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You can read the entire UNLV preview in Athlon Sports' 2013 National College Football magazine, available for purchase now at the Athlon Sports store.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PRESEASON TOP 25
MWC West PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Bobby Hauck, 6-32 (3 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Timm Rosenbach | DEF. COORDINATOR: Tim Hauck
This unit will once again have a new look after head coach Bobby Hauck switched offensive coordinators for the third straight year. The new play-caller is former Washington State quarterback Timm Rosenbach, who was the offensive coordinator at Montana in 2012. His first task will be to cut down the mistakes of quarterback Nick Sherry. The strong-armed sophomore returns following an up-and-down freshman campaign that saw him throw more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (16). But Sherry also showed the potential to be an all-conference performer.
Senior tailback Tim Cornett returns to spearhead what should be a strong running game. Cornett rushed for 1,232 yards, the fifth-best single-season total at UNLV, and had eight 100-yard rushing games. He will be joined in the backfield by Northwestern transfer Adonis Smith, one of the stars of spring practice.
The offensive line, which was plagued by injuries for much of 2012, has the potential to be one of the conference’s best. Junior tackles Brett Boyko and Cameron Jefferson and center Robert Waterman are on the NFL radar.
Junior Devante Davis, who caught 61 passes and finished second in the Mountain West in receiving yards (854), and explosive junior Marcus Sullivan, one of the league’s top return men, anchor a solid group of wide receivers.
A Rebel defense that allowed an average of 32.6 points and 445.2 yards per game will also have a new coordinator. And it’s a coach with a pedigree that Hauck is very familiar with.
Tim Hauck, Bobby's younger brother, joins the Rebels after spending three seasons in the NFL as a defensive backs coach with the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans. He also played safety in the NFL for 13 seasons and once was a member of Bobby Hauck’s Montana coaching staff.
The strength of the unit figures to be a veteran line led by senior tackles Alex Klorman and Mark Garrick, along with sophomore end Sonny Sanitoa.
Defensive MVP John Lotulelei, who had 120 tackles at middle linebacker, must be replaced, but seniors Tani Maka and Tim Hasson both return to anchor the linebacker corps. Tau Lotulelei, the younger brother of John, starred during spring practice as a redshirt freshman and is penciled in to start at weak-side linebacker.
The big key will be improvement in a secondary that was prone to surrendering big plays. Senior Sidney Hodge, a fourth-year starter at cornerback, anchors the group.
Senior Nolan Kohorst became the first Rebel placekicker since 1994 to earn first team all-conference honors. He led the team in scoring while converting 12-of-14 field goals and 32-of-33 PATs. Sophomore Logan Yunker takes over for steady Chase Lansford at punter. Sullivan, who averaged 23.5 yards per return, Cornett and Eric Tuiloma-Va’a will handle the return duties.
Many eyebrows were raised when UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood brought back Hauck for a fourth season following back-to-back-to-back two-win seasons that included home losses to FCS teams Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. Hauck has tried to rebuild using mainly high school recruits and finally has some experience with 14 returning starters and solid depth on both sides of the ball. He likely needs to get to six wins and a bowl game to be invited back for another year.
The schedule, which features two well-positioned byes, is favorable for a momentum-building quick start with four of the first six games at home and another at rebuilding New Mexico.
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