Aug. 15, 2003
Over 40 questions were sent to University of New Mexico head football coach Rocky Long, the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year in 2002. Now in his sixth year at the helm of the UNM football program, coach Long took time after practice on Thursday afternoon to answer some of the questions posed by Lobo fans.
Q: Coach Long, How will your defense under your new coordinator Osia Lewis, differ from that of your former coordinator Bronco Mendenhall? Good Luck this year.
RL: The scheme will stay the same. The coordinator doesn't matter as far as X's and O's are concerned. Each coordinator has a different personality and handles a defense a different way, but the schemes are the same.
Q: Would a wide open, high scoring offense complement your strong defense or do you prefer more of a conservative offense that minimizes mistakes?
RL: We'd love to have a high scoring offense, but we also have to play to the strength of our football team. If the strength of our team is running the ball, then that's what we'll do. If the strength of our team is throwing and catching the ball, then we would focus more on the passing game. Our offensive philosophy depends on our offensive personnel.
Q: How do you plan on getting the passing attack going this season?
Rob - Albuquerque
RL: We are trying to work in practice on getting the ball down the field more. We've been throwing a lot more deep balls in practice and our receivers have been doing a good job of adjusting to the ball and making some spectacular catches. Hopefully that will transfer into better passing numbers during the season.
Q: What expectations do you have from the team this year and what players do you want as leaders on the field?
RL: I expect this to be a pretty good football team that will compete for the conference championship. But we need to play every game like it means something special to us and win a lot of close games to get that done. We have several leaders in our program because I think this is a mature football team. Our players chose the team captains for the upcoming season last spring, and they are Casey Kelly, Jason Lenzmeier, Terrell Golden and D.J. Renteria.
Q: Coach Long, With the new players at corner this year, will the Lobo defense tone down the tendency to blitz early in the season in order to not leave the corners vulnerable in man coverage? BEST OF LUCK in 2003!!!!
Craig Smith - Farmington, N.M.
RL: No, early in the season we'll probably blitz more than we will later on. We need to use our first two games to get those corners initiated so we can play our style of defense when we start conference play.
Q: How do you feel about your fan support, mainly the north endzone "Red Menace" section and do you encourage your players to interact with fans, like doing game ending Lobo Leaps?
Robert Deleon - Albuquerque
RL: I think the fan support is improving yearly and I think we're starting to develop a homefield advantage, which is really nice. I think the Red Menace has developed a tremendous frenzy in the north endzone and we encourage our players to interact with fans as long as the game is over and we've won.
Q: Please explain the difference between quick guard/strong guard and quick tackle/strong tackle. Do you recruit for a specific position?
Russ - Albuquerque
RL: We recruit offensive linemen because we think they can play, not based on what side they play on. The strong side guard and tackle line up and block with the tight end, while the quick side linemen are the ones away from the tight end.
Q: Coach Long, to what extent have New Mexico high school athletes played in your teams' success? Have some of the in-state talents surprised you?
Branton Crawford - Albuquerque
RL: I think the core of our football team is made up of New Mexico high school football players, both scholarship and walk-on players. Some of them have had great success. We've had a lot of walk-on players that have come here from the state of New Mexico, improved their abilities and were eventually put on scholarship. They've been instrumental in any success we've had.
RL: Thank you to everyone who submitted a question. I hope to see you all pack University Stadium on August 30 when we take on the Texas State University-San Marcos Bobcats.