Tag Archive: UNLV

Yep, it’s that weekend. Nevada takes on that school down south for the Fremont Cannon.

First, let me start with a few tidbits:

There’s going to be a lot of trash talk between THE University of Nevada and that school down south. Here’s some food for thought.

1. Chris Ault: 231 career wins
2. Total wins in UNLV PROGRAM history: 224

3. Nevada wins, it’s bowl eligible.
4. UNLV must win five of its last seven to get to six wins.

5. Nevada named a tier 1 university…again.
6. UNLV…not so much.

*By the way that’s academics, not athletics.

7. The last time the cannon wasn’t blue: George Bush and John Kerry were running for President. I was a freshman in high school.

8. Chris Ault took Nevada from Div. II to FCS.

9. Bobby Hauck is winless against Div. II teams since becoming coach at UNLV.

10. UNLV hasn’t had a coach with a winning overall or conference record since Harvey Hyde, who coached from 1982-85.

Now, on to the actual game. Bobby Hauck has UNLV playing better in recent years. That’s not surprising since the Rebels have been one of the worst teams in college football, no matter how you look at it. Statistically, records, margin of losses, you name it, UNLV was at or near the bottom. This year they’ve been competitive, though when they faced some tougher opponents in Louisiana Tech and Utah State, they couldn’t keep up. QB Nick Sherry must eliminate the mistakes. That’s for sure. UNLV’s defense has played pretty well, but La. Tech and USU showed good offense can wear them down and with the Wolf Pack’s attack, led by Cody Fajardo, Stefphon Jefferson and Brandon Wimberly, this should be no different. After the Wyoming scare, Chris Ault will have this team ready. Defensively, expect Nevada to key in on Tim Cornett. Sherry has a completion percentage of 55.4 percent and 10 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. I’d take my chances with Sherry trying to beat the Pack.

Prediction: It might be close early, but like previous years, Nevada pulls away. Wolf Pack wins 40-17.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

With UNLV practicing in Ely for about a week and a half or so, I’m getting the um…joy…of covering them. And, after my first time sitting through their practice, this is what I observed. Take it for what it’s worth.

For starters, the quarterback position leaves a lot to be desired. Right now, it appears to be a competition between Caleb Herring, who started most of last season and redshirt freshman Nick Sherry. Neither impressed. They missed multiple passes on fourth quarter drills and didn’t look too sharp overall.

That being said, the defense looked solid in those drills, though that was largely because they didn’t actually have to defend all that much. Head coach Bobby Hauck has his work cut out for him. Running back Tim Cornett looks primed and ready to have a decent year, the question is will he have any help at all. He’s certainly confident, telling me a good year is nothing short of a perfect record.

“Undefeated,” Cornett said. “No losses.”

Good luck.

I also wonder if UNLV’s defensive line will be able to get enough pressure. The QBs had enough time to sit back for a little while. Not a good sign from a coach who doesn’t like to blitz too much from the secondary. All in all, I’m not sure Cornett’s optimism is warranted here. UNLV has the look of a team that, to be frank, may be a four or five win team if they play well.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

*This is the start of my look at the 2012 MWC season. A full team-by-team countdown will begin soon. More details will be coming soon. 

With media days done and the football season just around the corner, the Nevada Wolf Pack make the jump to the Mountain West Conference. And, head coach Chris Ault is looking to help lead the team to a successful first season. The preseason polls picked the Wolf Pack to finish second in the conference, behind Boise State. But, don’t be fooled. This is anyone’s game.

Much will depend on how far quarterback Cody Fajardo develops.We all know the Union is going to be solid. And, though the team will now face a new season without the likes of Mike Ball and other former running backs from the past like Vai Taua, Nevada has a few waiting to take up the mantle. Stefphon Jefferson is the one I’d bet on to get most of the carries, but similar to when the Wolf Pack had three rushers run for more than 1,000 yards, don’t be surprised to see Nick Hale and even redshirt freshman Tony Knight get in on the action. The receivers will also be a big unknown, with Brandon Wimberly returning to the field.

