Despite an early 21-0 deficit, UNLV managed to protect home field against Central Michigan, en route to its first victory of the season. Scoring 31 unanswered points, the Rebels put on an impressive show on both ends of the field after looking listless for the initial 25 minutes of the game. Following a score with just 54 seconds remaining in the first half though, it was all UNLV from there.
As pointed out in the game preview this week, Central Michigan had to rely upon wide receiver Titus Davis to generate any offense, and that was very much the case early, as he hauled in 116 yards and a touchdown on eight catches. But from there, it was all about the UNLV passing game. Senior quarterback Caleb Herring relieved Nick Sherry after the initial two drives (zero points), and from there, the entire Rebels offense changed on a dime. Herring was a stellar 24-of-28 for 266 yards and three touchdowns, leading UNLV back from the depths of despair against the Chippewas.
Obviously, the biggest takeaway from the victory is just that: a win. But beyond the W, UNLV now has a very significant quarterback controversy on their hands. In two games and change, starter Nick Sherry was 41 of 73 for 337 yards, three scores and four INTs. And yet, in just one game, Herring didn't finish too far from those numbers, minus turnovers (a big positive).
Caleb Herring, QB/UNLV
As pointed out above, Herring was the reason UNLV came back in this one. After spending nearly an entire half with an ineffective offense (not to mention the previous two games as well), the Rebels made a change at passer and the result was incredibly encouraging. Herring, a senior, was accurate, poised and effective in delivering the win. Considering his limited action to this point, he was mostly flawless on Saturday. I'd be surprised not to see him under center to start next weekend against Western Illinois.
Devante Davis, WR/UNLV
While Herring was the main factor in the comeback, his efforts would have been for naught if not for Davis. The junior caught seven balls for 140 yards and three scores, including the tying touchdown in the third quarter. If this team's going with a more pass-heavy attack going forward, keep an eye on the Herring-Davis connection. The two players should connect for plenty more touchdowns, and help the Rebels' scoring deficiencies going forward.
Herring and Davis obviously supercharged this offense and allowed them to reach their potential over the final 30-35 minutes on their way to a victory. After a very rough start defending the running game, the UNLV line managed to hunker down and keep CMU in check -- a huge boost for this team, especially once they were leading. The comeback was an impressive feat, and certainly a sign of some real talent on this team, but it shouldn't gloss over the team's issues either. UNLV should have never been down 21-0 against a similarly talented team like Central Michigan, and they can't rely on furious comebacks to pull off victories all year. A win's a win, but it'll be interesting to see how non-conference experiences like this one affect their performance going forward. The offense is now showing promise, but they'll need the defense to settle down sooner to have a chance all season.