Clausen thrust into pocket

Backup quarterback Mike Clausen’s teammates are expressing confidence in his ability to take over if starter Omar Clayton is sidelined for any length of time.

Clayton hurt his right knee in the third quarter of a 44-14 loss to No. 12 Texas Christian on Saturday, but the type of injury or its severity won’t be known until at least Monday.

Clausen, a redshirt freshman, could be thrust into the starting job next week against New Mexico at Sam Boyd Stadium. He was 3-for-9 passing for 22 yards Saturday.

“Mike Clausen is a guy who can come in and make plays for us,” wide receiver Casey Flair said. “You saw that last week against BYU, so this offense shouldn’t miss a beat with Mike in there.”

Clausen rushed for two touchdowns during a 42-35 loss at Brigham Young.

“I’m 100 percent confident in myself. I’m sure the team is, too,” Clausen said. “We’ll go out next week in practice and try to get that chemistry going as far as me and the wide receivers and running backs.”

• PAIN MEANS NO PAYNE — UNLV freshman wide receiver Phillip Payne didn’t play because of a concussion he suffered at BYU. He returned to last week’s game after absorbing a hard hit, but Sanford held him out Saturday.

Payne has 27 catches for 415 yards and seven touchdowns.

He wasn’t the Rebels’ only injured player. Defensive end Thor Pili and linebacker Beau Orth missed the game with ankle injuries.

• BAD NIGHT FOR PUNTS — Rebels punter Dack Ishii was recently added to the Ray Guy Award watch list, but he didn’t help his case Saturday with punts of 12, 10, 17 and 28 yards. A stiff wind didn’t help Ishii, who averaged 29.4 yards on nine punts.

Also, both teams had trouble fielding punts. UNLV lost one to a fumble, and TCU dropped three punts and lost two.

TCU punt returner Jeremy Kerley did not travel because of an undisclosed injury.

• STREAK SURVIVES — Flair made a catch for the 44th consecutive game, but his streak was in jeopardy until Clausen went to him on back-to-back plays late in the game.

Flair dropped the first pass, but caught the second for a 13-yard gain with 4:18 left. His is the second-longest active streak in the nation behind Rice’s Jarett Dillard (45).

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at or 702-387-2914.


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