But, Fajardo, last year’s WAC Freshman of the Year, must show progress. I need to see Fajardo develop into a true leader, to be able to run this offense with confidence. We know he can run, being the third leading rusher on the team last season. But, despite completing 68 percent of his passes, he had as many interceptions as passing touchdowns (six). Fajardo must take the next step in the passing game. If he can, he could be Colin Kaepernick good.

The defense has a lot of questions as well after losing defensive end Brett Roy, linebackers Brandon Marshall and James-Michael Johnson and cornerback Isaiah Frey. That being said, the defense will likely take a step or two down from last season, but let’s face it, defense hasn’t been the true strength of this team in recent years.

What am I saying? Nevada is full of questions. But, the potential is there for this team to make some very big waves this season. And, the Broncos are replacing tons of talented players, including running back Doug Martin and quarterback Kellen Moore. That means they’re throwing a brand new quarterback into the fire. For the first time in a while, Boise shouldn’t be considered the runaway favorites. Several other teams in the MWC have potential to break out, but have some questions facing them as well. But, expect teams like Fresno State, Hawaii and San Diego State to contend as well. Meaning, the MWC may be split in terms of team quality, but who finishes on top? That’s a crap shoot. A lot of these teams have issues facing them that could derail their seasons. That should mean we’re in for an entertaining season, but one that will be incredibly hard to predict.

Wyoming, New Mexico, UNLV and Colorado State all have serious issues and are unlikely to contend. Air Force just lost so many starters, it’s hard to see them contending.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

The Las Vegas Review Journal is reporting that Boise State is indeed leaving for the Big East. Bad news for the MWC and the Wolf Pack. I realize Boise’s fans can be annoying. But losing your greatest rival in college football is never a good thing. Never.

Where does this leave Nevada? Essentially in the WAC 2.0 with a few new teams. This conference isn’t nearly as good as it looked a couple of years ago. No more Utah, BYU, San Diego State, TCU and now Boise State. So, the Wolf Pack gets…Fresno State, UNLV and trading New Mexico State for New Mexico. Oh, and they still have to travel to play Hawaii every other year.

Why focus on just college football? Because if the reason we’re moving is because of football, then we better be making a significant upgrade, which we’re not. Head coach Chris Ault and Nevada has a bright future over the next couple of years with Cody Fajardo under center. Over the past several seasons players like Colin Kaepernick, Rishard Matthews, James-Michael Johnson and Dontay Moch have helped elevate the program. But, it needs to take that next step, much like Utah is trying to do in the Pac-12.

Moving to the MWC was supposed to be a giant leap forward. Instead, it feels like a half a step forward.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Yes, news that the BCS is close to adding a four-team playoff beginning in 2014 is great news. Here’s a link to Pat Forde’s article. For the record Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Karl Benson said there was unanimous support for the playoff (not that the WAC’s going to have a team in that playoff anytime soon).

But everyone from SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, who has been a driving force behind this to BCS executive director Bill Hancock has called this a “seismic” change. One of the best regular season’s in sports will remain tension filled. There will still be big games. Rivalries may take on more importance. And the worst postseason in sports? That just took a huge step in the right direction. There’s still a lot to sort out, mainly, how the four teams will be chosen. And there’s always going to be controversy about it. The fifth team is always going to complain, but we can deal with that. What matters is for the first time, the college football championship will be decided on the field and not limited because of a broken system.

