Sept. 28: UNLV at New Mexico
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Branch Field at University Stadium
Radio: Lobo Radio Network (770 KKOB-AM in Albuquerque); ESPN Deportes (1450 KRZY-AM)
TV: ROOT Sports
Promotion: UNM Homecoming; Postgame Balloon Glow Courtesy of Rainbow Ryders, Hot Air Balloon Ride Company
Tickets: Click here for information
By Greg Archuleta
Assistant Director of Communications
University of New Mexico football coach Bob Davie is big on motivational phrases or to inspire his team: “Outwork, outhit, out-discipline;” “Narrow the focus.”
So while no official terminology was developed during the Lobos’ bye week – they have today off during week four of the 2013 season, their first since November of 2011 – the phrase, “Maximizing the attitude,” seems appropriate.
Davie coined the phrase during his postgame news conference after UNM’s game at Pittsburgh last weekend – a 49-27 Panthers victory – but it’s a mantra the Lobos (1-2) adopted this week as they started preparations for the Homecoming game next Saturday against UNLV on Branch Field at University Stadium.
The game represents the Mountain West opener for both schools. The Rebels play host to Western Illinois today.
“We were still in game mode this week,” said senior safety Dante Caro, who recorded an interception on the first play from scrimmage against Pittsburgh. “The difference is, obviously, that there’s no game this weekend. So we need to step it up a notch, mentally. This is a good time for us to get our mental reps down and get locked into film study because we have a little more time to get prepared for UNLV.”
Davie gave the team Monday off, and the Lobos put in three two-hour practices from Tuesday-Thursday before getting the weekend off to heal their bodies. Davie called this week the most important of the Lobos’ season.
Junior offensive lineman Lamar Bratton said he could feel the team’s enthusiasm as it went through practice this week.
“A lot of guys have been excited and energetic,” Bratton said. “Some of the guys are going to get to go home this weekend, so I think we all laid it all out in practice this week. There’s no game, so we all have time to rest and recover and come back strong next week.”
Bratton used the bye week to become reacquainted with the center position, which he assumed from senior Dillon Farrell during the first half of the UTEP game in week two. Bratton made his first start at center since the 2011 season at Pittsburgh and wants to have that position feel as natural as normal left guard position.
"I’m working on it so it becomes just like any other position for me,” Bratton said. “I need to make it habitual and generate that muscle memory all over again, in case I’m called upon again.”
Caro said he and his fellow defensive backs used the week to work on the basics as much as on the game plan for the Rebels.
“I think tackling in the secondary was a big thing for us,” Caro said. “Individually, I think getting better fundamentally and technique-wise, that’s always a key factor for us.”
Once upon a time, the Lobos were unbeatable during bye weeks, winning nine straight from 1997-2005. Obvious advantages exist when one team has an extra week of preparation – not to mention skipping a week of the physical pounding that takes place during a football game.
UNM, however, is well aware that the advantage exists only if it uses its extra time wisely.
In that regard, the Lobos’ preparation for UNLV may have started during the second half of the game against Pitt. The Panthers led 35-6, and Davie said he told the team to play the second half as if the score no longer mattered.
“Every rep is important to us, just because we’re a young team,” Davie said. “We’ve got UNLV and New Mexico State coming into our stadium. (The message to the team was) let’s just play the second half like we’re on the practice field, and that’s how we went about it.
“This week is critical for us, but only if we take advantage of it.”
His players said they got the message loud and clear.
“It’s always a benefit to have an extra week,” Caro said, “and then being your first conference game, I think that’s a good deal for us and we’re hoping to take advantage of it as much as we can.
“I think we’re really going to get better this week and that’s what we’re trying to do – always get better, especially with the young team we have.”