Saturday was a multitasking extravaganza for the University of New Mexico football team.
The Lobos held a one-hour, 45-minute practice for a few hundred fans on Branch Field at University Stadium. They conducted one of the most physical practice sessions of the spring. The player then got out the sharpies for a post-practice autograph session and the coaching staff ushered several area high school coaches upstairs for their annual coaches clinic.
It truly was a Spring Fiesta ’14.
Both the offense and defense made some big plays during the team portions of practice. Redshirt freshman quarterback Lamar Jordan hooked up on a 60-yard touchdown pass play with senior wide receiver Tyler Duncan.
The defense answered with sophomore cornerback Jadon Boatright’s interception of a pass in the end zone intended for junior wide receiver Marquis Bundy. Junior college transfer linebacker Ryan Langford also forced a fumble that junior cornerback Donnie Duncan scooped up.
After the practice, coach Bob Davie was asked to declare a winner Saturday.
“I think by a technicality, the defense probably won today,” Davie said. “The offense had way too many penalties, but it was nice just to come out and scrimmage again. It’ll probably be the last time that we have live contact in the spring.
“But it’s good to come out here and have spring ball the way spring ball is supposed to be.”
Davie compared UNM’s increased contact in the spring to a bullfight, but added it’s a necessary next step for the program to continue to get better.
“I’ve used the analogy a lot of times,” Davie said, “but sometime that bullfighter has to jump into the ring with that live bull. I think he can practice as much as he wants with that plywood thing with the fake horns on it, and we’ve certainly done enough of that the last two years because of our situation (with a lack of numbers to practice with contact).
“We’ve got to go play. We can do all the drills we want, which we do. We can do all the teaching we want, do all the cerebral stuff, but for us to develop young football players, you’ve got to go play.”
Davie added that he finally feels as if the Lobos have put themselves on a level playing field with most of the other Mountain West schools.
Risks are involved, however, when the Lobos hold live-tackling situations during practice.
“You put 22 guys out there, and what people don’t realize is that when you do anything in the spring practice, you’re putting 22 of your guys out there, not just 11 like you do in a game. So we had 70 plays today, that’s basically like 140 in a game.”
After practice, the players gathered in and around the south end zone, signing kids’ posters and hats, and taking pictures with the fans who came out on Saturday.
The coaching staff gave a seminar on football strategies on offense, defense and special teams, and the session was another opportunity for the Lobo coaches to continue to develop relationship with the high school coaches around the state.