March 23, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Football - 2012 Spring Ball
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Meet Bob Davie the juggler. The first-year New Mexico head coach really has no choice in the matter. He has to toss a lot of things into the air and throw a lot of things at his Lobos.
There will be X's and O's. There will be schemes and formations and theories. There will be fundamentals and technique. There will be change.
Lots to do.
"It's a balancing act," Davie said of his first session of spring ball as the University of New Mexico head coach handed the job of turning around a program that stumbled to three wins in the three previous seasons.
Lots to change.
Davie is realistic in his approach to this chore. He isn't suggesting a third column be placed on the Lobo side of the scoreboard and he's not even sure there will be too many footballs on the UNM practice fields this spring.
Of course, he is joking - but not entirely.
The teaching portion of Davie's first spring will include a lot of X's and O's as UNM moves more to a 3-4 defense and into an offense we'll describe - for now - as the multiple-power-pistol.
And then we'll see what takes shape.
That's kind of what Davie is looking for, too. He has strong ideas about what he wants the core of his program to be - disciplined, physical, emotional, passionate, efficient - but there is much evaluation to do.
"One of the biggest responsibilities you have as a coach is getting guys in the right position where they can be the most successful and where they can most help the football team," said Davie. "On offense, we'll get the ball into the hands of the guys who can make plays."
The Lobos' spring camp begins Saturday and will end on April 25. There will be no Cherry & Silver game this spring for the simple reason that Davie can't afford to have his depleted squad go smash mouth for that long a period.
But there will be hitting.
"Our numbers are dramatically low," said Davie. "But I'm not going to back off at all as far as going out there and being physical. We'll hit. I'm not going to tippy-toe into it.
"I'm not going to back off at all as far as going out there and being physical. We'll hit. I'm not going to tippy-toe into it."
Lobo Coach Bob Davie
"We're not going to go out there and try to protect them. There is only one way to play this game and that's to be physical."
When the helmets aren't cracking, the symbolic chalkboards will be out in full force.
"You want to come out in spring ball and make it a time for teaching," said Davie. "It's the time you want to stress fundamentals and techniques and we'll do all that. But we also have to come out and teach X's and O's and install schemes. We have to teach our system, too."
Davie and his staff will go into spring ball with 21 returning lettermen on offense and 22 on defense.
"We aren't going to turn this thing around right away, but we're out there to take some steps," said Davie. "We are going to go out there and decide what we can do and who we can do it with."
There is some good Lobo talent to work with. Obviously B.R. Holbrook has an edge in the pocket as a three-year letterman and the returning starter from 2011. The backfield returns Kasey Carrier, Demarcus Rogers, Chris Biren and Chase Clayton.
There are some well-known good-hands Lobos in Ty Kirk, Lucas Reed, Quintell Solomon, Lamaar Thomas, Daniel Adams, Donnie Duncan, Jeric Magnant, Jamal Merritt and Andrew Aho. The O-line returns LaMar Bratton, Calvin McDowney, Darryl Johnson, Jamal Price, Korian Chambers, Dillon Farrell and J.V. Mason.
The pistol offense typically places the quarterback about four yards behind the line of scrimmage with a single back behind him. You can throw another player into a slot position, if you want to run a two-back veer out of the pistol.
You can run the veer with a single back. That single back can "dive" or take the pitch or a simple handoff. The quarterback is a runner/thrower. There is play action that sets up passing. There is power. If the pistol executes, it can move the football and the scoreboard.
"We'll run the ball," said Davie. "You have to run the ball to be successful. But we'll do other things, too."
The Davie defense shifts into a 3-4 defense, which the Lobos used a lot toward the end of 2011 as the defensive line was thinned due to injury. UNM's biggest hit on defense from 2011 was losing All-Mountain linebacker Carmen Messina. However, there is good talent at that spot in Joe Stoner, Dallas Bollema, Zach Daugherty, Toby Ball and Tevin Newman.
But Davie also makes one thing clear about spring ball: "There really is no depth chart. Our evaluations start now, start from scratch," he said.
"We want to find out who our fighters are, who are competitors are, who the tough kids are. We are spending a lot of time with this team, as much as we can, and we have an idea. But we still have things to learn."
Davie comes to UNM after serving as a TV analyst for ABC and ESPN since 2002. Before slipping behind a microphone, Davie went 35-25 in five seasons at Notre Dame, leading the Irish to the first-ever BCS appearance in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl.
This spring is his first as a head coach in ten years, but he says, "It doesn't feel like I ever left. What I missed was being removed from the competitive side of the game. It's exciting to get back in the middle of it."
The true competition with an enemy on the other side of the football begins Sept. 1 vs. Southern. Then it gets tougher for the Lobos; Texas, Texas Tech, New Mexico State, and Boise State.
There is a sense of urgency in spring ball because the learning time is important. The coaches also keep a scoreboard, of sorts, because players are being evaluated and positions are being learned and earned. But there are no wins and losses.
"You are out there teaching and developing players and developing the chemistry of your team without that scoreboard lurking over you," said Davie. "Coaches are probably unanimous when they say spring ball is one of their favorite times."