April 17, 2009
Up Next: Cherry-Silver Spring Game
When/Where: 1 p.m. Saturday, University Stadium
Online: Live video on GoLobos.com
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The howl from a large portion of Lobo football fans over the past few years has been the New Mexico's offense has been one part yawn, two parts boring and one part punt.
And now it changes.
For many fans, the Mike Locksley era of Lobo football begins Saturday when his no-huddle, up-tempo, multi-pronged attack gets unleashed in the annual Cherry-Silver game and a whole lot of fans get the chance to watch it.
It's a different twist to a Cherry-Silver game and a different twist to a Lobo program which for so long has gone into a season with the emphasis and the attention seemingly locked on a defense that played with a wild abandon not shared with the offense.
Under Locksley, there will be sharing. His offense will be given a green light to be aggressive, imaginative and bold and his defense will be give the same. There will be 21st century football on both sides of the line.
"Anytime both sides of the ball are doing good things, as a head coach, you are glad to see it," said Locksley, in his first season at New Mexico. "We plan to be aggressive and exciting on both offense and defense."
It would be nice if Lobo fans could get excited regardless of whether the Lobo offense or the Lobo defense takes the field. That should happen under Locksley. For now, fans just might be more interested in the Locksley hurry-up offense -- an offense with the potential to be high-scoring and explosive.
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.
Lobo fans are hungry to see some points on the scoreboard. UNM lost five of its final six games in 2008 and averaged 9.8 points in the five defeats -- ugh.
The reputation Locksley brings to UNM is that of an offensive-minded coach, who believes in looking at every spot on the field as a potential area in which to move the football. He believes in the run. He believes in power football. He believes in passing. He believes in big plays and big-time playmakers.
He also believes in blue-collar work ethic, mother-bear toughness and outlasting opponents in the fourth quarter.
With that said, Lobo fans also might need to show a bit of patience with the Locksley offense Saturday during the Cherry-Silver game. This isn't an offense you put in a month and expect college kids to pick it up like a game of checkers. Locksley's offense is more like chess. It's complicated. It takes time. Heck, it also might take a few more years of quality recruiting, but for now Locksley is happy with the Lobos he has.
"I'm pretty satisfied where we're at," said Locksley. "We have been able to put in a lot more offense than I'm accustomed to putting in during the spring. I would say we are a little further ahead than I thought we would be.
"But the ball is still on the ground (fumbles) too much and we know we still have a long way to go fundamentally. We have a lot of work to do before September fifth (season-opener at Texas A&M).
"We want to use this game to see how the players react in a game-like situation. This game will gave us more insight into where we are and what we have to do to get ready for September."
The big question every season is, "Who is going to be the quarterback?" That won't be answered Saturday since Donovan Porterie is still on the no-contact list and there is a lot of young QB talent that needs further evaluation in the fall.
Still, Lobo fans should get a good feel for UNM's up-tempo offense Saturday in University Stadium. They also will get a good look at UNM's 4-3 defense.
A defense usually has the advantage during a spring game because a defensive attack doesn't have to be quite as coordinated as an offensive attack.
The Lobo defense will have another advantage on Saturday. The Lobo defenders have been looking at the no-huddle offense all spring and are used to making quick decisions at the line.
The Lobo defense also is pretty good. There have been a lot of impressive plays made in spring ball and the defense made its share of them.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," said defensive end Jaymar Latchison, referring to the Cherry-Silver game. "I'm expecting a lot of people to be out there. It's going to be my second spring game and I'm a little more experienced and a little more comfortable with everything.
"Just make sure you are there to see it because something is going down and you don't want to miss it."
Cherry-Silver Spring Game Format:
-- Four 15-minute quarters. First half, standard NCAA timing; Second half, running clock.
-- There will be two teams, but the teams will not be determined by jersey color, but by which direction the team is going. The offensive players will wear silver and the defense will wear cherry, but the offensive and defensive players will be divided among two teams.
-- The Cherry Team will attack the North end zone. The Silver Team will attack the South end zone. Any points scored in the North end zone are awarded to the Cherry Team and any points scored in the South end zone go to the Silver Team.
-- Both halves will open with a live kickoff, but all other kickoff situation will begin with the ball placed on the appropriate 35-yard line.
-- Both teams will punt, but there will be no live rush on punts and no returns; just fair catches.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner