Aug. 31, 2009
The Mike Locksley era and the 111th season of New Mexico football begin Saturday evening, when the Lobos travel to Texas A&M for a non-conference encounter. Kickoff is 5:05 p.m. Mountain Time from Kyle Field in College Station. There is no TV - live or delayed - for the game. The weather forecast calls for a high temperature of 96 degrees with a 20% chance of precipitation.
Saturday's contest marks the collegiate head coaching 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.
Locksley, 39, came to UNM after four seasons as the offensive coordinator at the University of Illinois. He also had assistant coaching stints at Towson, Pacific, Army, Maryland and Florida. Locksley is beginning his 18th season coaching collegiate football.
Both UNM and Texas A&M are looking to rebound from subpar seasons a year ago. The Lobos and Aggies each finished 4-8 overall and 2-6 in their respective conferences. UNM tied UNLV for 6th place in the Mountain West while the Aggies shared fifth place with Baylor in the Big 12 South. Texas A&M edged the Lobos 28-22 last year in Albuquerque.
New Mexico has dropped nine straight games to opponents residing in the Lone Star State. The last win was 40-10 at TCU on Nov. 1, 1997. Since that victory, UNM is 0-3 at UTEP and Texas Tech, 0-2 at TCU and 0-1 at Baylor.
SERIES HISTORY - Just two previous meetings, both A&M wins: 28-22 last year in Albuquerque and 63-0 on Oct. 16, 1926, in College Station. The latter ranks as the Lobos' 7th-largest loss in school history.
UNM, A&M LAST YEAR IN ALBUQUERQUE - Jerrod Johnson replaced the injured Stephen McGee and threw three touchdown passes as Texas A&M gave coach Mike Sherman his first win with the Aggies, 28-22. Johnson completed 10-of-19 for 124 yards in place of McGee, who sprained his right shoulder on the opening series and didn't return. Aggies running back Mike Goodson also left with a sprained right knee, through he briefly returned in the second half.
Rodney Ferguson had 135 yards rushing and two TDs for New Mexico. He broke free on a 45-yard burst in the first quarter and added a late 1-yard TD run as the Lobos rallied for two scores in the final six minutes. It wasn't enough to offset Johnson, who performed well under a full day of defensive pressure, and the Lobos couldn't overcome too many offensive mistakes.
Texas A&M made it 21-7 just before halftime, when Johnson threw a 6-yard TD pass to Fuller to cap a 93-yard drive. Fuller muscled the ball away from New Mexico cornerback DeAndre Wright. The Lobos trailed 14-0 after Donovan Porterie's two early interceptions. He also had a fourth-quarter fumble that led to another Texas A&M touchdown.
Texas A&M's Jordan Peterson returned Porterie's first pick for a 48-yard TD. On the next series, Arkeith Brown took another interception 11 yards to New Mexico's 20 to set up Johnson's 21-yard TD strike to Jeff Fuller.
Still, the Lobos trailed 21-10 in the third quarter and seemed to be gaining traction when trouble struck again. New Mexico's Ian Clark had a 32-yard punt return into Texas A&M territory but the Lobos couldn't capitalize when Paul Baker fumbled a few plays later. After forcing another Texas A&M punt, Clark broke a 34-yard return.
That's when Porterie mishandled a snap, and Texas A&M's Michael Bennett picked it up and rumbled 37 yards. The burly lineman missed out on a touchdown because he stepped out at New Mexico's 22.
From there, Johnson connected with Jamie McCoy on a 9-yard TD pass to put the Aggies ahead 28-10 with 13:20 remaining.
New Mexico turned the ball over 4 times with 2 interceptions and 2 fumbles. Texas A&M scored 21 points following the Lobos' 4 turnovers. One TD came on an interception return and the Aggies only had to travel 41 yards for another 14 points.
