2012 UNLV Preview - Offense
UNLV C Robert Waterman
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - UNLV Rebel Offense
Preview 2012 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: New offensive coordinator Brent Myers takes over after leading the Louisville offensive line and running game, fitting in with what head coach Bobby Hauck wants to do. The goal from the start of Hauck's tenure has been to be more physical, and now he has the line to do it with all five starters back including three sophomores who took their lumps last season. The receiving corps is all but starting from scratch and the quarterback situation needs to be stronger with Caleb Herring and Nick Sherry needing to be more consistent. The ground game, though, should be the strength with Tim Cornett and Bradley Randle a speedy 1-2 punch to carry the attack.
Star of the offense: Junior RB Tim Cornett
Passing: Caleb Herring
113-206, 1,004 yds, 8 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Tim Cornett
119 carries, 671 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Tim Cornett
10 catches, 54 yds
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior QB Caleb Herring and/or redshirt freshman QB Nick Sherry
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore C Robert Waterman
Best pro prospect: Sophomore OT Brett Boyko
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Boyko, 2) Waterman, 3) Cornett
Strength of the offense: Veteran O Line, Running Game
Weakness of the offense: Quarterback, Receiver
The passing game has to find something that works, so someone, anyone who can produce will get the job. 6-3, 200-pound junior Caleb Herring got the call to start the season and ended up starting eight times completing 55% of his passes for a mere 1,004 yards and eight scores with six picks. Just mobile enough to get by, he ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns, but he's not necessarily a runner. With his experience he has an edge over all the other options, but he has yet to be able to come up with a big performance outside of his 17-of-29, 178-yard, two score one pick day in the win over Hawaii. He has a winning résumé taking his high school team to back-to-back California state high school championships, but he has to start moving the offense.
It's all there for redshirt freshman Nick Sherry. He's 6-5 and 240 pounds with a huge arm and the downfield passing ability the team and the offense have been desperately lacking. A good recruit, he was on his way to Colorado but changed his mind after Dan Hawkins was canned. It's just a question of whether or not he can handle the workload of carrying the offense. Once he gets it, the job is his.
Former JUCO transfer Sean Reilly is now out of the quarterback mix. He threw for 2,425 yards and 26 touchdowns at Saddleback College, and he stepped in and completed 49% of his throws for 186 yards and a score with three picks last year with starts against Wyoming and Colorado State, but the 6-4, 210-pounder is out with Sherry stepping up his play.
Watch Out For … Sherry. Herring actually has talent but he hasn't had any help around him. Sherry is the more talented option and has the bigger upside, but the coaching staff likes Herring's experience. However, if the offense starts to dip at all, Sherry will be the main man if he doesn't win the starting gig outright.
Strength: Options. For good and bad, UNLV has a ton of quarterback options to play around with. Herring and Sherry have emerged from the pack, but in a desperate emergency, USC transfer James Boyd could move back over to the offensive side after working at defensive end.
Weakness: Production. The Rebels haven't gotten anything out of the passing game finishing 118th in the nation last year and was 114th in passing efficiency. Nothing has worked under Bobby Hauck.
Outlook: The situation isn't all that bad, but the play has to be much, much better. Herring knows what he's doing and he has the skills, but he didn't come up with the production needed. This will be Sherry's offense to run, but he needs to log in some playing time first.
Unit Rating: 5
The rushing offense wasn't all that bad and has a nice upside thanks to the emergence of junior Tim Cornett, a 6-0, 205-pounder who led the way with 671 yards seven scores with two 100-yard games late in the year. He ran for 104 yards against Air Force and 136 yards and two scores against San Diego State, but he was held in check by the better run defenses. A speedster who can hit the home run from anywhere on the field, he tore off an 80-yard dash and proved he could be used a bit as a receiver finishing tied for fourth on the team with ten catches for 54 yards.
With Dionza Bradford gone, 5-7, 190-pound junior Bradley Randle will get an even bigger role after finishing third on the team with 489 yards and two scores. While he's small, he's really, really quick and proved he could handle a decent workload. Most of his work game in garbage time, but he ran for 96 yards against Boise State and 82 against Air Force. Able to be used for the return game, he'll be an all-purpose yardage machine.
When the offense uses a fullback it'll be a combination of 6-0, 230-pound sophomore William Vea and 6-4, 240-pound redshirt freshman Tyler Bergsten. Neither one has carried the ball but Vea caught six passes for 30 yards and a score. Both are big, strong blasters who could be used more to get physical.
Watch Out For … JUCO transfer Eric Johnson. Is he going to be a slot receiver? A kick returner? A running back? It'll possibly be all of the above, and while the 5-7, 170-pound speedster will mostly be a wide receiver, he'll get a few carries to try to get him to blow up.
Strength: Speed and quickness. Even with the loss of Bradford the Rebels should have a nice rotation full of speedsters. Cornett can fly and Randle is hiccup-quick. The Rebels have the potential to bust out big plays out of the backfield.
