Aug. 25, 2003
105TH SEASON BEGINS SATURDAY
* The University of New Mexico begins its 105th season of football on Saturday when it hosts the Texas State-San Marcos Bobcats. Kickoff is 6:05 p.m. from University Stadium (37,370) in Albuquerque. A near-sellout crowd is expected to witness the first meeting between the two schools.
* The 2003 season may be the most highly anticipated for the Lobo gridders in a long, long time. UNM returns a whopping 53 lettermen - including 17 offensive and defensive starters - from a team that finished second in the MWC last year and played in a bowl game for only the second time since 1961.
* The consensus from the preseason publications has the Lobos again finishing second in the loop behind perennial power Colorado State, although some annuals have tagged 2003 as the "Year of the Lobo."
* New Mexico was picked to finish second in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll. That's the highest predicted finish for a Lobo team since polls could be found dating to the early 1980s. Six Lobos were named to the 2003 preseason all-MWC team: OT Jason Lenzmeier, TB DonTrell Moore and OG Claude Terrell on offense and DE Daniel Kegler, S Brandon Ratcliff and NT D.J. Renteria on defense.
* The Lobos received nine votes in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 preseason coaches' poll, good for a tie for 47th place with Georgia Tech. UNM's Rocky Long is one of 63 NCAA Div. I-A head coaches who votes in the poll. MWC member Colorado State is tied with Penn State for 25th place.
* For only the second time in the history of University Stadium, the Lobos will play seven home games in 2003. UNM also played seven here in 1995. The home slate could be a big reason why the pundits predict New Mexico could claim its first outright conference crown since 1963. Four of UNM's seven conference games will be played at University Stadium. BYU, UNLV, Colorado State and Air Force all visit Albuquerque this fall.
* Going 13-12 over the past two seasons, New Mexico guns for its third straight non-losing record for the first time since a seven-year run from 1958-64. After playing in the Las Vegas Bowl last year, UNM seeks consecutive postseason appearances for only the second time in school history, since the 1945 Sun Bowl and the 1946 Harbor Bowl. The most wins by New Mexico in a three-year period is 22 between 1962-64.
* New Mexico has the distinction of being the only school in the nation to increase its win total every year since 1999: UNM was 3-9 in 1998, 4-7 in 1999, 5-7 in 2000, 6-5 in 2001 and 7-7 in 2002.
* The Lobos have a 61-40-3 (.601) mark in season openers and they are 5-3 in their last eight lid-lifters. UNM is 69-31-4 (.683) in home openers, including 6-2 in their last eight tries.
* New Mexico is 25-18 in openers played at University Stadium. The first game on Sept. 17, 1960, resulted in a 77-6 pasting of the University of Mexico, the Lobos' largest margin of victory at the stadium.
* Head coach Rocky Long is 3-2 in season openers and home openers in his career at UNM. He has won his last two at home, 26-6 over UTEP in 2001 and 38-24 last season versus Weber State.
* New Mexico's largest home crowd came in the 2001 lid-lifter as 41,771 fans shoehorned into the stadium to witness the 26-6 triumph over UTEP.
* The University of New Mexico has a 409-477-31 overall record through 104 seasons. UNM 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.
NO SUBSTITUTE FOR EXPERIENCE
* After having just 10 seniors on the 2002 team, UNM has 53 lettermen returning for this season, the most of any Lobo team ever and the most of any team in the Mountain West Conference in 2003. The next highest for a UNM squad was 1990 when 48 lettermen were back.
* Since 1963, only this year's squad and the 1978 team have returned as many as 17 position starters.
* The current roster shows a breakdown of 26 seniors, 22 juniors, 23 sophomores, 10 redshirt freshmen and 22 true freshmen.
* UNM boasts 10 three-year letterwinners, 17 two-year lettermen and 26 players who have one year of experience in a Lobo uniform.
* Of the 22 position players expected to start on Saturday, only one - redshirt freshman offensive guard Robert Turner - has not played in a Lobo game.
* The 2003 Lobo captains as chosen by their teammates last spring are all seniors: QB Casey Kelly and OT Jason Lenzmeier on offense and S Terrell Golden and NT D.J. Renteria on defense. Kelly, a former walk-on who graduated in four years last May, is a repeat selection.
