Aug. 9, 2004
The 2004 football season began in earnest today for the University of New Mexico. Head coach Rocky Long and a group of players participated in Tucanos Media Day this afternoon at the L.F. "Tow" Diehm Facility before hitting the field for the first preseason practice.
Long also announced that the practice times for this week have been changed to an 11-1 p.m. schedule, Tuesday-Friday. The Lobos will resume their normal routine on Saturday, the first two-a-day session of the year. Saturday's practice times are scheduled for 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Head Coach Rocky Long
On preseason All-American DonTrell Moore...
"DonTrell has a chance to be one of the better running backs in the league. I think he was better last year than the year before, and we're hoping he's even better this year. He's bigger, stronger and faster heading into this season. The biggest question is if the offensive line will perform as well as it did last year."
Biggest question marks heading into the season...
"I think number one is the experience factor. We're not very experienced, but I think we're very talented. We'll have to see how we react in the first couple of weeks. I think our defensive line is fairly small by college standards, and that's a concern. I think our receiving corps is talented, but they have to prove that they can play."
On the tough non-conference schedule (playing Washington State, Texas Tech and at Oregon State in the first three games)...
"I don't think there is such a thing as over-scheduling. I think that we'll be the underdog. I don't think that anyone will expect us to beat those first three teams. But if we want to be where we eventually want to be, we have to play these kind of teams, and see if we belong. Eventually people will expect us to play these kind of teams and beat these kind of teams. You can't beat them unless you play them."
On the quarterback situation...
"I don't think that Tali (Ena) or Kole (McKamey) has the upper hand at this point. But I do think we have to make a decision fairly early. I don't want to go all throughout camp without having a decision being made. Since both of them are inexperienced, once you pick who the starter is, you have to get him most of the reps to get him ready for the first game. I would say a decision will be made after the first eight days of practice. I think it's going to be an interesting battle. I think both Tali and Kole are looking forward to it. I think that both of them are good enough that they can help us win if they play to their ability. I guess we have a good situation for us as a team, but a bad situation for those two. There's no science to this - the one who moves the ball best in practice will be the starter.
"Without the experience at quarterback, I think our offense is going to have to be a little simpler. I don't think it's going to be simpler in the number of plays we run, but it's going to be simpler on what they can check to, what they can't check to, and what they can check out of."
"I think our offensive line has a chance to be just as good or better than last year. But again, I don't care how good that offensive line is, because you can put enough guys up there to stop the running game. So the real heat is on the quarterback. Our quarterbacks have to perform well enough so people will play us honest. If people play us honest, we'll run the ball fairly well because our offensive line is going to be good and we have good running backs."
On potential changes on defense due to the small defensive line...
"We won't change our fundamental defensive philosophy just because our defensive line is small. We have a young, small and inexperienced defensive line so you have to change some of your schemes to protect those guys until they get more experience and are better players. You don't want to put your players up there and get the heck beat out of them. So scheme-wise there's some things that we might do, but if we perform those schemes, our defense will be just fine."