In their season opener, the Lobos new offense put on a show against FCS opponent the University of the Incarnate Word in a 62-30 victory. Tevaka Tuioti looked the part of a starting quarterback, finishing with 327 yards, four passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
It was the highest point total for the Lobos since a 66-0 victory of Mississippi Valley State in 2015.
In past seasons, the Lobos have been known for their relentless ground attack that saw them frequently burn five or more minutes off the game clock. Last season, the Lobos attempted a total of 242 passes against 542 rushing attempts.
Compare that with the first game under offensive coordinator Calvin Magee when the Lobos presented a much more balanced attack, as they threw the ball 25 times for 349 yards as well as 66 rushing attempts for 319 yards, scoring four times through the air and three on the ground. Balance is something that the Lobos will be looking for all season.
“That’s us, you know, we didn’t do everything tonight,” Davie said. “There’s some more to the packages than that.”
One of the biggest changes in the new offense is how the tight ends will be used, and that was showcased against the Cardinals as Marcus Williams caught two passes for 43 yards and two touchdowns. Braden Dickey also caught one pass for four yards. The Lobos have more left in their back pocket that they didn’t show tonight, Williams stated. He said that he is excited to see what the offense can do when they fully open up the playbook.
Another telling stat for the offense was the seven plays of over 30-yards passing that the Lobos had tonight, compared to the 10 total they had all of last season, something that Tuioti wasn’t willing to take credit for.
"First and foremost you just got to give all the glory to God, it wasn't me it was a team effort,” Tuioti said. “You saw that the offensive line did a great job doing their jobs and being able to step up tonight. They created holes for me and the receivers did as well."
Tuioti made a pair of mistakes during the game, throwing an interception on a play where Davie felt he got “greedy,” something Davie said was caused by him getting into a rhythm of throwing the ball up and letting the receivers make plays, as well as losing a fumble. However, he was able to recover and make big plays, highlighted by a 51-yard touchdown to Elijah Lilly at the end of the first half.
“(Incarnate Word) turned Lilly loose and he hit Lilly and it doesn’t take Lilly long to score,” Davie said. Tevaka made a lot of plays, a lot of great plays. As I told our team, there were a lot of wild plays… I thought we showed that we’re explosive, and showed the potential that we have, particularly on offense.”
UNM will face a much tougher test next week in a Wisconsin defense that finished last season ranked fourth in the country in total defense, and is currently ranked tenth in the nation after one week and gave up only three points to Western Kentucky. Tuitoti is ready for the challenge.
"I am pretty hyped about it — I am stoked about it,” he said. “It's not every year that you get to play a big team who also happens to be ranked No. 4 in the nation. It will be a good test for us, and it will put us where we need to be."
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.