Backups get reps
ELY — Saturday’s scrimmage provided insight into what the fourth quarter of a 40-0 football game might look like.
It was filled with UNLV’s backups trying to make plays and not always effectively doing so.
“I didn’t think the hitting was good enough,” coach Bobby Hauck said. “Some of our young guys got a chance to find exactly how far away they are from being ready to go.”
Hauck backed off working the front-line players hard, going with about an hourlong scrimmage while many starters stood on the sidelines. He also planned a somewhat light practice in the afternoon.
“Obviously we’re fatigued, and I didn’t want anybody playing more than four or five plays in a row,” Hauck said. “We want to prevent injury, get some live plays for those who haven’t had a bunch of them.”
The days of taking it easy, however, will soon come to an end. Hauck said he wants to finish camp “with a bang.”
UNLV has double practice sessions remaining Monday and Wednesday. The Rebels return to Las Vegas on Thursday after an early-morning scrimmage.
When Green Valley High School’s Conor Perkins decided before signing day to go on a two-year Mormon mission, Hauck was forced to look elsewhere for his kicker for at least the next two seasons. He found one in junior college transfer Jonathan Leiva, who will handle field goals and extra points and could be in charge of kickoffs. “This week, he’s hit (the ball) pretty well,” Hauck said. “I thought when he first got here, he was a little bit nervous and wasn’t as smooth as he is right now, but he’s kind of settled in. On the field goals that we would anticipate would be pretty automatic, he’s pretty automatic. That’s what you need. The 50-plus-yarders are kind of sexy, but what you need is guys to make the makeable ones.” Hauck said Leiva’s leg strength won’t be tested until the team returns to Las Vegas because Ely’s altitude of more than 6,400 feet would provide a false reading. … Defense dominated Saturday’s scrimmage, keeping the offense out of the end zone. Junior safety Blake Richmond intercepted two passes, returning one 98 yards for a touchdown; junior end Najee Johnson made two tackles for loss, including a sack, and broke up a pass; junior tackle Tuli Fakauho had two tackles for loss, including a sack; and senior end Josh Shirley recorded 1½ tackles for loss, including a sack. … Only redshirt freshman Jared Lebowitz and freshman Kevin Thomson, both reserves, took snaps at quarterback. Lebowitz completed 6 of 10 passes for 54 yards, and Thompson was 3 of 12 for 34 yards, with two interceptions. Senior Eugene Johnson led the running backs with 20 yards on three carries, and redshirt freshman Jay Mitchell led the receivers with three catches for 34 yards. … Junior reserve defensive back Brandon Baker was suspended for the season opener Aug. 29 at Arizona for breaking team rules.
Special teams: UNLV had to scramble to find a kicker, and the Rebels hope Jonathan Leiva is the answer.
Jonathan Leiva, Jr., 5-11, 175
Nicolai Bornand, So., 6-1, 225
Jonathan Leiva, Jr., 5-11, 175
Logan Yunker, Jr., 6-2, 200
Kickoff and punt returns
Keith Whitely, So., 5-9, 185
Marcus Sullivan, Sr., 5-9, 195
Player, Pos., Status
David Greene, RB, Out
Phillip Haynes, OL, Out
Jack Killian, WR, Out
Jamal Overton, RB, Out
Ron Scoggins, G, Out
Marcus Sullivan, WR, Out
MARK ANDERSON/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL