The prior two years of spring ball, the New Mexico football team shied away from players tackling.
UNM had a bare thin roster thanks to a low retention rate and NCAA sanctions that resulted in a loss of five scholarships over three years.
But after two years of rebuilding, head coach Bob Davie finally has enough depth to conduct a more physical spring practice.
“I think already the enthusiasm of it, I think the kids really appreciate the competiveness of it. You’re able to practice without the same guys out there every day and every second of practice,” Davie said. “It’s not just one things it’s a combination of those things. You couldn’t really scrimmage but you were going out there getting taxed every day.”
The Lobos currently have 105 players on the roster, 65 of them on scholarship. UNM will have a full complement of 85 scholarship players this summer if all of its recruits arrive.
Davie said scrimmaging more often has enabled the team to get a better look at what players have to offer.
“Numbers of guys isn’t the problem anymore,” he said. “Youth of guys is probably still a problem for another year at least. We just need to test and tax guys, put them in the toughest situations that we can.”
The Lobos have been able to practice more game situations by being able to scrimmage more often.
For the defense, being able to practice the basic fundamentals of football, including tackling, has helped said first-year defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove.
“There’s nothing like live football. You got to tackle and we haven’t been able to do much of that in the past because of sheer numbers,” he said. “The more years we have into it our depth keeps getting better and that enable to scrimmage. We’ve scrimmaged in the past now but just not as much. If you don’t scrimmage you can’t simulate those tackles.”
Three more UNM football games will be televised nationally this upcoming season, the Mountain West announced Thursday.
The Lobos will now have five games broadcasted nationwide in 2014. On April 10, the University and the MW announced that UNM’s home games against Fresno State and San Diego State will be shown on the ESPN family of networks.
UNM’s Sept. 6 home game versus Arizona State will be shown on CBS Sports Network at 5 p.m. This will be the first game between the two teams since they were both members of the Western Athletic Conference in 1977.
On Nov. 8, the Lobos will host Boise State at University Stadium with a kickoff time of 5 p.m. That game will also be televised on CBSSN.
When UNM travels to Utah State on Nov.15 that game will appear on of the ESPN family of networks at a time to be determined.
The UNM-Fresno State game on Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. will be broadcasted on either ESPN or ESPN2, while the home game against San Diego State will be televised on ESPNU on Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
On Saturday the Lobos will host the 2014 Spring Fiesta.
The event will include a practice that is open to the public, beginning at 11 a.m. Gates at University Stadium will open at 10:45 a.m.
There will also be a jumping house and face-painting for kids and there will be $1 concessions, consisting of popcorn, sodas and pizza. One fan will have an opportunity to win 2014 Lobo football season tickets.
Players will be available after practice for autographs on Branch Field.