In giving up just 51 rushing yards and holding Wyoming to 17 points, Air Force proved to itself that its defensive improvements are, in fact, for real.
The downside, of course, was that those 17 points were four more than the Falcons’ offense scored.
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“If you play well for 57 minutes and then the last three let it go and don’t come home with a victory, we didn’t do our job,” Air Force defensive coordinator Steve Russ said after Wyoming came from behind with a touchdown-scoring drive in the closing minutes. “That’s the bottom line. There are no moral victories in this business.”
But talking with Air Force players, it seems perhaps there was a morale boost that came from this game. In giving up 40 points per game in 2013, the Falcons were frequently blown out and the offense was left at times feeling as though nothing it could do would be enough.
Two weeks into the season, the Falcons rank in the top 10 nationally in rushing defense, No. 34 in total defense and are tied at No. 33 in scoring defense. Those numbers may not be mindblowing coming off games against FCS Nicholls State and an in-construction offense at Wyoming, but they mean something when you consider where Air Force was at a year ago.
“That’s a good sign that our defense are the ones who are taking over a game,” senior receiver Jon Lee said. “We all know what our offense can do. So as long as our defense is in there pounding and pounding, our offense is going to put up points. It’s only a matter of time before we all start clicking and it’s going to be good.”
Next game: at Georgia State, noon MT Saturday, ESPN3
Notable: Air Force lost fullback Shayne Davern to a knee injury in the loss at Wyoming. The full extent of the injury is not yet known, but coach Troy Calhoun said the team would be without the sophomore for at least six weeks. Left tackle Matt Rochell was also knocked out of the game against the Cowboys, suffering a concussion in the first half. His status is unknown for this week. Air Force will meet Georgia State for the first time. The Falcons have 13 players from Georgia on the varsity roster and have developed a productive pipeline from the state in recent years with players like Chad Hall and Asher Clark. Air Force has an open date following this week’s game.
— Brent Briggeman, The Gazette
Broncos junior Jay Ajayi has been the most used and most productive tailback in the country the first two weeks.
Ajayi leads the nation with 69 touches and 459 yards from scrimmage. He's fifth in rushing (305 yards), second in carries (53) and tied for 12th in receptions (16).
Last week, Ajayi gained a school-record 280 yards from scrimmage on 37 touches. That led to questions about whether the Broncos are over-using him.
“We would be stupid not to put the work on him,” coach Bryan Harsin said. “ We can talk about it all we want. Next week, we’ll put it in Jay’s hands. The ball will be in his hands again. I don’t know — I think it’d be idiotic for us not to utilize Jay and to spread the ball around just because we say we need to.”
Ajayi played all but three snaps in the season opener against Ole Miss and generated 179 yards from scrimmage. He came back with 33 carries for 219 yards and two touchdowns and four catches for 61 yards and a touchdown against Colorado State.
He left the Colorado State game briefly when he got the wind knocked out of him on a hit but otherwise has shown no wear.
“I’m getting a lot of opportunities to touch the ball, a lot of opportunities to make big plays for the team,” said Ajayi, a second-year starter. “It’s been really fun just seeing how my role has developed from last year to this year, seeing the different style that we’re doing.”
And his coaches have shown no inclination to reduce his workload.
“When you have a great player, you give him the football," offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said. "I don’t think that’s a controversy. Jay was in a flow. We’re talking to him on the sidelines on the headsets — he sees the game really well. He wasn’t winded. He wasn’t beat up. Yesterday, it wasn’t even 12 hours afterward — he was fresh and ready to go. If he’s fresh and rolling, we’re going to play him. We only get 10 more games guaranteed. This isn’t the NFL season. We get 10 guaranteed games. Let’s get the most out of our guys for 10 more guaranteed games.”
Next game: at Connecticut, 10 a.m. MT Saturday, ABC/ESPN2
Notable: The Broncos finished the Colorado State game without four of their top five cornerbacks. Starter Donte Deayon is expected to return this week. Starter Cleshawn Page is out for at least a week. Backup Mercy Maston is out for five weeks. Backup Bryan Douglas is expected to play this week after leaving with concussion symptoms. That leaves sophomore Jonathan Moxey, who started last week, as the only member of the rotation unaffected by injury so far. ... TE Connor Peters will miss four games because of an academic issue, including the two he already has missed. ... LT Rees Odhiambo is questionable after leaving the Colorado State game with an injury. ... QB Grant Hedrick has been hit in the head in each of the first two games. Both defenders were ejected for targeting. ... DT Tyler Horn, a senior starter, is out for the year with a knee injury. He will redshirt.
— Chadd Cripe, Idaho Statesman
The Rams could be in for some unusually long practices this week.
Coach Jim McElwain said Monday that several of the issues that showed up in the Rams’ 37-24 loss Saturday night at Boise State could be traced directly to the previous Tuesday’s practice, a session he was not pleased with afterward.
CSU starts installing its game plan for each week’s game on Tuesdays, and McElwain considers that day’s practice, along with those on Wednesday and Thursday, the most important of each week.
“There were a lot of things that happened in Tuesday’s practice that occurred in the ballgame, and I think that’s a great learning experience,” McElwain said at his weekly news conference. “It’s about the work you do today to prepare you for what you’re about to encounter on Saturday, in this case.”
Many of the missed tackles that helped Boise State amass 676 yards of total offense were the result of defenders not fighting off blockers properly and getting their heads in front of the ball carriers while tackling them from the side, McElwain said.
The Rams (1-1, 0-1 Mountain West) run a drill every Tuesday that specifically addresses those issues and both McElwain and junior linebacker SteveO Michel said the team was much better at it the week before the season opener against the University of Colorado than it was last week.
“Starting from practice, Tuesday’s practice, Ram Drill, we weren’t getting our head across, and it showed in the game,” Michel said. “There’s a couple tackles that could have been just 2-yard gains instead of 10-yard gains.
McElwain said he should have insisted the drill be repeated until it was done right.
The coach said there also were some details in the passing game, by both quarterback Garrett Grayson and his receivers, in practice that foreshadowed the missed opportunities on the deep ball that showed up in Saturday night’s game. Balls thrown just out of the reach of receivers who were a step or two beyond the nearest defender, and receivers who couldn’t hang on to passes that were on target because of poor route running or poor hand placement.
“If I’m going to sit there and not pay attention to that detail today, that detail’s going to come bite you down the road,” McElwain said, noting that NCAA rules limit practice time to 20 hours each week when school is in session.
The coach said he’ll “demand attention to detail” this week and said if he has to use all 20 hours in one day to “make it right, we’re going to make it right."
Next game: vs. UC Davis, 1 p.m. MT Saturday, CSURams.com/videos (online)
Notable: McElwain said he didn’t have a problem with the targeting penalty Saturday night that led to safety Kevin Pierre-Louis’ ejection, calling it a “a great teachable moment” for his team. Pierre-Louis was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Grant Hedrick early in the second quarter after the Boise State quarterback lowered his head to prepare for impact just before he was hit by Pierre-Louis. “They reviewed it, therefore it was a good call,” McElwain said. “I think from a teaching standpoint, he did turn his head and shoulder, but he also didn’t wrap up.” CSU has been outscored 54-24 in the first three quarters while outscoring opponents 31-0 in the fourth quarter. The Rams are 0-4 all-time against Boise State and have been outscored 184-81 in those games, all played in the past four seasons.
— Kelly Lyell, Fort Collins Coloradoan
In their futility and frustration on defense, the New Mexico Lobos are not alone.
New Mexico (0-2) was gutted for eight touchdowns and 621 yards last week in a 58-23 loss to Arizona State (then ranked 17th, now 16th).
In the Mountain West, there's a lot of that going around.
In losing last week, San Jose State (vs. now fifth-ranked Auburn) and Fresno State (vs. Utah) each yielded one more point than UNM did. Colorado State allowed even more yards total offense in a 37-24 loss to Boise State — 676 — than the Lobos did against the Sun Devils.
In this case, New Mexico coach Bob Davie said after the ASU game, misery does not love company.
The major source of frustration, Davie said, is his belief that UNM's talent on defense far outstrips its performance thus far.
"You see the burst and the talent we have on offense at times," he said. "We have the same kind of talent on defense, we really do. We just don't play. We break down, we cave in, we just cannot execute. It's no one's fault but our own.
"It doesn't look like we're even on the same planet with (ASU). But we really are. It's so frustrating because we spring leaks, just simple things, and then we get gouged."
On offense, redshirt freshman quarterback Lamar Jordan had a breakout game — sort of — against the Sun Devils. Entering the contest after senior QB Clayton Mitchem lost a fumble, Jordan led UNM to three first-half touchdowns, completed 7 of 11 passes for 130 yards and a TD, and had a 75-yard touchdown run that was nullified by a penalty. Jordan, however, also fumbled twice, leading to two ASU scores.
Starting quarterback Cole Gautsche, who missed the ASU game with a strained hamstring, is likely to return for the New Mexico State game on Sept. 20. But Davie said Jordan has supplanted Mitchem as the No. 2 QB.
Next game: at New Mexico State, 6 p.m. MT Sept. 20, AggieVision (online)
Notable: New Mexico has a bye this week. Davie hopes to have Gautsche, slot receiver/kick returner Carlos Wiggins (deep thigh bruise) and cornerback Cranston Jones (dislocated elbow), all of whom sat out the ASU game, back for New Mexico State. ... Linebacker Kimmie Carson took a blow to the head during the ASU game but should be OK for NMSU, Davie said on Tuesday. He's awaiting the results of an MRI regarding the status of safety Daniel Henry (shoulder). ... New Mexico has a Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday practice schedule this week before breaking for the weekend. But Davie will miss Wednesday's and Thursday's workouts to be with sophomore linebacker Donnie White in St. Louis. White's father, Donald, was killed in a random shooting last week on a St. Louis street.
— Rick Wright, Albuquerque Journal
Another week, another game where Wyoming made plays late to pull out a victory.
The Cowboys went on a nine-play, 75-yard drive and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 3-yard pass from senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard to senior tight end J.D. Krill with 58 seconds to play for a 17-13 home victory over Air Force last Saturday night.
After throwing for 92 yards in the opener, Kirkegaard showed significant improvement against Air Force as he was 23 of 37 for 282 yards and two touchdowns. He was 6 of 7 for 73 yards on the game-winning drive.
"For an older guy (a fourth-year senior) he certainly did grow up," first-year coach Craig Bohl said. "Those are hard things to do. This is a great momentum builder for us, and him personally."
Wyoming will need momentum — and a lot more — this week as it plays at No. 2 Oregon on Saturday in its first road game. The Cowboys have lost their previous 14 games against ranked opponents, and the majority of those were not close. Early lines have Oregon favored by six touchdowns.
The Cowboys have allowed 25 points over their first two games, but face an Oregon offense that averages 54 points per contest. Wyoming must contend with Oregon junior quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota, who led the Ducks to 28 unanswered points in their 46-27 home win over then No. 7 Michigan State last week.
Ironically, Wyoming plays at Michigan State on Sept. 27.
Wyoming ran for only 51 yards against Air Force's 3-4 defense, and faces another 3-4 scheme this week with a significant upgrade in talent.
This will be the second time the Cowboys have played a team ranked second in the nation. It hosted No. 2 Texas in 2009 and lost 41-10. Wyoming has never played a team ranked No. 1 in the country.
Most of Wyoming's 25 seniors have played ranked teams on the road, most recently at Nebraska and Texas, so the awe factor of Oregon and Autzen Stadium shouldn't be a factor — at least the players are saying that.
"I approach every team the same," senior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha said. "At the end of the day you just have to gout there and play. Obviously, you have to be prepared, but it's about going out there and playing."
Next game: at No. 2 Oregon, noon MT, Pac-12 Networks
Notable: This is the first of a home-and-home series with Wyoming and Oregon, with the Ducks scheduled to play in Laramie in 2017. ... The Cowboys have had the first two Mountain West Defensive Players of the Week. This week was senior middle linebacker Jordan Stanton, the week before it was Nzeocha. ... Bohl said the team came out of the Air Force game healthy. ... Bohl is the first Wyoming coach to win his first two games in his first season since Pat Dye in 1980. ... The Cowboys lead the nation in fewest penalties (three) and penalty yards (19) through two games.— Robert Gagliardi, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
The Aggies are reeling with injuries in key positions just two games into the season.
The Aggies have added receivers Brandon Swindall and Shaan Johnson to the list of players expected to be out for the year. The others are linebackers Alex Huerta and Kyler Fackrell.
Johnson, a senior, has had lingering knee injuries that have forced him into retirement while Swindall was hurt in the opening minutes of the Aggies' 40-20 win over Idaho State on Saturday.
Swindall was expected to be an integral part of the offense this year after earning five starts as a sophomore, finishing with 29 receptions for 285 yards and six touchdowns. Johnson played in every game last year and finished with seven receptions for 72 yards.
“Two outside linebackers and a starting receiver out, it’s tough,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said. “It’s not good and it’s hard and we have guys stepping up all over the place to find ways to win games.”
Hunter Sharp, a JC transfer who had one catch for 37 yards against Tennessee, will step into a starting role in Swindall’s absence.
Utah State’s offense struggled against Idaho State until it turned to the run game. It was a positive move with the Aggies totaling 311 rushing yards on 45 carries against the Bengals with four players earning 40 yards or more.
Wells said the Aggies could be relying on the run game more in the future as well, particularly now that Swindall and Johnson are out.
“It may not be a one-man show back there,” he said of the run game. “You’re probably going to see Chuckie (Keeton), JoJo (Natson) and three or four running backs.”
Next game: vs. Wake Forest, 5 p.m. MT Saturday, CBSSN
Notable: Utah State is 0-3 against ACC teams while Wake Forest has never played a Mountain West team. Kicker Jake Thompson has missed from 48 and 52 yards out, but Wells said he is sticking with Thompson on long attempts while Nick Diaz handles the shorter ones. “I see him do it every day in practice,” he said of Thompson. “I still believe in him.” The Aggies were penalized 14 times for 160 yards against Idaho State, which included five pass interference calls. However, Wells said he wants his team to continue to be aggressive. “I don’t mind aggressive penalties,” he said. “We need to be cleaner with our hands in the secondary and on the offensive line. We need some better technique sometimes."
— Lya Wodraska, Salt Lake Tribune
Fresno State again struggled with its pass defense in a 59-27 loss at Utah, where it gave up 268 yards to bring the two-game total to 692. The Bulldogs have allowed 10 passing touchdowns, the most in the nation, and have yet to pick off a pass. Opponents also are averaging 10.2 yards per pass attempt and only Kansas (10.6) and Rice (13.4) have allowed more yards per play.
A big part of that at Utah was poor tackling in the secondary. The Bulldogs' staff had a hard time counting up the yards after contact because there just wasn't much of it. Contact, that is. "Part of the problem with that is, it became yards after catch because we had some catches where there should have been a contact, but there wasn't even a contact," Coach Tim DeRuyter said.
So in practice this week they again have thrown open the competition at the cornerback spots and the plan is to go back to some basic fundamentals, running some open-field tackling drills.
"Open-space tackling we were horrible and part of that was technique and part of that is not getting enough guys to the ball," DeRuyter said. "Clearly, we have to be able to get guys down in space. We knew they had some good athletes, but we made them look a lot better than they are. Not to take anything away from Utah, but we should have competed much better in open space against those guys.
"Were going to crank that up this week and see who will step to the challenge. We're going to do some open-field tackling drills. We have to find out personnel-wise who is going to accept that challenge of, in a one-on-one situation, being able to get a receiver on the ground or in a one-on-one situation being able to cover because clearly those two areas hurt us."
Next game: vs. Nebraska, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday, CBSSN
Notable: Fresno State has had eight drives that started and ended in the first quarter of its games at USC and at Utah and every one of them has ended with a punt. After the Bulldogs' first five drives against the Utes resulted in a three-and-out, they are averaging just 2.1 yards per play (62 yards, 29 plays) in the opening quarter of games. ... The Bulldogs, by the way, are 16-2 under DeRuyter when scoring first. ... Ticket sales for the Bulldogs' home opener against Nebraska have slowed considerably since that opening loss at USC. Still, the Nebraska game has generated more than $1.5 million in gross revenue from ticket sales, which is the largest amount ever for a game at Bulldog Stadium. As of Monday, about 300 tickets remained for the game. ... Senior wideout Josh Harper is just 20 receiving yards shy of becoming only the 10th player in program history with at least 2,000. Harper also has caught a pass in 29 consecutive games, tied for the eighth-longest streak in the nation. ... One year, quarterback Derek Carr and receivers Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse can make a pretty big difference in an offense. Through two games, the Bulldogs have just five explosive plays of 20 or more yards (two runs, three passes) and are ranked last in the conference. Last season, they had 86 plays of 20 or more yards (12 runs, 74 passes) and led the conference.
— Robert Kuwada, Fresno Bee
The Warriors are 0-2 after opening the season with consecutive one-possession losses to Pac-12 opponents — 17-16 to Washington and 38-30 to Oregon State. The Warriors trailed 38-7 entering the fourth quarter before rallying against OSU.
Adding injury to insult, the Warriors lost two key players in the OSU game. Running back Joey Iosefa, who has scored four of UH's five touchdowns, will miss between four and six weeks because of a fracture in his right ankle. Iosefa, a 6-foot, 245-pound senior from American Samoa, is one of eight co-captains. Linebacker Jerrol Garcia-Williams will undergo surgery for a torn ACL in his left knee. Garcia-Williams can play both the inside and outside positions in the Warriors' 3-4 base defense. He is a junior who has never redshirted, making him eligible to apply for a medical redshirt for this season.
Steven Lakalaka gets the first shot to replace Iosefa. "Lakalaka is more of a slashing kind of guy," head coach Norm Chow said.
"Joey will just run over you," Chow said.
Dominique Small, a transfer from Cerritos Community College, also will get reps this week. Small did not play in UH's first two games.
On defense, Jeremy Castro, who redshirted in 2013 after transferring from UCLA, will replace Garcia-Williams at outside linebacker. Lance Williams moves into the rotation as the third outside linebacker.
Three starters are expected to be activated for Saturday's game against Northern Iowa. Center Kody Afusia, tight end Jordan Pu‘u-Robinson and defensive tackle Marcus Malepeai missed the OSU game because of injuries.
Next game: vs. Northern Iowa, 10 p.m. MT Saturday, Mountain West Network (online)/Oceanic pay-per-view
Notable: After two unsuccessful drives in the third quarter, backup quarterbacks Jeremy Higgins and Taylor Graham warmed up on the sideline. Chow told both that Ikaika Woolsey might need a break but would remain as the No. 1 quarterback. Chow did not pull Woolsey, who then contributed to the Warriors' comeback. Except for Iosefa's four plays as the wildcat, Woolsey has taken every snap at quarterback. To ease Scott Harding's workload, wideout Quinton Pedroza will be used more frequently at slotback. Harding is UH's No. 1 punter, punt returner and slotback.
— Stephen Tsai, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
The Nevada football team has beaten a Pac-12 opponent for just the fourth time in 18 tries since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1992.
And it is 2-0 for the first time since 2010.
It has accomplished these feats despite not putting up the gaudy rushing stats that the team was known for in the heyday Pistol offense years, 2006 through 2011.
It has run the ball effectively for the most part, but its average yards per carry, 4.1, is more than a little behind the pace of those glory years when the team averaged at least six yards per carry and was among the nation’s top rushing teams. In Saturday’s 24-13 victory over Washington State, Nevada averaged 3.8 yards per carry.
The difference has been offensive balance and an improved defense.
“Would I have loved five yards a carry? Sure,” said Nevada coach Brian Polian, whose team rushed 56 times for 214 yards against Wazzu. “But you multiply 3.8 three times, it’s a first down. We ran it well enough. We possessed the football. When we needed to run it and when we needed to try to wear them down in the second half, we did so effectively.”
What Polian really likes is that the offense, with its still-growing offensive line, has shown an ability to be whatever it needs to be so far.
“I’m very happy with where we’re at,” senior quarterback Cody Fajardo said. “We had to run the ball to win this game. Last week (in a 28-19 win over Southern Utah), we had to throw the ball to win it. So that kind of shows that we can run the ball if we have to, we can throw it if we have to.”
The biggest gains have been on defense, where the Wolf Pack threw multiple looks at the Cougars’ vaunted spread offense and held them to just one touchdown.
“I can't speak enough about that defense tonight,” Polian said. “I mean, we tackled. We ran to the ball. We rushed the passer. We hit the guy. And I saw an effect – you hold a Mike Leach offense to 13 points that's an incredible statement for our defense. I gave (defensive coordinator) Scott Boone the game ball and he deserves it. Had a hell of a plan. They did a great job.”
Next game: at Arizona, 9 p.m. MT Saturday, Pac-12 Networks
Notable: Fajardo went over 10,000 career total yards with a 55-yard run against WSU, making him just the third player in Nevada history to reach that plateau. He now has 10,178 total yards, joining Colin Kaepernick (14,210 from 2007-10) and David Neill (11,145 from 1998-2001). Junior safety Duran Workman injured his right leg on a play in which he intercepted WSU quarterback Connor Halliday. He underwent a precautionary MRI on Monday and is listed as day-to-day.
— Dan Hinxman, Reno Gazette-Journal
SAN DIEGO STATE
San Diego State head coach Rocky Long refused to acknowledge the possibility of poor play calling or bad clock management in the wake of the Aztecs’ 31-27 loss to No. 21 North Carolina on Saturday.
With two timeouts and 36 seconds remaining in the game, the Aztecs had a first down at the UNC 3-yard line. The clock wound down to 19 seconds when SDSU quarterback Quinn Kaehler rolled to his left to pass and threw an interception in the front corner of the end zone, ending the Aztecs’ bid for their first victory over a non-conference Top 25 team in 20 years.
Aztecs fans took to Twitter and blogs to criticize Long and offensive coordinator Bob Toledo for not taking a timeout or trying to run the ball when the Aztecs averaged 4.8 yards per carry on the night.
“I don’t ever second-guess that kind of stuff,” Long said. “That’s for armchair quarterbacks to second-guess stuff.
“I thought what we did was just fine. What you expect is that a veteran quarterback, if nobody is open, to throw it out of the ballpark. Quinn made a mistake. Maybe he didn’t make a mistake; maybe the other guy just made a great play.”
Long insisted the game was decided by the turnover ratio: 3 interceptions thrown by Kaehler to 1 for North Carolina. All three of Kaehler’s picks were on poorly thrown passes. The first came at the UNC goal line and was returned 100 yards for a touchdown.
“We didn’t lose because they were better than us,” Long said. “We lost because we made more mistakes than they did.”
The Aztecs outgained the Tar Heels 509-394 and had a nearly 15-minute advantage in time of possession.
Of Kaehler’s interception at the end, Long said: “He’ll blame himself for us losing. And I think he’ll go back to practice and try to fix it. Hopefully, he doesn’t do it again. He’ll handle it right.”
Next game: at Oregon State, 6:30 p.m. MT Sept. 20, Fox Sports 1
Notable: Against UNC, SDSU lost its most experienced receiver and top returning catcher from last season, senior Ezell Ruffin, with a broken collarbone. Ruffin is expected to be back in 6-8 weeks. “That’s a huge loss,” Long said. However, the Aztecs are very deep at receiver. Four other wideouts caught balls against UNC Despite the loss, USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin Ratings moved the Aztecs from 61 prior to the game to 45 Saturday’s four-point loss snapped a four-game winning streak in games decided by seven points or fewer The Aztecs have turned their kicking around. Junior college transfer Donny Hageman is 3-for-4, with three makes from 40 yards or longer. Sophomore running back D.J. Pumphrey had 17 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns against UNC. He also added a career-high and team-high five receptions for 18 yards ... For Pumphrey, it was his second consecutive game with at least 100 yards rushing and he hit the century mark for the fifth time in his 15 game career.
— Tod Leonard, San Diego Union-Tribune
SAN JOSE STATE
Next game: at Minnesota, Sept. 20
UNLV had some trouble protecting quarterback Blake Decker in Saturday's 13-12 victory over Northern Colorado.
He was sacked three times, once for a safety, and was on the run several times.
Now the Rebels prepare to host Northern Illinois, which has a strong pass rush. The Huskies recorded five sacks in their 23-15 victory at Northwestern on Saturday.
"It's certainly a big concern," UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said. "Their defensive ends (Jason Meehan and Perez Ford) are really good players. They have mixed their fronts. The defensive ends are guys we saw on their film from last year that made a lot of plays. They got after Northwestern pretty good."
Meehan had two sacks at Northwestern. Linebacker Rasheen Lemon had two more sacks, and end Ladell Fleming and tackle William Lee each recorded half a sack.
The Rebels were supposed to own the Mountain West's top offensive line. Left tackle Brett Boyko and center Robert Waterman were named to the preseason all-conference team.
But they also have been hurt at both guard positions. Cameron Jefferson left for Arkansas, and Ron Scoggins is still trying to work his way back without going through summer conditioning.
"I think we've done a pretty good job," Boyko said. "Obviously, there are mistakes. That happens. We've got to bounce back and have a short memory, but overall, I think assignment-wise and stuff like that we're doing pretty good. Obviously, the more time we play together, the more continuity we'll have and hopefully continue to get better."
Hauck said the line has mostly done a good job, pointing out Decker received good protection in the season opener at Arizona and that the Rebels rushed for 211 yards against Northern Colorado.
"I don't know it's necessarily that our line's let us down," Hauck said. "I think they're playing OK. I don't think we've played our best yet, for sure."
Next game: vs. Northern Illinois, 5 p.m. MT Saturday, Mountain West Network (online)
Notable: UNLV faces a Northern Illinois team that has won 25 consecutive regular-season games, including 16 in a row on the road. ... Rebels wide receiver Marcus Sullivan hurt his leg toward the end of the game against Northern Colorado, but Hauck did not have an update on his injury early this week. ... Nicolai Bornand tied a UNLV record with a 54-yard field goal against the Bears. That is the fourth kick from that distance from a Rebels kicker. Bornand was named the conference special teams player of the week.
— Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal