UNLV ran man coverage at Fresno State pretty much start to finish last weekend, which is something the Bulldogs figure to see again Saturday in a Mountain West Conference game at San Diego State.
So Josh Harper and quarterback Derek Carr have a little extra work to do on the practice field this week after coming up empty on a number of vertical routes against the Rebels, something that three days later still had the junior wide out a bit puzzled.
Carr and Harper have connected seven times on touchdown passes this season, but for whatever reason they were just ... off.
"It starts at practice," Harper said. "We weren't doing something right in practice, me and D.C., so we have to get back together and we've got to get that right because those are some plays that we may need against San Diego State. We can't let those get away. Usually, those are our money plays right there. We never miss those. It was just a weird type of night."
There was ample opportunity against the Rebels, not that the misfires slowed the Bulldogs' passing game at all. The Rebels went into that game ranked first in the Mountain West and 10th in the nation in pass-efficiency defense, but Fresno State sliced them up with relative ease.
Carr racked up 412 passing yards, while backup Brian Burrell hit both of his passes for another 23 yards.
Davante Adams caught eight passes for 221 yards and four touchdowns, Isaiah Burse had eight catches for 73 yards and Harper five for 43 with a number of close misses.
"We'll get it," Harper said. "That won't happen again."
They figure to get a few more chances against San Diego State, which stuck in man a year ago even as the Bulldogs were coming back from early 14-0 and 21-7 deficits. While there are likely to be some tweaks and a few wrinkles thrown in there with the Aztecs coming off a bye week, they aren't likely to change a lot.
"I've played them a couple years now and they do what they do," said Harper, who last year caught nine passes for 120 yards against the Aztecs, including a 37-yard touchdown that got the 'Dogs even at 21.
"They're going to come out and play man. They're not going to change up for us, even though we're having success this year. I think they're still going to do what they do and we just have to be up for the challenge."
San Diego State hasn't had much success this season defending the pass, ranking 109th in the bowl subdivision in passing yards allowed with 280.2 per game, and that is with a game against the Air Force, which for the most part keeps the football grounded with its option offense.
Eastern Illinois, a championship subdivision team, passed for 361 yards in beating the Aztecs 40-19. Oregon State passed for 367 yards in coming back to beat San Diego State 34-30, and Nevada threw for 393 yards in a 51-44 overtime loss to the Aztecs.
In preparing for San Diego State, the Bulldogs' receivers the past two days have spent practice periods working on their releases against man and worked one-on-one against the corners and safeties.
"Whenever we get man, it's like a gift to us," Harper said. "We love to go one on one and we feel if we do our technique right and work our defender, we feel like we can win that matchup."
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com or @rkuwada on Twitter. Read his daily Fresno State updates at fresnobee.com/bulldogs/.