CFN Take: UNLV Loses Heartbreaker To Hawaii

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 22, 2014


UNLV Rebels 2014 ... Head Coach: Bobby Hauck

UNLV Rebels
2014 Schedule
Record: 2-9

Aug. 29 at Arizona L 58-13
Sep. 6 Nortt. Colorado W 13-12
Sep. 13 Northern Illinois L 48-34
Sep. 20 at Houston L 47-14
Sep. 27 at SDSU L 34-17
Oct. 4 at San Jose St L 33-10
Oct. 10 Fresno State W 30-27 OT
Oct. 18 OPEN DATE
Oct. 25 at Utah State L 34-20
Nov. 1 New Mexico L 31-28
Nov. 8 Air Force L 48-21
Nov. 15 at BYU L 42-23
Nov. 22 at Hawaii L 37-35
Nov. 29 Nevada

Nov. 22 at Hawaii 37, UNLV 35
And You Care Because … Marcus Kemp caught a 20-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game to complete a wild comeback in a crazy final five minutes. UNLV appeared to have the game won with just 15 seconds to play on a Taylor Barnhill seven-yard touchdown catch, but Ikaika Woolsey found Donnie King on a big pass play and managed to move up a bit more leaving just one second left. Woolsey hung it up in the end zone, and Kemp went and got it. UNLV got up 14-0, Hawaii rallied back with 24 straight points – highlighted by a 52-yard Diocemy Saint Juste run, but the Rebels took control right back with Blake Decker coming off the bench and throwing three fourth quarter touchdown passes. Hawaii pulled back ahead with two minutes to play on Joey Iosefa’s second touchdown run of the game, but Decker marched the Rebels 75 yards in seven plays for what seemed like the game-winner.
What Else? Hawaii RB Joey Iosefa ran 35 times for 219 yards and two scores
- UNLV QB Jared Lebowitz completed 13-of-30 passes for 212 yards and a pick, but was benched for Blake Decker, who completed 10-of-13 passes for 187 yards and three scores
- UNLV WR Devante Davis caught five passes for 163 yards
- Total yards: Hawaii 578 – UNLV 474
Game Rating: A

Nov. 15 at BYU 42, UNLV 23
And You Care Because … Christian Stewart threw three touchdown passes and Paul Lasike ran for two scores as BYU pulled away late in the first half and cruised from there. Lasike ran for a four-yard touchdown and took a pass 26 yards for a score, and Devin Mahina caught a 15-yard touchdown pass as the offense clicked after a slow start. UNLV got two three Jonathan Leiva field goals and a 68-yard Shaquille Murray-Lawrence scoring dash, but the defense couldn��t come up with a stop in the second half.
What Else? BYU QB Christian Stewart completed 18-of-32 passes for 325 yards and three scores, and ran six times for 38 yards
- UNLV RB Shaquille Murray-Lawrence ran 20 times for 143 yards and a score
- UNLV QBs Jared Lebowitz and Blake Decker combined to completed 20-of-45 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown with a pick
- Total yards: BYU 592 – UNLV 403
Game Rating: C

Nov. 8 Air Force 48, at UNLV 21
And You Care Because … After getting down 7-0 after a Blake Decker touchdown run, Air Force scored 24 straight points and never looked back. D. J. Johnson ran for an eight-yard touchdown and came up with a two-yard run late in the third to keep the team well ahead. Kale Pearson ran for a one-yard score and found Jalen Robinette for a 59-yard touchdown. UNLV came up with a few scores with Devante Davis catching a four-yard pass and Shaquille Murray-Lawrence running for a one-yard touchdown, but it wasn’t enough to keep up.
What Else? Rushing: Air Force 386 yards and five touchdowns – UNLV 33 yards and two touchdowns
- Air Force QB Kale Pearson completed 5-of-6 passes for 115 yards and a score, and ran 15 times for 67 yards and a score
- UNLV QB Blake Decker completed 18-of-32 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown, and ran for a score
- Air Force RB Jacobi Owens ran 18 times for 135 yards and a score
Game Rating: C-

Nov. 1 New Mexico 31, at UNLV 28
And You Care Because … New Mexico scored the first 17 points with Jhurrell Pressley running for two of his three touchdown runs on the day, but UNLV rallied back with 21 straight points. Blake Decker ran for a two-yard score and Shaquille Murray-Lawrence ran for two third quarter touchdowns. The two teams traded touchdown runs in the fourth, with Keith Whitely running for a three-yard score to give UNLV the 28-24 lead, but New Mexico ran 15 plays for 66 yards in almost seven minutes, finishing up with a three-yard Teriyon Gipson run with 1:22 to play.
What Else? Passing yards: UNLV 271- New Mexico 5
- New Mexico RB Jhurell Pressley ran 20 times for 138 yards and three scores
- UNLV RB Shaquille Murray-Lawrence ran 20 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns
- UNLV WR Devonte Boyd caught 11 passes for 108 yards
Game Rating: B+

