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- New Mexico Previews 2011 |
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It’s not like it’s been that long since New Mexico was decent.
Head coach: Bob Davie
7th year overall: 35-25
Off. 21, Def. 22, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 24
Ten Best UNM Players
1. TE Lucas Reed, Sr.
2. WR Ty Kirk, Sr.
3. LB Dallas Bollema, Jr.
4. OT/C Dillon Farrell, Jr.
5. C/G LaMar Britton, Soph.
6. NT Ugo Uzodinma, Sr.
7. LB Joe Stoner, Sr.
8. DE Reggie Ellis, Sr.
9. RB Kasey Carrier, Jr.
10. WR Lamaar Thomas, Sr.
QB - 5
RB - 5
WR - 5.5
OL - 5
DL - 5
LB - 5.5
DB - 5
ST - 5
Sep. 1 Southern
Sep. 8 at Texas
Sep. 15 at Texas Tech
Sep. 22 at New Mexico State
Sep. 29 Boise State
Oct. 6 Texas State
Oct. 13 at Hawaii
Oct. 20 at Air Force
Oct. 27 Fresno State
Nov. 3 at UNLV
Nov. 10 Wyoming
Nov. 17 Nevada
Nov. 24 at Colorado State
The last three seasons have been a complete and utter disaster with the team going from awful to even worse, finishing dead last in the nation in scoring – coming up with ten points or fewer in seven games – and had the second-worst scoring defense in college football. You name the category or phase and New Mexico was awful at it, but the team has been so bad and so down that a new coaching staff can start from absolute zero and come up with something, anything, that starts to work.
The Lobos went 9-4 in 2007 with a New Mexico Bowl shut out of Nevada, and the 4-8 follow up in 2008 wasn’t even all that bad considering the schedule was much, much tougher – the defense did a good enough job to get by. And then came the Mike Locksley era.
Everything went wrong over the last three years with embarrassing performances on the field and head-scratching issues off of it, but Davie is back in the game after a decade off and he appears to be renewed and rejuvenated.
In light of recent coaching stints at Notre Dame, Davie’s run wasn’t all that bad and he should be able to start to pay off at New Mexico in a big hurry. He’s going to want to want his running game to be far more physical than it has been and his defense should be far, far sounder. He has assembled a good staff that should make the Lobos better merely by doing a far better job of teaching.
There’s experience returning on offense with four starters back up front, quarterback B.R. Holbrook looking to hold on to his gig, and with a good receiving corps that could shine with more production in other areas.
The defense that hasn’t stopped anyone but UNLV in three years loses four of the top five tacklers and has to find someone who can hang out in the backfield once in a while, but the coaching staff will get the most out of this group. Tackling won’t be a problem after a few games and Davie won’t let anyone on the field who gives less than 100%.
New Mexico was good under Rocky Long and it can be good again under Davie. If nothing else, Davie will bring the program instant respectability and class. The wins will soon follow.
What You Need To Know …
Offense: Offensive coordinator Bob Debesse will try to revamp an attack that finished 113th in the nation in yards and dead last in scoring averaging a paltry 12 points per game and scoring more than seven points just twice in the final seven games. B.R. Holbrook has been around the quarterback mix for years and should be fine as long as he doesn’t have to bomb away. He needs time to work behind a thin line that’s woefully lacking in depth. On the plus side, four starters return with former JUCO transfer Korian Chambers and versatile Dillon Farrell needing to establish themselves more at tackle. Tight end Lucas Reed is a good go-to target to revolve a passing game around and receiver Ty Kirk is one of the Mountain West’s fastest players. The running back combination of Demarcus Rogers and Kasey Carrier should be fine as long as the line does its job.
Defense: Bob Davie is a defensive coach by nature, and he has assembled a terrific staff led by new coordinator Jeff Mills. Reggie Ellis (Illinois) and Rod Davis (Texas A&M) are two transfers who were okay last season but are expected to do far more up front. The miserable pass rush has to hope to start getting something out of the linebackers in a 3-4 scheme. Tackling machine Carmen Messina is gone, but Dallas Bollema should make plenty of plays on the inside and Joseph Harris is moving from the line to a more natural outside linebacker position. The secondary that was last in college football in pass efficiency defense has a decent corner in Destry Berry and veteran safety Dante Caro to build around.
