First-year UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck looks at a schedule next season that includes games against Wisconsin and at West Virginia in addition to the difficult Mountain West Conference slate and knows his team isn’t ready for that challenge.
“We’ve learned to play hard in stretches, but I don’t think we’ve learned to play well yet,” Hauck said after Saturday’s spring-ending scrimmage before about 1,200 fans at Sam Boyd Stadium. “The execution isn’t sharp enough. I mean, certainly the way we played today wouldn’t get us a win in the fall.”
The ever-optimistic Mike Sanford, UNLV’s coach the previous five seasons, never would have made such a statement. But Hauck calls it as he sees it, and he knows the Rebels have plenty of work ahead before taking the field in the Sept. 4 opener against Wisconsin.
But Hauck pointed out tackling and “attention to detail” were among areas that noticeably improved, and the team in general made a step up in the 15 spring practices.
Still, plenty of issues need to be confronted, such as deciding the quarterback race. Senior Omar Clayton operated the first-team offense in the scrimmage, and he completed 6 of 16 passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
“Especially after we got the first couple of plays out of the way, I thought things started running really smoothly,” Clayton said.
He is competing against junior Mike Clausen and redshirt freshman Caleb Herring. Clausen has been dealing with a concussion, and he was not at the scrimmage. Hauck said Clausen went home to Southern California to tend to a family issue but that he was expected back for classes this week.
Clausen’s injury gave Herring extra snaps in practice. In quarterbacking the No. 2 offense in the scrimmage, he completed 3 of 5 passes for 10 yards and rushed for a 9-yard touchdown.
Hauck said no quarterback has created enough separation from the others.
“We’re not anywhere near naming a starter,” he said. “I would hope we could name one as soon as possible. A year ago, we wanted to do that (at Montana) and didn’t get one named until Game 10. I’d like to have one named by certainly the game week of the first game, but I don’t know that that’s going to happen.
“We aren’t just going to name a starter out of obligation to name a starter. We’ll do it when somebody earns it.”
Of the three touchdown drives Clayton and Herring led, one occurred against the first-team defense. That unit kept the offense out of the end zone two other times.
“I think we’re coming together more,” junior linebacker Nate Carter said.
■ NOTES — Senior defensive tackle Ramsey Feagai suffered what appeared to be a partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. The injury shouldn’t been an issue when training camp opens in August. … Players out injured included defensive tackle Isaako Aaitui, linebacker Ronnie Paulo and center John Gianninoto, all seniors. …
Senior tailback Channing Trotter rushed for 25 yards on five carries, and redshirt freshman Bradley Randle had 16 yards on seven rushes. … Sophomore wide receiver Mark Barefield caught three passes for 13 yards, and touchdown catches were made by junior tight end Austin Harrington from 24 yards and Trotter from 20 yards. …
Sophomore linebacker Travis Trickey and senior defensive end Preston Brooks each made five tackles. Linebacker Starr Fuimaono and defensive end Daniel Mareko, both seniors, each made a tackle for a loss.
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