Aug. 12, 2011
LOBOS IN RUIDOSO
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
RUIDOSO, N.M. - It's not exactly "for real," since the real stuff hits University Stadium Sept. 3 when the Colorado State Rams visit Lobos for a pivotal Mountain West war.
But the University of New Mexico's scrimmage from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Ruidoso High stadium (Horton) has "real" significance. Lobo jobs are on the line.
It's lights, camera, action and the film from these two-plus hours of blocking and tackling will provide hard evidence for coaches to ponder in making their final decisions. The Lobos' final depth chart won't be formed from this scrimmage, but the data from this film will provide invaluable input into that final chart.
"Any scrimmage is huge," said Lobo Coach Mike Locksley. "This is the first opportunity this fall to see how our guys react without the coaches on the field. It's a situational scrimmage, but it still provides us with the opportunity to see what they know.
"In practice, everything is scripted and coaches are on the field coaching every little thing. In a scrimmage, you might set up some situations, but the coaches are on the sidelines and the players are on their own. You look for players who can make plays.
"It's not do-or-die, but it's a big step in helping us define a player's role with the team."
The Lobos hit Ruidoso on Monday and have had some situational banging during the week. But in those situations the coaches were an arms' length away - "babysitting" as one Lobo put it.
"A scrimmage is different than practice because you don't have a coach telling you what to do at every moment," said O-lineman Dillon Farrell. "In practice, they might even tell you what (formation) the defense is in. In a scrimmage, there is no babysitting.
"They are cutting you loose. They want to see who folds and who gets it done."
One thing the Ruidoso camp has revealed is that there are a lot of talented Lobos battling for a spot on the depth chart. Farrell probably is a lock to play on the O-line, but there are interesting challenges popping up in every position.
Sophomore quarterback Tarean Austin has closed the gap between him and 2010 starter B.R. Holbrook. Freshman running back Crusoe Gongbay has shown quickness and field vision in hitting holes. Freshman wide receiver Daniel Adams looks nothing like a freshman. The list goes on and on.
Locksley and his staff have the luxury of making some tough decisions on the 2011 depth chart. There is a lot of talent to evaluate.
"Everyone wants a spot on the depth chart and a scrimmage is a time to prove yourself and show you can make a difference," said Dallas Bollema, a sophomore linebacker who has had an impressive fall so far.
"You get to come together as a unit and smack each other around. It's a time to prove yourself to the coaches. They get to see what you have."
The Lobo coaches will look for a lot of different things from the Lobos they hope will push into a bowl game in 2011. The coaches look for consistent efficiency. They don't want to see mistakes that kill drives on offense or mistakes on defense that keep drives alive. They don't want to see dropped passes, fumbles, penalties, missed assignment or mental lapses.
They want to see some playmakers making plays.
"There comes a point where you have to let the players walk on their own and that's what a scrimmage does," said Ron Hudson, UNM's O-line coach. "You get a better view of who is just hanging on and who really knows what they are doing out there."
Of course, there is some pressure on the Lobo players to perform, but it's also a fun time for these Lobos. They take a bus to Ruidoso High's field. There should be a couple of hundred fans in the stands. There will be refs blowing whistles and throwing flags.
"It's live and you go full out," said Farrell.
Said Bollema: "You get excited for scrimmages. Everything is live, so you go out there with your game face on and smack each other around. It has a game-day feeling to it, so it's a lot of fun."