Stevens: Austin, Godfrey Work To Close the Holbrook Gap
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/12/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 12, 2011

Lobo Football -- 2011 Spring Practice

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

In the battle for Mike Locksley's pocket in the pivotal season of 2011, it's not so much that B.R. Holbrook is falling back in the race. Simply put, he's No. 1 until he no longer is No. 1.

For Holbrook, in non-contact mode for spring drills, it's more a question of looking over his shoulder and watching two young quarterbacks get the snaps and contact of spring ball -- and closing the gap.

Is there still a gap? Locksley says, "Yes," because in his program a starter doesn't lose his job due to injury unless the shadows chasing him perform at a higher level. That hasn't yet happened with Tarean Austin or Stump Godfrey, two freshmen who both saw action in 2010.

"This race will go into two-a-days and, of course, we would like to make a decision as quickly as possible," said Locksley. "I've been pleased with the competition this spring."

That competition has been between Godfrey, known for his running, and Austin, more the arm. Of course, there is much more these two talented Lobos have to do to charge down on Holbrook and that starting nod that comes from Locksley and staff.

Running is good. Passing is good. Consistency produced by keen decision-making and leadership might be better.

"I'm out to become a better leader," said Austin, who won the backup role to Holbrook in 2010, but also lost the pocket due to injury. "The football stuff will come. I want to improve my leadership and become a more complete quarterback on and off the field."

The slight rap against Austin is aimed at his run game. The quarterback can be a potent weapon in a spread offense and there always are times a quarterback needs to scramble out of a collapsing pocket. However, if a quarterback is ultra-productive through the air, you don't really want to see your "arm" rushing toward headhunting defenders.

"I think I have a few moves," said Austin.

Said Locksley: "Tarean is a thrower and we were concerned whether he could run the ball effectively. He has proven himself in this style of offense, but that doesn't mean Stump hasn't looked good, too."

Godfrey's resume has been fattened by some good work thrown out in the tough season of 2010. He had the best average out of the backfield at 3.7 yards per carry, good for 155 net yards. He also did well through the air, completing 57-of-97 passes for 553 yards and five touchdowns. He completed 58.8 percent of his passes, which indicated this young quarterback isn't all legs.

Holbrook completed 52.9 percent with 119 attempts and Austin completed 48.9 percent of his 90 attempts. Godfrey's efficiency rating in 2010 was 117.5 while Holbrook came in with a 92.1 mark and Austin was at 84.5.

Yep, it's going to be an interesting race.

"Tarean has made huge strides in the running game and Stump is coming along as a passer," said Locksley.

Godfrey, like Austin, obviously has heard the message about the importance of leadership from the QB position.

"I have to show the coaches that I can be the leader they know I can be," said Godfrey. "I come out here and try to give it my all while I make strides in the areas where I need improvement. I'm working on my timing with receivers and on my footwork.

"You can work on your leadership qualities anytime. You can do it in spring ball. You can work on it when you are alone and nobody is looking at you or jumping on you. You can also develop leadership when everyone is around you."

In spring ball, there are a lot of Lobos and a lot of coaches around and looking on. Locksley's starter for 2011 won't be named until fall ball when Holbrook is back in contact mode. "The real battle comes in the fall, but spring is a time to bond with your teammates and get better," said Austin.

For now, Austin and Godfrey are simply building their resume, improving their skills, and working on further reducing the gap between them and Holbrook.

And you can bet that Holbrook is taking notice, too.