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The Lobo Pack: San Jose State Preview

Finally, the 2020 season is here

New Mexico Introduces Danny Gonzales Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

New Mexico Lobos vs. San Jose State Spartans

The New Mexico Lobos will kick off their 2020 football season this Saturday against San Jose State. Get ready with our preview below.

When: Game is on Saturday, October 31st, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. Mountain.

Where: The game will be at CEFCU Stadium in San Jose having been relocated from Albuquerque.

Coverage: Television coverage will be on Fox Sports 1. Radio coverage will be on the Lobo Sports Radio Network. In Albuquerque it will be on 770 AM/96.3 FM KKOB.

Series: San Jose State owns a 13-5-1 lead in the series, including a 32-21 win over the Lobos last season.

The Breakdown

Finally, the 2020 football season for the University of New Mexico Lobos will kick off on Saturday when they visit the San Jose State Spartans. The long offseason because of the pandemic got even longer when the Lobos had to cancel last week’s game with Colorado State because of the state of New Mexico’s travel and gathering restrictions. The Lobos now have seven games left on their regular season schedule.

This contest versus San Jose State was scheduled to be played in Albuquerque, but because of the aforementioned restrictions, the game was relocated to San Jose. No word yet on the status of future home games for the Lobos.

This game will be the first with Danny Gonzales at the helm for New Mexico. Gonzales played for UNM between 1994 and 1998 and was an assistant coach under Rocky Long. Speaking of Long, it is his return to the sidelines for UNM as well, as he returns as defensive coordinator.

For San Jose State, they opened their season last week with a 17-6 win over the Air Force Falcons.

The Lobos X-Factor

The Achilles Heel for the Lobos during Bob Davie’s tenure was the defense. Especially last season. In nine out of 12 contests last season the Lobos allowed 30 or more points. In five games they allowed more than 40 points. So, it is easy to say that in this contest, the x-factor for UNM will be their defense.

Rocky Long is known for having a stingy defense, but given how abnormal this offseason has been, and the lack of practice prior to this game, it will be interesting how well Long’s defense will play in this one.

What to expect from San Jose State

The Spartans had a tough time getting the rushing game going in last week’s win over Air Force, going for only 68 yards. Quarterback Nick Starkel and the passing game had a solid day. Starkel went 22-for-29 for 226 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the contest against the Falcons. So, expect the Spartans to attempt to air it out again against UNM this week.

The top receiver that the Lobos defense will need to focus on is Bailey Gaither, who had eight receptions for 110 yards last week. Gaither had two catches last season against UNM, but he made them count for 90 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown.

What about the Lobos

New Mexico is expected to have an up-tempo offense. Tevaka Tuioti will be the starter at quarterback to begin the season. Tuioti has seen action in 20 games in his career, starting 11 of those. He has 2,604 yards passing in his career with 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Bryson Carroll will start out at running back. Carroll has 585 yards on the ground in his career with two touchdowns.

Expect a lot of three and four receiver looks from the Lobos on offense. Marcus Williams, listed as the tight end, is expected to be the Lobos main target in the passing game this season.

On defense, the 3-3-5 scheme in back in Albuquerque. In a scheme made famous by current defensive coordinator Rocky Long when he was the head coach of the Lobos beginning back in the late 90s, the Lobos will bring blitzes from anywhere to try to confuse the Spartans offense.

Prediction

Honestly, this is as excited for a Lobo season as I have been in several years. Gonzales brings in an up-tempo offense and Rocky Long is always known for having stingy defenses. San Jose State did knock the rust off with a game last week, that might help them a little early on. If the defense can keep in close in the first half, I got a feeling that the Lobos might be able to pull one out in the second half. I’ll take the Lobos in this one 35-31.