RAMS FRESHMAN LATEST BACKUP QB TO FACE UNLV
UNLV coach Bobby Hauck can't remember a football season when he has faced as many backup quarterbacks.
The Rebels have gone against five reserves, finally breaking through with a victory against one of them in Saturday's 35-7 victory over New Mexico.
And now they face another one in Colorado State redshirt freshman Conner Smith. UNLV (2-8, 2-3 Mountain West Conference) visits the Rams (2-7, 1-4) at 4 p.m. PST Saturday.
"I was thinking about it (Monday) morning and was going, 'Gosh, we've seen a lot of quarterbacks,' " Hauck said. "Sometimes that makes it a little more difficult because they're different. You've got to almost prepare two game plans, but that hasn't been the case this week."
Colorado State hasn't been able to settle on a regular starter because of injuries at that position, having gone through three quarterbacks.
Coach Jim McElwain is in his first season trying to rebuild the Rams' program, and such uncertainty at that position doesn't help his efforts.
"It's something you don't ever anticipate, yet at the same time, it's something you can't focus on or lose sleep over," McElwain said. "The key is putting together a plan that helps the guy that's behind center, and in our case Conner Smith has done some really good things.
"It's something that you just need to keep growing with, and one thing is he does have arm talent."
TALK OF THE LEAGUE
Boise State's 21-19 loss to San Diego State couldn't have sat well in the Mountain West's offices, knowing the Broncos were the conference's golden ticket to Bowl Championship Series money.
The feeling is decidedly different for MAACO Bowl Las Vegas officials.
"It was good for us they lost," first-year Las Vegas bowl executive director Dan Hanneke said. "It opens up a lot for us and makes the game that much more attractive."
Hanneke noted, however, that didn't mean Boise State was an automatic choice for the Dec. 22 game.
Fresno State, UNR and San Diego State also will get looks, and Hanneke said name recognition and the reputation of fans traveling in large numbers weren't the only factors.
That all might be correct, but it doesn't lessen the truth the bowl is in a better position today than it was last week.
"I don't know if it makes it easier, but it certainly opens up a lot more options," Hanneke said.
AROUND THE MWC
San Diego State's victory wasn't big only for the Aztecs but for coach Rocky Long. He tied Texas Christian's Gary Patterson for most career victories as a conference coach, with 77. Patterson and TCU now are racking up victories in the Big 12 Conference, and Long and the Aztecs enter the Big East next year. ... The Mountain West and Big Ten are the only conferences with multiple teams in the top 10 in rushing. From the Mountain West, Air Force is third with 337 yards per game, New Mexico is fifth with a 303.1 average, and UNR is eighth at 260.6. ... Hawaii, which has the league's most difficult travel schedule, plays three of its final four games at home.
UNLV INJURY REPORT
POS., PLAYER AREA STATUS
DL Alvin Amilcar Undisclosed Out
OL Patrick Carroll Back Out
DL David Green Undisclosed Out
OL Jason Koontz Back Out
OL Alex Novosel Back Out
DB John Therrell Arm Out
DB Peni Vea Arm Out
DB Sidney Hodge Leg Doubtful
OL Brett Boyko Leg Questionable
DB Kenny Brown Leg Questionable
DB Dre Crawford Leg Questionable
DB David Greene Arm Probable
RB Bradley Randle Leg Probable
OL Yusef Rodgers Leg Probable
OL Ron Scoggins Leg Probable
OL Robert Waterman Arm Probable
DB Fred Wilson Arm Probable
OL Doug Zismann Leg Probable
MARK ANDERSON/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL