April 13, 2011
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- The University of New Mexico football program will host its annual Cherry-Silver Spring Game Saturday, April 16 at 2 p.m. MT at University Stadium. The game will conclude spring workouts and give Lobo fans an opportunity to see their 2011 squad for the first time in full game action. GoLobos.com will provide a live broadcast of the game with Scott Galetti and Frank Mercogliano calling the action. UNM will also provide GameTracker for the event. The game is free to the public and the press box will be open for all media with a UNM credential.
New Mexico will be split into two squads and play a full game. Fans and supporters will be allowed to get autographs after the game. UNM will host the finals of the Punt, Pass and Kick competition during halftime of the Cherry-Silver Spring Game.
UNM will have concession stands open in the northwest corner and Lobo representatives will be available for fans to reserve their 2011 season tickets. Gates will open at 1 p.m. Saturday. Lobo Fans can get special savings on select men's, women's and youth Lobo gear at the Lobo Den during the Cherry-Silver game.
SPRING FOOTBALL BREAKDOWN:
Offensively, New Mexico has a lot of weapons that will competing this Saturday at the Cherry-Silver Spring Game. The "New Look" Lobos still have a lot of questions but if work ethic has anything to do with the answers, it should be positive. This team has a much higher intensity level and the expectations have never been higher entering Coach Mike Locksley's third year.
New Mexico, under the direction of new assistant Craig Jefferies, has depth at the wide receiver position and some new additions that will spark a lot of interest. Transfers Deon Long and Lamaar Thomas will be available in 2011 after sitting out last year due to NCAA transfer rules. Long, a West Virginia transfer, will be a freshman and have four years at New Mexico. His outstanding athletic ability has been demonstrated daily on the practice fields and should have an immediate impact. Thomas, an import from Ohio State, has explosive speed and great hands. Those two along with current Lobos Michael Scarlett, Ty Kirk, Quintell Solomon, Detchauz Wray and new signee Donnie Duncan should get Lobo fans excited for 2011. Junior Emmanuel McPhearson has moved from cornerback to wide receiver but time will tell how the switch will benefit the Lobos.
New Offensive Line Coach Ron Hudson has installed a blue collar, hardcore mindset in the big guys up front. The primary goal this spring and through recruiting has been to develop and create depth on the offensive line. Coach Hudson has utilized everyone involved to help make this team better. Sophomore Dillon Farrell is the only 12-game starter returning on the O-Line and should be even better in '11. Farrell has played every position; center, guard and tackle this spring. Sophomore guard Calvin McDowney has played well and continues to improve his conditioning. Interior linemen LaMar Bratton and Mike Muniz are battling for a starting roles. Both have played center and guard this spring. The tackle positions are critical. Junior college transfer Korian Chambers looks to be a real player at left tackle and has the physical tools to make the adjustment to Division I football. Darryl Johnson, J.V. Mason, Earl Johnson and Jon Washington should battle it out for the right tackle spot. Coach Hudson remains focused on details and execution, which should benefit the program this season.
Junior Lucas Reed is one of the nation's top tight ends. Reed is coming off a career season with 33 catches for 459 yards and a team high five touchdowns. His size continues to improve and he's expected to have another outstanding season in 2011. He has worked with Coach Cheston Blackshear on his blocking techniques and should be a candidate for the John Mackey National Tight End of the Year award. Sophomore Andrew Aho has the tools to be an impact player but has primarily been used as a backup to Reed. He had a touchdown catch in the Lobos second scrimmage this spring and is working on his physicalness as a blocker on the O-Line.
This will be a battle that continues into fall camp. Junior B.R. Holbrook has been no-contact this spring after having knee surgery at the end of last season. He will be thrown into the mix this summer and given an opportunity to compete for the starting role again this season. True sophomores Tarean Austin and Stump Godfrey should be the primary QBs for the Spring Game. Austin has really impressed the coaching staff this spring and has looked good. However, Austin suffered a back injury last Saturday but should be ready to go for Cherry-Silver. Godfrey started the final four games for the Lobos last year and has been steady during spring workouts. He runs the ball extremely well and continues to improve his passing ability. New Offensive Coordinator David Reaves should be given a lot of credit for his work with everyone at this position. Reaves continues to work with an inexperienced but talented group of QBs. This group seems to keep getting better and the competition for the starting role has made this whole team better. True freshmen Dustin Walton and Kevin Chavez have been working out this spring; behind the returners they have shown that the QB position is stocked with young talent.
Junior Kasey Carrier and senior James Wright are the top returners. They seem bigger, faster, stronger through the spring. Both seem to be hitting the holes harder than in the past and the running game looks improved. The improvement could be a direct reflection of the competition. Very few expected sophomore Demarcus Rogers to emerge as a potential weapon in the backfield. Rogers has shown great speed, agility and the ability to make defenders miss during spring workouts. His production in the backfield has created an excitement and explosiveness you expect to see in the running back position. All three have big play potential but a lot will be determined by the guys up front. New running backs coach Vincent White has already left his mark on this unit. White puts a great deal into alignment, details and doing things the right way. Junior Chris Biren is the only true fullback on the roster and has had a solid spring. Biren has the ability to catch passes out of the backfield, block and could be used as a short yardage back.
Defensively, the Lobos are under the direction of new defensive coordinator George Barlow and will utilize a 4-2-5 scheme. Barlow has tried to stress the importance of being physical and flying to the football. UNM hopes its improved speed and recruiting will add depth. The Lobos primary focus has been its secondary but the defensive line is an area of importance as well. The linebacker group is a strength and returns all three starters. The new 4-2-5 defense has been a staple since Locksley took over and focuses on attacking the football.
Defensive line coach Rubin Carter enters his third season and has installed the attacking mentality. Senior Jaymar Latchison returns after starting the last two seasons at the end position. Latchison has the physical size and quickness to compete but needs to standout as a senior. All-conference performer Johnathan Rainey, who suffered a neck injury last year, is still undetermined if he will return. If Rainey can't rejoin the team, that leaves a starting role open for competition. Junior Joe Harris has been a bright spot this spring. Harris has showcased his speed on the end and his ability to make plays. This could be one of the top switches of the spring and he could develop into a key contributor. Sophomore J.J. Hugine, who played as a true freshman, should have a shot for a starting role, as well as sophomore Jacori Greer. Greer came on late in the year last season and show great potential in the final two games. Juniors Jake Carr and Mark Hunter will be in the mix for 2011. Carr earned valuable playing time last season before suffering an injury.
Junior Reggie Ellis has shown the most improvement this spring on the defensive line. Ellis, who served in a backup role in 2010, will push for a starting role this season. Ellis seems to flourish in the new system and has been in attack mode since the spring started. Junior Ugo Uzodinma is back and brings experience. Uzodinma has great size, speed and is developing his toughness inside. Senior and Albuquerque native Brett Kennedy has all the tools to become a starter but will have to earn the position. Sophomore Calvin Smith has a better understanding of the defense and continues to develop. The D-Line should get a boost this summer with the influx of the new signees.
Without a doubt this is one of the real strengths of this program. Senior Carmen Messina is back after two outstanding seasons. Messina has earned back-to-back all-Mountain West Conference honors and recorded at least 100-tackles in consecutive seasons. He ranks 17th all-time in tackles at New Mexico with 312 stops and could become just the fifth Lobo to reach 400 career tackles. Juniors Joe Stoner and Spencer Merritt are back and coming off strong seasons. Stoner has made an impact this spring and will be viable candidate for one of the two starting roles. Freshman transfer Javarie Johnson has been one of the most physical linebackers in camp thus far. Johnson, who sat our last season after transferring from Maryland, has exceptional speed and should help the Lobos run defense. Sophomore Dallas Bollema, redshirt freshmen Toby Ball and Zach Daugherty have all played well at times this spring.
New Mexico has spent a lot of time and energy in rebuilding the secondary. The Lobos named Mike Woodford as the new secondary coach and have gone back to the basics and fundamentals. UNM has been extremely watchful of technique, footwork and alignment during the spring. Both starters from 2010 are back in senior Anthony Hooks and junior DeShawn Mills. The benefit heading into the new season is UNM will have depth and athletes in the rotation. Lack of depth demolished the secondary last season but recruiting should add some much need athleticism and speed. Expect junior college transfers DeShon Marman and Destry Berry to be in the mix. Marman is an aggressive, punisher from his safety position and has the football awareness to attack the ball. Senior Bubba Forrest, who has been no contact this spring due to shoulder surgery, will compete for a starting role along with converted wide receiver Martize Barr. Barr has been a surprise in the secondary after switch positions at the end of last season. He is a physical player with good instincts. UNM will rely on junior A.J. Butler at the new wolf position and junior Carmeiris Stewart as a Lobo. Both have the athleticism to make an impact defensively. Junior Freddy Young, sophomore Chance Aven, junior Matt Raymer, senior Jamarr Lyles and redshirt freshman Chase Clayton will be given opportunities to play on Saturdays. They could all benefit from a positive showing at the Cherry-Silver Spring Game.
UNM returns all key specialists in senior kick James Aho, junior long snapper Evan Jacobsen, sophomore punter Ben Skaer and senior kickoff specialist Garrett Hentrup. All four have great experience and are expected to be contributors this season. Aho is an all-MWC selection from a year ago and ranks among one of the best all-time at New Mexico. Jacobsen has developed into one of the top snappers nationally. Skaer has a full season under his belt and is looking to be more consistent. Hentrup is back for the second straight season.
The return game should be fun to watch. UNM will have multiple options in 2011. Thomas, Long, Duncan, McPhearson, Carrier and a host of other Lobos have the ability to return kickoffs and punts. The increased speed factor has given the Lobos an exciting element to special teams. UNM will still have to execute on a fundamental level but the speed, athleticism and playmakers have increased.
Spring Game Watch List:
WR Lamaar Thomas, Junior
WR Deon Long, Freshman
WR Donnie Duncan, Freshman
WR Emmanuel McPhearson, Junior
OT Korian Chambers, Junior
OL Dillon Farrell, Sophomore
OL LaMar Bratton, Redshirt Freshman