UNM freshman QB Cole Gautsche, shown here against Texas, comes off a concussion to replace B.R. Holbrook this week against Fresno State. - Cooper Neill
The New Mexico Lobos' lack of depth at quarterback has put their two-quarterback system on hold for now as one of the teams' two primary signal callers is sidelined with a concussion.
Coming into the season, the New Mexico Lobos knew that depth would be an issue – primarily since UNM was playing a 13-game schedule. The Lobos entered the middle stretch of their season 3-3 and observers beginning to talk about bowl eligibility.
But two games later the Lobos are sitting at 4-4, 1-2 in Mountain West Conference play and a second consecutive week without one of its primary signal callers. Freshman Cole Gautsche suffered a concussion not long after scoring a decisive touchdown in the Lobos’ 35-23 win over Hawaii two weeks ago. Then last week with Gautsche on the bench, Holbrook suffered a concussion on a similar play near the end of the first half of UNM’s 28-23 loss to Air Force.
New Mexico head coach Bob Davie addressed the issues at quarterback in his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
"Cole (Gautsche), I think, is going to be pretty good," said Davie. He practiced yesterday. He loves football and that’s exciting. It’s fun to watch him and his confidence grow. I think Cole is going to be fine."
Davie then considered Holbook’s status, which like Gautsche a week ago, is doubtful.
"I doubt B.R. plays," said Davie. "I think he’d have to be considered an extreme long shot right now; he’s not going to practice. I kind of teased Quinton McCown. He reminds me of a baby deer or Bambi, or I’m not sure what we call him, but it was fun to see him get in there. His parents were at the game and he got a chance to play. I think he’ll improve. But Cole I think will be good, hopefully, and I doubt B.R. plays."
Which leaves the Lobos with just two healthy quarterbacks going into a pivotal home game against MWC title contenders the Fresno State Bulldogs this Saturday.
"I was nervous about that," said Davie of UNM’s thin quarterback ranks coming into the season. "That’s why we went out and signed Quinton McCown in the summer. I was sitting there looking, and I’m still looking at, 13 straight games. "We’ve got five games left," he said. "You hold your breath. A goal, honestly, is to have enough guys in Fort Collins to play (our final game of the regular season), and particularly at that position."
As if to prepare for the situation, the Lobos have worked the Wildcat formation (with limited success) into their repertoire with wideout Laamar "Flash" Thomas and also has running back Kasey Carrier take a few direct snaps against Air Force.
"We’ve had what, five quarterbacks leave here in the past two or three years?"said Davie of the Lobos’ thinness at the quarterback position. "And it’s like that at a lot of positions. It’s Tim Foley and Matt Raymer (in the secondary) and who’s next? It’s a different deal."
So will the Lobos have a repeat performance of their Boise State match up, where the team threw a grand total of seven passes? Or Texas State? (Where UNM had even fewer -- just three passing attempts.)
"I’m sure Fresno is sitting there thinking, and it’s legitimate, "Will they even throw a pass?" said Davie. "If it’s Cole Gautsche, Lamaar Thomas, Kasey Carrier, and Quinton McCown, will it be the first time in college football without a pass thrown in a game by a team? And that’s the reality.
"We’ve got a quarterback (Gautsche) that’s a true freshman that’s playing and getting better," said Davie. "Then it’s Quinton McCown who was in junior college in the spring and came here in the summer. Then it’s Kasey and it’s Lamaar trying to do some things. It’s kind of fun, it really is. It’s kind of fun trying to find a way to piecemeal it together and try and stay competitive."