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The UNLV Rebels Need to Find their Mojo this Year

Head coach Bobby Hauck needs to make a serious statement in 2013. A winning season for the Rebels for first time since 2000 would do that.

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Ethan Miller

Bobby Hauck had a great career going for himself at the University of Montana. His Grizzlies were among the very best in the FCS as he racked up an 80-17 record over seven years. Then in 2009, his opportunity came to leave the Big Sky Country and move to the FBS coaching ranks to take over an ailing Mountain West Team.

From God’s country to Sin City, Nevada doesn't sound like a receipt for success and recent history seems to bear that out. Hauck’s struggles at UNLV has resulted in one of the most promising coaches in college football just three years ago now finding his name listed as one of the worst in the nation. With a 6-32 record after three seasons at the helm that could be understandable. He’s only won two games per year. A scathing article last week in USAtoday only underscored his troubles at UNLV and highlighted some of the ills facing his beleaguered program.

To be fair, however, the UNLV football program was in deep trouble long before Hauck arrived to try and turn it around. Since December 2000 and the Rebels last bowl game appearance, UNLV has chalked up one losing season after another. The last time the Rebels won 10 games in a season was 1984.

One of Hauck’s main problems is that he has had a parade of coaches in and out of the Rebel program over the past three years. This year is not much different with two new coordinators on board. The positive news about this is that the new offensive coordinator, Timm Rosenbach, was the OC at Montana last season, Hauck’s old alma matter. And the new defensive coordinator is Hauck’s brother, Tim, who had a 13-year NFL career that included time as an assistant with the Cleveland Browns. So maybe Hauck can get some badly needed stability in his coaching ranks, which is critical for cohesion and recruiting going forward.

This year those new coaches will inherit an experienced, talented team with no less than 18 returning starters, 8 on offense and 10 on defense. Last year those starters lost 10 games, but four of those losses were to Arizona, Nevada, Northern Arizona, and Wyoming by five points or less. That kind of experience should be more than enough for a good coach to have some success in 2013.

The coaches will have some great talent scattered in all areas to give them some balance this season. Players like RB Tim Cornett, OL Robert Waterman, RB Adonis Smith, QB Nick Sherry, DB Tim Hasson, LB Tani Maka. Cornett, for instance, put up 1,232 yards on the ground and is ranked 37th nationally with 94.77 yards per carry. Other players from the junior college ranks have transferred in, like WR Jack Killian who is already making an impact on the field.

So can Hauck and his team get it done this year? Get to a winning season and set up a solid foundation for continued success? Maybe, the stage is set. The schedule looks positive as well. The Rebels are terrible on the road, but they have only five away games and seven at home. They also dodge a bullet by not having Boise State on their plate this year.

Here’s a look at the Rebel schedule for 2013:

Aug. 29 at Minnesota

Sept. 7 Arizona

Sept. 14 Central Michigan

Sept. 21 Western Illinois

Sept. 28 at New Mexico

Oct. 12 Hawaii

Oct. 19 at Fresno State

Oct. 26 at Nevada

Nov. 2 San Jose State

Nov. 9 Utah State

Nov. 21 at Air Force

Nov. 30 San Diego State

It will be interesting to see how Hauck, his coaches, and the team come together during fall practice. To see if they can jell as a team---to see if they can stay lean and mean and motivated.

And to see if they can find the mojo to win at least half their games.