Aug. 24, 2010
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It really comes as no surprise, but it's now official. The Lobos' 2010 huddle belongs to B.R. Holbrook.
New Mexico Coach Mike Locksley announced at a media conference Tuesday that Holbrook, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, would be the Lobo starter Sept. 4 against the nationally ranked Oregon Ducks. Locksley said he would announce the backup quarterback later this week.
"B.R. has earned the right to be our starting quarterback," said Locksley, in his second year at the UNM helm. "They guy who starts for us will be the guy who gives us the best chance to win; the guy who is the most productive; the guy who best takes care of the football.
"Through 19 practices, B.R. has been above and beyond the other competitors at the position. We are giving him every chance to make him the guy."
The first chance Holbrook has to prove he's the guy is in Duck country in Eugene, Ore. That's a tough start for any quarterback and maybe even more so for a sophomore, who only saw mop up time in 2009 as backup to Donovan Porterie.
But Holbrook actually pressed Porterie a year ago and was by far the standout arm in the spring drills of 2010. Holbrook has seen some heated competition this fall from true freshmen Tarean Austin and Stump Godfrey, but Holbrook has distinguished himself through his knowledge of the system and with keen decision-making.
9-4 -- At Oregon
9-11 -- Texas Tech
9-18 -- Utah
9-25 -- At UNLV
10-2 -- UTEP
10-9 -- At NMSU
10-23 -- SDSU
10-30 -- At CSU
11-13 -- At Air Force
11-20 -- At Brigham Young
11-27 -- TCU
"The best thing he has going for him is he has a really good understanding of our system," said Locksley. "B.R., by far, has the best grasp of where to go with the football.
"He had maybe one interception in 19 practices in scrimmage situations. He really took care of the football and put the team in the end zone quite a bit. He continues to impress me."
Holbrook came to New Mexico out of Hart High in Stevenson Ranch, Calif. He tossed for 2,656 yards going 16-of-280 (59 percent) with 25 touchdowns against six interceptions as a Hart High senior. He also ran for 739 yards rushing on 151 carries.
He played in five games for UNM in 2009 going 19-of-34 for 170 yards. He missed three games battling mononucleosis, which also weakened him during the season.
"He has quite a bit of arm talent," said Locksley. "He can make all the throws and he is a very accurate passer. B.R. is more athletic than people give him credit for. I think our players look at B.R. a little differently than they did last year. He is a guy who has really stepped up from a leadership standpoint."
The question now concerning the Lobo pocket is: "Who is No. 2?" Austin and Godfrey are the front runners and both show a lot of talent and athleticism in the pocket. Austin might have an edge in passing while Godfrey probably has an edge in the running department.
"We are extremely excited about the talent of those two young players," said Locksley, who also said the backup talent can "do some things a little bit differently than what our starter has the ability to do.
"I would not close the door on having a special package for which ever quarterback plays at the No. 2 position."
The Lobos' first three games mark one of the toughest starts ever for UNM football. The Sept. 4 opener at Oregon is against the Pac-10 defending champs. The Ducks are picked to defend their title in 2010. The Lobos host Texas Tech on Sept. 11. The Red Raiders have been a Top 20 program for years and are keeping the pass-happy offense that has terrorized the Big 12 for years. Utah is - well, Utah.
Locksley said that about 80 percent of the starters for Oregon have been determined, but there are still some heated battles. He mentioned the daily wars between Peter Gardner and Brett Kennedy on the defensive line and Emmanuel McPhearson and DeShawn Mills in the defensive backfield.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and Sports Columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him a firstname.lastname@example.org.