Lobo football fans already had plenty of reason to be excited — coming off a nine-win season, earning a share of the division crown and capping things off with a victory in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
The team showed a penchant for rattling off big plays and lighting up the scoreboard. At one point in the season, UNM running back Teriyon Gipson, as an individual, had as many plays of 50 yards or more as any other team in the nation.
Now others are starting to take note of UNM’s potential and exciting style of play. Matt Brown of sportsonearth.com recently referred to the Lobos as “one of the most entertaining teams to watch” in college football, a release said.
The Lobos lead the nation last season in rushing, going for a hearty average of 350.0 yards per game. The team had extraordinary depth at the running back position, with several players showing the ability to take it to the house on any given play.
The Mountain West was well-represented atop the nation’s rushing statistical categories. San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey led the nation with 2,133 yards and two other MW players finished in the top six in individual rushing yards.
But the Lobos didn’t rely on just one pair of legs to carry them to victory.
Gipson led the Lobos with 115.4 yards per game, despite averaging just 11 carries. He and Tyrone Owens both eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark, finishing with 1,269 and 1,097 yards, respectively—though Gipson played one fewer game.
Richard McQuarley features a more punishing style of running, but also has the ability to make big plays. He nearly broke the single-season record for UNM, finding the end zone a whopping 18 times,
Though Gipson was a senior, Owens and McQuarley are set to return, as well as Daryl Chestnut and Diquon Woodhouse, who figure to see more of a load next season.
Fans who have witnessed the transformation of the Lobo football from a team mired in one-win seasons into a program that can compete with any team in the conference, have seen the how the philosophy that head coach Bob Davie has implemented creates havoc for defenses.
Some fans might think an offense that is too run-heavy is boring to watch, but the Lobos aren’t a team that slows down the game by chewing up the clock. Four different players rushed for touchdowns of 50 or more yards.
In fact, the Lobos were one of the higher-scoring teams in college football, ranking 23rd with 36.7 points per game. The team had five games in which it scored 45 or more points, one of which was against Wyoming in the regular season finale to pick up division co-champion honors.
The Mountain West was well-represented atop the nation’s rushing leaders.
If the opponent doesn’t maintain gap discipline, a touchdown might be just one cutback move away for any of the talented backs, or even predominantly run-oriented quarterback Lamar Jordan.
Jordan said he is excited to be surrounded by so many skilled receivers and thinks the team has the ability to hurt teams through the air as well.
The season begins with the Lobos hosting Abilene Christian on Sept. 2 with the hopes to continue improving on past success. If UNM can make strides on the defensive side of the ball and protect the ball on offense, it should be able to do so.
Either way, fans should be able to count on being entertained by a style of offense that is sure to generate big plays and lots of points.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers football and men’s and women’s tennis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @robert_maler.