When I looked at this New Mexico team in the preseason I felt that this was a team that had the potential to win six or seven games and make a return to a bowl game and have their first winning season since 2007. The odds were against the Lobos, who once again were picked by the media to finish at the bottom of the Mountain West's Mountain division. The Lobos would start the season with Home losses to UTEP and Arizona State before winning their first game of the season against rival New Mexico State.
The Lobos finished the season 4-8 but five of the teams defeats where by a margin of 11 or fewer points, with three games being decided by fewer than seven points. The Lobos often had a critical turnover; a missed tackle that led to a big play or flat out could not move the ball on offense when they needed a critical score. With one or two extra plays this year's Lobo team could have won six games this year but they did not, so UNM has now suffered seven straight losing seasons; here is the good the bad and the ugly from the 2014 football season.
Lamar Jordan: In 2014 Jordan entered the season with lots of potential but little expectations. He came into the season third on the Lobos depth chart but constant injuries to Cole Gautsche and Clayton Mitchem's ineffectiveness allowed Jordan to get playing time. Jordan first stepped on the field against Arizona State where he threw for 130 yards. The Sun Devils game gave Lobo fans a glimpse of what Jordan was capable of. For the first time in Davies's tenor at New Mexico, the Lobos had a dual threat at quarterback. Lobo fans spoke loud after the game as they felt Jordan was the future of the program.
Jordan would continue to trade starts and split time with Gautsche until Cole suffered a season ending injury against UNLV.
Jordan would start the last four games of the year. Jordan finished the year with 895 yards passing for six touchdowns. He also rushed for 612 yards and three touchdowns. It would seem that going into the off season Jordan would be the favorite to start next year for the Lobos next year but Jordan did make some freshman mistakes throughout the year.
In 2015 Jordan will be faced with stiff competition next year the lobos have red shirt freshmen Jajaun Lawson and Patrick Reed who are both duel threat quarterbacks like Jordan. Junior College quarterback Austin Apodaca will be Jordan's biggest competition for time next year. Apodaca is 6-foot-3, 195 pounds and from Mesa Arizona Community College. Apodaca played backup quarterback for Washington State in 2013 he will have two years of eligibility left. He is a skilled passer and has also enrolled in UNM and will be eligible to practice with the Lobos in the spring.
Jhurell Pressley: Before 2014, Pressley had never rushed for over 500 yards. He found himself behind Kasey Carrier his freshman and sophomore years and was expected to be behind Crusoe Gongbay in 2014, but due to Gongbay's off the field problems Pressley was given the opportunity to be the Lobos starting running back to start the season.
Pressley took advantage of the extra touches and became the Lobos big play back averaging 9.5 yards per carry which led the NCAA and set a team record. He scored 12 touchdowns while rushing for 1083 yards. Pressley had six one hundred yard games this year and three multiple touchdown games. Pressley was named the team's most valuable player but is not enrolled in school for the spring semester. Pressley will not be able to practice in the spring but is scheduled to return for the fall for his senior season.
The Defense: The switch in defensive coordinator to Kevin Cosgrove this year did not make a huge statistical difference for the Lobos this year as they finished near the bottom of all the defensive statistical categories in the NCCA this year. The Lobos were 124 out of 125 teams in total Defense this year. As a team they gave up 519 yards a game. They also ranked 112th in scoring defense giving up 35.9 points per game. The Lobos big Achilles heel this year was big plays. The Lobos also had multiple running backs rush for over 200 yards against them this year.
Off the field problems: Even though all of the players involved in off the field incidents were eventually cleared of criminal charges and were reinsgated to play for the Lobos, the attention the incidents took the attention away from the team and on the individuals. Crusoe Gongbay and SaQwan Edwards where arrested in April of 2014 on rape and kidnapping charges and were suspended from the team. In August the charges were dropped and the players rejoined the team in Ruidoso New Mexico for the remainder of training camp. Neither player would miss time due to the suspension but the missed team affected the players on the field because it took them a few games to get into shape.
Gongbay went on to have a disappointing senior season rushing for 354 yards and three touchdowns. Gongbay saw his career end just as it looked like he was finally starting to find a rhythm rushing the ball. He had two consecutive 100 yard games before suffering a season ending injury against UTSA and missing the last seven games of the season.
Edwards went on to have a better season he led the Lobos in passes defended and had 42 tackles, two interceptions and nine passes broken up. Edwards was invited to play in the College Gridiron showcase on January 31, 2015.
Jamal Price was suspended after being arrested for breaking and entering and conspiracy to commit a fourth-degree felony when he allegedly broke into and pushed his girlfriend in a dispute over an Apple TV. Charges were eventually dropped and Price was reinstated to the Lobos. He started for the Lobos this year and was named Phil Steele's Third Team All-Mountain West squad.
Cole Gautsche: For the second straight year Gautsche could not finish the season due to injuries. Gautsche's biggest asset is that he is a big physical runner but it also has worked to his detriment as he missed nine games over the last two seasons. Cole battled various injuries this year and because of his health he split reps at the quarterback position with freshman Lamar Jordan. Gautsche rushed for a career low 322 yards and two touchdowns. He was also only able to throw for 105 yards this season. Cole will redshirt the 2015 season because he is making a move to Tight End.
Fan Attendance: The saying goes "Everyone loves a winner" and that just about sums up Albuquerque's fan support for the Lobos. Bob Davie has been rebuilding a team that was decimated by Mike Locksley and in his three years he has put a competitive team on the field. The Lobos average attendance this year was 21,934 which was the lowest since the 2011 season. Most schools depend on their football program to fund other non-revenue sports but because attendance was so poor this year that the football program faces a 400,000 short fall in projected revenues.
In an article posted on the Mountain West Connection that shows the estimated value of Mountain West Conference football teams the Lobos were one of nine teams that report revenue with an estimated value $14,130,000. This is almost $63 million less than the conference's top team Boise State. The fans want a winner but if they do not cheer on a group that is rebuilding they might find themselves in the same position they were when Rocky Long left because fans felt what he did was not enough even though he made the Lobos a winning program. Fan attendance could also impact recruiting, as no top recruit will want to play in an empty stadium when he can pick conference rivals with a bigger fan base.