TWELVE GAMES AGAIN
* For the second straight year, schools may engage in a 12-game regular-season schedule. Since there are 14 Saturdays from Labor Day weekend until Nov. 30 as required by the NCAA - teams may play 12 games. Schools will also be allowed to schedule 12 in 2008, 2013 and 2014.
SEASON TICKET UPDATE
* Through Friday, Aug. 22, UNM had sold 13,560 season tickets. Last year's total was 14,142 while the season record is 14,254 set in 1998. The school's goal for 2003 is 16,000.
* Senior guard Calvin McDonald (sprained left knee) is out.
BOBCATS' BULLETIN / LOBO TIES
* The Texas State-San Marcos Bobcats compete in NCAA Div. I-AA football. The Bobcats were 4-7 overall last year, 1-5 in the Southland Conference. They started 3-1 but dropped six of their last seven.
* Manny Matsakis begins his first year as head coach. He spent last season as assistant head coach and special teams coordinator under Mike Leach at Texas Tech. With Leach as an offensive influence, the Bobcats operate out of the Triple Shoot, which employs four wide receivers, a tailback - or Super Back as the school calls it - and no tight ends.
* The Bobcats return just 21 lettermen from last year's team including 10 starters, six on offense and four on defense.
* Looking at the Bobcats' depth chart shows eight of the projected defensive starters - the linebackers and defensive backs - weigh less than 200 pounds.
* Sophomore Luke Horder is slated to start at right offensive tackle. Horder signed with UNM in 2001 before transferring.
* New Mexico athletics director Rudy Davalos graduated from Southwest Texas State in 1960 with a degree in Education. An All-American point guard, Davalos led the Bobcats to the NAIA national title as a senior. Davalos was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 1983 and was named a Southwest Texas State Distinguished Alumnus in 2001
* UNM cornerbacks coach Everett Todd spent five years (1992-96) at San Marcos in charge of the defensive line
* Former Lobo head man Dennis Franchione (1992-97) came to UNM after two years with the Bobcats.
* UNM was picked to finish second in the 2003 MWC race by the league's media. That's is believed to be the highest predicted finish for a New Mexico team going back the previous 40 years. Since the inception of the MWC in 1999, the Lobos have proved the sages wrong every year.
Offense - Ten starters are back from last year's team that ranked just 102nd in the nation in total offense at 324.4 yards a game. UNM was 4th in the MWC and 41st nationally in rushing offense (178.9 ypg), but ranked 104th in passing at 145.5 ypg. Obviously, the emphasis since last spring has been to improve the passing game, specifically the longer routes. Surprisingly, the Lobos were 3rd in the league in scoring at 24.4 points a game.
Quarterback - Casey Kelly becomes the first senior since Graham Leigh in 1998 to start a season opener. The former walk-on and two-time co-captain graduated in four years last May and is currently working on his MBA. A two-year starter, Kelly's pass completion percentage improved from 47% in 2001 to 57.6% a year ago, while his TD-interception ratio went from 8-to-12 in '01 to 14-7 last season. An 11-8 record as a starter, Kelly needs six wins to pass current head coach Rocky Long as the all-time leader. Depth is solid here as redshirt freshman Kole McKamey and Washington State transfer Tali Ena have looked good during camp and could get some snaps during the non-conference portion of the schedule.
Running Back - Sophomore tailback DonTrell Moore could become only the second Lobo to produce consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Mike Williams, UNM's career rushing leader with 3,862 yards, posted three straight 1,000-yard seasons from 1976-78. If Moore duplicates last year's total of 1,134 yards when he was selected MWC Freshman of the Year, he will move from 30th to sixth place on the school's career rushing chart. Oklahoma State transfer D.D. Cox has shown to be a tremendous complement to Moore, giving the Lobos two quality rushers. Sophomore Adrian Byrd and junior Landrick Brody expect to share duties at fullback. Completely healed from a bothersome knee, Byrd has looked very good in practice. Averaging 200-225 yards a game is not out of the question for this group.
