New Mexico Set to Begin Fall Practice

New Mexico head coach Bob Davie - Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE

Second-year head coach Bob Davie plans to retool the New Mexico offense this season. If he does the Lobos could be close to making a move up in the conference standings.

Some of Bob Davie’s experience at Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh and Arizona has already started to pay off. After he joined the New Mexico Lobos as head coach in 2011, he immediately set out to rebuild a demoralized team that was almost destroyed by former head coach Mike Locksley. Some of that rebuilding was evident with Davie’s Lobos going 4-9 last year after three previous seasons where the Lobos were 3-33.

A lot of things have happened since last year. A bunch of productive seniors are gone from the 2012 squad and only eight starters have returned. Spring ball has also come and gone. Now only a small window of opportunity remains to set in place the changes that needed to be made from last season.

One of Davie’s stated goals has been to develop a passing attack. Last year his team ranked last in the Mountain West and 119th in the FBS. Right now the quarterback to correct that is sophomore Cole Gautsche, 6-4, 227 lbs, who was the subject of an article here last August. In his 2012 outings as backup, Gautsche was 13 of 31 for 222 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. But to his credit he rushed for another 760 yards that averaged 7 yards a pop. Still, if the Lobos want a chance at improving their record this year they are going to need a passing game to add some balance to their offense.

QB Clayton Mitchem, 6-3, 180 lbs, could also be that solution. He is a dual-threat quarterback who transferred from Northeastern Oklahoma, and who could give Gautsche a run for the starting job in fall camp---if he can stay healthy. He was injured during Spring ball. Mitchem was the Southwestern Junior College Football Conference Player of the Year in 2012 for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College where he was 165 of 283 attempts for a school record of 2,435 yards with 27 TD’s. He also ran for 728 yards with 13 more TDs.

The one thing that helped the Lobos offensively last season was the solid running attack behind the Pistol offense. They romped for 3,911 yards on 811 carries and were the 5th best rushing team in the country. That rushing attack accounted for 34 of their 39 TD’s. Some are already predicting the Lobos will be even better than they were last year at running the ball. One reason is that senior RB Kasey Carrier, 5-9, 185 lbs, is back to carry the ball. He had 255 carries for 1,469 yards and 15 TD’s last year. Sophomore RB Jhurell Pressley, 5-11, 198 lbs, is going to be part of that game as well.

So it looks like most of the tools are there to round out the Lobos offensively. The lack of experience at receiver promises a rocky start for the passing game, but one thing for sure is the running game won’t be enough to carry the Lobos this year. Most of the MW teams will be ready to stuff a one dimensional attack.

The defense will need some polish, too. That crew returns only three starters coming off a bruising 2012 performance. The jury is still out on their progress after a number of players were hurt or injured during spring drills and there are some holes in their secondary that give some concern. But if you listen to senior linebacker Dallas Bollema, 6-2, 230 lbs, they are getting that ironed out. “It’s easy to take coaching from him,” Bollema said about coach Davie. “He has had big-time players and been with big-time programs. We take to heart what he says.”

The Lobos fans should take heart as well. The season opener is coming up on August 31st at home against the UT-San Antonio Roadrunners, followed a week later with a road trip to UTEP.

Those are two winnable games to start out the season.

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