The New Mexico football team may still be in the middle of a rebuilding process, but head coach Bob Davie wants them to take the next step.
What Davie wants now is a win over a quality football team, something that has eluded the Lobos during Davie’s brief tenure.
Unfortunately, UNM won’t get an opportunity to fulfill its coach’s desire this Saturday at UTEP, who is coming off a 3-9 season.
“We’re still in the phase when we play that kind of team — are we good enough yet to (win) it,” Davie said. “We got to get good enough to win it. Now how fast can that happen? I don’t know. Eventually we’ll be mature enough and physical enough to do it to a good team. Not a team that’s going to self-destruct, a good team to go win the game.”
Davie’s four wins as Lobo head coach have come against Hawaii, New Mexico State, Texas State and Southern University. Those teams combined to go 10-35 last year.
UNM (0-1) has had several chances to secure a victory over a quality team. In six of the 10 losses the Lobos have suffered under Davie, UNM has had the chance to either win or tie the game with the last possession of the game. Three of those losses — Boise State, Nevada and Air Force — came against teams who went to bowl games last season.
“I think, from an offensive lineman standpoint, we need to be more consistent,” senior offensive lineman Dillon Farrell said. “I think it’s easy to buy in into what people are saying. I say maybe we bought into a little bit of it. We just have to work a little bit harder than we did last year.”
The Lobos will have to settle for a rebuilding Miners team that is in its first year under head coach Sean Kugler, a former UTEP offensive lineman. Kugler spent the past 11 years in the NFL as both a tight ends coach and an offensive line coach. The last three years, Kugler was with the Pittsburgh Steelers serving as their offensive line coach before accepting an offer to coach his alma mater this past December.
Davie said the team expects UTEP to blitz more often than the University of Texas-San Antonio did in the Lobos’ season-opening 21-13 loss last Saturday. Davie also said he anticipates the Miners will run a pro-style offense.
The Miners return their leading rusher junior Nathan Jeffery and leading receiver junior Jordan Leslie. UTEP also brings in a new quarterback in Jameill Showers, a transfer from Texas A&M.
Davie said he’s not worried about what type of offense UTEP will run since UTSA helped prepare UNM to face multiple offensive systems.
“I don’t think we have ever played, in recent memory, a team that did as many things as UTSA did on offense and did very well,” he said. “I think it’s an advantage that they’re watching us and knowing exactly what we do, and we don’t know exactly what they’ll do.”
In the Lobos loss Saturday, they failed to establish a consistent running game. UNM finished with 193 yards on the ground but senior tailback Kasey Carrier rushed 20 times for 58 yards, averaging 2.7 yards per carry.
Farrell said he thinks with junior quarterback Clayton Mitchem making his first collegiate start, UNM’s offensive game will open up a bit more. Mitchem is starting in place of sophomore signal-caller Cole Gautsche, who is suffering from concussion-like symptoms.
“That man can make some throws and he opens up the passing game for us,” Farrell said. “He also opens up the running game even more. He makes plays with his feet. When he doesn’t see something down field he’s able to run and break free.”
Football at UTEP
Saturday 6 p.m.
Fox College Sports DirecTV channel 608
Comcast and Dish, check your local listings