Oct. 2, 2010
Saturday: UTEP 38, Lobos 20
Up Next: Lobos at New Mexico State, 6 p.m., Oct. 9
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Before the sky opened wide and dropped an ocean down on University Stadium, a few good Lobo blocks parted a sea of UTEP blue and orange and New Mexico's Myles Daughtry ran to the promised land 100 yards away.
In the grand scheme of things, his kickoff return with 3:24 to play didn't change the scoreboard results that favored Miners 38-20 Saturday night in University Stadium.
But Daughtry, and probably a lot of other Lobos, are hoping his dynamic return will open up a new wave of optimism within the 0-5 Lobo team. The scoreboard did not favor UNM, but the gap between "them" and "us" was better.
"I think it will help our confidence," Daughtry said of his long sprint. "It shows we can make plays, that we can do it. We have a lot of talent on this team. We might not have the depth that everybody else has, but we have good players."
In a way, it was ironic that a special teams play turned out to be one of UNM's bigger plays of the night. The Lobos have been getting hurt on special teams and here was Daughtry burning the Miners for 100 yards and six points.
So what was the strategy on that run, Myles?
"I just ran fast. That's what I'm good at," he said. "Everybody blocked for me. It set up perfectly."
The Lobos also got another dynamic score on special teams at the 3:32 mark of the first quarter. In some ways, Anthony Hooks' 45-yard return of a blocked UTEP field goal was even more dynamic that Daughtry's long return.
A kickoff return going all the way isn't so unusual. A blocked field goal that turns into a touchdown is a bit more special. This one was big, too. Hooks' score changed the scoreboard from the 17-7 score envisioned by Miners into a 14-14 tie.
"We felt the momentum (swing)," said Hooks. "Everybody was excited. We were in the game. It wasn't a blowout."
Said Lobo Coach Mike Locksley: "I thought our guys played with effort from beginning to end. But we have a locker room full of guys who are very disappointed."
The Lobos continued to make strides in several aspects of the game. That's a good thing especially with New Mexico State Aggies next on the schedule. UNM lost to NMSU in Albuquerque in 2009. You don't want to lose back-to-back games to Aggies.
"It doesn't get any easier," said Locksley. "It's a road game, which is always tough."
The Lobos won't have University Stadium behind them when they venture to Aggie Memorial Stadium on Saturday, but there is a chance the Aggies won't be as formidable a foe as the UTEP team that left Albuquerque sporting a 4-1 mark.
UTEP pounded NMSU 42-10. That's a gap of 32 points. UNM lost to Miners by only 18 points.
Still, the Lobos have a few major concerns. UNM got 14 points on the board off a kickoff return and picking up a bouncing ball after a blocked kick. These scores don't come a team's way that often. The Lobo offense punched in a single touchdown on a 27-yard drive set up by fumble forced by Lobo Joe Stoner and recovered by Jaymar Latchison.
Freshman Tarean Austin, UNM's starting quarterback, had to leave the game with an ankle injury. The Lobos already are minus B.R. Holbrook, the starter going into the season, who is temporarily benched after having a knee scoped.
Austin went 7-11-1 in the huddle for 64 yards before being replaced by Brad Gruner. Gruner went 11-21-1 for 75 yards. The passing game combined for 139 yards with Kasey Carrier and Chris Hernandez both hauling in five passes.
The Lobo running game produced 98 yards on 31 attempts for a modest 3.2 yards per carry. UNM totaled 237 yards on offense and a single score -- a 4-yard run around the right end by Austin. Those numbers need to improve, even against Aggies.
UTEP rolled out 169 yards on the ground and 266 passing for a 435 total. The Miners lost two fumbles which help offset UNM's two interceptions.
"It's a tough loss," said Hooks. "We fought the whole entire game, but it's still rough to lose."