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Losing streak, so foreign to Hauck, better end tonight

The National Hockey League canceled its regular season and playoffs. Lance Armstrong won his seventh Tour de France. Hurricane Katrina hit.

It’s not forever ago. It’s not even a decade ago.

It just might seem that way to Bobby Hauck.

When you are a college football coach who hadn’t lost three games in a season since 2005 and are 0-3 to begin your first attempt at running a Football Bowl Subdivision program, any level of success on a scoreboard can’t arrive soon enough.

It should for the Rebels and Hauck tonight.

If not, well, did we mention the women’s tennis team has begun its fall season?

All you need to know about the New Mexico side that visits Sam Boyd Stadium:

UNLV ranks 104th nationally in passing, 108th in rushing, 117th in scoring, 107th in scoring defense … and is a 10½-point favorite to beat the Lobos.

New Mexico in three losses has been outscored 180-31, making things in Albuquerque more dire than when Garduno’s filed for bankruptcy.

It’s not to say, though, the Rebels should believe winning any game this side of an intrasquad scrimmage will come easy — the progress UNLV appeared to have made against Wisconsin and Utah was forfeited in 30 opening minutes of dreadful play at Idaho.

“Our expectation is to win every game, and we go out there with what we think is a good plan,” Hauck said. “We just need to settle down when things go wrong and make the next play instead of worrying about the last one. That’s something we need to work at around here.”

Hauck might have lost a chunk of the anchor in the first three games, but he hasn’t lost the entire ship in this, a year destined for implementing his system while somehow trying to discover a win here and there, or at least a week when special teams don’t appear clueless.

It’s a precarious thing to master, how much a new coach should shift between playing to win now and planning to win later. The Rebels aren’t to the point where Hauck should favor a complete youth system at key positions (see quarterback), but you have to figure it’s a debate that could hit center stage by the time UNLV ships out of Morgantown, W.Va., on the evening of Oct. 9.

Omar Clayton will start at quarterback for UNLV tonight, and the senior is the best choice in Week 4 against a beatable opponent. But a looming schedule in the coming weeks of Colin Kaepernick University and West Virginia also suggests redshirt freshman Caleb Herring should keep his helmet on and strapped.

Whether internal whispers are true or not — that Hauck and his staff aren’t overly giddy about any quarterback on the roster and will doggedly recruit one who can start next season — doesn’t override the thought Herring at some point should be given extended time, if not all of it.

You have to find out what is there before moving on.

“Whether you’re winning or not, you better just focus in on a given week,” Hauck said. “If you start getting caught up in looking ahead or back, that’s a recipe for not playing well. I don’t think now is the time to start thinking (major position changes).

“But when you come to those forks in the road, you make decisions and move forward. We as coaches are not always right, but we’re never indecisive. You can’t be afraid to make decisions. If you make the wrong ones, you go back and correct and make more. Those (decisions) could come down the road a little bit but certainly not this week.”

Hauck said he learns more with each passing game, hoping to become a tad more introspective while remembering the coaching doctrine that says things aren’t always as bad as they seem following a loss or as good following a win or as bizarre following a botched fake punt call.

“I’ve lost a lot this month,” he said.

The last time he experienced as much in a season, he was in a third year as Montana’s coach, and defeats were being dispensed by the likes of Eastern Washington and Montana State and Cal Poly.

But he has a better team than New Mexico. Most everyone does. Hauck should win his first game as a head coach at this level tonight. He should at game’s end know again the feeling of success on a scoreboard.

If not, I hear women’s tennis team player Anna Maskaljun has a wicked forehand.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618.

 

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