What to watch for on offense: The receiving corps. The ground game is going to be a work in progress even though one of the early positives could be a line that gets four starters back. The running backs are merely average – at best – with little depth and no star power. The quarterbacking needs to be far, far better, and it could be with a little more time to work and with a solid receiving corps with the ultra-athletic Ty Kirk returning to one spot, an underutilized deep threat in Lamaar Thomas coming back to another, and with Ty Kirk one of the league’s best tight ends. There’s plenty of speed and athleticism to work with, and now the passing game has to be a threat.
What to watch for on defense: The switch to the 3-4. The old staff played around with the alignment in several ways throughout last season, but this year the coaches will try to use a pure 3-4 and get a pass rush out of the outside linebackers. Considering the defense didn’t seem to do anything right last year there’s room for improvement across the board, and the hope is that the starting 11 can hold up better with more decent linebacker prospects to fill the holes. There’s enough size for the three-man front, but it would be stretching it to have a decent rotation for a front four.
The team will be far better if … the line play is far, far stronger. The rest of the team hasn’t been able to do much of anything over the last few seasons because the lines have been so horrendous. The defensive front hasn’t generated any pressure on the quarterback and hasn’t done much of anything to get behind the line, while the offensive line hasn’t generated any sort of a push whatsoever for the ground game and has been mediocre in pass protection. The O line should improve faster than the D line, but the coaching staff is merely looking for live bodies for both sides.
The schedule: Davie's first year doesn't have any real breaks, but his team will have to make sure it takes care of the winnable games like the trip to New Mexico State and the home date with Texas State. After opening up with Southern, the Lobos have to go on the road for three straight weeks - and five of the next six - with the lone home game against Boise State. Uh oh. Beating Wyoming, UNLV and Colorado State over the last month of the season is a must to have any hope for a decent season. UNM misses San Diego State.
Best offensive player: Senior TE Lucas Reed. The hope is for tackle-turned-center Dillon Farrell can be terrific in the middle, and center-turned-guard LaMar Bratton might have all-star potential, but it’s Reed who’s the best offensive player and a target who has to start getting the ball more. At 6-6 and 215 pounds he has decent size and can be a deep threat, but he only caught 22 passes for 241 yards with no scores. If he can get by a hamstring problem, the coaching staff will make sure he gets the ball in his hands on a regular basis.
Best defensive player: Junior LB Dallas Bollema. The team needs to find tacklers to help replace the 142 stops of production from tackling-machine Carmen Messina. Bollema has decent 6-2, 225-pound size and nice smarts and speed. Now the defense has to be his after finishing third on the team with 68 tackles with a tackle for loss and two broken up passes. At least statistically, he should be the team’s top player.
Key player to a successful season: Sophomore G/C LaMar Bratton. The quarterback play has to be night-and-day better, and finding a few defensive playmakers is a must, but more than anything else the team needs to find leaders and rocks to rely on for down the road when the team might be good again. Bratton was one of the team’s bright spots last season working at center for most of the year, but now he’ll move over to the right guard job he started at once.
The season will be a success if … the Lobos start to play better in all phases. There’s no chance of going to a bowl game, but coming up with four wins among the 13 games for the best season since 2008 isn’t that crazy with a little bit of tweaking. All that matters in Davie’s first season is the improvement across the board for a program and a team that has been among the worst in college football for the last three seasons. There’s experience returning and the coaching staff is looking to build up the depth, and now the goal is to simply start being better at playing football.
Key game: Sept. 1 vs. Southern. When you only win one game a season in each of the last three years, you’ll take a victory to kick things off no matter what. Southern should have a decent passing game and it has the defense to get into the backfield, but it’s coming off a 4-7 season with no decent wins of note. With road games against Texas, Texas Tech and New Mexico State up next, and with Boise State to follow, the Lobos need to bank the first victory.
2011 Fun Stats:
- 3rd Quarter Scoring: Opponents 87 – New Mexico 7
- Rushing Touchdowns: Opponents 46 – New Mexico 10
- Punt Returns: Opponents 12 yards – New Mexico 1.3 yards
New Mexico Depth Chart