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Stevens: Lobos vs. Rams Has Intriguing Subplots
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/15/2013

New Mexico Lobos Football – Branch Field – University Stadium

When/Who:  5:08 p.m., Saturday – Colorado State (5-5, 3-2 MW) at New Mexico (3-6, 1-4 MW)

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

GoLobos.com:  Game Story, Quotes, Complete Stats, LoboTV

By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

There is a subplot when Lobos battle Rams that really can’t be ignored even though the individuals under this spotlight won’t be on the field at the same time.

For sure, it’s not the only pivotal battle that will determine the  Mountain West outcome when New Mexico battles Colorado State Saturday on Branch Field.  This is a field battle of 11 vs. 11 and a number of key Lobos and Rams will have the opportunity to be among the 22 players on the field and make plays – or not make plays.

But it’s an intriguing footnote, something to watch:  New Mexico’s Kasey Carrier vs. CSU’s Kapri Bibbs.

The race for the Mountain West rushing title likely will come down to three runners and two of them will be in University Stadium Saturday on New Mexico’s  Senior Day.  Carrier will come into the contest with 1109 yards in nine games and Bibbs has 1148 in ten games.

Carrier averages 6.1 yards per carry and 123.2 yards per game.

Bibbs averages 6.3 yards per carry and 114.8 yards per game. He ran for 312 yards last week in CSU’s impressive win over Nevada.  The young Ram leads the nation in rushing touchdowns with 19. “I’m very happy he’s here,” said CSU Coach Jim McElwain.

For sure, the Lobos want to give Carrier some huge holes and ditto for the Rams.   The running game will be a key factor in winning and losing. 

But that also brings a lot of other key players and other key subplots into the spotlight.  The Lobos offensive line keyed by starters Darryl Johnson, LaMar Bratton, Dillon Farrell, Jamal Price and Johnny Vizcaino will face a veteran CSU defensive front.

The Rams’ projected starters up front on defense are senior Eli Edwards, senior Curtis Wilson, senior Calvin Tonga and senior Shaquil Barrett.   The UNM O-line will be trying to make holes.  The Rams’ D-line will be trying to plug holes.  The play in the trenches most likely will win or lose this game.

The Ram’s O-line also is full of seniors, too:  Brandon Hayes (LT), Weston Richburg (C), Jordan Gragert (RG),  Jared Biard (RT).  Ty Sambrailo (LT) is a redshirt junior. The Rams also have three senior tight ends that will block off the line or even out of the CSU backfield.

The CSU offensive line has a combined 144 starts – No. 11 in NCAA football. The Rams plan to win the physical war in the trenches.

“They’re just big and physical,” said Lobo Coach Bob Davie. “I look at their offensive line and they start four fifth-year seniors and one fourth-year redshirt. They’re just so big and mature across the front.”

Of course, there is a quarterback battle, too.  The Lobos need sophomore Cole Gautsche to pull the right strings out of the option. They need him to run for lots of yardage.  The Rams’ need Garrett Grayson to throw the ball well.  He has tossed for 2,483 yards and 15 touchdowns completing 62.4 percent of his throws. His arm can be a huge factor.

“Their quarterback is 6-2, 220, who reminds me a lot of the guy from Pitt,” said Davie.

The Rams need to slow down the Lobo option and not get burned on play-action routes.  The CSU defense is led by Max Morgan (90 tackles), Aaron Davis (86) and Shaquil Barrett has 16.5 tackles for a loss (No. 2 in NCAA).  

“It’s a challenge to us as a defense,” CSU’s Davis said of UNM’s option.  “We look forward to it. It’s not a conventional offense.  They give you some different looks with all that option stuff.  Their quarterback is a big guy.”

Said Lobo Coach Davie: “On defense, they have three or four big defensive tackles. I look at (CSU’s size) and realize how this journey has a long way to go so we can physically be in a position to match up against these teams.

“I think that (size difference) will be apparent when we walk out there Saturday.”

The Rams are more diversified  on offense because they run it well and they pass it well.  CSU averages 453.3 yards per game and have gone over 500 yards in five games.  The Rams average 201.6 yards rushing and 251.7 passing – good for 33.5 points a game.  The Lobos average 328.9 rushing, 99.7 passing – good for 34.0 points per game.

The Rams probably have an edge on defense in part because of that seasoned front.  Still, they give up 30.4 points a game compared to UNM’s yield of 37 points.

It’s possible/probably that both offenses will good days.  These units can be very smooth.  The key could be which team gets the most defensive stops.

And then there are all the other subplots that make football and Saturday’s game so intriguing: turnovers, big plays, missed tackles, blocked punts, penalties.

It’s also senior day for UNM.  Lobo fans get to give a University Stadium farewell to 18 seniors, who have taken an interesting trip through this program.

“These seniors, when you stop and look at them one-by-one, I appreciate the journey,” said Davie. “They’ve seen a lot of things. Hopefully they’ve benefited from these last two years.  I think they have.

“As we build this thing you judge things in years, not in weeks or not in games. I think in a few years they can come back here and they’re going to be a key part of what we’ve done.

"There’s nothing more I can tell them other than how much I appreciate them and how much they’ve fought and battled and done everything they could for this program.

New Mexico To Honor 18 Seniors Saturday on Branch Field 

• Justus Adams, K ..................................Albuquerque, N.M. (La Cueva HS)
• Andrew Aho, TE* ............................................ Roswell, N.M. (Roswell HS)
• K.J. Atkins, DL .............................Poway, Calif. (San Diego Mesa College)
• Dallas Bollema, LB* ..........................................Artesia, N.M. (Artesia HS)
• Dante Caro, FS* ..................................Las Cruces, N.M. (Las Cruces HS)
• Kasey Carrier, RB* ....................................Pearland, Texas (Pearland HS)
• Dillon Farrell, C* .....................Baton Rouge, La. (Christian Life Academy)
• Emmanuel Fatokun, RB* ...................Washington D.C. (McKinley Tech HS)
• Jacori Greer, NT* ............................Little Elm, Texas (Newman Smith HS)
• Darryl Johnson LT*..........................Baton Rouge, La., (Southern Lab HS)
• Mat McBain, TE* .................................................El Paso, Texas (Burges HS)
• Calvin McDowney, OG*..............................Glenarden, Md. (DeMatha HS)
• David Orvick, LB ......................................Los Altos Hills, Calif. (Foothill CC)
• Malcolm Proctor, LB ...................................Houston, Texas (Pearland HS)
• Rashad Rainey, LB ...................................Riverside, Calif. (Riverside CC)
• Demarcus Rogers, RB* ........................ Oak Ridge, Tenn. (Oak Ridge HS)
• Ben Skaer, P* ..................................................Waterloo, Ill. (Waterloo HS)
• Fatu Ulale, DE ..................................Long Beach, Calif. (Cerritos College)

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