The question is how does this affect head coach Chris Ault and the Wolf Pack? Probably not much. Even in the team’s 13-1 dream season with Virgil Green, Colin Kaepernick and Dontay Moch, it likely wouldn’t have been chosen for the playoff. But, the potential effects for the MWC-CUSA merger could be big. Mainly, there’s a chance this means San Diego State and Boise State stays. For Wolf Pack fans, the Broncos staying would be huge. I understand everyone has basically said screw em. But, like I’ve been saying, Boise is the key football rivalry for the Wolf Pack. Kaep and Kellen Moore? The 69-67 four-overtime thriller? The Miracle at Mackay? Face it. The Wolf Pack-Broncos is the exciting rivalry that Nevada-UNLV isn’t.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Saw a post on this at Silver and Blue Sports commenting on whether Nevada and Boise State should continue playing. I realize there’s no love loss between fans. But, I do think both schools would be wise to continue playing, even though it won’t have the same significance. This rivalry has defined both programs over the past five or so years. Whether it was Boise State’s 69-67 four over time thriller or the Wolf Pack’s 34-31 over the then unbeaten Broncos, the games have generally been entertaining. We saw Kellen Moore and Colin Kaepernick go at it. We saw kickers rise and wilt in pressure situations. We saw head coaches Chris Petersen and Chris Ault lead their respective programs to levels they hadn’t been before.

At least for football, this is the one true rivalry Nevada has. UNLV doesn’t count. Why? Because the Rebels fans don’t care. Boise fans will trash talk. And Nevada fans will trash talk right back to them. I know there’s a little bit of bitterness because Boise’s leaving. But I want this series to continue. College football is better for it.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

With the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA set to form a mega conference the question facing Nevada is simple: is this a good thing?
When the Wolf Pack announced it was joining the MWC, it seemed like a slam dunk. But now? This is essentially the WAC lite, especially with other WAC schools apparently set to join the new conference. Sure, Nevada and UNLV will play each other and it will have conference implications. However, the Wolf Pack is losing its most important rivalry…its football game against Boise State. Make no mistake anyone that’s been to a Nevada-Boise game knows the fans hate each other. It’s the one game Nevada fans look forward to.
This new mega conference will have little impact on the college football world. It will still be on the outside looking in. And both conferences lost many of its strongest programs. What started as a chance to get a big upgrade has turned into something that is slightly better than the WAC but not much else.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Not that this is a terrible surprise to anyone, but cbssports.com is reporting that the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA will dissolve and join together to form a new conference starting with the 2013-2014 season.

The new league, which doesn’t have a new name yet, would include MWC members Nevada, UNLV, Air Force, Colorado State, Wyoming, Fresno State, New Mexico and Hawaii (football only) and C-USA members Southern Miss, Marshall, East Carolina, UAB, Tulsa, Rice, UTEP and Tulane.

The move is obviously driven by the fact that both conferences lost arguably its strongest football programs (Boise State, TCU, BYU and Utah from the MWC and South Florida and others from C-USA).

How much does this move help the Wolf Pack? Not a whole lot. The concept is interesting and it would provide the new conference a championship game. However, there’s not a real strong football program in that list. Sure, the Wolf Pack has the potential to build into that. But, everyone else, not exactly the top-tier teams the university thought it’d be getting to play with.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Six games are in the books for the Wolf Pack. And at 3-3, the team is about where I think most people expected them to be. What do I think about how the team’s fared so far?

For starters, give the defense props. I know many people said the defense was going to be the strength of the team this season. But, after strong performances against Boise State, shutting out UNLV and having a late score by New Mexico stop a second-consecutive shutout against the Lobos, the defense has stepped up this season. Look to Brett Roy for a big reason why. Roy’s in the top 10 in the nation in terms of tackles for loss per game. Having linebacker James-Michael Johnson helping out doesn’t hurt either. In fact, even the secondary has looked good (I feel shocked just writing that).

Too bad the offense has been inconsistent. Quarterback Tyler Lantrip looked great against the Rebels. But, pathetic against Boise State and Oregon. Quarterback Cody Fajardo looked fantastic against Texas Tech then played terribly against the Rebels. Both quarterbacks are lucky to have wide receiver Rishard Matthews, who is among the nation’s best in yards per game. Perhaps the biggest surprise is at running back where neither Mike Ball or Lampford Mark took over a dominant role. Stephon Jefferson has worked his way nicely into the rotation.

The biggest disappointment on offense has to be the other receivers. This was a chance for receivers like Tray Session to step up. They haven’t.

