Stevens: A Fast Lobo Start Could Produce a Happy Ending
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/14/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 14, 2011

New Mexico Game Notes vs. Nevada Get Acrobat Reader

Nevada Weekly Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

New Mexico Lobo Football -- On The Road At Nevada

Who: New Mexico Lobos at Nevada Wolf Pack
When/Where: 2 p.m. (MT) Saturday - Mackay Stadium, Reno
On The Air: 770-AM KKOB - Lobo Radio Network
Live Streaming: On www.NevadaWolfPack.com
GoLobos.com: GameTracker, Game Recap, Complete Stats

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It's a second chance for B.R. Holbrook as a starting quarterback, a second chance for George Barlow as a starting head coach, and a sixth chance for the 0-5 Lobos of 2011 to start winning.

Of course, it won't be easy. The University of New Mexico faces a Nevada team coming off a 37-0 roll of UNLV, a game in which the Wolf Pack rolled out 699 total yards and held the Rebels to a single completed pass.

Statistically that is not a passing stat Holbrook or the Lobos want to see. If the Lobos are to pull the major upset in Reno, Nev., Holbrook might have to throw the ball like he has never thrown it before.

Or like he did in the fourth quarters against New Mexico State and Sam Houston State.

It's also fair to say the Lobos need to play at a level they haven't yet played at in 2011. The talent on this UNM team is obvious, but so is the inconsistency. The Lobos also need to revamp a defense that allows 522.2 yards per game and going against an offense that averages 466.4 yards per game. UNM had yielded an average of 585 yards in its past four games.

"Offensively, they can do quite a bit," said Barlow of Nevada. "They throw a lot of formations at you. I think they are a lot better than their record. I don't think 2-3 describes them."

Barlow says his defensive front will include a few more 3-man looks as he tries to take advantage of one of his defense's strengths: linebackers. "But you can't make too many changes all at once," he said.

For Holbrook, it's the sixth start as a Lobo, but only his second start in 2011 because he lost the huddle in fall camp to sophomore Tarean Austin. For Barlow, it's his second shot as UNM's head coach after taking over those duties from Mike Locksley after the Sam Houston loss.

The key for Holbrook -- and UNM -- is to come out of the gates like a horse with his tail on fire.

"We need to start better," said Barlow. "If (Holbrook) gets out to a pretty good start, we have a chance to move the ball offensively. When your quarterback plays well, it helps the whole team. I think he'll be a lot more comfortable in the starting role and he had an extra week to prepare."

The Lobos, coming off a bye week, have been outscored 63-10 in the first quarter and 62-38 in the second quarter. That means the Lobos have been entering the half down by the average score of 25 to 9.6. In most instances, that also equates to this: "Game over."

The third quarter hasn't been kind to UNM either. The Lobos have been outscored 35-7 in the 15 minutes after half. Actually, the Lobos have been shutout in the third frame in four of their five games, scoring a lone TD against the Aggies.

Holbrook, at times, has looked comfortable and efficient in the pocket. He was deadly in the fourth quarter against Sam Houston State and very good against NMSU. In his six drives against Sam Houston, he passed for two scores and 289 yards. Against the Aggies, he got his offense into the end zone twice in the fourth quarter. He threw for 265 yards in that game.

But those games had already been won by Bearkats and Aggies and the intensity level on those defensive units had been lowered by lack of urgency and substitutions.

How will Holbrook do in the first half against a fired up Wolf Pack charge that had five sacks vs. UNLV?

Nevada is a team with a lot of reasons to believe in itself and probably still looking to burn off some frustrations. Like Barlow said, the Pack is better than 2-3 and probably should have won at Texas Tech where they rolled out 562 total yards to 441 for the Red Raiders.

The Pack was out of their league in a 30-10 loss at Boise State, but made a statement in their 37-0 romp over UNLV. The hapless Rebs had eight yards passing.

For sure, the Wolf Pack can move the ball on offense. They also had 516 total yards at Oregon with 283 on the ground and 233 passing. Those are good numbers. Nevada had 373 total yards vs. San Jose State in a 17-14 Wolf Pack win.

In their stroll over UNLV, Nevada had five turnovers and still posted those 699 total yards while winning the time of possession battle by more than 11 minutes.

Nevada is expected to start senior quarterback Tyler Lantrip, who has completed 66-of-119 passes. He went 18-of-29 vs. UNLV for 366 yards and three touchdowns. Backs Mike Ball and Stefphon Jefferson average 4.7 and 6.1 yards per carry, respectively. Ball, the primary carrier, averages 99.2 yards per game. Jefferson had 100 yards vs. UNLV.

The Wolf Pack has two favored receivers in Rishard Matthews and Shane Anderson. Matthews is the more favored of the two with 34 grabs for 588 yards (17.3 per catch). Anderson has 17 receptions for 255 yards (13.2 per catch). No other Nevada receiver has more than seven grabs.

"They are an effective offense and they move the ball," said Barlow. "It's critical for us to come out and move the ball early."

For sure, the Lobos need a fast start against the Wolf Pack. A good ending would be nice, too.