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Friday, December 19, 2014

Sparks of life in first scrimmage

Perhaps this will finally be the year the UNM football team needs that third digit on the scoreboard.

The Lobos, in their first spring scrimmage Saturday at University Stadium, displayed the big-play capacity they’ve lacked for the last two years.

Quarterbacks Stump Godfrey and Tarean Austin took all the snaps, and neither turned the ball over in the Lobos’ 90-play scrimmage. Transfer Deon Long exploded out of the gate, hauling in five receptions for 90 yards, and UNM scored nine combined touchdowns.

Still, head coach Mike Locksley said the Lobos’ offense could have been more precise.

“It was a little sloppy early on,” he said. “Offensively, we get down inside the red zone, and we knock ourselves out of good situations because of the penalties.”

Austin, who played in seven games last season, went 12-of-15 for 165 yards for three touchdowns, and seemed to find the open receiver every time he stepped back. Godfrey, on the other hand,
completed six of 14 passes, rushed for 44 yards and had a rushing and passing touchdown.

For most of the game, Austin said, he was comfortable in the pocket because his receivers got open.

“I felt pretty calm,” Austin said. “ … Once you put the ball in their hands, it’s like a show. Now you’re in the stands.”
Godfrey had more trouble finding receivers but managed to take his team down the field for scores.

Godfrey said the quarterback battle was “neck-to-neck.”
“It’s like that every day,” he said. “Neither one of us turned the ball over, and that’s what it’s all about.”

And the Lobos were all about running the ball.

Sophomore tailback DeMarcus Rogers, a year removed from tearing his ACL, was quicker than anyone on the field. UNM amassed 309 rushing yards, Rogers accounting for 105 yards and three touchdowns.
“All spring long, when he gets the ball in his hands, he’s been the guy who’s made plays for us,” Locksley said.

Ohio State transfer wide receiver Lamaar Thomas caught two passes for 22 yards, but had a five-yard touchdown reception. On a screen play, Thomas juked defenders and gained 17 yards.

Locksley wants to get more opportunities for Thomas in the future.
“Obviously he’s a talent,” Locksley said. “We’ll continue to game-plan and find ways to get him involved in our offense.”

The Cherry-Silver football game is two weeks away, but Locksley said his players need to come out of spring ball with a better understanding of the game.

“Our goal is to get every individual player better fundamentally,” he said. “We’ve got to use the next eight practices to do that.”