TCU's last regular season game as a member of the Mountain West will be a home game against UNLV on December 3rd. The Rebels are one of four MWC programs that TCU has gone 6-0 against since joining the league in 2005, and the Frogs have outscored UNLV in those six contests by an aggregate score of 243-43.
Former Rebels coach Mike Sanford brought UNLV to the brink of their first bowl game since 2000 with dual 5-7 seasons in '08 and '09- including an impressive road win over Arizona State- but was replaced by Bobby Hauck last year. Hauck was the architect of a I-AA powerhouse during his time at Montana, but was only able to win two games in his first year in Sin City.
Sophomore Caleb Herring is pencilled in as the starter at quarterback, but don't be surprised to see one or both of the NFL-sized backups play this year or even take over the #1 job. Sean Reilly is a 6-4, 210 lb JUCO transfer and Taylor Barnhill is a 6-4, 220lb strong-armed true freshman from Justin Northwest HS in TCU's back yard. With the QB situation possibly in flux, expect sophomore tailback Tim Cornett to shoulder a heavy portion of the offensive productivity.
On defense, corner Quinton Pointer will be in the sights of NFL scouts this season after missing nearly all of 2010 with a knee injury. There's also hope that a quartet of young defensive tackles, led by sophomore Nate Holloway (6-3, 350) and true freshman Desmond Tautofi ( 6-3, 300) can help the Rebels improve on a run defense that ranked 116th in the nation last year.
There aren't a whole lot of big expectations for this team this year, but most folks around the conference seem to believe that Hauck will turn this program around eventually. It'd be a shock to see them make a bowl game, but so would another 2-10 campaign. We'll get a preview of the 2011 Rebels on Thursday night, when they take on Wisconsin on ESPN.
-CFN 2011 UNLV preview
-CFN 2011 UNLV offensive breakdown
-CFN 2011 UNLV defensive breakdown
-CFN 2011 UNLV depth chart