UNM-TEXAS A&M CONNECTIONS - University of New Mexico President David J. Schmidly, a native of Levelland, Texas, spent 25 years at Texas A&M from 1971-96, including the last five years as CEO of the Galveston campus and six years as head of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences
Texas A&M athletics director Bill Byrne was the Executive Director of the UNM Lobo Club from 1976-79
Dennis Franchione was UNM's head coach from 1992-97 and served as the head man at Texas A&M from 2003-07
J.T. Higgins has been Texas A&M's head men's golf coach since 2001, including an NCAA team championship iin 2009...he moved to College Station after serving UNM in the same capacity from 1998-2001...Jim Anderson was just named Higgins' assistant after spending two seasons as an assistant at UNM...Anderson played for the Lobos from 2001-03
Before being named UNM's Senior Associate Athletics Director Aug. 1, 2006, Tim Cass was Texas A&M's head men's tennis coach for 10 seasons, from 1997-2006...a 1987 UNM graduate, Cass was in charge of New Mexico men's tennis for eight seasons from 1989-96...the Lobos won 5 straight Western Athletic Conference titles from 1991-95
UNM junior QB Tate Smith is the cousin of Stoney and Stormy Case...Stoney was a record-setting QB for the Lobos from 1991-94 while Stormy lettered at Texas A&M from 1993-95
UNM sophomore LB Carmen Messina is the cousin of Richard Coady, who played at Texas A&M from 1995-98
Texas A&M head track and field coach Pat Henry is an Albuquerque native, and most of his family still lives in the Duke City, including parents Bub and Donna...Henry led the Aggies men and women to national titles in 2009...he graduated from Del Norte High School in 1969 and received his bachelor's degree in Physical Education from UNM in 1973
UNM HISTORY - The University of New Mexico begins its 111th season of football in 2009. The Lobos have an all-time record of 449-511-31. The school was founded in 1889. Three years later, the first football game was played on Oct. 7, 1892, when a team representing UNM played a squad from Albuquerque High School in a vacant lot north of the town's ice factory. The preps prevailed 5-0. The territory of New Mexico was not granted statehood until 1912.
SUCCESS IN NON-CONFERENCE ROAD GAMES OF LATE - Dating to 2005, New Mexico is 4-3 in its last seven non-conference road games. The first win during this span was a 45-35 victory over a Brad Smith-led Missouri team on Sept. 10, 2005. That was also UNM's last road game against a Big 12 opponent. The other wins came at New Mexico State in 2006 and 2008, plus an impressive triumph at Arizona in 2007. The losses were at UTEP in 2005 and 2007, and last year at Tulsa.
3RD LARGEST CROWD TO SEE LOBOS?? - If Texas A&M draws in excess of 76,000 fans Saturday, it will be the 3rd-largest crowd to watch a New Mexico football team. The top two were both at Tennessee: 93,875 in 1986 and 89,792 in 1983. The last time UNM played in front of a crowd in excess of 70,000 was 1989 at The Swamp (72,578) in Gainesville, Fla.
LOBOS PICKED 7TH IN MWC - The University of New Mexico was picked to finish 7th in the Mountain West preseason poll as selected by the league's media. That's the lowest predicted finish since UNM was also slotted for 7th in 2001. Hhistory 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.
UNM RECORD IN OPENERS - The Lobos have a 63-44-3 (.586) mark in 110 previous season openers, but they are just 3-7 in their last 10. New Mexico has not scored a TD in its last three season openers. The last time it got in the end zone was 2005 in a 24-22 home win against UNLV.
The last time New Mexico won its road opener was 2006 at New Mexico State (34-28).
Saturday's date (Sept. 5) marks UNM's latest season opener since 2005 when it hosted UNLV on Labor Day. It's also only the second time since 2002 that the Lobos are opening the season on the road. They started at UTEP in 2007.
New Mexico's home opener is Sept. 12 against Tulsa, which will be the first of a three-game September home stand. The Lobos open MWC play Sept. 19 against Air Force followed by the 100th encounter with New Mexico State on Sept. 26.
50TH SEASON AT UNIVERSITY STADIUM - The 2009 season is the 50th for the Lobos at University Stadium. The first game was played Sept. 17, 1960, when UNM ripped the University of Mexico, 77-6. UNM is 143-131-3 all-time at University Stadium.
