UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring is making the most of his second chance.
With last year's receiver back running the offense, UNLV (4-2, 2-0 Mountain West) has won four straight football games in the regular season for the first time since 1984. The Rebels, who haven't been to a bowl since 2000, look to keep it going against No. 17 Fresno State (5-0, 2-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Bulldog Stadium.
"I think we're maturing as a team," Herring said. "I'm maturing as a player. We're starting to see how to overcome failures."
Herring looked lost for most of his UNLV career spent playing for four offensive coordinators and in myriad systems.
As a redshirt freshman and backup in 2010, he completed 28 of 56 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns but had three interceptions. UNLV was 2-11.
Herring was elevated to the starting role for most of 2011 and was 113 of 206 for 1,004 yards and eight TDs but was intercepted six times. UNLV finished 2-10.
By last season, Herring had lost the job to redshirt freshman Nick Sherry. Herring did attempt 41 passes, completing 24 for 301 yards and a couple of touchdowns but spent most of the year as a receiver. UNLV again went 2-11.
This spring, he seemed entrenched at receiver. But by the fall, coach Bobby Hauck and first-year offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach had moved him back to his old position -- though as the backup to Sherry.
"I was just happy for a second chance," Herring said. "I felt like I kind of failed at quarterback and wanted to make the most of this opportunity again. Most guys only get one chance to play college quarterback.
"I wasn't going to quit. There definitely was a point when I was thinking of just going mentally through the motions and just ride out the rest of my last years here. Glad I snapped out of that."
Sherry lasted two games plus one throw as the starter. After two blowout losses -- 51-23 at Minnesota and 58-13 at home to Arizona -- he threw an interception on his first and only pass against Central Michigan.
In came Herring and the 4-0 run was underway.
Running a read-option offense, Herring is 100 of 144 for 1,098 yards and nine touchdowns -- with one interception. His 69.4% completion rate is 10th in the country, two spots behind Bulldogs quarterback Derek Carr.
"Caleb, as a guy who's been in the program for five years, he's becoming more refined and it's been great to see," Hauck said.
"He stayed positive the whole way. ... He had the mental toughness to stick things out. Now we just want to keep things rolling."
Herring, who came out of high school in Perris in Southern California as a top-100 national quarterback recruit, said, "You just learn that change is going to come and it can be difficult, but if you keep sticking with things and believe in yourself, things will get better.
"It does feel different around here. We've struggled in the past. We're really enjoying this success. It's fun again."
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