The good news for the Wolf Pack is, unless there are some big upsets, Nevada’s game against Fresno this Saturday is the de facto WAC championship game. With Hawaii losing to both UNLV and San Jose State,  the Warriors aren’t much of a threat. It would appear the other big road block on the schedule would be Utah State and the Bulldogs handled them.

Overall, the season’s been ok. The offense has been frustrating to watch. The loss to Texas Tech reminded me of the 2008 and 2009 season when I thought Nevada should have won more games against better opponents.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Blue Friday-10/5/11

I realize it’s not actually Friday. However, I wanted to write this a little early that and the fact that I haven’t done one of these in a while.

The Nevada-UNLV rivalry. The battle for the Fremont Cannon. The fight for state bragging rights. When I was a freshman in 2008, I couldn’t wait for this game. I chose to attend the University of Nevada for numerous reasons, but the chance to go to a college football game and experience the power and passion of a rivalry game? That was possibly the thing I was looking forward to the most.

I grew up mostly in Oregon (though my family is from Wisconsin, so I know a thing or two about football rivalries you could say). The Civil War (Oregon vs. Oregon State, I’m a Beavers fan in that series) was amazing. Fans on both sides would trash talk across the state. To see both Autzen and Reser Stadium filled year after year, no matter if the teams were good or bad, was amazing. One win against the Ducks and Oregon State’s season would be at least partly a success. Lose, and no matter if it was the only loss of the season, the year was a failure. To me, when a rivalry game comes up, it’s not just a game. Being a true fan means your pride is on the line along with the team’s.

The Nevada-UNLV game was supposed to be a game that further justified my decision to go up north. It was supposed to give me the unrivaled happiness of defeating the rival school especially since I left Vegas for Reno. This was going to give me the quintessential college sports moment I was desperately hoping I would get to experience.

Much to my dismay, that feeling has been sorely lacking in this rivalry. I understand why. When one team dominates, it can be easy for fans of the losing team to lose interest in the game. Yet, this is a meeting of Nevada’s two universities. This is supposed to ignite feelings of anger. The game means much more up here  than it does down South. You can thank head coach Chris Ault for that. His passion for the program and his excitement in turn gets fans excited.

But what about Vegas fans? Too often I’ve been to games where those fans go there to drink, party, have a good time…and couldn’t care less what was happening on the field. Sure there’s spirited chants. And fans seemed to care in the early parts of the game. But as it wore on, I noticed the UNLV fans, and some Nevada fans for that matter, lost interest.

Not that I could blame them. UNLV hasn’t reached a bowl game since 2000. Even then, the team’s made just three bowl games in its history, one of which was taken away due to NCAA violations. Another new head coach, another struggling season. Frankly, there’s not a whole lot of reasons to be a UNLV football fan. But, the sad part is it’s had an effect on me. A rivalry is only fun and special when both fan bases are into it. When one fan base cares and the other doesn’t you get…I’m not sure what you get. But it isn’t what a rivalry should be.

Luckily, the Nevada-Boise State game in recent years has taken the place of the rivalry game. I feel grateful to have attended college during the days of Kaep, Taua and company and their epic battles against Kellen Moore, head coach Chris Petersen and the rest of the Broncos. Those fans traveled extremely well, and were very vocal. From non-stop chanting during the games to trash talking before and after, the Nevada-Boise games provided me the rivalry game that Nevada-UNLV should have been.

I hope the Nevada-UNLV rivalry improves. I hope Nevada’s move to the Mountain West Conference and by extension giving the game more meaning in terms of conference standings, adds to it. I hope that the Rebels show (though not against Nevada this year) some sort of improvement to get their fans excited. Hell, I even hope Bobby Hauck sticks around to build up traditions there like Ault has here. Because students deserve to experience the rivalry game like it’s meant to be enjoyed. High stakes, traditions, history, bragging rights, all that should be on the line. For other former Vegas residents like myself, this should be a chance to give Vegas the proverbial finger and reinforce why we chose to leave. Whether that happens in the coming seasons remains to be seen. If there was one big disappointment I had in college it was this rivalry. But, I hope that changes for future students very soon. Because college football without a true college football rivalry…isn’t really college football.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.