Aug. 7, 2011
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
RUIDOSO, N.M. -- This isn't a vacation. This isn't a ski trip or a fly-fishing trip or a golf outing to a mountain resort.
The Lobos don't get to sleep in and have tea on the veranda. There will be no "Do Not Disturb" signs posted on any doors.
It's a business trip and Mike Locksley and his staff will make sure the Lobos players get down to the business of football. There will be buzzers sounding, coaches barking, and places for a long jog or a quick sprint.
There will be lots of teaching, hitting, fundamentals, film study and much more all geared to implement a system into a team of talented Lobos out to turn a corner in a program that needs to turn a corner.
It will be almost 100 percent football with weight lifting and team meetings wedged into the 12-day camp.
It's also a time for bonding. The Lobos are in Ruidoso with a "trench mentality." They are a band of brothers looking for ways get better for a challenging 2011 season that includes war games with Arkansas, TCU, Boise State, Texas Tech, Air Force and San Diego State.
"It's probably one of the most important things we do in the whole year," said Lobo tight end, Lucas Reed. "You are just bunkered up in this one hotel and there is no one else there. There are no distractions and only one thing to do (concentrate on football).
"I love camp. It's a whole different environment. This is about the only time in the season where you get to stop multi-tasking and just do football."
For sure, the Lobos need to do football better this season. They are coming off back-to-back seasons of 1-11 and Locksley is unbending in saying the goal for 2011 is a bowl bid. For sure, Ruidoso helps because of the intensity and the team bonding that the journey south provides.
9-3 -- Colorado State
9-10 -- At Arkansas
9-17 -- Texas Tech
9-24 -- Sam Houston State
10-1 -- New Mexico St
10-15 -- At Nevada
10-22 -- At TCU
10-29 -- Air Force
11-5 -- At SDSU
11-12 -- UNLV
11-19 -- At Wyoming
12-3 -- At Boise State
It also a high-elevation site (almost 7,000 feet) that improves conditioning while allowing Lobos not to be blistered by the Albuquerque sun.
OK, it's also a nice place. "I hear it's green, really green," said Lobo offensive lineman Korian Chambers.
Yeah, it's green and there are mountains to look at and pretty, fluffy clouds dancing over the Lobos' heads. But if the Lobos put their heads in the clouds there will be a Lobo coach putting his foot, er, down.
This is a serious time for all Lobos.
"I like the team-building aspect of it," said Locksley of the sojourn to Ruidoso. "It eliminates the distractions.
"This is the one opportunity we have during the season where it's fooball 24/7. There are no classes and the players have no other obligations, so it gives us two weeks of football to put the focus and the energy on getting better as a program."
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Said Chambers: "It will be exciting and a good experience. I don't think we have quite come together as a total unit yet, but that's what camp is for."
The Lobos left Albuquerque earlier on Sunday and their first practice on Ruidoso soil is set for Monday at 2:30 p.m. It's also an exciting practice day because it's the first day in full pads. The Lobos will hold a scrimmage in Ruidoso at 6 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 13).
The Lobos leave Ruidoso on Friday (Aug. 19) and Fan Photo Day will be held at University Stadium at 4 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 20). The Lobos also will scrimmage that day. The season opens Sept. 3 when the Colorado State Rams visit Albuquerque for a critical Mountain West game.
Coach Locksley isn't thrilled about opening the season with a league game, but in his first two seasons his Lobos were sent on the road to play Texas A&M (2009) and Oregon (2010).
"I like starting at home as opposed to College Station (A&M) or Eugene, Oregon. It's a great opportunity for our fans to come out and get a chance to see the guys and see the improvement."
The Lobos plan to be a sleeper team in the Mountain; one that wakes up a few teams possibly looking at the Lobos as easy prey. UNM was picked to finish last in the Mountain, but Locksley bit the bullet by redshirting some talented freshmen in 2010. He also has brought in a lot of talented (and quick) transfers.
The talent is better. The depth is better. The schedule is a little better, but definitely not an easy schedule as even the lower-rung MW teams expect to improve - just like the Lobos.