Chalk up one more victory for the defense … technically.
On Saturday the New Mexico football team held a live scrimmage for the second week in a row, and once again the defense stifled the Lobos’ offense for a majority of the hour-long match.
Head coach Bob Davie said the defense played well, but that the offense stymied itself with numerous penalties. UNM’s offense had four penalties in the first 20 plays and unofficially had eight through the entirety of the scrimmage.
“The offense had way too many penalties … if you have a penalty on first-and-ten or a big holding penalty, that’s how it’s going to be in a game,” Davie said. “It’s hard to overcome that. The defense won, if you go by the letter of the law.”
Even when the Lobos’ offense was playing nice, UNM’s defense kept the triple option offense in check.
The offense only mustered a few big plays throughout the 70-play scrimmage, the highlight being a 55-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Lamar Jordan to wide receiver Tyler Duncan down the middle of the field. Jordan also broke a 23-yard run early in the scrimmage.
Aside from that, though, the team’s passing game was mostly mute. Quarterback Clayton Mitchem connected on only a few attempts and Jordan overthrew his receivers on several occasions.
The running attack was also derailed. In general, runs up the middle resulted in just one or two yards for the offense.
“Clayton Mitchem is a talent,” Davie said. “This is what Clayton Mitchem needs — he needs full-speed live, all of a sudden the picture isn’t what the picture is going to be. When there’s a little bit of chaos, what happens?”
UNM’s defense set the tone with several big hits during the scrimmage. Defensive players were jumping and hollering on the west sideline throughout the day. Near the end of the scrimmage some players became involved in an altercation, but Davie broke it up before it escalated.
Linebacker Dakota Cox said the defense has started to incur a more physical mentality.
“Just from the fall to now the defense is really coming to together,” Cox said. “We’re starting to play more off each other instead of one person trying to focus on doing everything. We can trust each other and we’re playing a lot more physical and making sure our presence is felt out there.”
The physical play also lead to backup quarterback Caleb Kimbro getting hurt. On an option play, as the team was heading toward the north endzone, Kimbro turned upfield and was leveled by an opposing defender. Kimbro remained down for a few of seconds and was helped off the field by trainers. Quarterbacks weren’t live participants in the scrimmage.
Several plays later, offensive lineman Jared Francisco got injured on a run up the gut. He was later helped to the sidelines then carted off the field.
Kimbro suffered an ankle injury, while Francisco hurt his knee. Both might miss significant time, Davie said.
In the last weekend’s scrimmage starting quarterback Cole Gautsche pulled his hamstring after a long gain.
“When you do anything in the spring or in practice, you’re putting 22 of your guys out there at a time,” Davie said. “Basically we’ve had 70 plays today — that’s more like 140 plays in a game because there’s more guys out there.”
The roster has thinned slightly since the start of spring ball due to injuries, and Davie said Saturday was probably the last time the team will go full-contact. UNM has only three spring practices remaining.