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Rebels’ quarterback play is sore subject for Hauck

When asked Tuesday about Omar Clayton’s performance, UNLV coach Bobby Hauck didn’t exactly give his senior quarterback a vote of confidence.

"We haven’t done much offensively. That would be it in a nutshell," Hauck said during a Mountain West Conference teleconference.

Hauck clearly isn’t happy with the quarterback play after his offense has managed just three touchdowns through the first three games.

Clayton would seem to have little room for error when the Rebels (0-3, 0-1 MWC) play New Mexico (0-3, 0-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium. If Clayton starts slowly again, he’s likely to get a quick hook in favor of redshirt freshman Caleb Herring.

Besides possibly growing impatient with the Rebels’ quarterback play, Hauck and his staff need a chance to evaluate Herring this season to determine their long-range QB plans.

If Herring falters, the Rebels’ coaches will have to think seriously about signing a junior college quarterback rather than continuing to sign high school QBs and waiting for one to develop.

■ NEW MEXICO QBS — The Lobos have their own quarterback decisions to make: Either freshman Tarean Austin or junior Brad Gruner will start against UNLV.

Both played in New Mexico’s 56-14 loss to Utah on Saturday.

Gruner injured his back and left in the second quarter but is expected to practice this week.

Austin completed 15 of 27 passes for 128 yards with a touchdown and an interception after replacing Gruner last week.

New Mexico coach Mike Locksley didn’t announce a starter but made it sound as if Austin will at least play.

"Whether he starts or comes off the bench, I think he’s deserving of extended playing time," Locksley said. "I also realize he’s a freshman. Sometimes the pressure of starting doesn’t help."

Another Lobos quarterback, sophomore B.R. Holbrook, will have exploratory knee surgery today.

■ BRIGHAM YOUNG QBS — Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall was asked about his quarterback situation — a weekly theme for BYU — and said he planned to continue playing two QBs against UNR on Saturday.

Either Mendenhall didn’t know junior Riley Nelson’s status or he was being coy.

BYU issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying that Nelson needs season-ending shoulder surgery.

"I’m getting it taken care of as soon as possible so I can start my recovery and be back to help the team in the future," Riley said in the statement.

Riley’s injury means freshman Jake Heaps will no longer share the job.

The back-and-forth handling of the quarterbacks has generated considerable criticism from fans and media.

Mendenhall has always deflected such questions, saying he doesn’t pay much attention to public opinion, which is especially intense at BYU.

"There’s so much to do right now with our team and trying to improve it," Mendenhall said. "From what I’ve found from being booed in the first game that I ever coached to those who don’t like the way we play after beating someone 52-6, I try to do what I think is best for the program."

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914.

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