Aloha! Welcome to Hawaii Week. As we prepare for the Fun-n-Shoot insanity coming our way, let’s take a look back at the game that was: namely, the UNLV near-disaster 38-13 win.
As you are undoubtedly aware, winning 38-13 means we are doomed and will likely be blown out by Hawaii, who is 4-1 and very good at offense. Although many people have suggested firing all the coaches and hiring ones who know how to RUTS on UNLV, that seems unlikely before the Hawaii game.
So, what did we learn this last week?
Hank is Stupid Good
“Hurricane” Hank Bachmeier went 19/30 for 299 yards and 2 TD’s, no INT’s, which is an amazing stat line. Obviously there’s some room for improvement with the 11 incompletions, but Hank was dishing it out. Between Hank, Chase Cord, and Jaylon Henderson, nine different targets got catches. A couple of near-misses and blind refs could have really made the stat line obscene, but you really can’t complain too much about that kind of quarterbacking.
Good news: Hank stayed mostly upright. He did take a sack, but didn’t get obliterated as much as we’re used to lately. Which brings us to our next point:
The O-Line is Better (and, well, Worse)
The big boys up front got John Ojukwu back for the first time since Florida State, and they played a solid game in pass defense, only allowing 1 sack and 3 hurries. While UNLV doesn’t have a world-beating pass rush, the boys did a much improved job of keeping Hank clean.
Unfortunately, the run blocking seems to have taken a step back. It could very well be related to scheming for pass pro, lack of focus, or just backs not quite doing their best, but the run game was unimpressive. It did feel at times like Harsin and the coaches were using UNLV as live-game practice reps, trying to run up the middle repeatedly to prove a point. The backs had been pretty successful bouncing it out to the sides, but the middle runs got stuffed repeatedly.
On a related note:
Harsin HATES Fumbles
He’s made this abundantly clear in post-game interviews many times, but Robert Mahone’s fumble seemed to end his night. Harsin could afford to teach the lesson against a bad team, but benching your starter for an early fumble probably didn’t help the run game a lot. Hopefully, Mahone will be known as Ball Security Bob going forward.
The Defense Pretty Much Locked it Down
Aside from one weird drive for a touchdown in the 3rd, the defense was as solid as one might expect. Curtis Weaver did Curtis Weaver things with 3 sacks, Kekoa Nawahine got a pick, and the boys pitched a first half shutout. UNLV’s dangerous rushing attack didn’t do much, and their backup QB mostly threw to air all night long. A solid, if unexciting, performance by the defense.
There’s Gonna Be Decks Run Today
A normally well-disciplined team severely lost their cool Saturday night. Unfortunately for the boys, what happens in Vegas does not actually stay in Vegas. Personal fouls galore means there’s gonna be some penance taking place, perhaps already complete by the time you read this. Poor lil Sonatane Lui.
Additionally, the new blindside block rules reared it’s ugly head, and we basically have no idea what we’re watching anymore. Apparently you need to politely introduce yourself to the opponent before pancaking them now? Whatever the case may be, Harsin seemed frustrated by the calls as well.
Special Teams Were Actually Quite Nice
While the punting game is still less than stellar, the return units almost had two kickoff touchdowns (stupid blindside blocks and kicker tackles) and the punter nailed a 52-yard field goal? Joel Velasquez somewhat redeemed himself with the longshot before halftime. According to multiple media people, Eric Sachse’s range is about 45 yards max, so Joel gets the long boots.
As much as we’ve all complained about the punting game as of late, Velasquez actually did himself proud in that department too; despite a shaky start, he launched 8 punts for an average of 42.9 yards, and absolutely boomed a 54-yarder in the 4th. He did still have a few meh punts, but improvement is improvement.
So what did we miss? Sound off in the comments with your observations from the game. Any calls for firings will be laughed at.