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STEVENS: Latchison Like A Kid In A Candy Store In Lobos' New 4-3 Front
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/16/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 16, 2009

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Head Coach Mike  Locksley
Defensive End Jaymar  Latchison
Offensive Tackle Byron  Bell

Lobo Football
Up Next: Cherry-Silver Spring Game
When/Where: 1 p.m. Saturday, University Stadium
Admission: Free
Online: Live video on GoLobos.com

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, maybe what awaits in a backfield is in the eye of the defender beholding all those glory backs.

In a million years, you couldn't guess what Lobo Jaymar Latchison sees when he peers over an offensive line and eyeballs the smorgasbord that awaits in the backfield.

Latchison sees gummy bears.

The talented and explosive defensive end sees gumdrops.

Gummy bears? Gumdrops? OK, sure, a defensive player is supposed to be a bit hungry when it comes to eyeballing an offensive backfield and picking out a few tidbits to chew on.

And, yeah, quarterbacks and running backs are supposed to look a bit like an all-you-can-grab buffet. Pick one out. Have some fun.

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On The Sidelines ...

• Coach Mike Locksley and his staff are inviting all Lobo football alumni lettermen to attend practice on Friday (4-6 p.m.). A hamburger cookout catered by Rex's Hamburgers will be held on the Lobo Plaza immediately after practice. Call 505-925-5700 to RSVP.

• UNM Alumni Lettermen's Association will also be hosting a tailgate, starting at 11 a.m, Saturday.

• The Lobo Store is having a 50 percent sale beginning at 10 a.m. on East side of The Pit.

• Concessions and Lobo gear will be available in University Stadium

• The Lobo Spirit Committee is hosting "Jump on Lobo Spirit". Events will be held on the North concourse, including three inflatable jumping pits, washable tattoos, sumo-suit wrestling and giant dice throwing.

• Season tickets also can be purchased on the North concourse. Tickets for the six Lobo home games start at $72 for adults and $36 for Youth.

• Player autographs can be obtained at the bottom level of the West stands after the game.

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But why the sweet tooth, Jaymar?

"When I first heard about it, I was like a kid in a candy store," Latchison said of UNM's switch to a 4-3 defense. "I was seeing all the opportunities for sacks. You got your gummy bears over here for a blind side (tackle). You got gum drops when you rush inside."

Latchison says what he didn't like about the 3-5-3 defensive of yesterdays was that the defensive line often was used to create holes for other Lobos to exploit. "We took the blocks," he said.

The linemen in the old 3-5-3 would rush at various angles, the opposing offensive line would get distorted, and the Lobos on the blitz would get the first shot at all that candy in the backfield.

You know, the gummy bears, the gumdrops, the quarterbacks, the running backs. Now, in the 4-3, Latchison and the rest of the UNM D-line is first in line and hopefully first to dine. Oh, there will be blitz packages for certain situations and certain teams, but the first choice of a 4-3 is to have the linemen get into the backfield and create havoc.

"In the last system, the linebackers and the safeties were getting all the sacks," said the product of Jordan High in Long Beach, Calif. "As a D-line, that's what we're trying to get -- sacks.

"This year, we're trying to get our shine. In the last system, it was kind of like, `Oh, man, they're taking our sacks.' Now, it's up to us. Now, we have our opportunities."

The 4-3 defense often is stereotyped as a defense that holds its own, doesn't move much, bends but doesn't break, and controls the line of scrimmage without taking chances and attacking the backfield. And if your defensive front is bigger and badder than the O-line in front of it, that might be the way to go.

The 4-3 under coach Mike Locksley and his defensive coordinator, Doug Mallory, plans to do all that stuff, plus get into the backfield to taste all that sweet candy. There won't be a lot of conservative moments for the 2009 Lobo defenders and that suits Latchison just fine.

"It's exciting," said Latchison. "We are coming out full speed every play."

Latchison is the type of defender you want to unleash on a backfield. He has tremendous athletic ability and the quickness to get around the corner of an offensive and hunt down a QB.

He has the technique and the strength to do damage on inside routes of pursuit. And he has that sweet tooth to satisfy.

"My athletic ability is one thing I pride myself in having, over an offensive tackle," said the 6-foot-3, 245-pound sophomore. "If he (OT) tries to keep up with me, I know he can't. That's plain and simple and I try to use that (quickness) to my full advantage."

The D-line that Locksley and Mallory inherits is a bit short in depth and a bit small. Latchison isn't concerned with the lack of bulk on that line. He likes the mix of quickness and tenacity that the Lobos will take into battle.

"We're a mixture of both," he said. "We try to use our speed first; our speed and finesse. At the same time, we have the power.

"We'll run around you, but we'll keep you honest because we can also run through you. It's good to have the best of both worlds."

Latchison says the Lobo players are excited about the Cherry-Silver Game to be played at 1 p.m. Saturday in University Stadium. It's obviously the Cherry team vs. the Silver team and Latchison says there will be plenty of good-natured talk between the two sides.

There also will be lots of not-so-good-natured hits.

"There will be a lot of trash talking, a lot of big plays made, a lot of fun and a lot of big hits," he said.

"This is Lobo Nation and this is how we get down out here. Just make sure you are there to see it because something is going down and you don't want to miss it."

Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at rstevens50@comcast.net. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner

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