Stevens: First Day of Fall Football Was Harder On Coaches
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  08/04/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Aug. 4, 2011

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It's probably fair to say that maybe a few Lobos looked a bit worn at the end of Thursday's practice - the first session of the 2011 season for the University of New Mexico Lobos.

Maybe these Lobos need to work a bit harder on their off-season conditioning. You know, run a few extra miles or maybe push back that extra helping of mashed potatoes.

The good news is that the Lobos who looked the most tested and tired Thursday were on the UNM coaching staff. They had to spend about five hours on the hot practice fields. The New Mexico players were there half that time.

"It's probably harder on the coaches," said Lobo Coach Mike Locksley.

Said O-line coach, Ron Hudson: "UNM is getting their money's worth out of me today."

The reason Locksley and his staff are on the field twice as much as the players is because the Lobo coaching staff has divided practice into two separate and equal segments.

The practice begins at 2:30 p.m. and ends at 6:45 p.m. Only the coaches are there the entire time. UNM will do this for the first four practices of 2011.

The split shifts are designed to give coaches more one-on-one time with their position players. It also gives the players a lot more action, which means the coaches have a lot more data to evaluation in the film room.

It's an efficient classroom with a lot of Lobos moving around.

"It's definitely more intensified," said tight end Lucas Reed. "I think every player is more focused because of the reps. You can never get enough reps.

"It's a great learning environment and it's fair play because of the equality in reps.

The first week of the season is low-key as the players are not in pads and the contact is light. It's the time Locksley's staff teaches various parts of their system to as many Lobos as possible.

"Every player has a chance to get coached and do it while they are getting meaningful reps," said Locksley. "A lot of guys sometimes are standing around hearing things and not doing it. This way they are hearing it and doing it.

"If you have positions that are four or five deep on the depth chart, the guys down the chart don't have much time to be evaluated."

Hudson is one Lobo coach, who needs to take a hard, intense look at a lot of Lobos as quickly and efficiently as he can. The UNM O-line is young with not a lot of experience of depth. This key position needs to produce early and Hudson needs to identify his go-to blockers as soon as possible.

"We don't have a lot of guys with a ton of experience up front," said Hudson. "We have more time to coach them, but we also have more time to see who can play. I think this system is awesome. It allows us to double the volume of information we can throw at them.

"We don't have a lot of numbers, so the guys are getting a lot of reps. There are no backup groups going in. There aren't many times when you won't be doing anything. That's good because the only way to learn this game is to play.

" The book stuff helps you process, but you have to get out there and hit people. "

The hitting with pads will start when UNM moves its fall camp to Ruidoso from Aug. 7-19. The hitting starts for real when Colorado State visits University Stadium on Sept. 3.