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New University of New Mexico offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent. Photo courtesy of the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

Football: Lobo football announces new offensive, defensive coordinators

 

On Sunday, Jan. 1 the University of New Mexico started the new year by announcing the hiring of Bryant Vincent as the football team's offensive coordinator. Later in the week on Jan. 5, cornerbacks coach Troy Reffett was promoted to defensive coordinator due to previous defensive coordinator Rocky Long's departure to Syracuse University.

UNM started the year with Derek Warehime as offensive coordinator, but after the offense struggled to score, Warehime was fired and quarterback coach Heath Ridenour was promoted in the interim.

Vincent previously served as the interim head coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, having been promoted in summer 2022 after previous UAB coach Bill Clark retired. He led the team to a 7-6 record and a 24-20 win in the Bahamas Bowl. Vincent has been coaching since 1996 and has spent the last five seasons at UAB focusing on the offense. This season, UAB averaged 30.1 points per game which would have put them as the second highest-scoring offense if they were part of the Mountain West conference.

In a press release, head coach Danny Gonzales praised Vincent on his leadership ability and expressed his excitement for him joining the program.

“I’m thrilled to have someone with the caliber and experience of Coach Vincent joining our staff,” Gonzales wrote. “To step into the interim role as head coach last year at UAB and led the team to a win in the Bahamas Bowl is a credit to how well-prepared he is and how well-prepared his team at UAB was.”

Out of 131 football bowl subdivision teams, the Lobos are currently last, having put up just 228.1 yards per game last season. UNM scored only 15 touchdowns and failed to score a touchdown in five games this season.

On Saturday, Dec. 17 UNM announced that Long was stepping down as defensive coordinator, opting to take the same position at Syracuse. Long was key in turning the Lobos into a top 50 defense in the country and left to coach in a more prestigious conference. Gonzales then promoted Reffett to lead the defense.

Reffett has been with the Lobos since 2020 and was previously the defensive coordinator for UNM during the 2008 season when Long was the head coach. His area of expertise is cornerbacks, but he has plenty of experience as a defensive coordinator from previously leading the defense for the University of Texas at El Paso, University of Louisiana at Monroe and University of North Texas. He has also coached in nine bowl games throughout his career.

In the press release announcing Reffett’s promotion, Gonzales said he was happy to be able to promote someone within the organization to keep continuity on defense and to have someone very familiar with the 3-3-5 defensive scheme UNM is known for under Long. He also credited Reffett’s previous success throughout his coaching career.

“I’m excited to have Coach Reffett serve as defensive coordinator because it will give us continuity in the things we have been doing defensively,” Gonzales wrote. “He has a tremendous track record of success, and he will be able to continue coaching the scheme that has proven to be successful for us over the past few years.”

The defense gave up an average of 360.2 yards last season which put them as the 46th best team in total defense in the country and seventh in the conference. The defense played a lot of snaps this season which led to fatigue in games, giving up late scoring: the defense played 780 plays compared to 694 on offense.

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The greatest challenge for the defense in the offseason will be finding replacements for key players who are graduating or entering the transfer portal after this season. Cody Moon led the team in tackles with 105, but he transferred to San Diego State University after three seasons at UNM. Jerrick Reed II was second in tackles and after the season, officially declared for the NFL draft. All-American true freshman AJ Haulcy transferred to University of Houston. Reco Hannah and Justin Harris both used their super senior season for 2022.

Heading into the fourth year of his rebuild, Gonzales has an overall record of 7-24 and has just three conference wins.

Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at sports@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @thomasbulger10 

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