By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It was a gentle beginning for the Lobos for a couple of reasons. The first day of fall camp 2014 was a day of no pads, so there was no hitting, no serious pounding on other Lobos. The afternoon skies above the New Mexico practice facilities on Thursday also were kind, cloudy and Ruidoso-like.
It was a warm day, but not a sweltering July day.
It was one of those happy-to-be-here days because the first day of fall camp also is a step toward what football players like to do most – hit.
“Pads are always the best day, just to go out there and hit somebody. It always feels good,” said Lobo linebacker Dakota Cox. “It’s like getting a new shoe. It feels good to walk around in them. That’s one day I’m excited about.”
The pads will come on next week in Ruidoso. That mountain resort also will bring the first scrimmage of 2014. UNM will leave next Monday for their fall session in Ruidoso.
Of course, Cox, a sophomore from Draper, Utah, was excited just to be out on the UNM grass with his teammates. He was joined by around 102 other excited Lobos.
“It’s the first day of camp so everybody is excited to go, everyone is pumped up,” said Cox. “There isn’t a guy out there lagging around because they are ready to be out here.”
The first day was a day of instruction and a lot of that instruction was the basic stuff: how to set up for a block or how to come off a block. There was talk about angles and footwork – stuff Cox pretty much learned a year ago as a freshman, but repetition is never a bad thing in athletics.
“Last year about this time I was stressed out and nervous all the time just trying to learn the playbook,” he said. “The confidence level has definitely risen.”
The confidence level has risen because the Lobos are entering Season Three of the Bob Davie era. There is still a lot of youth on this football team, but a lot of that youth was tested in games during the 2013 season.
The first test of 2014 comes Saturday, Aug. 30 when the UTEP Miners step onto Branch Field looking for some payback for the overtime win UNM took out of El Paso a year ago.
“I wish I had something clever to say. I wish I had something insightful to say,” Davie said at the end of Thursday’s session. “It’s just good to be back out here.”
Cox said that first game is like a carrot dangling in front of the Lobos’ noses and it helps create a sense of urgency even on the first day of fall drills.
“The first day is always just learning stuff, trying to learn our keys,” said Cox. “But we know that there is a season ahead of us and we have games ahead of us instead of spring ball where we are just going against each other.
“There is something to look forward to.”