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Football: Ex-NFL head coach attends Lobo spring practice

The UNM football team had a special guest step on the field during Monday morning’s practice.

“Chip” Kelly, former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, is “charging the battery” and visiting teams across the nation to see what different programs are doing. He left University Stadium with a lot to say about head coach Bob Davie and the Lobos.

“I’ve always wanted to get a chance to get down here and watch practice to see what they’re doing. I’m just really, really impressed with how he is running this program right now,” Kelly said.

The feeling was mutual, as players were not able to hide their excitement of having him there.

“Oh man, that’s big,” said running back Daryl Chestnut. “It’s a pleasure to have him here…Knowing where the program was previously and us going 9-4 last year, it’s pretty big. I see he notices what we are doing with our offense and stuff. I really appreciate him being here.”

Davie said his players benefited from hearing advice from someone else’s perspective and added that the national attention his team has received also shows that the program is heading in the right direction.

Just a few years ago, in 2014, the Lobos finished the season with a losing overall record of 4-8. Fast-forward to the 2016 fall season, and New Mexico was able to share the Mountain Division Championship and then followed with a win at the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.

Kelley has known about Davie since Davie’s days as an ESPN analyst. He said there are quite a lot of eyes on the coach at the moment.

“I’ve just kind of watched him from afar since he took over, here.” Kelly said. “What they have done, led the nation in rushing, I think everybody in college, professional, wherever you are, knows what New Mexico is doing.”

The Lobos finished the 2016 season leading the nation with 350.0 yards per game, as well as in total rushing yards with 4,550 and 6.61 yards per carry.

This might have been their strength, but Kelly said he thinks the team has the potential of becoming well-rounded under Davie’s leadership. He said he can tell the coaching staff focuses on every area of the game and that Davie understands “the big picture.”

The secret to success, however, is not just the coaching staff. Kelly also had a lot of positive comments about the players, saying it’s clear the Lobos are “thirsty for knowledge” and are willing to put in the work.

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“They have a bunch of young, hungry guys that have fun playing,” he said. “That was a two hour and 20 minute practice that didn’t seem that long because of the enthusiasm that the coaching staff brings and the enthusiasm that the players bring.”

Kelly said he thinks Davie can continue to take the program to new heights, and UNM is now a team to watch.

“I think they can go really far with him at the helm,” he said. “I think he’s done a hell of a job and like they like to say, they’re just getting started.”

Isabel Gonzalez is a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She mainly covers men’s soccer and basketball. She can be reached at sports or on Twitter @cisabelg.

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