Fans who spent the previous five seasons hearing former UNLV football coach Mike Sanford blame "execution" for the Rebels' failings might have been stunned by what transpired Monday.
Or, rather, what didn't transpire.
First-year coach Bobby Hauck didn't blame the players for two major shortcomings in Saturday's 38-10 loss at Utah -- goal-line offense and specials teams.
He instead took responsibility.
"I've got to do a better job of getting the goal-line offense plan together, and I've got to coach the special teams," Hauck said at his weekly news conference. "I didn't coach the special teams well enough to give our players a chance to beat Utah."
The Rebels (0-2) had several special-teams breakdowns against the Utes that included giving up a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown and a snap over Brendon Lamers' head that resulted in a minus-20-yard punt.
UNLV also failed to score on fourth-quarter drives to Utah's 2- and 1-yard lines.
"Hopefully, we'll get better this week," Hauck said.
UNLV plays at Idaho (1-1) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Vandals, who last year ended nine consecutive losing seasons by going 8-5 and winning the Humanitarian Bowl, are favored by a touchdown.
It's the Rebels' first trip to Idaho since 1977, but both coaching staffs have some history.
Vandals offensive coordinator Steve Axman was the head coach at Northern Arizona when he gave Hauck his first full-time coaching job in 1993. Hauck later had the chance to do the same, hiring Axman at Montana in 2006.
"Steve Axman ... has forgotten more offense than a lot of coaches know," Hauck said.
Idaho head coach Robb Akey was linked to the UNLV job vacancy late last season but denies having extra motivation to beat the Rebels.
"My focus is on taking care of this football team," Akey said. "It's flattering if your name comes up with jobs that have come open. It's a good thing, because evidently something good has taken place. So I guess maybe that swing that we made last season brought that to the forefront. That was all speculation in the media, and it didn't go any further than that."
■ NOTES -- UNLV's Omar Clayton will start at quarterback for the second game in a row. ... Mike Grant and Travis Dixon are competing at free safety. Grant started the first two games. ... Ramsey Feagai, who started the season opener at defensive tackle, is off the depth chart at that position and on special teams.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914.