Saturday was not a good day for the New Mexico Lobos football team, as they were easily handled by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 66-14. The loss drops the Lobos to 1-1 on the season, but there were some takeaways that the Lobos can work on as they head into this week’s Rio Grande Rivalry game with New Mexico State.
Tevaka Tuioti may have won the starting quarterback spot.
Leading up to the game I said that the Lobos would go how Sheriron Jones would go. When he was on last season the offense was prolific, when he was off so too was the offense. This game was no different. The Lobos forced Notre Dame to punt on the first drive of the ball game. Seemingly having the momentum, the Lobos quickly gave it back as a deflected pass from Jones was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. From there Jones struggled. He consistently overthrew open receivers. He threw two more interceptions that led to Irish touchdowns. He was replaced in the second half by Tuioti, having gone 4-for-15 for 19 yards and three interceptions. Tuioti came into the game and looked solid, going 6-for-13 for 132 yards.
The secondary is still struggling.
For the second consecutive game the Lobos pass defense was non-existent. The Irish racked up 434 yards through the air. Add that to the 443 passing yards Sam Houston State had and it is easy to see where this defense’s number one weakness is. Yes, it was the seventh ranked team in the country. Yes, it was against a future pro football player. However, if the Lobos want to compete in the Mountain West Conference this season, they need to mesh a lot more quickly.
Luckily the next two games provide an opportunity to do just that. New Mexico State is up next, and the Aggies have yet to break the 300-yard passing barrier in any game this season. After that is a tilt with the Liberty Flames, who have gone over 300 yards passing only once this season. So, there is a chance to get better in the secondary before MWC play begins.
The Lobos have a ton of speed.
One caveat needed to run a successful spread offense is, to quote Top Gun, the need for speed. And one thing is quite obvious, even against Notre Dame, and that is the Lobos have it. Bryson Carroll scored the Lobos first touchdown on a long run in which he outran the Irish defense on a 47-yard run. With his speed, and with what we’ve seen out of Ahmari Davis, Jay Griffin, and Elijah Lilly; the Lobos have great speed at key positions. They really need to work on getting these players the ball in space, and obviously offensive coordinator Joe Dailey can see that. So, I’d be willing to bet we’re going to see a faster offense this coming Saturday than we have this season.
There wasn’t too much shock about the final outcome from Saturday’s contest, but the future still looks great as far as the Lobos’ chances of making it to a bowl game. There are three winnable games on the horizon beginning with a visit from New Mexico State. If the Lobos can take care of business the next three contests, I see no reason why the Lobos can’t win at least two of their remaining seven games after that to make it to a bowl game. Which would be a vast improvement over the previous two seasons.