Oct. 25 at Utah State 34, UNLV 20
And You Care Because … The Aggies got three touchdown passes from Craig Harrison including a 69-yard pass play to Joe Hill and a 71-yarder to Jojo Natson on the way to an easy win. UNLV stayed in the game on two Blake Decker touchdown passes, but the offense couldn’t get back on the board until late in the fourth on a 41-yard Devonte Boyd scoring play on Decker’s third touchdown pass. Nick Diaz hit two field goals for the Aggies.
What Else? Utah State QB Craig Harrison completed 13-of-23 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns, and ran nine times for 39 yards
- UNLV QB Blake Decker completed 22-of-38 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns with two picks
- Utah State WR Jojo Natson caught six passes for 124 yards and a touchdown
- UNLV LB Tau Lotulelei made 15 tackles with three tackles for loss
Game Rating: C-

Oct. 10 at UNLV 30, Fresno State 27
And You Care Because … With Fresno State kicker Kody Kroening missing an earlier extra point, the coaching staff chose not to try a field goal in overtime – Marteze Waller dropped the 4th and 17 pass from the 18 – and UNLV capitalized as Nicolai Bornand nailed a 33-yard field goal for the win. The Rebels had a chance to take it in regulation, but Jonathan Leiva missed a 26-yard try. The Rebels had a 17-0 first half lead, but Brian Burrell threw three touchdown passes for the Bulldogs, including a 13-yarder to Waller in the fourth. UNLV was able to tie it up thanks to the missed extra point with Bornand making it 27 all with a 46-yard kick.
What Else? Third down conversions: UNLV 8-of-21 – Fresno State 2-of-14
- Fresno State QB Brian Burrell completed 25-of-44 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns with two picks
- UNLV QB Blake Decker completed 29-of-40 passes for 332 yards and a touchdown with a pick
- Fresno State WR Josh Harper caught 12 passes for 187 yards and a score
Game Rating: B+

Oct. 4 at San Jose State 33, UNLV 10
And You Care Because … UNLV scored first, taking a 7-0 lead into the second quarter on a one-yard Blake Decker run, and then it was all San Jose State scoring 33 straight points helped by four Austin Lopez field goals and highlighted by an 83-yard run from Tyler Ervin. Hansell Wilson put the game well out of reach in the fourth on a 51-yard touchdown catch. UNLV didn’t get back on the board until the fourth with Jonathan Lewis hitting a 25-yard field goal.
What Else? Total yards: San Jose State 542 – ULLV 221
- San Jose State QB Joe Gray completed 20-of-30 passes for 264 yards and a score, and ran 12 times for 18 yards and a touchdown
- UNLV QBs combined to completed 11-of-28 passes for 116 yards and a pick
- Time of possession: San Jose State 38:41 – UNLV 21:19
Game Rating: D+

Sept. 27 at San Diego State 34, UNLV 17
And You Care Because … Down 10-7 after Devonte Boyd caught a 44-yard touchdown pass to put UNLV ahead, San Diego State scored 24 straight points helped by three short touchdown runs from Donnel Pumphrey to go along with the 710yard scoring dash he cranked out in the first quarter. UNLV finally got back on the board with a two-yard Blake Decker run, but 14 points is as close as it got with SDSU adding on Donny Hageman’s second field goal of the fourth quarter.
What Else? San Diego State RB Donnel Pumphrey ran 22 times for 167 yards and four scores, and he missed on his one pass attempt
- UNLV QB Blake Decker completed 18-of-31 passes for 346 yards and a score with two picks
- Total yards: San Diego State 466 – UNLV 455
- Average yards per carry: SDSU 6 – UNLV 2.9
Game Rating: C

Sept. 20 at Houston 47, UNLV 14
And You Care Because … UNLV scored first on a three-yard Keith Whitely run, and then it was all Houston with 30 straight points with John O’Korn throwing two touchdown passes and running for a score and Daniel Spencer running for touchdown runs from 35 and 16 yards. The Cougars scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth after UNLV pulled within 16 in the third on a one-yard George Naufahu run.
What Else? Houston RB Ryan Jackson ran 13 times for 147 yards and a score and caught a 26-yard touchdown pass. Kenneth Farmer ran 14 times for 113 yards and a touchdown
- Penalties: UNLV 11 for 105 yards – Houston 9 for 110 yards
- Houston QB John O’Korn completed 12-of-27 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns with two picks and ran ten times for 27 yards and a score
- Rushing yards: Houston 399 – UNLV 170
Game Rating: D+

