The University of New Mexico's season opener against South Dakota is 27 days away. Though a lot will happen in that time, and we will have a lot of coverage here, us football fans are anxious for the season to begin. So let's whet our appetite with some key points from Bob Davie's press conference with some brief analysis.
Players to watch for:
Davie took time to point out the following players who have had little to no impact for the Lobos in previous seasons (due to red shirts, newcomers, or players playing out of position), but who could very well be influential in the team's trajectory this season: OL Avery Jordan ("having been here all summer, he jumps out at you"), OL Chris Lewis ("an absolute key for us...a big giant...a good athlete"), OL Aaron Jenkins, WR Emmanuel Harris, and LB Austin Ocasio. With that being said, he was quick to temper expectations by saying it was still too early yet to know who could have a meaningful impact.
On the new offensive line coach Saga Tuitele:
Davie noted that the new offensive line coach will give the players a clean slate, but that he is a terrific fit with what the Lobos like to do in terms of their schemes. Coach Davie views it as a seamless transition for the Lobos.
On continuity from last year:
Coach Davie believes that some momentum can carry over from the previous season, but that August 1st is truly the beginning of the new season.
On Delane Hart-Johnson injury:
Hart-Johnson, who suffered broken vertebrae from a terrible car accident in May, will redshirt this year. He is expected to make a full recovery and return to the team. Replacing his explosiveness and size will be difficult, but Davie believes he has the players to do it, particularly Patrick Reed.
On the quarterback battle between Lamar Jordan and Austin Apodaca:
Both are great leaders. Jordan tends to fit the offense better, but Apodaca offers new possibilities for the offense that Davie really began observing in the spring. Davie also mentioned that we should expect to possibly see JaJuan Lawson get some snaps this year.
On other concerns:
UNM's coach talked at length about his concerns for the Lobos' kicking game, citing that they want Jason Sanders to become a more consistent field goal kicker because UNM has only one kicker at this moment. The Lobos also brought in the nation's top Junior College punter, Corey Bojorquez to help with punting this year especially given that their usual punter, Sam Gentry, is suspended for the first four games of the season.
On Running Backs:
Davie expects to take a good look at the freshmen running backs Kentrail Moran and Daevon Vigilant this year, but without a doubt, he is expecting a lot out of Teriyon Gipson, Richard McQuarley, Tyron Owens, Romell Jordan, Diquon Woodhouse, and Daryl Chestnut. He especially believes that a mature McQuarley could do a lot for the Lobos as his style fits the mold of previous UNM backs that have had a lot of success within the system.
A few comments:
Davie is really high on OL Avery Jordan, who he mentioned a few different times...Coach Davie is clearly trying to avoid setting high expectations from the Lobos coming off of a surprising season last year. This is logical as it is only the first week of August and at the time of his press conference, fall camp had not even started yet. Furthermore, last season was a great run by the Lobos, but because it was so surprising, it is difficult to project what this year's team will look like...Coach Davie is high on the Lobos' defense this year and believes that the defense alone can win ball games. He also stated that the Lobos' offense is a little behind currently.
Check out the full press conference below.