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LAS VEGAS — Five little-known facts of Saturday night’s Arizona-UNLV game at Sam Boyd Stadium …
1. UNLV plays much tougher at home than on the road under embattled coach Bobby Hauck.
The Rebels finished 2-11 last season in Hauck’s third year at UNLV, but they were close in the fourth quarter in every loss at Sam Boyd Stadium. The outcomes at Sam Boyd, where UNLV finished 2-5:
— Lost in three overtimes to Minnesota 30-27
— Lost to NAU 20-17
— Lost to Washington State 35-27
— Beat Air Force 38-35
— Lost to Nevada 42-37
— Beat New Mexico 35-7
— Lost to Wyoming 29-23
The Rebels actually outscored opponents 204-198 at home last season with the largest margin of defeat only eight points against Washington State.
2. UNLV gained more yards than Minnesota 419-320 in last week’s 51-23 loss against the Golden Gophers.
The Gophers scored three times without needing an offensive snap. Minnesota opened the second half with a 98-yard kickoff return by Marcus Jones, blocked and returned a field goal attempt 51 yards and Brioen Boddy-Calhon intercepted Nick Sherry and returned it for an 89-yard score to give the Gophers a 37-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.
3. UNLV allowed only 99 passing yards to Minnesota, while UA quarterback B.J. Denker passed for only 87 yards against NAU.
“We need to be able to throw a lot better than Friday night (against NAU),” UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. “I was really conservative in the play calling. I told the team that and the coaches. We can get by with that because we were running the ball and NAU wasn’t scoring.
“But going forward, we are going to need to throw the ball because teams are going to put everyone up front if you aren’t throwing the ball. And in practice, we work more on passing than running.”
Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson had this to say about UNLV’s defense:
“We definitely have some things to clean up. We knew that they had a new defensive coordinator (Tim Hauck, Bobby’s brother) and they mixed things up on us this year. Their secondary did a great job of playing well and covering us. We need to complete more plays and move the ball better, so we have to execute better on offense.”
4. The last time Bobby Hauck coached against Arizona was 2002 with Washington as the defensive backs coach.
That was John Mackovic’s second year with the UA and the Wildcats managed to hang tough against the 22nd-ranked Huskies, losing 32-28 in Seattle. Washington receiver Reggie Williams caught the game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass from Cody Pickett with 2:03 remaining.
Arizona quarterback Jason Johnson passed for 443 yards against Hauck’s secondary that included Nate Robinson, who later starred for the Huskies’ basketball program and became one of the most hated to play at McKale Center.
5. Two sons of legendary athletes will be on opposite sides of the field.
UNLV’s Jerry Rice Jr. and Arizona’s Trey Griffey — wide receivers who are sons of top former athletes in their respective sport — will play at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday night. Jerry Rice and Ken Griffey Jr. are featured in the YouTube video above that shows some of the biggest legends in sports
Rice Jr., whose dad is a Hall of Famer and the NFL’s career leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns, caught six passes for 35 yards last week against Minnesota.
Griffey, whose father was a 13-time baseball all-star and four-time American League home run champion, is a redshirt freshman who has yet to catch a pass.
Rice Jr. lettered three years at UCLA before transferring to UNLV this season. He is immediately eligible because he earned his Bachelor’s degree at UCLA and is working on his Master’s at UNLV. He was a walk-on at UCLA out of high school and caught only nine passes in his three years with the Bruins.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.