HONOLULU - Bobby Hauck sounded tired following Saturday’s 48-10 loss at Hawaii, like the 13-game, no-bye football season had caught up to him as well as his players.
He acknowledged his team might have been beaten down by the long season, and the Rebels’ final three games were indicative of that.
They lost 33-11 at Colorado State, 28-23 to Wyoming and then by 38 points at Hawaii. The Rebels were small favorites in two of those games, and the game against Wyoming at Sam Boyd Stadium was a pick ’em.
But the opponent in each of those contests set the tone early.
Now, UNLV (2-11, 2-6 Mountain West Conference) enters the offseason with many more questions than answers, the burden that much greater on the Rebels’ coaches to sell recruits on a program that has finished seven of the past nine seasons with two victories.
And the returning players will soon enter winter conditioning looking to once again get themselves back up.
Hauck said he was concerned about not having momentum to take into the offseason.
“Shoot, I’m worried about everything,” Hauck said. “To come over here and get drilled wasn’t good. It was wildly disappointing. I don’t think our guys are the type that they won’t rally and they won’t regroup. We’ll see where it takes us.”
This had seemed like a promising season at times.
UNLV put together a quality training camp, and the Rebels had their moments when they seemed on the verge of winning that key game to spark a turnaround. But they lost three games they led in the fourth quarter.
The close calls seemed to take their toll over the final three games.
Junior running back Tim Cornett epitomized the crawl to the finish line. He rushed for 1,232 yards – the first UNLV back to gain more than 1,000 yards since Dominique Dorsey in 2004 – but gained 88 yards in the final two games combined.
“I felt beat up and not where I was earlier in the season,” Cornett said.
What had been a strong debut season for quarterback Nick Sherry also sputtered. He once appeared on his way to shattering the Mountain West freshman passing record of 2,662 yards set in 2010 by Colorado State’s Pete Thomas.
But Sherry, perhaps hampered by a bad back that caused him to miss the Nov. 17 game against Wyoming, threw for 88 yards at Colorado State and 166 at Hawaii to finish with 2,544 yards.
He also threw seven interceptions in his final three starts.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do in the offseason, especially on offense,” Sherry said. “For me, I’ve got to do a lot more film study and (get) better timing with our receivers and get it right before next season. We have a year to do it.”
Hauck is 6-32 after three seasons, and though athletic director Jim Livengood said earlier this month he will bring back his coach, that doesn’t mean the program won’t be closely examined.
As far as potential staff changes, Hauck wasn’t ready to address that, but he knows the program needs work.
And, after the lopsided loss to Hawaii, probably lots of it.
“It’s easy to be motivated after going 2-11,” Cornett said.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.First season (2010):
Biggest win: Tim Cornett ran for four TDs as the Rebels beat Wyoming, 42-16.
Worst loss: The offense gained 144 yards – 70 of them on the final drive – in a 55-7 drubbing at Brigham Young.
Second season (2011):
Biggest win: Forced four fumbles and topped Hawaii 40-20 as a 20½-point underdog.
Worst loss: FCS school Southern Utah returned three Caleb Herring interceptions for scores in a 41-16 upset.
Third season (2012):
Biggest win: Overcame an 11-point halftime deficit and held off bowl-bound Air Force, 38-35.
Worst loss: As 3-point road favorites, trailed 31-0 at halftime and fell 48-10 to Hawaii, whose only other victory was against Lamar.