Receiver - If the bugaboo of not catching the ball on a consistent basis disappears, the Lobo offense could be extremely potent. This veteran unit is comprised of five seniors and a sophomore whose average height is 6-2. Dwight Counter ranks 9th all-time at UNM with 91 receptions and is 11th with 1,325 yards. Adrian Boyd is a dual threat as a receiver and as a ball-carrier. Rashaun Sanders looks to be healthy and sophomore Hank Baskett (6-4, 215) has made some great grabs in camp. Terrence Thomas and Michael Brunker will also see time.
Offensive Line - Athlon magazine rates UNM's line 10th-best in the nation behind the likes of Oklahoma, Michigan, Miami and Ohio State. All five starters were slated to return until senior guard Calvin McDonald sprained his left knee last week. He will be replaced by redshirt freshman Robert Turner. Turner was expected to rotate with McDonald even before McDonald's injury. One of the largest offensive lines in the nation - the starters average 6-4 and 320 pounds - is anchored by a pair of preseason all-conference candidates in senior tackle Jason Lenzmeier and junior guard Claude Terrell. Lenzmeier has started 32 straight games while Terrell has drawn the nod in 24 of 25 career contests. Senior tackle Justin Colburn and sophomore center Ryan Cook complete the picture for a unit that allowed just nine sacks last year. At 6-7 and 339 pounds, Cook, a former walk-on, has got to be one of the largest pivots in college football.
Defense - The Lobos have finished in the top-30 in the nation each of the past three years. They have also led the MWC in sacks every season since 2000. The last five games of the 2002 season, the UNM defense allowed 61 points (5 TDs, 9 field goals), 415 yards rushing, 744 yards passing and 1,159 yards total. Those are meager averages of 12.2 points and 231.8 yards a game. New Mexico moved from 79th to 30th in the nation in total defense in its last five games.
Defensive Line -Daniel Kegler and D.J. Renteria are two senior all-conference candidates who provide bookends on the line. Renteria could also play nose tackle if the situation warrants. Seniors Guillermo Morrison and Zack Rupp saw considerable action a year ago, while junior Kyle Coulter and sophomores Marcus Parker and Evroy Thompson will get their share of snaps as well.
Linebackers - Four good ones in seniors Billy Strother, Fola Fashola and Daniel Gawronski, and junior Nick Speegle. Strother was the MWC Newcomer of the Year by the Las Vegas Review Journal. Gawronski was limited last year due to a sprained ankle, but is good to go as he replaces Charles Moss, a first team all-conference pick a year ago. Speegle, at 6-6 and 244 pounds, has the most experience with 18 career starts. Sophomore Mike Mohoric and senior Shannon Kincaid - both Albuquerque products - could see some time as well.
Safeties/Lobo - Another deep area where UNM could rotate six during the course of a game. Senior Brandon Ratcliff was first team all-MWC last year, but may not even start at wolf (strong) safety because of the improved play of junior Josh Bazinet. Ratcliff will defintely play whether it be wolf safety or the lobo (free safety). Senior Terrell Golden is a three-year starter at the other wolf spot. Sidney Wiley returns at lobo. Junior Kevin Walton and newcomer Art Haynes are available as well.
Cornerbacks - A worry coming into the season, the Lobos could be better here than originally thought. Although senior Corey Brown is the only cornerback who has started a game at UNM, the play during camp was encouraging. Sophomore Gabriel Fulbright, a corner in high school but a safety at UNM last year, moved to the outside and has been a bright spot. Sophomore Jerrell Malone is expected to man the other side. Brown and transfer Brandon Payne will be the backups.
Special Teams - Sophomore punter Tyler Gaus returns and kicker Wes Zunker is back healthy after missing the last half of 2002 with a groin pull. Counter is a threat as a punt returner. Ratcliff wil probably be the main man on kickoff returns.
GAME-DAY COACHING ASSIGNMENTS
* Head coach Rocky Long is joined on the sidelines by assistant coaches Bob Bostad (offensive line), Jeff Conway (special teams/receivers), Curtis Luper (running backs), Lenny Rodriguez (linebackers) and Everett Todd (cornerbacks). Upstairs in the press box are offensive coordinator Dan Dodd, defensive coordinator Osia Lewis, tight ends coach Jason Strauss and defensive line coach Grady Stretz.
