam Boyd Stadium will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ESPNU will televise the game. ... Rebels safety Frank Crawford, who suffered an undisclosed injury in the 28-24 loss to Utah State on Nov. 9, will not play against Air Force. He leads the team with four interceptions.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.

 

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