BOISE, Idaho – After UNLV’s giveaway defeat to UNR last Saturday, Tim Cornett insisted that he and his teammates would bounce back mentally.
He maintained that stance after Tuesday’s practice, calling it one of the season’s best. That’s an encouraging sign for UNLV entering today’s 12:30 p.m. PDT game at No. 24 Boise State.
But what does a good practice early in the week truly mean following the season’s most disappointing defeat?
“My biggest concern this week is getting our team back off that game,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said.
Perhaps Boise State (5-1, 2-0 Mountain West Conference) is the right opponent to focus UNLV’s attention. The Rebels (1-6, 1-1) get the chance to take on a national power in a unique setting.
“Any game is good after a loss,” guard Doug Zismann said. “We’ve got to clear the system and get back after it. It’s cool we get to go up there and play on the blue turf, but really it could be anyone. I just want to go play again.”
Boise State does enough defensively to get any team’s attention.
The Broncos allow 14.7 points per game, best in the Mountain West and 12th nationally. They haven’t given up a point in the first half of the past four games and have allowed only 19 points in the first two quarters all season.
On video, Cornett said, Boise State’s “quickness and speed” pop out.
“Their defensive line is real good getting off the ball,” he said. “They play with a high motor and a lot of effort.”
Hauck doesn’t quite know what to expect from the Broncos’ defense, which usually uses a four-man line but often went with three linemen in last Saturday’s 20-10 win over Fresno State.
“We’ll have to prepare for it all,” Hauck said.
No matter what kind of defense Boise State plays, it will be quite a challenge for UNLV’s offense to keep up its recent scoring pace. The Rebels have averaged 29.8 points over the past four games.
Nick Sherry is on track to become the top freshman quarterback in the Mountain West’s 14-year history, and Cornett should become UNLV’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2004.
Though the Broncos are winning with defense, they still possess a dangerous offense. Of course, just about any offense is dangerous against UNLV’s struggling defense.
Joe Southwick follows the almost irreplaceable Kellen Moore at quarterback and hasn’t done much to remind Broncos supporters of Moore, a two-time All-American and the winningest quarterback in collegiate history.
But Southwick has been aided by that strong defense and a running game led by D.J. Harper, who averages 4.8 yard a carry and 91.5 yards per game.
Boise State still has the ability to strike quickly, with six scoring drives of less than a minute and 10 of less than two minutes.
So the Rebels could be in trouble early if they arrive at Bronco Stadium licking their wounds after blowing two 21-point leads in the 42-37 loss to UNR.
“It was a bunch that were devastated by not getting that win,” Hauck said. “It means a lot to us. I want our guys to bounce back.”
But as Cornett came off the practice field Tuesday, he sounded confident the team already had.
“Practice solidified what I said” after the game against UNR, Cornett said. “I feel like it was a real good practice, one of the better ones we’ve had this season. I feel like we have a resilient enough team to come back from a loss like that.”
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at email@example.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.UNLV VS. BOISE STATE
WHEN: 12:30 p.m. today
WHERE: Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho
TV/RADIO: NBCSP (38), KWWN (1100 AM, 98.9 FM)
LINE: Boise State -27.5; total 54.5