SUPPORTING THE HOME TEAM
* After many, many years where season tickets languished at less than 5,000, the University of New Mexico has surpassed 10,700 season tickets for the 10th consecutive season.
* The top-10 gates in University Stadium history have occurred since 1993, including a record throng of 41,771 Lobo enthusiasts for the 2001 encounter against UTEP. Temporary bleachers were installed at the south end of the stadium from 1997-2000.
TOUGH AT HOME
* New Mexico is 8-2 in its last 10 home games overall and 12-4 since the middle of the 2000 season. The Lobos have won six of their past seven home games against MWC competition. UNM was 5-1 at home in 2002, 3-0 in the MWC.
* New Mexico averaged more than 30,000 fans a game for the second straight year, a first for the Lobos' program. Average attendance was 30,512 in 2002 and a school-record 31,268 in 2001.
A PROGRAM ON THE RISE
* New Mexico has won 55 games (55-63 overall record) the past 10 seasons, since 1993. In 10 seasons from 1983-92, the Lobos prevailed just 29 times, which is less than three victories a year.
* New Mexico has really improved in conference play. UNM was 11-58 in the Western Athletic Conference in eight seasons from 1984-91. The final six years of the WAC, the Lobos were 20-28, including the 1997 WAC division title. After going 1-7 in its final year in the Western Athletic Conference, UNM has compiled a 15-13 mark in the first four seasons of the MWC, including 5-2 last year.
CHANGE ON THE STAFF
* On Jan. 3, 2003, Osia (pronounced oh-SAY) Lewis was named the Lobos' new defensive coordinator. Lewis comes to UNM after six seasons (1997-2002) as a defensive assistant at the University of Illinois. He replaced Bronco Mendenhall, who accepted the defensive coordinator position at BYU.
* Lewis, 40, is hooking up with Rocky Long for the second time as the two coaches spent five seasons together (1991-95) at Oregon State. Long was the Beavers' defensive coordinator under head coach Jerry Pettibone while Lewis coached the outside linebackers and special teams. Lewis will also oversee the defensive line.
ADDITION TO THE STAFF
* Sixth-year assistant coach Grady Stretz and his wife, Sarah, became parents for the first time with the arrival of son Maddox Rowe at 11 p.m., on July 26. Rowe is Sarah's maiden name. The youngest Stretz checked in at 6 lbs. 8 oz. and 18 1/2 inches. Dad, who coaches the Lobo safeties, said Maddox has already started a vigorous weightlifting program.
GPA CLIMBS UNDER LONG
* The University of New Mexico football team compiled a 2.69 grade-point-average for the 2003 spring semester, the highest GPA since UNM began charting grades in the fall of 1988.
* UNM had a 2.63 GPA in the spring of 2002, which means the top-five semester grade-point-averages have been attained under current head coach Rocky Long, all in the past five semesters.
* Twelve Lobos earned academic all-conference laurels during the 2002 season.
STADIUM IMPROVEMENTS CONTINUE
*Thanks to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and members of the State Legislature, UNM received $2 million to complete the next phase in the renovation of University Stadium. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Kiki Saavedra. Construction will begin on the northeast corner of the stadium the Monday following UNM's final home game and is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2004 season. New restrooms, concesions stands, ticket booths and storage will be built.
* The next phase is to renovate the remaining two corners of the stadium with new entrances, ticket booths, restrooms and concession stands. The final phase is to expand and renovate the south of the stadium. Another 5,000 seats will be added, increasing capacity to 42,000.
* University Stadium was expanded prior to the start of the 2001 season. Capacity was increased to 37,370 as 5,700 seats were added at the north end. The east and west stands were connected by a pavilion and LoboVision, a state-of-the-art videboard and scoreboard, was added.
* The northwest corner of the stadium was completed prior to the 2001 season and features a revamped entrance with new ticket booths, concession stands, restrooms, novelty stands and landscaping.
