UNLV coach Bobby Hauck has some serious decisions to consider as his football team enters this bye week and prepares for the second half of the season.
The Rebels are 1-6, including 1-2 in the Mountain West Conference, and they probably will be underdogs in every game the rest of the season, with the possible exception of the Nov. 13 home game against Wyoming.
That is unless they find dramatic improvement quickly, which is unlikely. So, barring an upset here or there, UNLV is looking at going 2-11 or 1-12, which would be its worst record since its 0-11 mark in 1998 led to the firing of Jeff Horton, now Minnesota’s interim coach.
Hauck, as UNLV’s first-year coach, isn’t on the hot seat. The losses are disappointing to UNLV followers, but not completely unexpected considering the Rebels haven’t had a winning record since 2000, and it was widely accepted this would be a rebuilding year for Hauck.
With no game this week, Hauck is considering installing game-like conditions.
“There’s a part of me that would like to go full pads every day this week and scrimmage at our stadium on Saturday,” Hauck said. “In the real world, that would be great, but I don’t know that we are healthy enough to do that. I don’t know how many guys we have that can even practice this week.”
Injuries have been a major reason the Rebels have struggled. Their schedule, probably the most difficult in school history, has sidelined some players and caused others to play through pain.
UNLV has played 14 incoming freshmen, and though getting them experience should help in the future, it comes with a heavy price for the present.
The returning players also still are adjusting to new offensive and defensive schemes, which quarterback Omar Clayton acknowledged was a factor.
“But at some point, you’ve got to be accountable,” he said.
Whatever the reasons for the awful start, the fact remains the rest of the season doesn’t look promising, either.
UNLV returns to the field Oct. 30 against Texas Christian at Sam Boyd Stadium. The Rebels will be major underdogs against the Horned Frogs, who are ranked fourth.
UNLV then plays Brigham Young, Wyoming, Air Force, San Diego State and Hawaii — teams that, including TCU, are a combined 25-16.
The Rebels are coming off a 43-10 loss at Colorado State that might be among the worst in many years because of the margin of victory and the quality of the now 2-5 opponent.
“We’re giving up deep balls,” Hauck said. “We can’t get off blocks up front. We’re giving up sack after sack. It’s just not very good. It’s got to get better.”
n PAYNE BACK — Hauck said via text message Sunday that junior wide receiver Phillip Payne will take part with the regular offense this week. He was on the scout team last week, and was left home the two previous games after posting critical messages of the coaching staff on his Twitter account.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914.