Beaten and battered

PROVO -- Just when you thought UNLV's season couldn't get much worse, it did in a big way Saturday afternoon. The lethargic Rebels (1-6, 0-3) turned the ball over six more times, had a half-dozen dropped passes and picked up their share of ill-timed penalties while getting routed by BYU, 52-7, at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

It was the sixth straight loss for Mike Sanford's squad. Worse yet, the Rebels lost starting quarterback Shane Steichen for the season with a dislocated and broken right ankle and starting running back Erick Jackson to a broken left fibula.

Linebacker Beau Bell, who came into the came leading the Mountain West Conference and ranked third nationally in tackles with an average of 12.2 tackles, left the game with a sprained ankle in the first quarter but the injury isn't believed to be serious. Starting safety Jay Staggs played the entire game despite breaking his right thumb on the first series of the game.

Other than that …

"What I told the team afterwards, if I was a professor and I was grading this class, I would give them an ‘F'," Sanford said. "It was a bad game.

"It was a bad performance. We didn't tackle. We didn't block. We had stupid penalties and we had way, way too many turnovers. … It was unbelievable how many turnovers we had."

It took BYU exactly six plays before taking a 7-0 lead on a 48-yard touchdown pass from John Beck to tight end Jonny Harline.

UNLV came right back and drove to the Cougar 41 with Jackson converting on 4th-and-1 on a direct snap. But on the very next play, Steichen badly underthrew wide open Aaron Straiten at the Cougar 15 and cornerback Justin Robinson intercepted. Straiten was three yards behind Robinson when Steichen released the ball.

That seemed to set the tone for the Rebels on this forgettable afternoon.

Beck, showing why he's considered one of the top four quarterback prospects for the 2007 NFL Draft, methodically picked apart the UNLV defense completing 18 of 23 passes for 250 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

It wasn't a one-man show, however. Cougar running back Curtis Brown took advantage of UNLV's poor tackling to rush for 148 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries and freshman backup Mike Hague added 123 yards on nine carries including a 87-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for the Cougars' final score.

BYU finished with 574 yards in total offense, including 308 yards on the ground, and averaged 8.7 yards per play. UNLV finished with 308 yards in total offense but self-destructed with its turnovers. In a stretch of six quarters plus overtime play in a 39-36 loss to New Mexico, the Rebels have turned the ball over 10 times.

Sophomore quarterback Rocky Hinds continued to exhibit growing pains completing 16 of 32 passes for 205 yards and one touchdown but also throwing three interceptions.

"We did not compete like you need to compete," Sanford said. "We have got to make a serious evaluation of everybody and everything. I have got to give credit to BYU. They are a good team but we made them look better than they are."

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