The New Mexico Football team lost to Liberty 52-43 on Saturday night at Dreamstyle Stadium, but what could be the biggest loss for the team occurred in the second quarter when Tevaka Tuioti, in his first game back after suffering a concussion in the game against Wisconsin, fractured his left clavicle at the end of a 24-yard scramble.
Head coach Bob Davie said that Tuioti will have surgery on it Monday and that he is “probably” out for the year. In his place, Sheriron Jones, who started the game against New Mexico State, will be the starting quarterback.
With Tuioti out again and the original second-string quarterback Coltin Gerhart still out with a sprained foot and still a few weeks away, Jones is the only one of the Lobos top three quarterbacks who is healthy heading into conference play. Trae Hall, a freshman from Henderson, Texas, who began the season as the fourth string quarterback, will be the backup and the third-string quarterback, if they stick to the same plan they used against NMSU, will be Bryson Carroll.
Against the Aggies, the Lobos ran a very conservative offense, passing just 19 times against 66 rushes and not using the triple option, which for so long was the hallmark of the offense, at all in an effort to keep Jones healthy. According to Davie, that won’t be the case next week against UNLV.
“We had to (open up the offense), we made a decision when Tevaka went down, we said we’re going to run our offense,” Davie said. “This is what it’s going to be, until Gerhart gets back, he’s still a ways out, we have to go run our offense. You see what we are on defense right now, we’re not going to sit there and be conservative and beat any team left on our schedule.”
In his first opportunity with an opened up offense, minus the triple-option, Jones went 15-27 for 312 yards and four touchdowns, as well as throwing three interceptions, including one with the Lobos in the red zone and down nine with less than a minute to play. The four touchdowns he threw for gave the Lobos a season with two four touchdown games from a quarterback for only the second time in school history.
He led a furious second half comeback for the Lobos, scoring 33 points on 385 yards in the half, but it wasn’t enough to get UNM the victory.
“I felt great, I prepared all week,” Jones said. “I was just waiting on the opportunity, and my opportunity came. We clicked on all the stuff that coach (Calvin) Magee wanted to do, we took bubbles, quarterbacks made the reads, we just came up a little bit short.”
Jones said that knowing he’ll be starting won’t change anything, and that he’ll prepare the way he always does and be ready for anything they might do.
Next week against UNLV will pose a stiffer test for the Lobos offense, UNLV is giving up an average of 390 yards to opponents, compared to the 515 yards per game that Liberty was giving up to opponents heading into their matchup with the Lobos.
Jones began his career at Tennessee, where he never got the opportunity to be the starting quarterback. After a year at a Junior College, he finally has his chance with the Lobos.
Cameron Goeldner is a sports beat reporter and photographer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer, women’s basketball, softball and the Albuquerque Isotopes, but also contributes content for baseball, basketball, football and track and field. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @goeldfinger.
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