April 15, 2012
The two offensive linemen have become the most important players for the Lobos this spring. Farrell is a two-year starter on the line, spending his freshman year at center in 2010 before moving to right tackle to allow Bratton to take over at center last season.
So while their experience makes them valuable, it's their mere presence that makes them invaluable.
Farrell, a junior from Baton Rouge, La., and Bratton, a sophomore from Riverside, Calif., are competing at the center position. But because the Lobo are practicing with only eight offensive linemen this spring, Farrell and Bratton both are playing on every snap during team drills or scrimmages. When one is playing center, the other is lining up right next to him at left guard.
Doesn't matter if it's the first-team offense, the second-team offense, the third-team offense. ...
"I really respect Dillon Farrell and LaMar Bratton," first-year Lobo coach Bob Davie said after Sunday's practice, the No. 10 session of the spring. "Those guys literally play every snap. So a lot of it just has to do with that, how much they can go."
UNM had set a fast-paced tempo not seen on the practice field in quite some time during the first few days of practice when the team was in just shorts and helmets. But as the team has put on the pads and tried to determine playmakers through full-contact drills, that tempo has been dependent entirely on the conditioning - and toughness - of Farrell and Bratton.
"We try to be really smart about it," Davie said. "You notice we take a lot of time between plays; we take a lot of time between series. We stop, we let them rest. It's a little different tempo.
"But at the end of the day, we're getting about as many scrimmage snaps as any team I've been around."
The offensive continues to show an improved running game and playmaking ability - albeit in unusual circumstances. Running back Kasey scored on a 70-yard run. Quarterback B.R. Holbrook found wide receiver Lamaar Thomas on a couple of 20-yard-plus passes.
The defense did force a fumble and later appeared to have scored on a Dallas Bollema interception return, but the unit was called offsides on the play.
"If you went out there and just kept statistics, the offense would be ahead of the defense," Davie said. "But again it's really difficult. We don't want to stop on defense and just totally game plan against our offense because we're really not going to play against any offenses like ours next year. So we're trying to get a lot of scheme in. It doesn't match up exactly right against our offense.
"The offense has been productive, no question. We don't want to kid ourselves. We don't want to think that it's going to be quite that easy once we get going."
Nothing is easy right now for UNM, which is trying to build a foundation after three straight 1-11 seasons. Not many programs have had to practice on Saturday and Sunday during the spring. After playing host to 150 high school coaches and nearly 200 kids Saturday, the Lobos came back with more than an hour of scrimmage situations on Sunday.
Davie reiterated his appreciation for his team's effort.
"It was a productive weekend," he said. "This has been a complete culture change. If you're not happy with the results, you've got to change the way we do things. I think the players are starting to get the message. If they can get through (the change), it'll be worth it."
Especially for iron men Farrell and Bratton.