Sept. 7, 2009
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- The 50th season of Lobo football at University Stadium is Saturday when New Mexico (0-1) hosts the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-0, 1-0 Conference USA). Kickoff is 6:06 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on The MountainSportsNetwork (mtn.), which is channel 276 on Comcast Cable in Albuquerque and channel 616 on DirecTV. The radio broadcast is also available on Sirius 161.
Saturday marks the home debut of Mike Locksley, who was named New Mexico's 29th head coach on Dec. 9, 2008. He replaced Rocky Long, who stepped down at the end of the 2008 season. Long, who is now the defensive coordinator at San Diego State, went 62-64 in 11 seasons (1998-2008), including five bowl appearances from 2002-07.
Tulsa rocked UNM 56-14 last year at H.A. Chapman Stadium. That ranks as the Lobos' most lopsided loss since a 49-0 decision to Texas Tech in 2002. TU totaled 606 yards, the most by a UNM opponent in 2008 and equaled by Texas A&M last Saturday.
New Mexico QB Donovan Porterie had his junior season end prematurely in last year's loss at Tulsa. He suffered a torn left ACL late in the second quarter.
The Mike Locksley era began last Saturday at Texas A&M with a 41-6 loss. That makes four straight years UNM has failed to score a touchdown in its season-opening game.
Tulsa won its season and Conference USA opener last Friday, whipping Tulane 37-13 at the Superdome in New Orleans. Damaris Johnson had 12 touches (rushing, receiving, returns) for 252 all-purpose yards, including a 66-yard punt return for a TD. QB G.J. Kinne completed 15-20 passes for 211 yards and was the team's leading rusher (77 yards).
Last year, the Lobos finished 4-8 overall and 2-6 in the MWC, tying UNLV for 6th place. Tulsa was 11-3 - the most wins in school history - and won the West Division of Conference USA with a 7-1 mark. The Golden Hurricane beat No. 24 Ball State 45-13 in the GMAC Bowl. TU was picked to finish 2nd in the C-USA West in 2009, behind Houston.
50TH SEASON AT UNIVERSITY STADIUM - Saturday's game marks the start of the 50th season of New Mexico football at University Stadium. The first game was played Sept. 17, 1960, when UNM ripped the University of Mexico, 77-6. That win ranks as the Lobos' largest margin of victory at the stadium. UNM is 143-131-3 all-time at University Stadium.
NOTES TO KNOW BEFORE THE TULSA GAME
UNM has lost 5 straight games, the longest drought since a 6-game slide in 1998-99...the Lobos have also dropped 5 in a row on the road
The Sept. 12 date is New Mexico's latest home opener since 1991 (UNLV on Sept. 21)
UNM is 72-34-4 (.673) in home openers, including 9-5 in its past 14...New Mexico is 28-21 in lid-lifters at University Stadium
New Mexico's second-largest home crowd came in the 2001 season opener as 41,771 fans shoehorned into the stadium to witness a 26-6 triumph over UTEP...that was the first game following the seating addition in the north end zone
Tulsa plays games on four different days this year: Wednesday (2), Friday (2), Saturday (7) and Sunday (1).
Tulsa is 22-7 under third-year head coach Todd Graham: 10-4 in 2007 and 11-3 in `08. The Golden Hurricane has played in a bowl game five of the past six years.
SERIES HISTORY (Tulsa leads 3-2) - New Mexico and Tulsa meet for the 6th time. Before last year at Tulsa, the most recent meeting was 1997 when both institutions were members of the Western Athletic Conference. The Lobos walked away with a 51-13 victory to clinch the WAC Mountain Division title in head coach Dennis Franchione's final season at UNM.
1986 in Albuquerque: The initial meeting between UNM and TU resulted in a 34-27 Golden Hurricane win. Tulsa QB Steve Gage rushed for 212 yards and passed for 209, at the time becoming just the second player in NCAA history to surpass 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards in a game.
Lobos at Tulsa (1-2): UNM lost 35-33 in 1989 when David Margolis' 44-yard FG attempt in the final seconds bounced off the left upright. Lobo Terance Mathis returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a TD.
On Nov. 2 1996, redshirt freshman RB Reginal Johnson made his first collegiate start and rushed 41 times for 232 yards and a school-record-tying 5 TDs in the 34-23 Lobo win. Johnson, who carried the ball 12 straight times during a game-clinching scoring drive in the fourth quarter, added a 2-point conversion to establish a single-season school mark with 32 points scored.
