Stevens: Texas Tech Is Chance For Lobos To Payback Themselves
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  09/10/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Sept. 10, 2010

Lobos vs. Texas Tech
6 p.m. Saturday -- University Stadium
On The Air: The Mtn; 77-AM KKOB/Lobo Radio Network
Online: Game story, stats, quotes on GoLobos.com

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

You have to look at this Texas Tech challenge as a payback game and that retribution has nothing to do with the Red Raiders' 48-28 win in Lubbock a season ago.

This is payback each and every Lobo owes to his teammates, to himself. This is internal payback for last week.

What happened in Eugene, Ore., this past Saturday really needs no other explanation, no deeper message, than what flashed on the scoreboard at the game's end: Oregon 72, Lobos 0.

You get beat like that, you tip your hat to the other team, and then you get serious about what kind of effort you want to put out for the rest of the season. You decide what kind of team you want to be.

Lobo coach Mike Locksley made no excuses for the loss at Oregon and placed the blame and the responsibility upon his shoulders. For sure, that's where a lot of the responsibility lies. He makes the big bucks.

But what happened in Eugene needs to be spread out over a whole team of Lobos. Like there are team wins, there are team losses.

Locksley also said he isn't in coaching for moral victories. We understand what he means. A 72-0 loss goes on the won-loss record exactly like a 35-32 loss. Still, when you go into a football game, a boxing match, whatever, you want to leave some scratches. You play the board game "Risk" and you want to win some countries.

It would be great, uplifting, encouraging if the Lobos could defeat Texas Tech at 6 p.m. Saturday at University Stadium. This won't be easy. Tech is good. They have been one of the top teams in the country over the past few years and it is expected by the Lubbock community that Red Raiders play in bowl games.

It also is expected that Red Raiders beat Lobos. Tech leads the series 34-6-2 and has won 11 of the past 12 games. The Raiders surely look at Lobos the same way Ducks looked at Lobos a week ago. This enemy expects to win.

Locksley and his Lobos don't like to hear any talk that they might not beat the Raiders. They face this challenge with positive and winning thoughts. They work hard. They believe. It's what they are supposed to do.

But there are some realities to face in games like this, too. The Lobos are not favored to beat Tech just as the Lobos weren't favored to beat Oregon. The Red Raiders return a loaded team and a quarterback, Taylor Potts, with a loaded arm. Coach Tommy Tuberville inherited a solid program.

Tech is coming off a 35-27 win over SMU at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock. The Raiders rolled up 431 yards in total offense. Potts completed 34 passes for 359 yards and four touchdowns. Tech had three interceptions.

In Lubbock, the Raider Rowdies are notching up a victory in Albuquerque and trying to figure out if their homeboys have a chance next week against Texas. There are distractions here for all Red Raiders. Their Big 12 season is on the line next week.

The Lobos' conference season is a week away. A loss to Tech won't count in Mountain West standings and for armchair dreamers charting out a UNM path to six wins and a bowl, a win over Tech probably wasn't in their projections.

Neither was a win at Oregon. The Lobos have time and games ahead of them. But things have to change. Texas Tech's visit is a tremendous opportunity to start that change.

The Lobos surely didn't play well at Oregon and part of that was playing 16 Lobos who had never before played at the collegiate level. UNM has 31 underclassmen on their 55-player depth chart. They started a sophomore quarterback in B.R. Holbrook, who made his first collegiate start. This is a team that should change and grow with the season.

Locksley has said that nobody cares about UNM's youth when it comes to evaluating the final numbers on the scoreboard. There is some truth to that, but there also are reasonable and loyal Lobo fans, who can look past the numbers. What a lot of fans want to see from the Lobos vs. Tech is improvement and honest effort.

What is important vs. Texas Tech - win or lose - is that the Lobos come out with some of that competitive effort. Leave some scratches. If not, they'll have to wait another week to give themselves some payback. And next week is Utah.