By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
RUIDOSO, N.M. -- Lobo linebacker Dakota Cox said he likes New Mexico’s Camp Ruidoso because it is top heavy with two things he loves: football and food.
That means Friday – like every other day at Camp Ruidoso – was just about picture perfect for Dakota. The day began with breakfast followed by a spirited practice followed by team meetings. The day ended with a meet-and-greet barbeque featuring the Lobos and a sprinkling of Ruidoso citizens including Mayor Tom Battin.
“I appreciate everybody coming out and the players really look forward to it,” said Lobo Coach Bob Davie.
The meet-and-greet barbeque brought Paul Krebs, UNM’s Vice President of Athletics, down for the function that was held on the back patio at The Lodge at Sierra Blanca. The evening meal was highlighted by hamburgers and hot dogs. A few Lobos went back for seconds.
The Lobos took the opportunity to mingle with – and thank – Ruidoso citizens for their hospitality in allowing UNM to hold a portion of its fall camp in this beautiful mountain town.
The Lobos hold their practice sessions at the White Mountain Sports Complex which is a short walk from the patio of The Lodge at Sierra Blanca. The Lobo practices are open to the public and a lot of Lobo followers from Ruidoso take advantage of the opportunity by watching UNM’s practices.
The next event expected to draw a large number of Ruidoso fans will be UNM’s scrimmage on Sunday set for the Ruidoso Middle School, which is located less than a mile from the White Mountain Sports Complex.
Lobos Mixing It Up
The Lobos have had some heated moments in Ruidoso which is to be expected when D-I football players put on the pads and go at it. The Lobos are getting physical trying to get better for their Aug. 30 opener on Branch Field vs. the UTEP Miners. There also are positions to be won – or lost – and you don’t win a position by playing soft.
Lobo Coach Bob Davie and his staff also are mixing up the lineups making sure that all players and all combinations get a good screening prior to the forming of a depth chart for the season opener.
“We (are moving) personnel in and out,” said Davie. “We are mixing young guys with old guys. We’re installing. It’s a long way yet (to UTEP).”
Davie said he isn’t necessarily looking for a lot of polish and smooth execution at this point of fall camp because the UTEP game is three weeks away. There is still a lot to teach this young team. There also is a lot of young talent that needs to be evaluated.
“This isn’t about polish and execution right now,” said Davie. “This is about making it as hard as you can make it on guys. We want to see how guys will respond.”
Lobo Camaraderie Is Growing
Camp Ruidoso obviously is a bonding tool as much as it is a well-organized bubble of football, football, football. There is no question that this group of Lobos is building chemistry and camaraderie through this camp that isolates the team from outside distractions. But Davie said the bonding was apparent even before UNM took the 3-hour bus ride to Ruidoso.
“Ben Hilgart (strength coach) came to me this summer and said, ‘Coach, we have a group of guys who really like each other and really like football,’” said Davie.
“That might sound like a really simple statement to people on the outside, but that’s been about two-and-a-half years of hard work. That’s been about two-and-a-half years of developing this culture. I think there is more commonality between the guys, which can be expected. This is our third recruiting class.
“Guys kind of see things the same way. Everybody is on the same page a little bit more. Because of all that you see a little more camaraderie.”
Up and Down, Down and Up
There always is a Catch-22 situation in camp when Lobos go at Lobos. Can the offense look good without making the defense look not so good? And vice versa?
“If you think that Dow Jones goes up and down, just stand out here and watch your own team practice against each other every day,” said Davie. “It’s a roller coaster.”
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former national award-winning Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.