May 2, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Football - Spring Ball Review
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The Lobo tunnel toward the teasing light of football rejuvenation is not a clear path with an oil-slick rail just waiting for a man with a plan. There is some old debris to be kicked to the side. These worn rails (with their three-year, 3-33 past) need to be greased.
But Lobo Coach Bob Davie says he sees the proverbial light at the end and says "I'm more excited now than when I took the job."
Davie, who has been there and done that at Texas A&M and Notre Dame, also is a realist and knows there is some road work ahead and the need for more talented bodies to dot his tunnel and his football field.
A few of those bodies are on the way come fall of 2012 and Davie and his talented staff will do some more juggling and puzzling together of pieces when the new Lobos join the old Lobos.
Much to do.
What Davie did see at the end of spring ball was a lot of talented and dedicated Lobos willing to put in the work needed to repair the torn fabric of Lobo football. The attitude and the work ethic are there. That's important.
Davie, who inherited a struggling program short on scholarship Lobos, also knows that he and his staff -- and his team - will face some stiff challenges in the grueling 13-game schedule of 2012.
"I'm not going to sugarcoat it," said Davie of the state of the UNM program. "It's extremely fragile and vulnerable.
"But we can get it done here. I know we can. I also know we need everybody to buy into this right now. It's going to take everybody united to make it move forward to where everybody wants to be."
Some the talent that Davie inherited was obvious in spring ball. To name just a few: quarterback B.R. Holbrook, linebackers Joe Harris and A.J. Butler, O-linemen Dillon Farrell, LaMar Bratton; tight end Lucas Reed, receivers Lamaar Thomas, Ty Kirk and Daniel Adams, running back Kasey Carrier, D-linemen Reggie Ellis and Jake Carr, defensive backs DeShawn Mills and Destry Berry.
There is more Lobo talent and more on the way. A telling quote from Davie in his post-spring media gathering was the one concerning the vulnerability formed, in part, by lack of depth. And here's another one:
"We have a good feel with what we think we can do and who we can do it with," said Davie. "But there aren't a whole lot of options."
The eventual plan for New Mexico football under Davie is to place a multi-chambered "Pistol" offense on the field that can fire smoothly out of all barrels and out of a variety of formations. But going into 2012, there will be limitations.
The Lobos will need to execute efficiently out of the "options" they eventually bring into the 2012 battles. UNM has two scholarship quarterbacks in Holbrook and freshman Cole Gautsche, who has yet to take a competitive D-I snap. UNM has two scholarship tight ends and only seven eligible O-linemen.
"The list could go on and on," said Davie, contemplating his depth.
An obvious key for the first-year Davie Lobos is to take to the field with a new-look discipline and maybe even a little boldness. The Lobo defense is not big enough or deep enough to read & react and expect to stop superior opponents. They likely will do some gambling. The Lobos need to improve special teams and not hurt themselves with turnovers or penalties.
One aspect of Davie football was apparent in the spring. The demand for discipline and the focus on fundamentals and execution has gone to another level.
"Eventually, we want to be a team that doesn't hurt itself," said Davie. "We can't have self-inflicted mistakes. We have to be a disciplined football team."
The past regime in charge of Lobo football probably leaned too much on their attempt to out-talent teams with pure athleticism. "I think we've maybe tried to live on talent alone the last couple of years," said Farrell.
For sure, there was too much of a hole when it came to blue-collar ethics and overall team discipline. Davie has changed that. "We are so much more disciplined now," said Harris. "Things have changed."
"We have a good feel with what we think we can do and who we can do it with. But there aren't a whole lot of options."
Lobo Coach Bob Davie
Said Farrell: "Without a doubt, we can win (in 2012)."
Still, there is that vulnerability in numbers. It matters. It matters even more if the injury bug strikes a cruel blow. To put this into perspective, Davie said that of the 67 players that came to UNM on scholarships over the past three seasons, there are only 33 still in the program.
That also means that the young, first-year Lobos coming into the program into the spring will be looked at as a group that needs to contribute.
"Freshmen are going to play a big part on this team," said Davie.
Davie did not release a depth chart at the end of spring because there is still much to learn about his returning Lobos and there are still freshmen to massage into a few obvious holes. But as Davie put it, he has a feel of who can do what.
"We only have certain numbers at certain positions," he said. "And all those guys are probably going to play. In our minds, we probably have who we think is No. 1 and No. 2, but I'm not sure it's really worth it to put that whole thing out there right now because it's going to change."
"Change" might be the key word for the Lobos' spring of 2012. There was a change in attitude, discipline and focus both on the field and in the weight room.
"I'd definitely say there is a culture change," said Farrell. ""We've come together. The guys are so much more disciplined than we were before. Coach Davie came in with a plan to get us better and discipline was a big factor in that."
There is another change, too. The light at the end of the tunnel seems real.