Let me just start about by saying that the attendance was absolutely atrocius. I went to the game and it looked like a grave yard. Total attendance number was 16,961... Anyway, the good news is that UNLV dominated every aspect of this game. The bad news is that they were supposed to do that. New Mexico looked great on their first two drives, getting all the way to the UNLV 41 before being forced to punt on their first drive and throwing a 48 yard TD pass to take the lead on their second drive. UNLV took over from there, making the halftime score 28-7 and by the end of the third quarter you knew that the game was UNLV's when the Rebels were up 42-7.
Join me after the jump for the in-depth analysis...
As I state above, New Mexico drove down the field on their second drive for a 48 yard TD pass to take the lead. Wait, New Mexico with the lead when was the last time that was the case? Things were not looking good for UNLV, the Lobos' powerhouse of an offense was moving the ball quite easily and UNLV's offense had stalled on their first drive of the game, but New Mexico wasn't able to do that for long.
UNLV drove 58 yards in 7 plays for a TD to put things back into perspective. The Rebels were suprisingly great on the ground during this drive, rushing for 33 of the 58 yards. Remember Mike Clausen? The starting QB that was benched halfway through the Wisconsin game? Well after he lost his job, he went to Coach Hauck and asked him if he could move to safety. Hauck agreed and it looked to pay off in this game. Clausen intercepted Tarean Austin on the next New Mexico drive.
The Rebels made quick work of the interception, scoring 3 plays after Clausen's first career interception. UNLV and New Mexico then traded drives without scoring 5 times. I say without scoring because the drives had plenty of plays, just both teams would get stuck around the opposing 40 and have to punt it, same thing would happen with the other offense and the field position was constantly won but then lost.
UNLV broke the streak when Tim Cornett turned on the jets and blew by everyone for a 46 yard touchdown. I really hadn't seen anyone run like that for UNLV, it was just absolutely absurd. A three and out by New Mexico gave the Rebels the ball back at their own 35 yard line with a little over 3:00 remaining in the half. For whatever reason, Hauck ran 3 straight draw plays (all went for gains of 5 yards) and ran the clock down to about 1:30 at the New Mexico 43 yard line. An incomplete pass and then draw play forced Hauck to call a timeout on 2nd down with 1:21 remaining. The next play was really Michael Johnson making a play to score a touchdown and push the lead to 28-7. Johnson went from sideline to sideline twice while juking out New Mexico defenders on his trip to the endzone.
New Mexico then started trying to run the hurry up offense to score again before the half, but they were unsuccesful. The Rebels' cornerback Will Chandler intercepted Tarean Austin at the UNLV 41 and returned the ball to the New Mexico 48 to set up possibly another score by UNLV before the half. UNLV had 15 seconds and two timeouts to work with. They were able to get a couple passes to work, bringing them to the New Mexico 31 with 3 seconds left. Unfortunately Nolan Kohorst missed the 48 yard field goal as the half expired.
The Rebels scored on their second drive of the second half with a 35 yard touchdown pass to Michael Clayton. Nothing too significant happened until 4:30 left in the third quarter when UNLV cornerback Sidney Hodge absolutely clobbered Tarean Austin from the blindside, forced the fumble and B.J. Bell scooped the ball up on his way to the endzone. Austin was seriously hurt on that play. The backup quarterback had to come in for the ensuing drive by the Lobos, but for whatever reason Austin was back in the game after that drive.
Caleb Herring spelled Omar Clayton with 13:30 left in the fourth quarter and he got some valuable playing time, but the strangest thing was that Coach Hauck put in cornerback Deante' Purvis in at running back. That means that he has to be fifth on the depth chart at running back. Amazingly, he ran the ball very well. We ran a 6:00 drive that ended in a 24 yard field goal by Nolan Kohorst to push the lead to 45-7.
New Mexico then went on their longest drive of the game, going 14 plays in 4:56, but were only able to reach the UNLV 25 to set up James Aho for a 42 yard field goal with 20 seconds remaining. UNLV downed the ball and the Rebels had gained their first win on the season in dominant fashion, beating the Lobos 45-10.
Now, there are some statistics from the game that stand out in particular. The Rebels were 1-11 on third down, if you look at the recap, most of the touchdowns UNLV scored were on big plays. No long methodical drives that end up in a TD. If the Rebels want to score 14-21 points against Nevada, then they need to at least be able to convert on third downs. Time of possession went slightly to the Lobos, but that's not much of an issue. The passing game is not what it needs to be. Against a New Mexico squad that was blown out of the water, we only passed for 230 yards. The running game had 185 yards, but let's be realistic, UNLV is not going to run the ball on Nevada or West Virginia. If they're going to keep those games close than the passing game is going have to be 300+ yards.
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