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Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange
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2012 OUTLOOK: UNLV has taken its share of lumps under head coach Bobby Hauck who decided to rebuild with mainly high school players who were thrown into the mix early. Although still young -- most of the key players are juniors or sophomores -- the Rebels are a bigger, stronger and more physical team entering Year No. 3 under Hauck. The schedule, which features seven home games, including the first four of the season, is set up to for the team to get off to a quick start and build some much-needed confidence following back-to-back two win seasons.

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE
The offensive line, led by 2011 second team Freshman All-American Brett Boyko at left tackle and sophomore left guard Cameron Jefferson, returns all five starters and more than held its own against high quality teams a year ago. Junior RB Tim Cornett should vie for all-conference honors while sophomore WR Marcus Sullivan, who missed 2011 because of academics, is a budding star with game-breaking speed. The big key will be getting effective play from whoever wins the starting quarterback spot in fall camp.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE
Junior Sidney Hodge is a two-year starter at corner who should contend for all-conference honors. The line, led by junior tackle Nate Holloway (6-3, 365) and junior college transfers Parker Holloway (6-4, 240) and James Boyd (6-5, 255) at ends, appeared to be much improved during the spring. The play of the secondary, which returns just one starter in Hodge, will go a long way in determining whether this team can improve enough to contend for a bowl berth.

SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS
The Rebels can more than hold their own with any team in the Mountain West here. Junior kicker Nolan Kohorst connected on 9 of 14 field goals, including a 50-yarder, last season while senior punter Chase Lansford averaged 41.2 yards per punt and had 12 boots of 50 yards or more. The big news, however, is sophomore Marcus Sullivan returns after sitting out 2011 because of academics. The explosive Sullivan finished second in the Mountain West and 17th nationally in kickoff return average (27.9) two years ago as a true freshman and can be dazzling at times.

TOP NEWCOMERS

DE Parker Holloway -- The mid-year enrollee showed flashes of being a good edge pass rusher in the spring. The Rebels, who had just 14 sacks a year ago, are expecting big things from Holloway who picked UNLV over schools like North Carolina and Syracuse.

QB Nick Sherry -- The strong-armed 6-foot-5, 220-pounder redshirt freshman, who originally committed to Colorado out of Casa Grande High in Petaluma, Calif., will go into fall camp even with returning starter Caleb Herring for the starting quarterback job.

DE James Boyd -- The athletic transfer from West Los Angeles JC began his career at USC at quarterback where he fell behind some guy named Matt Barkley on the depth chart. The 6-foot-5, 255-pounder also saw time at tight end and defensive end for the Trojans and decided to make the move back to defense for the final scrimmage of spring practice. If that scrimmage is any indication, look for Boyd to be an impact player for the Rebels in the fall.

ROSTER REPORT

--S Dre Crawford, a senior transfer from Minnesota, had to be helped off the field with an ankle injury during the final spring scrimmage but head coach Bobby Hauck said he didn't believe the injury was serious.

--RB Dionza Bradford, who had three 100-yard rushing games during an impressive freshman season, left the team during the middle of spring practice for "personal reasons."

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Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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