Hauck has history with Cougars coach
Bobby Hauck at first said the details of a game played long ago are fuzzy, that he has difficulty enough remembering what he ate the previous night.
But then mention the blocked kick in 2004 or the key catch in 2007 when he was Montana's football coach, and the names and plays made against Eastern Washington flow out of his mouth as if those games had just taken place.
Hauck owned a 4-1 record against then-Eastern Washington coach Paul Wulff, and they will be on opposite sidelines again this weekend. This time, Wulff appears to have the upper hand because his Washington State team is a 14-point favorite over UNLV in Saturday's 2 p.m. game in Pullman, Wash.
But Hauck's Montana teams probably had little business winning two of those matchups against Eastern Washington, including the final one in 2007.
A diving 27-yard catch on fourth-and-10 with 1:52 left kept alive Montana's final drive. That set up a 34-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining that gave the Grizzlies a 24-23 victory, even though they were outgained an astounding 565 yards to 289.
Montana pulled out a similar victory in 2004, winning 31-28 despite being outgained 446-387. The Grizzlies blocked a 28-yard field goal with 18 seconds left that would have tied the game.
The ability of those Montana teams to make plays in the clutch is something UNLV still needs to learn.
"One of the things that was really eye-opening last year is our guys need to watch more football," said Hauck, who is in his second season coaching the Rebels. "They need to understand the game more.
"Those good teams we had there really understood the game. They had a great feel for it."
Whether Hauck owns a coaching edge Saturday is another question. Each coach knows the other's style and tendencies, so it all could be a wash.
"All of us change and evolve a little bit as we move forward," Wulff said. "But I know they're well-coached. They're seldom going to beat themselves. Whenever you face an opponent like that, you've got to earn your win. They're not going to give you anything."
This is the first game of a home-and-home series. Washington State plays UNLV in Las Vegas on Sept. 15, 2012. The Rebels have future Pac-12 Conference series scheduled with Arizona in 2013 and 2014, and UCLA in 2015 and 2016. ... UNLV was one of seven teams to not start a senior offensive lineman in the season's first week and the only school from a conference that isn't a Bowl Championship Series automatic qualifier. The Rebels also don't have any senior offensive linemen on their roster. ... Rebels linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Robin Ross was an offensive lineman at Washington State in 1974 and 1975. ... The Cougars are two victories from the program's 500th win. They are 498-505-45. ... Washington State is 15-3 against current Mountain West Conference members.
UNLV's defensive backs vs. Washington State's wide receivers
The Cougars run the spread offense and, even with a backup quarterback, will try to take advantage of UNLV's shaky pass defense. That puts the onus on the Rebels' secondary to shut down, or at least limit, a receiving corps led by Jared Karstetter and Marquess Wilson.