Sept. 13 Northern Illinois 48, at UNLV 34
And You Care Because … Drew Hare threw three touchdown passes on the day and ran for a score, and Cameron Stingily ran for the first of his two scores as Northern Illinois rolled out to a 31-12 lead midway through the third quarter. UNLV wouldn’t go away as Devante Davis caught a 53-yard touchdown pass and Shaquille Murray-Lawrence ran for scores from two and nine yards out to help tie the game up at 34 midway through the fourth. NIU scored 14 unanswered points as Da’Ron Brown caught a 54-yard touchdown pass and Stingily put it away on a two-yard scoring run.
What Else? NIU QB Drew Hare completed 18-of-28 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns, and ran 14 times for 74 yards and a score.
- UNLV QB Blake Decker completed 24-of-42 passes for 397 yards and two scores with a pick.
- NIU RB Cameron Stingily ran 17 times for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
- UNLV WR Devante Davis finally broke out, catching six passes for 150 yards and two scores.
Game Rating: A-

Sept. 6 at UNLV 13, Northern Colorado 12
And You Care Because … In an ugly game, UNLV survived four turnovers with a six-yard Marcus Sullivan touchdown catch and field goals from 54 yards out from Nicolai Bornand and 35 yards out from Jonathan Leiva. Northern Colorado took advantage of the mistakes, but Seth Czapenski missed a short field goal late and the Rebels got out with the win. Blake Decker completed 11-of-18 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown with three picks for the Rebels, and George Naufahu ran 22 times for 90 yards.
Game Rating: D+

Aug. 30 at Arizona 58, UNLV 13
And You Care Because … Anu Solomon threw for 425 yards and four scores and the Arizona offense came up with 787 yards in the blowout. Solomon connected with Austin Hill for a 92-yard score on the first play of the third quarter to put it well out of reach after putting the Wildcats up 14-0 on two scoring passes in just over a minute.
What Else? New parts, even better results. UNLV might not be a brick wall, but the Rich Rodriguez offense showed it could air it out a bit with Anu Solomon shaking off a rocky first 12 minutes to be fantastic the rest of the way.
- It wasn’t just Solomon and the passing attack – Terris Jones-Grigsby ran for 124 yards and a score, averaging 9.5 yards per carry, and Nick Wilson added 104 yards and a touchdown averaging 14.9 yards per pop.
- Blake Decker got the starting quarterback nod for UNLV, and while he threw for 252 yards and ran for a team-high 56 yards, he couldn’t keep up the pace.
- UNLV’s Devonte Boyd caught six passes for 102 yards and Devante Davis added eight grabs for 100 yards.
Game Rating: C+

2014 Preview 

Yes, you can come up with a good football team at UNLV.

The season might have ended with a thud, losing 36-14 to North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, but with a 7-6 campaign, and with the NCAA allowing the program to play in a bowl this year after adjusting its Academic Progress Report score, this is the fun time for UNLV football.

It took head coach Bobby Hauck a few years to get to this point, and it was a fair time period of adjustment. He needed a recruiting cycle, and he had to change the culture of the program and show that it really and truly could be a winner. There might not have been any epic victories last season, but there was a dominant performance over San Diego State and a victory over in-state rival Nevada.

No matter how it happened, and no matter who the Rebels played, a winning season is a winning season, and with just one since 1994, 2013 was a really big deal.

Recruiting hasn’t been easy, coming up with the 124th-ranked class of 2014 according to Scout.com, and it’s always going to be a fight to turn UNLV into a true football school, with the stadium nowhere near campus and with basketball always taking center stage, but Hauck is doing it.

There’s still plenty of work to do with a soft run defense that needs to replace the entire starting linebacking corps, the offense has to be more consistent - going 7-0 last season when scoring 25 or more and 0-6 when scoring fewer – and the team has to rise to more occasions against the better teams. Going forward, though, Hauck proved that it’s possible to win in Las Vegas.

Going forward, Hauck and his staff have to recruit to a type. The lure of Las Vegas isn’t what you might think – it’s not like college kids have any money to hang around casinos, even if they are old enough to get in – and it’s always going to be a battle to get recruits to treat the school like a football power, so the expectations aren’t going to be all that high.

But again, there’s a bowl game now to shoot for, and there’s a precedent set. A good year could make it the first back-to-back winning seasons since 1983-1984. The schedule is a little tougher, but now, so is UNLV.

