Through three weeks, the Lobos are 2-1. This is the best start the school has had in 11 years. Despite all of the injuries the team has faced, especially at the quarterback position, they’ve managed to persevere through the first 3 games of the seasons.
But you can tell by looking at the stats of the UNM/NMSU game, that their win was due mostly in part to a superb running game and an inspired defensive effort. Highlighted by the performances of both UNM RB Ahmari Davis, who found the endzone 4 times, and 5 turnovers forced by the UNM defense. The only part of the team that seems to be dragging them down came from the most important position on the team, their quarterback. Sheriron Jones. The 3rd QB on the Lobos depth chart started his first game for the Cherry and Silver in Las Cruses on Saturday, and it was a rocky opening act to say the least. Jones’ first pass of the game was a screen that was intercepted by Aggies DB Terrill Hanks and returned 28 yards for a NMSU pick-six. The Lobos would rally from this early turn over and go on to a 42-25 victory, but Jones’ overall performance left much to be desired. Jones finished the night going 12 out of 19 on completions and threw for only 127 yards with no touchdowns. A underwhelming performance to say the least, and all but guaranteed the starting job to UNM freshman QB Tevaka Tuioti when he is medically cleared to return to the field.
Both quarterbacks have played roughly the same amount of time and there is a striking difference between the stats of the two. Tuioti was the opening day starter for the Lobos and wasted no time kick starting the offense for UNM. In his first start, Tuioti threw completed 18 of 29 attempts and also tossed 5 touchdown passes, and to cap it off, he also ran one in as well to rack up a total of 6 touchdowns on his own. An impressive start that carried over into his next game against Wisconsin. Tevaka threw an opening drive touchdown to UNM WR Delane Hart-John. The offense looked like it was going to pick up right where it left off, until Tuioti took a helmet to the chest that knocked him out of the game. Enter Sheriron Jones, a senior transfer from the University of Tennessee. Unfortunately, Jones didn’t make any difference in the outcome of the game. Going 9 of 16 for 79 yards and throwing 2 interceptions, one coming in the red zone. Combine this game with his start in the NMSU game, Jones has totaled 329 passing yards on 32 completions on 57 attempts and has thrown 0 touchdowns. In comparison, Tuioti has thrown for 437 yards on 23 completions and has totaled up an impressive 6 passing touchdowns through 1 full game and 1 full quarter. At the end of the day, it is not hard to see who the starting quarterback should be, but in all fairness, who would’ve ever thought they would see Sheriron Jones leading the Lobo’s offense?
For the time being, at least until Tuioti is cleared to come back, the Lobos will have to make due with Jones. The good news is that Jones is a duel threat quarterback, much in the same as Tevaka. The Lobo’s just need him to batten down the hatches in the meantime. The defense and running game have already proven that they don’t need a stellar performance from the man under center in order to win the game. Jones just needs to be smart with the ball and reign in the turnovers. But there is no denying the Tevaka Tuioti is special, and is the future of the UNM football program.