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Lobo Pack: Houston Baptist Game Preview

Back home in Albuquerque

NCAA Football: New Mexico at San Jose State Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

What:

Houston Baptist Huskies vs. New Mexico Lobos

When:

Thursday September 2nd, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. Mountain Time.

Where:

University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Coverage:

TV: The game will be broadcasted locally on MY50TV in New Mexico. It will also be streamed on the Mountain West Network online.

Radio: Fans can catch the game on the Lobo Sports Radio Network. The flagship station in Albuquerque is 770 AM/96.3 FM KKOB.

Series:

This is the first ever matchup on the gridiron between these two schools.

Breakdown:

It will have been 642 days since the last time the University of New Mexico played a home game in Albuquerque when they host the Houston Baptist Huskies on Thursday night in the opening game of the 2021 season for both schools.

The Lobos are heading into year two of the Danny Gonzales era and are still riding a two-game winning streak dating back to last season.

What to expect on offense:

The Lobos added quarterback Terry Wilson during the offseason as he transferred from the Kentucky Wildcats. Wilson started 25 games at Kentucky, finishing with a 17-8 record. Wilson completed over 65% of his passes at Kentucky, for 3,436 yards with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Wilson also ran the ball effectively, going for 1,015 yards and 10 touchdowns in his 25 games with the Wildcats.

Lobo fans should expect the same type of stats with Wilson at quarterback. He will look down field to find the open man before using his legs but is smart enough to not force the issue when there is nothing there.

At running back, the Lobos will ride with Bobby Cole, who Lobo fans might remember went for 548 yards and six touchdowns last season. The Lobos will also mix in freshman Aaron Dumas along with sophomores Bobby Wooden and Chad Alexander.

At receiver, Wilson will have a mix of targets to throw to. Mannie Logan-Greene is the top returning receiver this season. The 5-9 senior caught 30 passes last season for 277 yards. The shorter of the receivers is a speedster, though, so look for UNM to get him the ball in space. Elijah Queen will see some action. The 6-5 sophomore did not record any stats last season. Freshman Keyonta Lanier is expected to start opposite of Logan-Greene on Thursday night. At tight end the Lobos will lineup with Kyle Jarvis, who caught three passes last season for 43 yards.

The Lobos have the weapons to be good on offense, the question is will they gel quickly during the first game of the season? Expect another up-tempo style of gameplan that Gonzales instilled last season when he took over the helm.

What to expect on defense:

This is where the Lobos will win or lose football games. Many times last season the Lobos were in prime position to pull off a win, only to have the defense stub their toes late. However, during the last two contests of last season, something on the defense began to click and the defense began to take on the appearance of a Rocky Long defense; with eight sacks in the finale against Fresno State, it looks as though Long’s unit had finally hit the on switch.

This season, most of the starters are returning on this side of the ball. They will be led by Jerrick Reed II, who led the Lobos with four interceptions last season. Reed was named to the preseason All-Mountain West team in July but is confident he can live up to those expectations.

Expect a ton of blitzing from all angles from the Lobos. If Houston Baptist cannot pickup the on coming blitzers, it could be a long night for the Huskies in Albuquerque.

What to expect from Houston Baptist:

The Huskies played just four contests during the 2020 season, going 1-3. Do not let the record fool you though, the Huskies lost to Texas Tech by just two in Lubbock and scored 31 or more points in each of their games.

HBU loved to throw the football last season, but the changed offensive coordinators in the offseason and will be breaking in a new quarterback in Blaise Bentsen during this contest. The scheme expects to stay the same, but with only three returning starters, the Huskies might turn to their ground game a bit more, especially if Bentsen struggles early on.

That running game will have Dreshawn Minnieweather as the featured back. Minnieweather has gone for almost 1,300 yards in his career and 17 total touchdowns. Expect Minnieweather to carry the load both running and receiving for HBU on Thursday night.

Prediction:

Lobo fans have been waiting patiently, well for the most part, for a Danny Gonzales/Rocky Long homecoming in Albuquerque, and they will finally get it on Thursday night.

Houston Baptist may not be a big-name program that the casual Lobo fan will get excited about, but nonetheless the game does count, and a win would be huge for UNM as they are looking for their first winning season since 2016.

Had this game been played last season, I would have predicted a close game, and one that the Lobos could even lose. However, with just three returning starters on offense, a quarterback that has attempted just five passes in his college career, and making his first career start, this is a recipe fit for a Lobo victory. I think the defense will come through with a couple turnovers and some sacks, and the offense will click from the get-go with Wilson at quarterback and I feel the Lobos will run away with this one. I got Lobos-38 Houston Baptist-7.