What to watch for on offense: The running game needs to come up with another option. Tim Cornett was everything for the ground game at times, rushing for 1,284 yards and 15 touchdowns. QB Caleb Herring ran well, finishing third on the team with 346 yards and five scores – likely starter Nick Sherry won’t do that. The two combined for 391 of the team’s 507 carries and 20 of the 25 rushing scores. Considering the O line might be the team’s biggest strength, Shaquille Murray-Lawrence and the rest of the backs will have to work to hit the 2,000-yard mark again. When the team ran well – going for 190 yards or more – UNLV won. That might be hard to do on a regular basis this season.

What to watch for on defense: It’s all about the run defense. The teams that could only run the ball – New Mexico and Air Force – got their yards, but they couldn’t do anything else in blowout losses to the Rebels. However, in general, the Rebels struggled when they couldn’t hold up on the defensive front, getting rolled over by San Jose State for 312 rushing yards in a winnable home loss, Arizona cranked out 397 on the ground and five scores, and the team was 1-4 when allowing three rushing touchdowns or more. This season, the secondary is loaded with experience, and there’s potential for an improved pass rush, but four of the top five tacklers are gone and the coaching staff has to rely on a young group of linebackers to get by. With Arizona and Northern Illinois up early, it could be rough.

The team will be far better if… the defense can come up with a third down stop. In one of the biggest statistical anomalies of the season, UNLV stuffed Nevada allowing the Wolf Pack offense to convert just 2-of-15 (13%) third down chances. In the other 11 games against FBS teams, the Rebels allowed opposing offenses to convert 50% of their chances or more eight times, and allowed Central Michigan and San Jose State to convert 40% of more. On the year, UNLV ended up allowing teams to convert 47.6% of their chances, but that’s been a major problem throughout the Hauck era allowing 49% of third down conversions in 2009 and 2011.

The Schedule: It’s going to take some work to manage the 13-game slate, and it’s going to take some key home wins against some tough teams. The Rebels will have to get used to life on the road over the first half of the season with four away games in the first six and five in the first eight. Can they take the big home dates against Northern Illinois and Fresno State? They might need to with a three week stretch of Houston, San Diego State and San Jose State on the road. Making life even harder is a date at Utah State to close out October. Going to BYU won’t be a breeze, but getting a trip to Hawaii might be like the bowl game considering how rough the rest of the slate is before closing out at home against Nevada.

Best offensive player: Senior WR Devante Davis. Can he keep up the pace after a dominant season, catching 87 passes for 1,290 yards and 14 touchdowns? Three of the top four receivers are back, and there are more than enough targets for QB Nick Sherry to work with, but Davis, along with Marcus Sullivan to provide a strong 1-2 punch, but it’s Davis who should be the team’s signature star and the most dangerous weapon. Explosive and consistent, he’s a true No. 1 target.

Best defensive player: Junior S Peni Vea. It’s never really a plus when a safety is the leading tackler, but it’s nice to know that there’s a last line of defense who can handle himself against the run and make plays in the open field like Vea. With good size and big-hitting ability, he’s like another linebacker, but he doesn’t do much when the ball is in the air. A strong safety, that’s not always his job, but he’s the sheriff of a veteran secondary that should be one of the team’s bigger areas of improvement.

Key players to a successful season: Senior DT Efrem Clark. It’s not like the veteran defensive tackles formed a brick wall against the run, but they were experienced. Three of the top four defensive tackles were seniors, with Clark the only one back. He’s not just at just 6-2 and 275 pounds, and he was a part of a rotation making ten tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss, but now he has to be a bit of an anchor. JUCO transfer Billy Tanuvasa is the bigger presence inside at 6-2 and 290 pounds, but it’s Clark who has to use his time logged in to be a bit of an active force against the run.

The season will be a success if ... UNLV gets to six wins. Coming up with another winning season will take a few upsets and a couple of shockers, but after getting to a bowl game last year, a losing campaign will be a big letdown - but 6-7 wouldn't feel that bad. Can the defensive front seven come together in a hurry? Can Nick Sherry come up with a big season under center? Can Tim Cornett be replaced? This might not be the most complete team in the Mountain West, but the program is far better and stronger than it was a few years ago. Six wins, considering all of the question marks, would be solid.

Key game: Oct. 4 at San Jose State. The Rebels were run over by the Spartans at home last season, and this year the tables have to be turned. It’ll be a tough first half of the season schedule-wise, and with a trip to San Diego State to start the season, and with Fresno State coming up next, this could turn the tide of the season. UNLV has lost the last four in the series – but before last season, the previous losses was a wild 55-48 loss in 1997.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Fumbles: Opponents 22 (lost 9) – UNLV 9 (lost 5)
- Penalties: Opponents 79 for 647 yards – UNLV 45 for 406 yards
- Punt Return Average: Opponents 9.7 yards – UNLV 3.2 yards

- 2014 UNLV Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players


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