NEW MEXICO-TULSA LAST YEAR -
David Johnson threw for 469 yards and six touchdowns as Tulsa christened its newly remodeled H.A. Chapman Stadium with a 56-14 victory over New Mexico. Johnson, who entered the game as the nation's leader in pass efficiency, completed 24 of 39 passes in a performance marred only by two interceptions.
Receivers Slick Shelley and Damaris Johnson each had two touchdown catches and exceeded 100 yards receiving. Tulsa finished with 606 yards total offense against a defense that had been allowing just 305 per game.
Tulsa's defense chipped in as well, as Roy Roberts returned an interception 41 yards for a score. Tulsa limited New Mexico to 316 yards of offense.
It was the second consecutive week of six scoring tosses for Johnson. He directed Tulsa to touchdowns on five of its six first-half possessions, with the only miscue being an interception in the end zone by the Lobos' Glover Quin.
The situation worsened for New Mexico when quarterback Donovan Porterie suffered a torn ACL with 3:42 to play in the first half, and was lost for the season. Porterie had completed 11 of 13 passes for 92 yards with one interception.
Brad Gruner replaced Porterie and connected with Bryant Williams on a 21-yard TD pass late in the fourth quarter. New Mexico also scored on a 37-yard run by Rodney Ferguson, who gained 122 yards on 27 carries.
POSTGAME NOTES FROM LAST YEAR'S GAME
Tulsa's 56 points are the most scored against UNM since Air Force won 56-14 in 1998
David Johnson's 6 TD passes ties for the most against New Mexico...it had been done 4 times previous, the last by Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury in 2002
HEAD COACH TODD GRAHAM
Tulsa's Todd Graham (East Central '87) is in his third season as head coach of the Golden Hurricane. He has an overall coaching mark of 29-13 and a 22-7 mark with the Hurricane. Before returning to Tulsa, Graham spent the 2006 campaign as head coach at Rice, where he led the Owls to a 7-6 record, second-place in the C-USA West Division and the school's first bowl berth in 45 years.
Prior to his stint at Rice, Graham spent three years as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Tulsa. He helped Tulsa post a 21-17 record and win the 2005 C-USA Championship and 2005 Liberty Bowl titles. Prior to coming to Tulsa, Graham spent two years at West Virginia. He coached in the prep ranks in Texas and Oklahoma before moving to the college level.
NEW MEXICO VS. CONFERENCE USA
The Lobos have a 47-42-3 record against current members of Conference USA. The school-by-school breakdown:
Central Florida (1-1)
LOBOS FROM OKLAHOMA
Just one in redshirt freshman LB Joe Stoner, who is a 2008 graduate of Carl Albert HS in Midwest City. SToner made his Lobo debut last Saturday at Texas A&M.
LOBOS PICKED 7TH IN MWC - The University of New Mexico was picked to finish 7th in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll as selected by the league's media. That's the lowest predicted finish since UNM was also slotted for 7th in 2001. History indicates, however, that UNM may fare better than the sages predict. In the first 10 MWC polls, UNM finished equal to or higher than its projected finish eight times.
IMPRESSIVE COACHING STAFF
Head coach Mike Locksley has assembled a coaching staff that possesses a wealth of accomplishments. A look at the numbers, including graduate assistants, entering the 2009 season:
128 - Years of collegiate and/or professional coaching experience: Darrell Dickey 24, Doug Mallory 21, Rubin Carter 20, George Barlow 18, Mike Locksley 17, Toby Neinas 14, Cheston Blackshear 6, J.B. Gerald 4, Mike Degory 2, Tee Martin 1, Mike Mendenhall 1.
19 - Bowl games as a player: Cheston Blackshear 4 (Florida), Mike Degory 4 (Florida), Tee Martin 4 (Tennessee), Doug Mallory 4 (Michigan), Aaron Moorehead 2 (Illinois), Darrell Dickey 1 (Kansas State).
1 - BCS national championship as a coach: Doug Mallory (LSU 2007).
2009 PERSONNEL PICTURE - The Lobos return 41 lettermen, including 11 position starters, eight on offense and three on defense. UNM returns 21 lettermen on offense, 17 on defense and three specialists. A total of 19 Lobos (12 offense and 7 defense) bring a cumulative 160 starts into the 2009 season. It was 224 starts entering the 2008 campaign and 284 in 2007.
TEXAS A&M REVIEW - Jerrod Johnson threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score to lead Texas A&M to a 41-6 win over New Mexico. Johnson completed 31 of 41 passes, and Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael added touchdown runs for the Aggies, who piled up 606 yards. The A&M defense showed dramatic improvement from last season, holding New Mexico to 21 rushing yards and sacking Donovan Porterie five times.
