May 4, 2011
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Spring ball for Lobo Coach Mike Locksley and his staff really isn't over as long as there is some film to breakdown and evaluate. However, for a few weeks the film room might be a bit lonely for Locksley since NCAA rules do not allow head coaches to join their assistants on the road during the current four-week recruiting period.
If you are a head coach willing to outwork other head coaches, this hurts.
It hurts Locksley, who is considered one of the nation's top recruiters. He estimates in a four-week period he could make contacts with 120 to 160 schools - "Six or seven a day times five days times four weeks," said Locksley.
Yeah, those recruiting ties/relationships could come in handy for a program still trying to fill some holes left by the NCAA probations inherited from the previous UNM staff. Locksley estimates his UNM program is at least 15 quality players short of full capacity -- which means there isn't room for evaluation error.
"This might be the most important time of the year for any program because we are on the road evaluating the players that will form our future," said Locksley. "This part of the season emphasizes recruiting and recruiting is the lifeline of any athletic program."
The quality of Lobo talent obviously takes a step up in 2011. There also is some depth in that talent which wasn't present in 2010 when the injury bug took a cruel bite out of the Lobo roster.
The Lobo roster of 2011 is pretty much cast in stone, which means the film room has a double edge for Locksley. He is evaluating film on possible future Lobos. He is evaluating film from spring ball looking for ways to make the 2011 Lobos better.
When his assistants get off the recruiting road in the last week in May, Locksley said the film room gets pretty crowded. There will be additional looks at possible recruits. There will be intensified study of what went down in spring ball.
The film from spring ball will be broken down and categorized into several areas for study. The staff will look for things that need to be improved. They will figure out what they want to tweak, drop or add. They will evaluate personnel and plays.
"Let's say we kept making mistakes on a certain play we want to use," said Locksley. "Is there something in the teaching methodology? Are we doing something wrong in teaching the techniques needed to run that play? We have to make the play efficient. We also evaluate if we have to change personnel for certain plays."
Yeah, it's complicated. There also aren't too many dog days of summer for football staffs or football players. In program across the nation - and the Mountain West - there are coaches and players putting in long hours planning ways to beat you.
The Lobo players will finish up the spring semester, take finals, and head home for a short vacation. They will report back on June 6 for summer school and for summer conditioning. Both activities are voluntary.
You can be sure that UNM will get about 100 percent participation in these voluntary activities. The motivation is obvious. Other players at other schools are doing it. The guy on your team you want to play ahead of is doing it, too.
Locksley also will throw out another point of motivation for his Lobos.
"There is a stronger feeling of team," he said "The culture of this program has changed and there is a shared sense of purpose, a common goal, and it's at a high level.
"Football is the ultimate team sport because everything involved in the play has to move like parts of a machine. We can't reach our goals unless we move forward as a team with team goals. The players have embraced that change in culture."