When John Robinson was UNLV’s coach in 2000, he often made the spring game as much of an entertainment event as a football scrimmage, working Rebel Park with a microphone and interviewing players.
The game became a snooze-fest when Robinson’s successor, Mike Sanford, moved it to Sam Boyd Stadium in 2005 and let assistant coaches draft opposing teams.
Now, under coach Bobby Hauck, the spring-ending scrimmage is back at Rebel Park. Hauck won’t be carrying a mic, but he changed to a format that should produce genuine insight into where the team stands.
The first-team offense will face the second-string defense and vice versa, creating more of a game atmosphere in the scrimmage, which is expected to last 50 to 60 plays.
“It will give our second group a chance to show what they’ve got and our ones a chance to show they’re better,” Hauck said. “So it should be pretty competitive. I hope our teams aren’t too far behind.”
In daily practices, UNLV’s first-teamers usually face each other and backups compete against each other. So this format should give coaches a different kind of evaluation.
The score will also be kept.
“We’ll try to make it kind of a competitive game,” Hauck said.
Hauck, in his second year at UNLV after a highly successful seven-season run at Montana, has worked this spring to build competitiveness and toughness.
He ended Thursday’s practice with a demanding drill in which a defender had to fight through two blockers within a confined space to reach the quarterback. At least two players were nearly too exhausted to stand afterward.
Hauck hopes such drills also instill a mental toughness that will be needed by the Sept. 1 season opener at Wisconsin.
No firm decisions are expected to come out of this morning’s scrimmage. Position battles will clear up during August’s training camp.
Sophomore Caleb Herring is the favorite to win the job at quarterback but could be pushed by junior college transfer Sean Reilly. Herring ran the first-team offense all spring.
“I tried to build a chemistry with the ones,” Herring said. “I think we established that throughout this spring. We looked to get better. I think we did that.”
■ NOTE — Former Rebels offensive linemen John Gianninoto and Matt Murphy worked out for an Atlanta Falcons scout Friday.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.