Last year the Cowboys suffering an embrassing loss to UNLV in Vegas and they are looking for some payback here on homecoming weekend. Neither team has looked great over their last couple games but that hasn't stopped Wyoming from being double digit favorites over the Rebels. The Pokes certainly need to get back on the winning track and the defense needs to show some improvement after the awful performance against Utah State.
Rebel fans aren't very optimistic about their chances in this game and I like that. I enlisted the help of Jacob McGhee who writes for Mountain West Connection under the handle Rebelfan1. So his answers to my questions and score prediction are posted after the jump. Great insight on the game and program from Jacob. I'll go ahead a predict a victory for the Cowboys with the final score: Wyoming 34 UNLV 21.
It was also just announced that the game will be simulcast on CBS Sports. So if you don't get the Mtn. there is a good chance you can now watch the game.
1. A 1-4 start this year and a 2-11 year last year. How do fans feel about Coach Hauck after 18 games? Are there signs that he has the team headed in the right direction?
The fans as a whole are calling for his head. Me in particular? Not so much. The Rebels have proven over the past 40 or so years that they are definitely not an easy school to bring out of the basement. Just about every coach that has coached at UNLV has failed at that and it's no surprise that Hauck is having a tough time in the first couple of years of his regime. Until he is able to bring in talent, and specifically talent that suits Hauck's style on both offense and defense, the team's record won't improve. Hauck has some guys that really suit his style, but are young and inexperienced. Until those guys mature and the roster is full of guys that were recruited by Hauck, I don't see the team improving by much. Give him time, and this team will improve.
As for signs, there definitely has been a big improvement on the defensive side of the ball. They're still giving up a lot of yards (and points for that matter), but the defense is getting off the field on third down, is finally getting pressure on the quarterback, and the secondary isn't all that bad. The defense as a whole is much improved from last season, even though it may not be showing up in the box score.
The running game has also improved under Hauck this season, which is great news for a team that has had deep struggles with running the football for a while now. The running game has looked better than the passing game in the past few games for the Rebels, which means that UNLV is no longer one-dimensional. Granted, the Rebels are a two-dimensional team with barely anything in either the running game or the passing game, but to have that balance is a good start.
2. Caleb Herring got benched after his 1 for 14 and 8 yard effort against Nevada. JC Transfer Sean Reilly gets the start and is currently 6 of 7 on the year for 49 yards. What does Reilly bring to the table? Should he have been starting earlier in the season?
Reilly doesn't bring much to the table that Herring doesn't. He has less of an arm and his decision making is about the same level as Herring's. The only thing that Reilly brings to the table that Herring doesn't is the fact that Reilly is more of a dual-threat quarterback while Herring isn't. Reilly has the ability to scramble and make plays with his legs, which makes up for his lack of an arm.
I honestly believe that Herring is the better quarterback, even with his past two performacnes against Southern Utah and Nevada, so to say that Reilly should have started earlier in the season is absurd to me. Herring has had two bad games after having managed the previous three games quite nicely and that shows inconsistency. If Reilly does anything better than Herring, it's being consistent. Reilly consistently has come out and show an inability to read defenses and make the best passes when he does play during garbage time. I definitely believe that Herring should have started.
3. Tim Cornett is listed as questionable for this game with a hip injury. How serious is the injury and does he have a shot at playing this week? How are Bradley Randle and Dionza Bradford as a backup plan?
Cornett isn't expected to get very many carries only because of how well Randle and Bradford should be able to pick up the load. Cornett may be a better back than either of the two, but I don't think Hauck should risk further injuring Cornett's hip when a two-back rotation of Dionza Bradford and Bradley Randle could fill in quite nicely.
4. The Rebels are giving up 330 yards per game through the air. Last year they only gave up 227 yards per game, why such a big increase this year?
To be honest, I'm not sure why the passing defense is suffering this year. Last year, the Rebels struggled to get pressure on the quarterback in practically every game and had some trouble with the secondary. This year, UNLV has been getting all sorts of pressure on the quarterback and the secondary is more experienced and has more talent back. By all indications, the passing defense should have improved, but it just hasn't.
5. Complete this sentence: "Wyoming will beat UNLV if ____________"
"Wyoming will beat UNLV if Wyoming is able to keep the UNLV defense on their heels by mixing up their looks and play selection." If Wyoming is able to keep UNLV's surprisingly good pass rush guessing, then the offense should have a field day. As for the Cowboy defense, they shouldn't have much trouble stopping an offense without its starting quarterback or first-string running back.
Predict the score!
I'm going to say Wyoming beats UNLV pretty handily, 23-3.