March 25, 2009
By Alfredo V. Moreno -- UNM Assistant Media Relations Director
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Nearly four months after he was announced as the University of New Mexico's 29th head football coach, Mike Locksley took the field for the first time as the Lobos began spring football practice on Tuesday afternoon. The excitement surrounding the first practice of the Locksley era began earlier than expected when a fire alarm forced the temporary evacuation of all the athletes and staff in the L.F. "Tow" Diehm Athletics Facility 15 minutes before practice began.
"I knew I said my offense was going to be hot; I didn't know it was going to set off a fire drill," Locksley jokingly told a group of local media after practice.
After 11 spring practice seasons under former head coach Rocky Long, Tuesday's workout was a little surreal for longtime observers, but there was certainly a buzz in the air as Locksley and his all-new staff guided the 2009 Lobos through a crisp, up-tempo workout.
Here are a few of my takes on the first day of spring practice:
Color Code - Among the many differences, perhaps the most striking was the fact that the offensive players now wear white, while the defense was decked out in cherry jerseys...as basic of a change as that is, it's going to take awhile to reprogram my brain to cherry = defense, white = offense.
McPeek Moving Just Fine - When I saw Clint McPeek struggling to walk without crutches several weeks ago I foolishly assumed that after two offseason surgeries to repair torn cartilage in his knee the Lobos' defensive standout would be severely limited this spring (see his bio and position breakdown in the ...that's the last time I doubt one of the toughest guys on the team...McPeek will be in a blue jersey all spring and won't participate in any contact drills, but was running around and getting regular reps at his new position of outside linebacker.
Lobos Did Their Homework - Coach Locksley told the team after practice that he was very pleased with how sharp they executed the new schemes on their first day...he said their offseason work and attention to detail in the film room really paid off when they hit the field and that some of the advanced techniques they were able to implement were unprecedented for a team in the first day with this offense...however, Locksley warned that the tempo was going to continue to increase as well as the playbook in the coming days and weeks.
NFL Style Practice - One thing coach Locksley mentioned to his team after practice was to be prepared for more of an NFL style practice during the spring with a greater emphasis on techniques and proper pursuit angles for defensive players...the time for being physical and big hitting was coming soon Locksley promised, but he said the priority will be to practice smart, avoid injuries, and focus on getting sharper and faster early on...the Lobos are scheduled to hold their first full pads practice on Saturday morning (start time TBA).