2009 SCHEDULE NOTES - It's another challenging schedule that awaits New Mexico in 2009. A few quick notes about the opponents:
UNM's 12 opponents had a combined record of 89-63 (.586) in 2008
The Lobos face 7 teams that played in a bowl game in 2008, including all four of November's opponents (Utah, BYU, Colorado State, TCU)
UNM will face 7 teams that had winning records in 2008
New Mexico plays five teams that won at least 10 games last year: BYU, TCU, Texas Tech, Tulsa and Utah...three of those games are on the road against teams that finished in the top-12 in the final 2008 AP poll - Utah (No. 2), TCU (7) and Texas Tech (12)...BYU and Tulsa come to Albuquerque
New Mexico opens its home season Sept. 12 against Tulsa...the Golden Hurricane, 11-3 in 2008, has played in a bowl game five out of the past six seasons...TU whipped the Lobos 56-14 last year in Tulsa
UNM hosts New Mexico State on Sept. 26....it will be the 100th meeting between the Lobos and Aggies...last year in Las Cruces, New Mexico scored 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to come away with a 35-24 victory
The Lobos begin a four-game series with Texas Tech, playing in Lubbock on Oct. 3...TTU was 11-2 last year...the last meeting between the two schools was 2004 when New Mexico won a 27-24 thriller on a last-second field goal in Albuquerque
The MWC schedule features home games against three bowl teams from 2008 - Air Force (Sept. 19), BYU (Nov. 14) and Colorado State (Nov. 21)...UNLV also comes to town on Oct. 24...the away games are at Wyoming (Oct. 10), San Diego State (Oct. 31), Utah (Nov. 7) and TCU (Nov. 28)..the Lobos' bye week comes in the middle of the season, after Wyoming.
7 STRAIGHT 1,000-YARD RUSHERS FOR UNM - The University of New Mexico has produced a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the past seven seasons, which is the longest current streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Cal is next with six in a row. The string of 1,000-yard seasons has been attained by just two running backs, DonTrell Moore (2002-05) and Rodney Ferguson (2006-08). Ferguson completed his eligibility last year. Before the 2002 season, the program had produced just eight 1,000-yard rushing seasons by six different players.
3 FORMER UNM ASSISTANTS NOW MWC HEAD COACHES - The Mountain West Conference has three current head coaches that spent time as UNM assistants. Colorado State's Steve Fairchild was Mike Sheppard's offensive coordinator from 1987-89. BYU's Bronco Mendenhall was Rocky Long's defensive coordinator from 1998-2002 and TCU's Gary Patterson was Dennis Franchione's defensive coordinator from 1996-97.
SEASON TICKET UPDATE - Through Sunday, Aug. 30, Lobo fans have purchased 13,698 season tickets. A school-record total of 17,466 were sold last year.
11 LOBOS IN NFL CAMPS - As of this writing, 11 former Lobos are in NFL training camps. The list with years spent at UNM:
WR Hank Baskett III - Philadelphia Eagles 2001-05
LB Quincy Black - Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2004-06
OL Devin Clark - Washington Redskins 2006-07
OT Ryan Cook - Minnesota Vikings 2001-05
RB Rodney Ferguson - Tennessee Titans 2004-08
OT Terrance Pennington - New York Giants 2001-05
CB Glover Quin - Houston Texans 2006-08
WR Marcus Smith - Baltimore Ravens 2004-07
OL Robert Turner - New York Jets 2002-06
LB Brian Urlacher - Chicago Bears 1996-99
CB DeAndre Wright - New York Giants 2005-08
NEW MEXICO ENJOYING A FRUITFUL DECADE
Five bowl games in the past seven seasons after six postseason appearances between 1938-2001...that includes a 23-0 victory over Nevada in the 2007 New Mexico Bowl, marking the Lobos' first bowl win since the 1961 Aviation Bowl
A 47-41 overall record since 2002
A 30-23 conference record since 2002, the third-most wins in the league over that period behind Utah and BYU
4 Academic All-Americans in 2006-08
83 Academic all-conference performers from 2001-08
9 All-Americans from 2001-08
12 NFL Draft picks from 1999-2009
New Mexico was the only school in the Mountain West Conference to be bowl eligible and produce at least six wins in seven straight seasons from 2001-07....that's also a first in Lobo history
The only team in the MWC that had a non-losing record in conference games every season from 2001-07
49 wins from 2001-07 - an average of 7 a season - the most by UNM in any 7-year span
33 first team all-MWC honorees from 2003-07, 12 more than any other school in the league over that period