New Mexico isn’t very good.
Despite their 66-21 thrashing of the Southern Jaguars marching band last week.
Despite the cautionary platitudes that Mack Brown will utter this week.
First year head coach Bob Davie left the broadcast booth to mark a triumphant return to college football after destroying 100 years of Notre Dame tradition and mastering such color commentary turns of phrase as: “Very risky to throw the ball here on 3rd and long inside your own 45 yard line.”
He so Davie!
But New Mexico is 1-0 for the first time since 2005. And Davie’s new catchphrase: “The Lobos don’t beat the Lobos anymore” is catching on.
When will music get back to the majestic songwriting of the 1980s? I smell like I sound.
Here’s what I wrote in the offseason about New Mexico:
There are abusive coaches that win and those do not. We tend to forgive the former and recast them as Old School, but the latter is variety is always run out of town. Former New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley was the latter variety as his tenure featured: a smooth 2-26 record, an age/sex discrimination lawsuit filed on him by his admin, and he punched an assistant coach.
New Mexico was so bad in 2011. They went 1-11. And not the competitive 1-11, either. That scrappy 1-11 Army manages from time to time where they lose every game by 13. Their average score was a 41-12 loss, including a 69-0 loss to TCU and a home loss to Sam Houston State. They were outscored 160-24 in the first quarter and surrendered 6.7 yards per play. This isn’t just a talentless team. This is a team that quit. Locksley was fired halfway through the season. What took so long?
Their current roster has some talent (WR Deon Long would start for us) as Locksley was a gifted recruiter and made his bones as an assistant there at Maryland and Illinois, but they also have a solid array of malcontents, arsonists, and guys with bad tattoos of pit bulls circled by Olde English lettering, since character wasn’t exactly Locksley’s forte.
I read that some track coaches like to have their athletes sprint on a decline or with a wind at their backs occasionally so that their bodies can feel what fast is. I think this logic applies here. We’ll briefly feel like what 2005 Texas or 1995 Nebraska feels like. Then the ground will level, the winds will subside.
Deon Long left New Mexico for an Iowa Community College, BTW.
The Lobos are a pistol option team, coordinated by Bob DeBesse, former head coach at Sam Houston St. DeBesse is a legitimate offensive mind, but he’s hamstrung by talent limitations and a head coach who thinks punting is soft core pornography. They should test our defense’s assignment discipline and I’ll refer you to last year’s Georgia Southern-Alabama box score if you think stopping a good option offense is just about out-athleting them. That’s 302 yards rushing against THE GREATEST DEFENSE EVAARRRR with Ga Southern ripping off runs of 82, 37, 26, 22, and 14. If that happened here, Texas fans would photoshop Manny Diaz in a sun dress and tell you that would never happen to a Nick Saban coached team.
My point is this: when you’re facing the option, you’d better not take any part of your preparation for granted (as Alabama did). It’s assignment, assignment, assignment. Execute it, then thrash the inferior athlete. Diaz must bring our preparation A game. Not our Preparation H game.
The Lobos have a two QB system. Starter B.R Holbrook is the “passing” QB (debatable) and true freshman 6-4, 227 Cole Gautsche is the running QB (not debatable). Last week, Gautsche ran 8 times for 88 yards and 2 TDs. He’s big and moves pretty well. He’s also in the game purely to run option or make a one read throw when our defense cheats on the run.
Jhurell Pressly (10-75) and Demarcus Rogers (13-103) each had nice games last week against a Southern front that featured a LBing corps that averages 210 pounds and a 5-9 inch nose tackle. David Anaya got some run as well (7-65). All three backs go around 5-10, 190 and two of three are freshmen. I’ll predict a fumble now.
The switch from the spread to the pistol suppressed New Mexico’s receiving stats just a tad given that they combined for four receptions last week. I have zero insight into these guys except that they start a 170 pound walk-on and I suspect any success they have will be primarily formational and/or a complete coverage bust. 6-6, 250 pound TE Lucas Reed has quite a bit of experience and his career numbers of 72-912-6 tds demonstrate that he’s a legit threat in the passing game. Not a particularly effective blocker and that limits some of his snaps. If we don’t hold them under 100 yards passing, I’d be surprised.
The Lobos obviously did a nice job last week against an outmatched front, but the competition ratchets up just a tad against the Longhorns. DeBeese values movement and energy in his new schemes and that’s how New Mexico intends to get away with starting guards freshman Garrett Adcock 6-2, 270 and sophomore LaMar Bratton 6-2, 282 going against Desmond Jackson and Chris Whaley with Moore and Dorsey tagging in off of the bench. The best player on the line is 6-5, 290 Center Dillon Farrell with Korian Chambers 6-6 302 and Daryl Johnson 6-4 305 acting as sacrificial lambs for Okafor and Jeffcoat.
Texas saw the option game against UCLA and Kansas State last year and though there will be a learning curve for some of our new starters, I expected our DL to be rock solid. Option offense asks your entire defense to be willing tacklers, understand their proper assignments, and puts a great deal of pressure on your DEs, LBs, and Safeties to diagnose and tackle well.
The Lobos scored three non-offensive TDs last week (interception return, fumble return, kick return) but despite that Southern moved the ball a little. I’m not interested in breaking things down at the unit level, but they’re undersized – the front 4 goes 255-298-275-230 with a LB crew that runs 240-226-200. The secondary is substandard.
Both starting DTs (Ellis and Uzodinma) are transfers from Illinois and probably the most athletic players on the defense.
They don’t have a single starter with more than 20+ games of starting experience and though Davie and DC Jeff Mills should bring a number of different pressure looks to attack our run game and find ways to rattle Ash, I don’t see much recipe for success if we bring the same level of execution that we brought to Wyoming.
New Mexico is severely lacking in depth. Take the over on our second half rushing yards.
What I’m Looking For
I want to see pride from a defense that starts the game dialed in and doesn’t relent until the final whistle with sound tackling, an understanding of assignments, and the ability to force turnovers based on sheer physicality. This is a useful scout for Kansas State down the road, too.
Offensively, I’d like to see us build on a solid start against Wyoming. David Ash letting it go and throwing the ball around a little would be a great confidence builder for the sophomore. I expect our run game to go 250+.
Finally, while our special teams won’t be fixed until Fera regains full health, I do want to see us execute the basic mechanical aspects of our field goal and extra point attempts. If the kicker misses it, so be it.