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UNLV Football a Work in Progress

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Hauck is entering his critical third year as head coach

Bobby Hauck remains confident that, in time, he can build a consistent winner as football coach at UNLV.

UNLV at a Glance

2011 record: 2-10, 1-6 MWC
MWC Media 2012 projected finish: 9th
Coach: Bobby Hauck (3rd year at UNLV, 4-21; ninth year overall, 84-38
Returning starters: 15 (8 offense, 5 defense, 2 specialists)
Scanning the schedule: The Rebels will face upstate rival Nevada as a conference opponent for the first time since 1995 and for just the fifth time ever; the two meet for the 38th time overall in Reno on Oct. 13. UNLV opens the season with four straight home games: Minnesota, Northern Arizona, Washington State and the Mountain West opener against Air Force. The Rebels’ only nonconference road game is at Louisiana Tech on Oct. 6. New Mexico comes to Sam Boyd Stadium on Nov. 3; the Lobos’ only victory of the 2011 season came at UNLV’s expense. Each Mountain West team has one league opponent it won’t play this year. For the Rebels, it’s Fresno State.
Quotable: “It’s paramount to us to have the main draw in Las Vegas be UNLV – not just basketball, not just football, but the entire university, both athletically and academically. … I really feel like UNLV gets looked over sometimes in the shadow of the Strip and Fremont Street, and I really want us to be able to step out from behind that.”
- Offensive guard Doug Zismann

Yet, he concedes, time is a college coach’s worst enemy.

What is Hauck’s greatest obstacle, following 2-11 and 2-10 seasons in his first two years?

“Getting it done now,” he said at last month’s Mountain West Conference media gathering at the Cosmopolitan Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, less than 2 miles from the UNLV campus.

Hauck, who was fabulously successful at Montana (80-17 in seven years), has taken few shortcuts in Vegas. He has recruited mostly high school athletes, though he does have 13 junior-college transfers on the 2012 roster.

“We’ve tried to redshirt kids as best we can,” he said, “and still get a team on the field. We’ve got a system we believe in. …. With time, I believe that good things are (in store).”

How much time does he have, in a job that’s historically difficult?

Hauck signed a three-year contract when he was hired before the 2010 season. In 2011, he was extended through the 2014 season. In essence, he now has a five-year contract.

In such situations, year three often is crucial.

He believes the Rebels are ready to take a leap forward.

How big?

“I think we’ll be competitive,” Hauck said. “I think we’ll be a well-drilled, physical, competitive football team.

“Until we start putting up more points on the scoreboard than our opponent on any given Saturday, then we’re just a work in progress. But I think that progress is being made.”

Offensive guard Doug Zismann thinks so, too.

Zismann was recruited to UNLV by the staff of Mike Sanford, Hauck’s predecessor, and played one year under Sanford in 2009. The Rebels went 5-7.

Based solely on won-lost records, things have gotten worse and not better. But Zismann views his senior year as the payoff.

“We had a lot of good things happen during spring ball,” Zismann said, “… all the way from the defensive side of the ball to the offense, everyone has really impressed me.”

Hauck says his team is remarkably confident, considering they’ve had so little success.

Zismann says he can feel it.

“Confidence comes from the inside and moves outward,” he said. “It’s just inside the program.

“No one believes in us besides the people in our own locker room and our administration. That’s kind of the way I like it.”

The Rebels were picked ninth, ahead of only New Mexico, in the Mountain West preseason poll. They and the Lobos were the only teams with no representation on the preseason all-conference team.

Yet, UNLV is not bereft of a talent.

Running back Tim Cornett rushed for 671 yards last season, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Junior quarterback Caleb Herring showed promise in 2011 but lacked consistency; he’s in a battle with redshirt freshman Nick Sherry for the starting job.

Cornett will run, and Herring or Sherry will throw, behind a line that’s the strength of the offense. All five starters return from last season, including seniors Zismann and tackle Yusef Rogers.

“(Zinsmann and Rogers) do a good job,” Hauck said. “They’ve worked hard and brought the young guys along.

“So, that’s a solid group. We ran the ball well last year, particularly down the stretch. We have a good running-back corps, so we’ve got some things we can hang our hat on.”

Last year, opponents could hang their hat on the likelihood of scoring a whole bunch of points against the Rebels: an average of 40.4. Only New Mexico and Kansas gave up more.

Hauck is counting on the continued development of senior linebacker John Lotulelei, a junior-college transfer, and defensive end James Boyd, a transfer from Southern California.

“Just being around our guys, watching them work, watching the attitude, seeing the steps we’re making, gives me a lot of encouragement,” Hauck said.

“I see some of the talent deficiencies, I think, beginning to go away.”
— This article appeared on page B2 of the Albuquerque Journal

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