- Associated Press - Friday, September 3, 2010

MADISON, WIS. (AP) - New UNLV coach Bobby Hauck laughed before answering the question of just exactly how a team might stop No. 12 Wisconsin’s power running attack featuring junior standout John Clay.

John Clay, their running back, was league MVP on offense, they’ve got All-Americans on the left side of their offensive line,” Hauck said. “I don’t think shutting Wisconsin down in terms of their run game really … “

Is realistic? Possible? Feasible?

Hauck paused.

“We watched all of their film from a year ago and nobody stops them much,” the coach finally said. “That being said, we’re going to try.”

It’s a stiff first test on Saturday night for the former Montana coach who inherited one of the worst run defenses in the country, one that gave up 220.6 yards per game a year ago. Hauck said when he walked into his first team meeting he asked, “Where are all the big guys?”

They’ll be lining up across from the Rebels.

Clay will run behind an offensive line that averages 323 pounds and includes standout left tackle Gabe Carimi and left guard John Moffitt.

“One thing you’ll never accuse our offense of is being cute,” Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. “We can bypass that one pretty quickly.”

Clay himself might be the biggest question mark, since he had had both ankles surgically repaired in the offseason. If the 255-pound back slows down, sophomore Montee Ball and freshman James White will get carries, too. Clay hasn’t had more than a dozen carries in the Badgers’ scrimmages and acknowledges it takes some more time to prepare with his ankles.

“There’s a little bit (of pain), just the beginning, just getting my ankles warmed up and ready to run,” he said. “I just want to prove to everybody and show everybody that I’m ready.”

Hauck said the game can’t be a measuring stick for how far their defense has come in camp because Wisconsin’s running game is elite. Hauck is bringing his own tough style to UNLV after taking Montana to three FCS championship appearances in seven years. UNLV hasn’t had a winning record or been to a bowl game since 2000.

“The dangerous thing about teams getting new coaches is it can be a breath of fresh air,” Moffitt said. “They can be renewed and it could be tough. You can’t take it lightly _ it’s their first game, a home game, a big game.”

Hauck made his first big decision by giving the starting quarterback nod to Mike Clausen over Omar Clayton, though he expects both will play. Clausen had primarily been the backup to Clayton each of the previous two years.

Still, he’s realistic about the few advantages his Rebels will have.

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