For as long as Bob Davie has been the head coach at New Mexico he has had an m.o. for offense. Instituting the triple option run out of the pistol for many years. The Lobos had at least two rushers that went for over 800 yards a season between 2012 and 2016, and during those seasons UNM was always ranked in the top 10 in rushing in the nation.
In 2017 that rushing attack sputtered. The Lobos’ leading rusher, Tyrone Owens, had only 770 yards that season. UNM averaged only 235 yards on the ground that season and lost seven games in a row to end the season. The most criticized game during that stretch was a 38-35 home loss to UNLV, which was Senior Night that game. The Lobos put up zero passing yards in the loss, and many were critical of Davie’s offense and his seemingly lack of interest in throwing the ball.
So, Davie relieved Bob DeBesse from his offensive coordinator position during the offseason between 2017 and 2018. He hired Calvin Magee to install a spread-option offense. After sputtering to an even worse offensive finish than the year before, it appears Davie is taking a different route.
Even as the Lobos change offensive coordinators, the scheme will stay the same. However, it looks as though Davie will be pushing all his chips in on what he used to be known for: defense. After all Davie was Lou Holtz’s defensive coordinator for a few seasons back at Notre Dame.
To delve into the changes on the defensive side of the ball, we’ll begin at the top with the defensive coordinator. Last season the Lobos finished 118th out 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in total yards allowed per game, giving up a whopping 473, which was also worse in the Mountain West. They allowed 36 points a game; only Colorado State and UNLV gave up more out of MWC teams. Those stats, coupled with a seven-game losing skid to end the season prompted Kevin Cosgrove’s demotion from defensive coordinator to linebacker’s coach, as well as the promotion of defensive backs coach Jordan Peterson to defensive coordinator. Cosgrove had spent the past five seasons as defensive coordinator, so this change is the biggest indicator of where Davie is focusing much of his attention entering this season. By the way, Cosgrove did decide after a couple of months to leave UNM and joined LSU as a defensive analyst.
Now enter some other interesting changes. Davie also added two new assistants to the defensive staff. Dan Carrel comes over from the University of Houston to be a linebackers coach. Dillon Sanders was also hired by UNM and Davie to fill the outside linebackers coach role. Sanders spent the last three seasons with the Kentucky Wildcats as their quality control assistant and defensive graduate assistant working with linebackers. Sanders did work closely with 2018 Chuck Bednarik Award winner Josh Allen, who later became the 7th overall pick in the NFL Draft.
With the 2019 season basically being a make-or-break season for Bob Davie, he appears to have gone back to his roots on defense. Hoping that the changes will allow his offense to not play from behind as much, and perhaps surprise some folks in the Mountain West. For Davie it’s all chips in on the defensive cards of football poker.