By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
If you expect the University of New Mexico Lobos to do a little extra huffing and puffing on the first day of Camp Ruidoso, you won’t be disappointed.
But if you expect to see Lobos running over to the sidelines looking for oxygen tanks, you will be disappointed. The Lobos threw out a spirited practice session on Tuesday and also pounded each other pretty good in a controlled scrimmage.
“You can’t really control that (elevation),” said Lobo Coach Bob Davie. “It’s just how you respond to things.”
The Lobos practice fields in Albuquerque are at about 5,100 feet and Ruidoso is around 6,900. That’s a 1,800-foot bump up and the Lobos always notice it especially on the first day.
“You can always tell there is a difference,” said senior defensive lineman, Brett Bowers.
Said junior quarterback Cole Gautsche: “It still hits you the first day. You do warmups and you can feel shortness in breath. The drill work sometimes is rep after rep after rep and sometimes that gets you more tired.
"In a scrimmage, you go hard for maybe six seconds and then you get a 30 second break.”
Or you get subbed out and another Lobo takes your place and you stand on the sideline.
Still, one of the first adjustments the Lobos make at the White Mountain Sports Complex located just out the backdoor of the Lodge at Sierra Blanca is finding oxygen.
“You notice that you don’t seem to be getting as much oxygen at first, but this is my third year and I knew what to expect. That helps,” said junior linebacker, Richard Winston. “You notice it, but our summer training really helps us out.
“I love it up here. I know back in Arizona where I come from (Chandler) it’s 110 (degrees) and I’m up here in cool Ruidoso at the best facilities in the world.”
The Lobos did a handful of drills on Tuesday, the first day at Camp Ruidoso, and then a crew of officials joined the practice session and Davie put his Lobos through a controlled scrimmage. The Lobos went hard at each other up front in the trenches, but the contact did not including tackling. The quarterbacks, running backs and receivers were not given any hits.
Davie said he felt his Lobos needed some contact via a scrimmage, but did not allow full-contact tackling.
“We tried to make it as realistic as we could make it,” said Davie, who said he thought full contact “might be pushing the envelope a little too much.”
There were a lot of impressive plays made by both the offense and the defense, but you put those plays in perspective by realizing that a lot of Lobos were holding back their all-out, game-day aggression.
“I think there was some juice on offense,” said Davie. “I feel like our quarterbacks have made a lot of progress starting with Cole (Gautsche) in the passing game. I think that’s pretty evident.
"We have made some progress throwing the football.”
The Lobos also have an array of talent in the backfield looking to replace the numbers produced by ex-Lobo Kasey Carrier.
“We’re pretty thin back there as far as guys who have lined up and consistently done it,” said Davie. “But two years ago when we first came in here nobody had heard of Kasey Carrier.”
A key to identifying which Lobos are ready to step into the hole left by Carrier will be watching how the backs do when the defense isn’t being held back. And those all-out scrimmages are on the way.
“We’re definitely going to do it,” said Davie of full-contact drills.