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Meet the UNLV Rebels: Take Five with Mountain West Connection

So, you're probably not very familiar with the UNLV Rebels. Thankfully, SB Nation has a great blog on the entire Mountain West Conference and Jeremy Mauss from Mountain West Connection was kind enough to fill us in on UNLV:

Bucky's 5th Quarter: What do we need to know about new head coach Bobby Hauck. What kind of offense/defense does he run and what changes is he bringing to a program that only has one winning season in the last 15 years?

Mountain West Connection: The offense Hauck runs mirrors what most of the Big Ten does where he will put his quarterback under center and run the ball a lot.  That is what he did at Montana where he was very successful with deep FCS playoff runs. Do not expect him to pull a Rich Rodriguez and completely force his type of offense, so you will still see the spread offense mixed in with Hauck's new pro-style, run-based offense. The quarterback position is talented with Omar Clayton running the show as is wide receiver Phillip Payne, but the running game has not been good which may meen the offense will probably struggle in a run-based offense. Anything Hauck does with the defense will make it an improvement over the offensively obsessed former coach Mike Sanford. 


B5Q: What should we expect at quarterback from the Rebels? Omar Clayton is a former walk-on who battled injuries last year. Is he definitely the starter or will we see a few guys behind center?

MWC: There has been minor talk of Omar Clayton being over taken by Mike Clausen, but Clayton will be the starter for the Rebels. Clayton is an athletic quarterback and ran the spread offense in the past quite well. His arm is not as good as back up Mike Clausen but Clayton can make plays on the fly which head coach Bobby Hauck should take advantage of. Backup Clausen is almost a clone of Clayton and has seen significant time and is as capable of running the offense. Unless Clayton massively underachieves or gets hurt, Clausen won't see playing time.

(Editor's note: After Jeremy answered this question for us, Mike Clausen was named the starting quarterback by UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck. MWC has a story on that here.)

B5Q: Who are the playmakers on defense and how do the Rebels matchup defensively against Wisconsin’s powerful running game?

MWC: UNLV had a very tough time stopping the run as they were last in the Mountain West and gave up an average of 220 yards per game, but that was skewed a bit because they gave up 1,000 yards combined against Neveda and Air Force. UNLV will have a tough time stopping the rushing attack of Wisconsin. To be honest there are no real players that stand out on this Rebel defense and not a single player I would recommend as being a playmaker.  That is tough but it is the reality of one of the worst defenses in all of college football.

B5Q: This is a team that has underachieved the last few years and plays a tough non-conference this season. Is it safe to say the Rebels will miss a bowl game again?

MWC: The Rebels will come up short again in their attempt at a bowl game, because they need seven wins since they play at Hawaii and have the 13th game lined up on the schedule. Five wins is the high end for the Rebels this season.  

B5Q: UNLV’s three largest home crowds at Sam Boyd Stadium have been against the Badgers. Obviously the athletic department likes to see the seats filled, but won’t this just be an 8th home game for Wisconsin?

MWC: Not sure why you assume this is a home game for Wisconsin? Is there a large fan base out west for the Badgers?  When big teams come to town Sam Boyd fills up and the extra fans may be more neutral but I don't think this will be another home game for Wisconsin. 

I think Jeremy took me a little too literally on that last question and it is obvious he didn't see the crowd Wisconsin brought to Las Vegas in 2007. It was at least 60 percent Badger fans and I expect it to be the same Saturday.