New Mexico’s starting quarterback may miss the rest of the season with a significant foot injury, head coach Bob Davie announced on Monday. Gautsche was injured in the first quarter in UNM’s 31-28 win over UNLV on Saturday after he ran a designed quarterback draw.
If Gautsche does miss the remainder of the year, it will be the second straight season in which he’s been unable to finish. Last season, Gautsche missed the final two games with concussion symptoms.
Gautsche already missed one start this season because of a pulled hamstring.
“It’s going to be a footrace, literally, to get him back for the rest of the season,” Davie said.
Now the starting quarterback position falls into the hands of Lamar Jordan. The redshirt freshman has played in every single game this season except for UNM’s 31-24 season opening loss to UTEP.
Jordan has led game-winning touchdown drives twice this season. This past weekend at UNLV and on Sept. 20 in Las Cruces versus New Mexico State, a 38-35 win. He also made several big plays in the Lobos 21-9 victory at UTSA on Oct. 4.
Saturday’s game against Boise State (6-2, 3-1 Mountain West) will be Jordan’s first collegiate start of his career.
“It’s a different feeling. You got butterflies knowing you’re going to be the first one out,” Jordan said. “I take it all the same whether I’m the third string or the first string. I’m going to prepare the same and get ready to execute.”
Jordan had some growing pains in UNM’s triple option offense but has grown more comfortable as the season has progressed.
One play that highlights his maturity in the offense was during the Lobos (3-5, 1-3 Mountain West) game-winning drive at UNLV. On fourth-and-2 inside the Rebels’ territory, Jordan pitched the ball to running back Romell Jordan, who ran it for 3 yards and a first down to keep the drive alive.
Earlier in the season, Jordan faced a similar situation with a fourth-and-1 against Fresno State. That time Jordan tried to earn the first down himself and was stuffed for a 1-yard loss.
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“From Fresno when that happened, I felt like that was a lot of immaturity coming off my second and third game. I tried to do too much,” Jordan said. “I felt like against UNLV I had a lot of playmakers around me, and why not give them the ball? I saw Romell open and I knew he was going to get the first down.”
Jordan has shown flashes of his playmaking abilities throughout the season. In UNM’s 24-14 loss to San Diego State, he threw a 45-yard score to wide receiver Carlos Wiggins. Against UTSA, Jordan had the longest run of his career, a 41-yard run to setup a touchdown.
Against UNLV, Jordan didn’t have any explosive plays but did have 60 rushing yards on 15 attempts.
“I feel like against UNLV I was trying to be too much what coach DeBesse says, ‘Reading too much off the paper,’” Jordan said. “(DeBesse said) ‘Sometimes you just have to let it loose. I know you’re a great player you don’t always have to do what I say on the paper.’ Sometimes you have to turn into an athlete just like the old days.”
Davie said Saturday will be a big test for Jordan with Boise State, but the coach did mention how the signal-caller has already faced some stiff competition, including Arizona State.
“I thought early he was a little bit tentative. As the game went on, you saw the confidence in maybe knowing it’s your job, maybe it’s just getting more reps and getting into a rhythm,” Davie said. “We’re going find out because he’s going to be playing against a very good team.”
Thomas Romero-Salas is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ThomasRomeroS.