* UNM finished 7-7 overall after falling to UCLA 27-13, in the Sega Sports Las Vegas Bowl. The 14 games played is a school record. The bowl appearance was not solidified until the last game of the regular season when the Lobos beat Wyoming, 49-20. That victory also locked up second place in the eight-team Mountain West Conference for a team that was picked to finish sixth in the preseason poll. UNM won five of its last six conference games to finish 5-2 in the MWC.
* Following a humiliating 49-0 shutout at the hands of Texas Tech - seen by a national audience on ESPN - on Friday, Sept. 27, the Lobos were reeling at 2-4. Following that loss, New Mexico won five of its last seven regular-season games to claim second place outright in the MWC. The Lobos also won five of their last seven in 2001 to finish with a winning record at 6-5.
* Only four teams in NCAA Div. I-A football started 2-4 or worse in 2002 and rallied to qualify for a bowl game: Oklahoma State (2-4 start), North Texas (1-5 start), Cincinnati (2-5 start) and the New Mexico Lobos (2-4 start). * After losing to Air Force in the conference opener on Sept. 7, New Mexico won five of its last six league games, including four straight for the first time since 1982. UNM won five conference games for only the seventh time: 5-1 in 1952, '58, '70 and '71; 6-1 in 1982 and 6-2 in 1997.
* The Lobos reached seven wins for the 15th time in school history, but for only the second time since going 10-1 in 1982. UNM was 9-4 in 1997.
* Kicker Katie Hnida became the first woman to make an appearance in an NCAA Div. I-A football game when she attempted an extra point against UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl. A kicker for three years in high school, Hnida's extra point was blocked.
* The Lobos may have been the youngest team in the nation in 2002 with only nine seniors participating most of the season. TB Quincy Wright was the 10th senior, but a knee injury limited him to just four games.
* In addition to getting their first victory at BYU since 1971, the Lobos also collected their first win against San Diego State in Albuquerque since 1983 and their first-ever triumph at UNLV.
* Never has UNM's defense been so good as it has been the past three seasons. In fact, New Mexico is one of only eight schools to have its defense rank in the top-30 nationally each of the past three years, the others being Kansas State, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, TCU, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. UNM finished 17th in 2000, yielding 309.4 yards per game, 18th in 2001 at 310.8 yards and 30th last year at 332.8 yards.
* The last five games of the 2002 season, the UNM defense allowed just 61 points (5 TDs, 9 field goals), 415 yards rushing, 744 yards passing and 1,159 yards total. Those are meager averages of 12.2 points and 231.8 yards a game. New Mexico moved from 79th to 30th in the nation in total defense in its last five games.
* The Lobos defense yielded just two touchdowns in the second half of regulation in their last six games. Utah did score a TD in the first overtime, however San Diego State, BYU and Colorado State were held to only two field goals after halftime while Wyoming and UCLA each scored a TD.
* Only six backs have eclipsed 100 yards rushing against UNM since the start of the 2000 season, a span of 37 games: Oregon State's Ken Simonton (184) and UNLV's Jeremi Rudolph (106) in 2000, Utah's Dameon Hunter (177) in 2001 and Air Force's Leotis Palmer (125), New Mexico State's Paul Dombrowski (136) and Colorado State's Bradlee Van Pelt (106) in 2002.
* Only three times in the past 34 games has an opponent reached 200 yards on the ground. It's been 55 games since UNM allowed 300 rushing yards. San Diego State churned for 349 yards in 1998.
DANGER FOR OPPOSING QUARTERBACKS
* New Mexico has been tops in the conference in quarterback sacks for the past three years. In 2000, New Mexico ranked second nationally with 50 sacks, the third-highest total in school history. UNM registered 26 dumps in 2001 and 38 last year.
SPARKLING IN THE RED ZONE
* The New Mexico offense was nearly flawless inside the red zone the last half of the 2002 season...before missing a 34-yard field goal against UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl, the Lobos scored 19 straight times inside the opponents' 20-yard line and 18 of those scores were TDs, including 15 in a row...the last 10 games, UNM's 24 penetrations resulted in 22 scores, 21 of those TDs...in its first four games, New Mexico entered the red zone 16 times and scored on 12 occasions, although only 8 of the scores were touchdowns
**To read the complete UNM weekly football release click on the PDF version at the top of the page.