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Stevens: Lobos' Secondary Faces Test vs. UTEP
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  08/28/2014

New Mexico Lobos Football – vs. UTEP Miners

When/Where:  6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30 – Branch Field/University Stadium

On The Air:   770-AM-KKOB/Lobo Radio; Mountain West Network

By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

Charles McMillian, New Mexico’s first-year defensive backs coach, says looking out over his young Lobo backfield is kind of like cruising through a car lot “looking for a brand new car.”

“You’re excited,” said McMillian. “There is a lot to look at.”

McMillian has a lot to look at with his D-backfield – lots of shapes and models that all go from zero to impact pretty darn fast.

His Lobos are sleek and trim like a Porsche or a BMW taking a sharp corner.  They can move. McMillian also hopes they have some off-road truck mentality.

He wants durability. He wants dependability. He wants a physical bunch that hopefully can turn the UTEP Miners’ passing game into a car wreck come Saturday on Branch Field.

“I like our secondary because we don’t just have specific types," said Lobo receiver Dameon Gamblin. "We have all different types. We have physical corners. We have corners who can play with their (quick) feet.  We have corners that like to break on balls.

"It keeps me on my toes every time I step on the field.  I’m not getting the same look.  It’s making me better as a receiver." 

The Lobos open their season at University Stadium hoping to reveal a revamped defense that will give up fewer points and fewer yards than the Lobos of 2012 and 2013.  The defensive backfield is a key component to this Lobo wall as that unit was last in 2013 in pass-efficiency defense which is one reason UNM has a first-year coach working with those DBs.

That secondary needs to be better.

“I know we have gotten better understanding fundamentals, techniques and reading formations,” said McMillian. “But there comes to that point where a player has to go out and do it on the field.  It’s like preparing for a test in the classroom. Eventually you have to sit down and pass it.

“Our test is on the way.”

The professor most likely to throw the toughest questions at McMillian’s secondary is UTEP quarterback Jameill Showers.   Showers was the heir apparent at Texas A&M to replace NFL first-rounder Ryan Tannehill, but Showers fell into the tall shadows cast by a redshirt freshman named Johnny Manziel.

Showers transferred to UTEP and McMillian thinks the Miners also might have an NFL-type hurler.

“They are a big-time running team but, to me, Jameill Showers is an NFL-type quarterback, who can throw it,” said McMillian. “We have to be ready for a lot of play-action passing.  We have to help on the run, but when he goes to play-action we have to react properly.”

The Lobos’ secondary might get a dual test at a high level from the Miners. A play-action pass works best when a team can establish a running game because DBs have to come up quickly and help with the run.  The Miners are expected to have a potent running attack.

UTEP will come at the Lobos with 210-pound Nathan Jeffery and 185-pound Aaron Jones, who ran for 811 yards last year as a freshman.  Jeffery battled injury early but powered for 317 yards in his final three games of 2013.  He had 897 rushing yards in 2012 (177 vs. Oklahoma). Jones had 186 yards at Rice last year. This can be a dynamic duo. Jones had 127 yards on 11 carries against UNM last year in El Paso.

If this duo has success on the ground vs. UNM, it sets up Showers for the play-action:  fake the run, test the Lobo secondary.  Showers threw for five touchdowns last year at Colorado State. He can be very good. That's why Texas A&M recruited him. 

“There are a lot of things you look for when they (DBs) are out on the field,” said McMillian. “One thing you want to see is that they are in the right places doing what they are supposed to be doing.

“We have some talent. I’m excited about it. But right now, I’m still at the car lot looking around.  I’m not exactly sure what I have right now.”

McMillian has had the luxury of a few test drives during UNM’s spring and fall drills.  His Lobo Porsches and BMW’s hit the road for real on Saturday.

New Mexico Lobos Football -- 2014 Defensive Secondary 

 

No.

 

Name

 

Pos.

 

Ht.

 

Wt.

 

Yr.

 

Exp.

 

Hometown (Prev School)

4  

Isaiah Brown

DB

5-11

180

So.

1L

Katy, Texas (Katy HS)

15  

SaQwan Edwards

DB

6-1

193

RSr.

2L

Houston, Texas (Blinn College)

33  

Tayo Adewon

DB

6-0

190

RJr.

RS

Frisco, Texas (Trinity Valley Community College)

19  

Ricky Bennett

DB

6-0

210

RFr.

RS

Huntsville, Texas (Huntsville HS)

17  

Jadon Boatright

DB

5-10

172

So.

1L

Liberty Hill, Texas (Liberty Hill HS)

36  

Brandon Branch

DB

5-11

189

RJr.

2L

Albuquerque, N.M. (Albuquerque Academy)

22  

Markel Byrd

DB

5-11

190

RFr.

RS

San Diego, Calif. (Horizon Christian Academy)

5  

Lee Crosby

DB

5-11

190

Jr.

JC

Baltimore, Md. (Snow College) (Baltimore City HS)

21  

Donnie Duncan

DB

5-11

185

RJr.

2L

Inglewood, Calif. (Alexander Hamilton HS)

8  

David Guthrie

DB

5-9

204

Sr.

1L

Tenmile, Ore. (Coll. of the Siskiyous) (Douglas HS)

14  

Daniel Henry

DB

6-0

170

Jr.

JC

San Diego, Calif. (Iowa Western CC/Weber State) (La Jolla HS)

3  

Cranston Jones

DB

5-8

167

Jr.

2L

Dallas, Texas (West Mesquite HS)

30  

Juwan Jones

DB

6-0

196

Fr.

HS

Chandler, Ariz. (Hamilton HS)

27  

Bijon Parker

DB

6-0

180

Fr.

HS

Los Angeles (Fairfax High School)

28  

Jake Rothschiller

DB

5-6

183

So.

HS

Westlake Village, Calif. (Westlake HS)

12  

Ryan Santos

DB

5-10

186

RSo.

1L

Klein, Texas (Klein Collins HS)

37  

Brandon Thelen

DB

6-2

211

Fr.

HS

Las Cruces, N.M. (Mayfield HS)

 

Saturday, September 20
6:00 PM - 
Football
at New Mexico State
Friday, September 26
6:00 PM - 
Football
vs. Fresno State
Saturday, October 04
1:30 PM - 
Football
at UTSA
Friday, October 10
7:30 PM - 
Football
vs. San Diego State
Saturday, October 18
1:30 PM - 
Football
at Air Force
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