Stevens: Lobos Scrimmage Was Ebb & Flow, Tit For Tat
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  08/20/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Aug. 20, 2011

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Lobo Football - Saturday's Scrimmage - University Stadium

Up Next: 4 p.m., Saturday (Sept. 3) -- Colorado State at New Mexico

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

Linebacker Spencer Merritt looked good. Quarterback B.R. Holbrook looked good. Defensive back Julian Lewis looked good. Quarterback Tarean Austin looked good. Linebacker Joe Stoner looked good. Receiver Lamaar Thomas looked good. Defensive lineman Mark Hunter looked good. Receiver Daniel Adams looked good.

Well, you get the picture. The New Mexico Lobos' scrimmage Saturday in University Stadium was an ebb and flow, tit for tat kind of thing. The defensive looked good. The offense looked good.

Which also means, at times, the defense didn't look so good and, at times, the offense didn't look so good.

"As a coach, that's what you want to see in a scrimmage," said Lobo Coach Mike Locksley. "We had big plays on both sides of the ball. It was a scrimmage that went back and forth and for me, as a head coach, I like it that way as opposed to the one-sided deal we had the first scrimmage."

So, was there a winner Saturday? "Oh, yeah, the defense won," said Jaymar Latchison, a D-lineman. "No way, they won," said Austin. "I think we got `em."

Really, there were two winning units on Saturday. When both sides play well in a scrimmage, the entire team benefits. The Lobo offense needs the Lobos defense in order to find success in 2011. Ditto for the defense.

The Lobo offense came out hot and determined, probably inspired by a so-so performance in the public scrimmage held last Saturday in Ruidoso.

On its first possession, the Lobos' offense did something it couldn't do in the scrimmage in Ruidoso. It drove the ball down the Lobo defense's throat marching 80 yards in eight plays. The next-to-last play in the drive was a 23-yard pass from B.R. Holbrook to Thomas that handed the "O" a first down on the 25- yard line.

On the next play Holbrook hit Crusoe Gongbay coming out of the backfield, in the flats to the left side. Gongbay read a block well, cut back to his right and then sprinted down the west-side sidelines into the end zone.

UNM's second possession was led by Austin and also led to points, but not as many. The drive stalled at the 15-yard line when an Austin pass on third down was batted down by Rod Davis. James Aho trotted out and hit a 33-yard field goal. The offense's drive was aided by a 15-yard face mask penalty on the defense.

"The offense got off to a good start. I'll give `em that," said Latchison. "We started off slow, but we weren't going to let them come back on us. We have too much defensive pride. We fixed it real fast and I think it ended up with a good scrimmage on both sides.

"It was more even that last time, but we definitely won."

Said D-line Coach Rubin Carter: "We had to get the momentum back. A game is ebb and flow and you try to find a way to keep mo (momentum) on your side as long as you can. If you lose mo, you have to find a way to get it back."

The two scoring drives by the offense did seem to wake up the Lobo defense. On possessions three to seven, the defense bent, but did not break and no points were allowed.

The defense got big plays from Jake Carr, a sack on Austin on the third possession; a deflected Holbrook pass to Reed on the sixth possession; and a sack by Mark Hunter on Holbrook on the seventh possession.

When the teams finally drifted into more controlled situational drives, both teams continue to make big plays.

Austin showed his agility and speed by running for touchdowns of seven and 48 yards. Spencer Merritt ran an interception back 39 yards for a score. Holbrook hit Adams on a well-timed slant for a 20-yard TD, hit Quintal Solomon on a six-yard TD, and lofted a seven-yard TD pass to tight end Lucas Reed.

"The touchdown to Lucas. That one got me a little bit," said Holbrook.

James Aho -- 3 field goals

James Aho booted three field goals: 33 yards, 34 yards and 47 yards. Brandon Branch had an interception . Ben Skaer punted well with four punts settling inside the 20-yard line. Merritt led all tacklers with seven, while Stoner and Lewis had six apiece. Thomas had six catches for 88 yards and Adams had six grabs for 82 yards.

In the all-important quarterback battle between Austin and Holbrook, there might have been no clear-cut winner on Saturday. Austin went 18-of-29 for 201 yards with one TD pass. Holbrook had four touchdowns through the air and Austin added two on the ground. Holbrook went 18-of-28 passing with the one pick by Merritt.

"They both had their moments," said Locksley. "We'd like to make that decision (on a starter) sooner rather than later."

Said Austin: "I think I've gotten a lot better (from last year). I understand more things and it's slowing down for me."

If there was an obvious edge that went to either team, it was the stats from the running game that favored the defensive side. "We're not where we need to be with running the football," said Locksley.

UNM ran the ball 63 times for a net yardage of 117. That's a 1.9 average. Demarcus Rogers was the most productive runner with 33 yards on 20 carries, but had a 1.6 average. Gongbay, the impressive freshman, had 10 yards on six carries for a 1.7 average.

"I've been really pleased with that group (D-line)," said Locksley. "We had a couple of short-yardage situations today and they have consistently pushed the pocket and made plays for us in the backfield.

"Obviously, we still have a lot of work to get in over the next couple of weeks before the opener. But I like the direction that it's heading and I like the energy they are playing with."