UNLV unveiled the pistol offense in spring football practices, but coach Bobby Hauck downplayed how much the Rebels might use it this season.
Then when the Rebels didn’t install the pistol much in training camp, the offense seemingly became a nonissue.
But they began the season at Wisconsin in the pistol and found some success. UNLV adopted that offense, and it paid off in the Rebels’ 40-20 win over Hawaii on Saturday.
The Rebels (1-2), who play Southern Utah (2-1) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium, amassed 365 yards and 22 first downs, their highest totals since finishing with 376 yards and 23 first downs in a 42-16 victory over Wyoming on Nov. 13 of last season.
"It’s not like people haven’t seen (the pistol) or it’s some wildly foreign concept," Hauck said. "It is a little different for us. We didn’t make a big deal out of it. It’s been good."
Hauck wishes he could find some other name for the pistol because UNR coach Chris Ault created that offense.
But Hauck has few complaints about the offense itself — in which the quarterback positions himself in a modified shotgun between the center and running back — because it helps run a balanced attack. UNLV rushed for 186 yards and passed for 179 against Hawaii.
The pistol fits UNLV’s personnel because the Rebels have two quality running backs in Tim Cornett and Bradley Randle.
"It’s a little more downhill," Hauck said. "Our backs like it."
Quarterback Caleb Herring has shown to be a good decision-maker while running the offense.
"It’s been working for us," Herring said. "It gives us some definite advantages in situations that we like."
Southern Utah has visited UNLV twice but never played the Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium. Their latest meeting, in 1970, occurred at Butcher Memorial Stadium, UNLV’s home before moving to Sam Boyd the following year. The teams also met in 1968 at the old Cashman Field, when UNLV was known as Nevada Southern. … The 6 yards rushing UNLV allowed Hawaii was its best effort against the run since becoming a Division I program in 1978. It also was the third-lowest total in school history, with the record low for an opponent being minus-9 by Azusa Pacific in 1968. UNLV was one of five Mountain West Conference schools to hold opponents to 98 yards rushing or fewer last week. … Cornett’s 80-yard touchdown run against the Warriors was the Rebels’ longest since Darin Brightmon’s 89-yard dash against New Mexico State in 1989.
UNLV’s offensive line vs. Southern Utah’s defensive line
The Rebels’ young line has played well in two of three games, helping to establish a burgeoning running game. Southern Utah has allowed an average of 4.6 yards per carry and 164 yards rushing per game, so the opportunity is there for UNLV to take control of the line of scrimmage.