In your non-preview preview of the New Mexico Lobos, head coach Mike Locksley was optimistic on the first day of camp for New Mexico. Locksley spoke to the media as camp opened and believes the Lobos have a shot a bowl game:
"This is the one year where I feel like we've assembled the team the talent and we have the culture to do it and our players believe in it and we believe in it as a staff," Locksley said.
Locksley also went on to say that a bowl game is expected:
"Anything less than a bowl game is unacceptable," Locksley said during New Mexico's media day Monday. "This is the one year where I feel like we've assembled the team, the talent, we've got the culture that you need to do it and our players believe in it. We believe in it as a staff."
Optimism is a great thing to have, but we must remember the Lobos are 2-22 under Locksley and were 4-8 under Rocky Long in his last year in 2008 where he left saying he did not feel he was the man to put New Mexico on top of the standings. That is saying something from Long who was a former quarterback at New Mexico and was the most successful coach the school had.
Other players believe a bowl bid is attainable:
"It's huge for us to end our college careers here with a bowl game, hopefully a bowl victory," senior free safety Bubba Forrest said following the first practice of the 2011 preseason. "That's our goal, and that's what we're working for."
It's a goal seen as unattainable by many, on the heels of 4-8, 1-11 and 1-11 seasons. The Lobos are an overwhelming choice to finish eighth and last in the Mountain West Conference this year.
"(A bowl bid is) very achievable for us," he said. "I can tell the whole attitude of the team has changed from the past six months from spring into summer."
Locksley is in his third year so he should have his players he has recruited and they should be starting and contributing this year, but a bowl game will be difficult. Their schedule is tough with games against Texas Tech, Arkansas and Nevada in the non-conference; then Boise State, Air Force, San Diego State and TCU in conference. That means that if New Mexico is going to go to a bowl game they must defeated the rest of the Mountain West in Colorado State, UNLV and Wyoming who are not great in their own right, and could conceivably lose to New Mexico but getting to six wins is a stretch.
New Mexico would blow by my expectations if they get to four games, and I could see them being in the ballpark in five games to win but the team has not been in close situations and will not have faced that type of challenge.
Like the optimism in camp coach, but a bowl game is not happening for the Lobos.