Porterie completed 29 of 40 passes for New Mexico in his first start since tearing ligaments in his right knee in the fourth game last season and undergoing surgery.
The Aggies, starting their second year under Mike Sherman, dominated from the start and built a 20-3 halftime lead.
Johnson completed a 42-yard pass to freshman Uzoma Nwachukwu on A&M's first possession and Johnson scrambled for a 16-yard touchdown with 9:52 left in the opening quarter.
Jeff Fuller caught an 18-yard pass from Johnson early in the second quarter, setting up Randy Bullock's 22-yard field goal. Fuller led A&M with 10 catches for 111 yards in the game.
Michael, one of 12 freshmen to play for A&M in the first half, broke two runs over 20 yards on the Aggies' next possession. Michael went out for a rest and Cyrus Gray's 13-yard touchdown run put A&M up 17-0 with 4:44 left in the half.
Demond Dennis fumbled on the Lobos' next play from scrimmage. A&M safety Jordan Pugh recovered and Bullock kicked afield goal for a 20-0 lead.
James Aho kicked a field goal with 13 seconds left in the first half to complete New Mexico's best drive of the game. The Aggies' defense, one of the nation's worst in 2008, held the Lobos to two rushing yards and nine first downs in the first half.
A&M marched 86 yards in 12 plays to start the second half. Johnson went 6-for-6 on the drive and Michael finished it with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Aho matched his career best with a 48-yard field goal later in the third quarter. A&M answered with a 17-play drive, capped by Johnson's 7-yard touchdown pass to Fuller.
POSTGAME NOTES FROM TEXAS A&M
20 players made their Lobo debut: FB Chris Biren, TB A.J. Butler, DE Ahraya Crespin, TB Demond Dennis, CB Nathan Enriquez, DT Peter Gardner, OG Karlin Givens, K Garrett Hentrup, QB B.R. Holbrook, deep snapper Evan Jacobsen, WR Ty Kirk, TE Jonathan Mader, CB Emmanuel McPhearson, LB Spencer Merritt, CB DeShawn Mills, S Jesse Paulsen, TE Lucas Reed, WR Quintell Solomon, LB Joe Stoner and DB Freddy Young...the breakdown of the 20 is 3 true freshman, 13 redshirt freshmen, 2 sophomores and 2 juniors
10 of UNM's 22 position players made their first career start as Lobos...5 others came into the game with 4 or fewer starts in their careers
New Mexico's last TD in a season opener was in 2005 against UNLV...it was a 1-yard run by DonTrell Moore with 13:24 left in the 4th quarter...the Lobos won 24-22 in Albuquerque
UNM has a 10-game losing streak playing in the State of Texas: 0-3 at UTEP and Texas Tech, 0-2 at TCU and 0-1 at Baylor and Texas A&M...the last win was 40-10 at TCU in 1997
The crowd of 73,887 is the 4th-largest to watch the Lobos play
New Mexico has lost 4 straight season openers for the first time dropping 5 in a row from 1985-89...the Lobos are 3-8 in their last 11 season openers
Senior QB Donovan Porterie set a career high with 29 pass completions...40 attempts were the second-most of his career ...he passed Graham Leigh (1996-98) for 4th place all-time at UNM with 394 career pass completions
Sophomore K James Aho hit both of his FGs, connecting from 19 and 48 yards...the 48-yarder ties a career long set last year against Arizona...he is 20-26 FGs in 13 career games at New Mexico with 5 multiple field goal games
Sophomore DE Johnathan Rainey did not start, but had career-highs of 7 tackles, 2.0 sacks (-20 yards)...he also had 6 QB hurries/hits
Senior LB Clint McPeek had 10 tackles in his first career game at LB...the former safety posted his 6th career game with double-digit stops - all since 2008
Senior LB Tray Hardaway had a game-high 12 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, in his first career start...he had 13 stops in 11 games (mostly special teams) last year
Senior WR Daryl Jones led the team with career-highs with 5 receptions for 53 yards...entered the night with 6 grabs for 72 yards in 34 career games
Redshirt freshman RB A.J. Butler had 53 yards from scrimmage on just 7 touches (7.6 avg.) - all in the second half...3 carries for 22 yards and 4 catches for 31 yards
RB Demond Dennis is the first true freshman RB to start a season opener since Art Celestine at UTEP in 1991...Dennis had 98 all-purpose yards: 10-23 rushing, 5-29 receiving and 46 yards on 2 KO returns