The decision to compete now or build for the future is always on Bob Davie’s mind.
Coach Davie is in year two of rebuilding the New Mexico football team from the ground up, and he said it has been a more difficult process because the loss of scholarships and players.
There are only 11 players – four seniors and seven juniors – remaining from the 2009 and 2010 recruiting classes when Mike Locksley was head coach of the team. To make matters worse, the Lobos were placed under NCAA probation from 2008-2011 because of academic fraud resulting in five scholarships being lost each of those years.
“I don’t know if people truly comprehend how the rebuilding situation here is at the University of New Mexico,” Davie said at Tuesday’s weekly media luncheon.
Note: This article said only “10 players” remained from the 2009 and 2010 recruiting class. That information was wrong. The correct number was 11 not 10. The error has been corrected.
Davie said it would be foolish of the coaching staff to continuously bring in junior college players to replenish the depleted roster. He added that it would become a vicious cycle where every couple of years the team would lose its depth, and he would rather suffer a couple of sub-par years in order to create a stable program.
“It’s about doing things the right way and building it in a slow, methodical, classy way,” he said. “We’re going to have bumps, growing pains, give up certain amount of yards to good teams.
We’re going to continue to build this because it’s a long journey and a long process.”
The rebuilding process continues this Saturday when the Lobos travel to Laramie, Wyo., to face the Cowboys (3-3, 1-0 MWC).
UNM heads into War Memorial Stadium with the No. 1 rushing offense in the nation, averaging 367.8 yards per game. Over the last two games against UNLV and New Mexico State University, the Lobos have rushed for 1,038 yards, which is more than 82 Football Subdivision teams have all season.
The Lobos’ rushing attack is driven by senior running back Kasey Carrier and sophomore quarterback Cole Gautsche. Carrier is the ninth-ranked rusher in the country and is first in the MWC with an average of 137 rushing yards per game. Gautsche is only No. 26 in the country, but is second behind Carrier in the MWC, averaging 100.8 yards per game.
Wyoming ranks 10th in the MWC in rushing defense, giving up 236.2 yards per game.
“They execute at a very high level. They’re the leading rushing offense in the country right now, which nerves me up a little bit,” Cowboys’ head coach Dave Christensen told the Wyoming Star Tribune. “They have a lot of variety. They show a lot of different formations, and they execute at a high level. We have to be very disciplined at what we’re doing defensively, and we’re going to need to play a great game defensively on Saturday to have a chance.”
The Cowboys will counter with quarterback Brett Smith, who is second in the conference in total offense with an average of 377.8 yards per game.
Davie said Wyoming’s offense is schematically similar to both the Aggies and the Rebels, specifically with NMSU’s four wide receiver sets and UNLV’s zone read.
“He’s every bit the triple option quarterback Cole Gautsche is, but he does it a little different. It’s a zone read and throw it out there real quick as a pitch,” Davie said. “He’s a little unorthodox, a little unconventional, but he has an unbelievably quick, accurate release.”
Defensively, the Cowboys have switched to a three-man defensive front from a four-man front in previous seasons. Davie said with Wyoming coming off a bye-week he expects them to line up in a four-man front, because teams haven’t lined up in a three-man front all season against UNM.
“We’ll see when we get into the game, playing us,” he said.