Rebuilding a program is nothing new to Bob Davie or Larry Coker.
The New Mexico football coach and the University of Texas-San Antonio coach have both started reclamation projects but at different times.
“It’s kind of ironic though, I look at Larry Coker with him coming back to UTSA and starting that program,” Davie said. “It’s really kind of fun to watch and see how he’s built that program. Hopefully we can take that second step here in this program.”
The Lobos are in their second year of the Davie era while the Roadrunners begin their fourth year with Coker.
Last year, Davie came into a situation where the Lobos were widely considered the worst football team in the nation. As for Coker, he went to a UTSA team that had no history whatsoever. The Roadrunners didn’t have a football team until 2010 and didn’t play their first game until 2011.
Davie and Coker are still in the process of building respectable programs, but Davie said his team still has a long way to go.
“In a lot of ways this is like our first year. I truly look at this like the first year of getting started,” Davie said.
The biggest difference between the two teams is in experience. UNM has six first-time starters on defense and four first-time starters on offense. That’s compared to UTSA which has seven third-year starters each on both offense and defense.
“It’s a unique piece as we build this second year,” Davie said. “If you look at it on paper, it looks like we would take a step back this year because we’re so young and inexperienced. I would be disappointed if we don’t take a step forward this year.”
The Roadrunners had a balanced offense last season, averaging 231 passing yards per game with 159.2 rushing yards per game. UTSA senior quarterback Eric Soza threw for over 2,085 yards last season and had 20 touchdowns with three interceptions. Soza was only sacked seven times last year, a record tied for second in the nation for fewest sacks allowed.
“That’s the key ingredient they have (Soza),” Davie said. “He’s a senior and he’s started every game there since they’ve played there. He’s a quick release, quick decision maker. He’s an operator.”
Well known to opposing teams last season, the Lobos didn’t have the most balanced of offensives. UNM ranked second to last in the nation in passing offense, but fifth in the country in rushing yards per game last year. Senior running back Kasey Carrier was the key for the team’s running game, averaging 122.4 yards per game.
“The running back’s (Carrier) really good. (The Lobos) do an outstanding job running the football,” Coker said. “They’re running the ball extremely well and I know they’ve improved a lot on their passing game. They’re going to really be a challenge for us.”
Davie has said throughout the offseason that the team has put an emphasis on creating a passing game. The responsibility for that falls on sophomore quarterback Cole Gautsche, who will be the first in-state product to start the season at quarterback for the Lobos since Kole McKamey in 2005.
Gautsche has been criticized for not being an effective passing quarterback. He said he’s been using that criticism to motivate himself.
“I’m really confident,” Gautsche said “I want to get there and get underneath the lights like coach said. I have to prove myself and go out there and do that.”
New Mexico Man
Walk-on sophomore tight end Reece White will be the “New Mexico Man” for Saturday’s game against UTSA.
This will be the second time White will be honored as “New Mexico Man.” The first was last year versus Texas State.
The “New Mexico Man” is a walk-on player designated each week during the season. The selected player will run onto the field with the New Mexico state flag before the start of home games.
The first 2,500 fans at University Stadium on Saturday will receive a free Bob Davie bobblehead.
After the game there will be a 10-minute fireworks show.
Football vs. UTSA
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