RUIDOSO, N.M. – The real stuff for Bob Davie’s Lobos comes Aug. 30 when the UTEP Miners step onto Branch field, but Sunday in Ruidoso the Lobos will take another step in building the right stuff by pounding on each other in a full-contact scrimmage.
Well, except for the quarterbacks. The Lobos are savvy enough to target Cole Gautsche and Clayton Mitchem as off limits for any savage assaults by the UNM defense. “We’re not going to tackle the quarterbacks,” said Davie.
For the rest of Davie’s Lobos, it’s lights, camera and important action as the blocking, tackling, execution and playmaking results from this scrimmage provide invaluable data for coaches to ponder in making final decisions in playing time.
“These scrimmage snaps are so precious because you just don’t get to do it a lot,” said Davie. “Scrimmage snaps are like gold. It’s what the game is (full contact). It’s important.
“We thud-wrap and it’s pretty realistic. We’re about as close to full speed as you can be. But as realistic as it is every day for us, nothing is as realistic as when you truly tackle and go all the way with it.
“So guys have the chance when it’s for real to make an impression. And vice versa. There are some guys maybe you are a little higher on and then you see them when it’s full-speed tackling.”
The Lobos’ final depth chart won’t be formed from the public scrimmage to be held at 11 a.m., Sunday at the Ruidoso Middle School. There will be a lot more teaching and learning prior to UTEP’s visit. But just like scrimmage snaps are like gold, so is the video produced from Lobos banging on Lobos.
In Sunday’s scrimmage, there won’t be Lobo coaches on the field looking over drills that are scripted. The players will be pretty much on their own between whistles.
“It’s a change,” said Jason Lenzmeier, UNM’s offensive line coach. “Practices are segmented into drills and everything is laid out and scripted and now you have to go out and play football. The coaches won’t be out there on the field telling players what to do and they have to figure it out.
“It’s a game situation. Go play. How do you respond? Put some heat on them and see if they respond or take a step back.”
Bob DeBesse, UNM’s offensive coordinator, says a scrimmage helps you recognize players “you can trust” in game situations.
“I don’t know if a scrimmage is the most important part of practice, but it is important,” he said. “You look to see how guys perform in that type of pressure situations which is as much pressure as we can create in camp.”
Sunday’s scrimmage also will have officials and there will be flags thrown. That is one thing DeBesse does not want to see from his offense – penalties. However, he said he will look at just about everything: execution, alignments, ball possession, playmaking, pre-snap penalties.
The coaches also look for consistent efficiency. They don't want to see mistakes that kill drives on offense or mistakes on defense that keep drives alive. They don't want to see dropped passes, fumbles, penalties, missed assignments or mental lapses. This is focus time.
The Lobos’ camp in Ruidoso has revealed a lot of Lobo talent battling for spots on the depth chart: playing time. There is a lot of talent to evaluate. There also is something else about that talent that Davie points out:
"We’re just so young,” said Davie. “We have a lot of guys who have never seen full-speed tackling.”