Expectations for the New Mexico football team have been low the past several seasons.
There’s not much to expect from a program that has gone 10-49 the past five years. Under head coach Bob Davie, the Lobos have gone 7-18 the last two seasons.
This year’s prospects for UNM appear bleak despite the fact that the Lobos have depth at almost every position and the team is filled with experienced players.
Davie, entering his third season with the team, said the Lobos are still a couple of seasons away from being a consistently competitive football team. It’s hard to argue with Davie, mainly because of a defense that ranked 119th out of 125 Division I teams in terms of total defense last season.
“Being as sincere as I can be, I know that we are a year or two away still. I know nobody wants to hear that and now is not the time to talk about that before the first game, but it’s the truth,” Davie said. “You know you go out there and look on that practice field. You look Saturday night at who is playing. You’ll see that we are still a year or two away.”
Yet Davie has pointed out how much the passing game has improved in the spring. Starting quarterback Cole Gautsche has been more accurate with his throws throughout camp.
Not only that, the defense has taken on a much more physical mentality. Senior safety David Guthrie said the progress the defense has shown since he first came in last year has been remarkable.
“I think last year in the spring, the offense was pretty much running a track meet out here going up and down the field without any problem at all,” he said. “Our defense has stepped up a lot. We’re more physical, technical, and more fundamentally sound. That’s the biggest thing I’ve seen as a leader on the defense.”
The end result UNM players and coaches are looking for is a chance to play in a bowl game, something that hasn’t happened since 2007. Whether this is the year the Lobos end the bowl drought depends on how UNM does week to week, starting with UTEP this Saturday at University Stadium.
“The bowl game is not something that we talk about regularly, but as far as priority level that’s up there in the back of our mind,” wide receiver Jeric Magnant said. “When we’re out there feeling tired or working you’re thinking about what’s the optimal reason why we’re playing this game and it’s for a bowl game.”
Last year’s meeting between these two teams was a shootout that UNM won in overtime 42-35. It was the Lobos first victory in the state of Texas in since 1997.
The Miners run a pro-style offense with Jameill Showers at quarterback and a two-headed attack at running back with Nathan Jeffery and Aaron Jones. The two tailbacks combined for 1,343 yards and nine touchdown.
On the defensive side, UTEP runs a four-man front and goes with man-to-man coverage for its base defense.
“It’s going to be a fight to see who comes out of it 1-0, and have some momentum going on early in the season. It’s a big game,” Davie said. “I’m not going to minimize that, and stand here and say well every game here is important. The first game is really important. It’s important for them. It’s important for us.”
Thomas Romero-Salas is the sports editor of the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ThomasRomeroS.
Football vs. UTEP
At University Stadium
Streaming video online at www.campusinsiders.com