Weakness: Power. There's a chance Vea and Bergstrom get involved, but Cornett isn't a power back and Randle doesn't provide any interior pop.
Outlook: The running game worked last year averaging 164 yards per game and getting a nice rotation out of Cornett, Bradford and Randle. Bradford shockingly left the team in spring ball after running for 615 yards and three scores, but Cornett is the real deal and Randle appears ready to do far more.
Unit Rating: 5.5
All of the top receivers are gone, but there's speed and size among the new targets let by 6-3, 200-pound sophomore Devante Davis. Very big with good upside, he caught four passes for 42 yards in a limited role as a true freshman but now he has to use his frame and his speed to be a No. 1 target. The potential is there to put up a great year. He'll be backed up by 5-10, 175-pound redshirt freshman Marquis Thompson, a speedster out of Los Angeles who isn't all that big, but he's not afraid to go across the middle.
5-9, 195-pound sophomore Marcus Sullivan is extremely quick and has the skills to become a devastating playmaker. The Las Vegas native was a superior kickoff returner in 2010 averaging 27.9 yards per try, but he only caught six passes for 102 yards and two scores. Really, really fast and ready to go after redshirting, he should be the team leader in yards per catch. Adding more size to the spot will be 6-1, 210-pound Taylor Spencer, a former defensive back who was supposed to make an impact last year but didn't catch a pass. He has good size and is physical.
6-6, 245-pound redshirt freshman Jake Phillips is a very big, very physical tight end who could be a defensive end if needed but should be a big hitter for the ground game and a short-to-midrange target. He'll combine with 6-4, 275-pound true freshman Nick Gstrein, another possible defensive lineman with the speed and athleticism for his size to be a dangerous receiver. He has the skills to become a go-to receiver in time.
Watch Out For … Davis. The team needs a big receiver the quarterbacks can rely on, and he has the bulk and the upside to be the main man. The potential is there to work the passing game around him.
Strength: Young talent. There might not be any experience, but with four underclassmen wide receivers and two freshmen tight ends the Rebels have the base to build around for the next few years.
Weakness: Veterans. Phillip Payne, Michael Johnson, Austin Harrington and Anthony Vidal didn't exactly light things up, but they were the receiver who caught ten passes or more last year. The Rebels are all but starting from scratch.
Outlook: Yeah, UNLV lost all its top receivers from last year, but the passing game finished 118th in the nation. There's talent and speed ready to roll, but there will be a learning curve. This is a tough group that won't be afraid to do what's needed to make plays, but it will take a little while to become a positive.
Unit Rating: 5
All five starters return to a line that struggled in pass protection but turned out to be decent for the ground game. The most promising blocker on the lot is Brett Boyko, a massive 6-7, 310-pound left tackle from Saskatchewan who missed time in spring ball last year hurt, but still managed to start every game. He carries his weight well and is built more like a very tall puffed up tight end than a pure tackle.
Returning to his spot on the other side is 6-2, 260-pound senior right tackle Yusef Rodgers, a short, squatty blocker who's way too light but is extremely scrappy and moves well. While he won't beat anyone up, he's good on the move and he knows what he's doing.
The other old man up front will be 6-2, 300-pound senior right guard Doug Zismann. A top center prospect, he settled into the right guard job where he started every game last season and started to grow into the role. He's the mauler of the front five and one of the team's stronger run blockers.
Anchoring things in the middle will once again by 6-2, 275-pound sophomore Robert Waterman after being thrown to the wolves last year. With a good body and a nice frame, he's a quick blocker with good toughness and the feet to be considered a tackle prospect for a time. The coaching staff wanted to move him to guard, stuck him in at center, and now the job is his for another three years.
6-6, 265-pound sophomore Cameron Jefferson took over the right guard job halfway through last year and didn't let it go. A terrific athlete for a guard, he's built like a tall tight end and has the athleticism to get down the field on the move. Originally considered a top option at left tackle, he could move to right tackle if needed. He'll be backed up by Allen Carroll, a former JUCO transfer who started out his career at Washington. At 6-4 and 320 pounds he brings more bulk to the position.
Watch Out For … Waterman. The line had a ton of problems protecting the passer but Waterman was more than solid and held his own against the better interior pass rushers. He has the upside and the potential to be one of the Mountain West's better centers over the next few years.
Strength: Experience. All five starters are returning with three sophomores ready to provide the foundation for the next three seasons. The group got better and better at run blocking as the year went on, and it needed to with all the problems …
Weakness: Protecting the quarterback. It wasn't all the fault of the O line, but the quarterbacks were taken down 35 times last season. The tackles struggled way too much against any pass rushers with a hit of speed and quickness.
Outlook: It took a few years for the coaching staff to finally start getting the linemen they wanted. Bobby Hauck demanded a physical line from Day One, but he's just now starting to get one. There were some lumps taken after starting three freshmen, but now the payoff will start to come with Jefferson, Waterman and Boyko three extremely promising blockers to build around. It might not be saying much, but this will be the best UNLV line in several years.
Unit Rating: 5
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