There is no finesse when Cole Gautsche runs the football.
Gautsche, the New Mexico football team’s starting quarterback, looks for contact when he rushes — not to get out of harm’s way.
However, Gautsche’s bruiser mentality also leads to more direct hits. That’s problematic for any quarterback, but especially so for Gautsche, who has suffered three concussions in his first two years at UNM, causing him to miss three games.
The running style that has helped Gautsche lead the Lobos’ offense the past two seasons is not going to change any time soon.
“I think I’m going to keep on doing what I’ve always done and see where it goes,” he said.
By looking at the numbers, it makes sense why Gautsche won’t take up a more evasive running style. UNM ranked seventh in the nation last season in rushing offense and fifth in 2012 with Gautsche leading the triple-option offense.
Granted, quarterback Clayton Mitchem did play a significant portion of snaps last season, but Gautsche was much more effective running the triple-option.
The probability of receiving a fourth concussion is something that does not weigh on his mind, Gautsche said.
“I just have it in the back of my mind,” he said, “but once I come out on the field it’s something that I don’t worry about it at all.”
Offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse said the primary concern with Gautsche is his health.
“As a human being and as a guy who loves the guy and admires him, sure,” DeBesse said. “You can’t deny the history to say that no, it’s not a concern, and have cavalier attitude about it. Absolutely not. We’re all concerned about Cole, but he’s okay with it and his family is okay with it.”
Another way Gautsche can avoid taking more hits is by improving his passing ability, which has always been the question mark for the junior signal caller.
Gautsche took steps to improve his technique during spring break by going to Florida for several training sessions with former Florida State and Heisman-winning quarterback Chris Weinke.
“It went really well,” Gautsche said. “Kind of just getting some help from Chris Weinke and all of his coaches out there by just helping me time everything in my throwing. Just trying to work all the kinks out.”
Besides working on his passing game, DeBesse said Gautsche must become more of a vocal leader for the Lobos.
“For him right now he’s been here so long, the next step for him is to be a leader,” DeBesse said. “He doesn’t have to look at himself as the young guy or the inexperience guy. He needs to assert himself more in the leadership role.”
Talking about practice
On Saturday the Lobos put on pads for the first time this spring and went full contact — something that Davie has not done thus far during his tenure at UNM.
Davie said the team’s tempo was where he wanted it to be and that going live during drills is something the Lobos must do to improve.
“We have to simulate as much as we can and not sugar coat things,” he said. “We have to put the ball down and go. We’ve put that ball down more often than we’ve ever had here during my time.”
Beside quarterback Clayton Mitchem missing a portion of practice due to a bump in his back, Davie said there were no significant injuries suffered Saturday.
Lobo football youth experience
UNM will host the 2014 Lobo Football Youth Experience on April 12 at University Stadium. The event is for children in kindergarten through eighth grade and will take place from noon to 2 p.m.. Admission is free.
The event includes a tour of the UNM football facilities, on-field drills and a chance to watch the Lobos practice.
Register by going to www.golobos.com on or before April 10.
Participants should check in at the southwest corner of University Stadium before noon.