By Greg Archuleta
UNM Assistant Director of Communications
Barry Sacks like to build. He has great admiration for coach Bob Davie. And he loved his previous visits to Albuquerque.
So it’s little wonder that when the opportunity arose for the aptly named Sacks to become defensive line coach on the University of New Mexico football team, he jumped at it.
Sacks has brought an infectious enthusiasm to spring football with his outgoing personality, being as demonstrative as verbal with his position group.
“About a month after he was here, I asked a couple of defensive linemen to give me an assessment of him,” Davie said. “They said, ‘He’s crazy – in a good way. Just like the offensive linemen would tell you that (coach ) Jason Lenzmeier is crazy in a good way.
Sacks joined the Lobo coaching staff in January, along with defensive backs coach Charles McMillians. Sacks is familiar with the 3-4 style of scheme that Davie runs, which facilitated his arrival to UNM.
“A few things brought me here,” the veteran coach with 28 years of experience as an assistant. “Coach Davie and his outstanding reputation was the first thing. You’re coaching for a knowledgeable football coach with great experience, and he has a template on how to get this program moving in the right direction.
“And Albuquerque attracted me because there are so many things I love about the area. It has an outstanding outdoor culture.”
Sacks was part of the Nevada coaching staffs that played in the 2007 and 2012 New Mexico Bowls. That the Wolf Pack lost both times didn’t deter Sacks’ enthusiasm for the Albuquerque community.
“The people here were incredible,” he said. “I loved their hospitality.”
Sacks also loves a challenge, and so he’s hard at work helping Davie and the rest of the Lobo coaching staff return UNM to its status as a perennial bowl contender that it was in the 2000s when Sacks was at Nevada.
“It’s fun and challenging to be part of something that’s a building situation,” Sacks said. “There’s a hunger here that’s really attractive to me. People at this university are hungry; I think the student-athletes are hungry.
Coach Davie and his staff already have done a lot of the groundwork, and I can see the growth. I was part of the building process at Nevada. It’ll be fun to be part of that here.”
The fun Sacks is having will show itself in the energy in which he coaches. Sacks’ enthusiasm is contagious. It’s what helps him relate to his players, both present and future.
Sacks is credited with successfully recruiting current San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to Nevada – “ I was lucky enough to be the coach to run into Colin Kaepernick, he says – and he says his enthusiasm is what helps him sell his program to prospective student-athletes.
“The things you love about a football program, you really have to bring them to light and explain why you love the program,” Sacks says of his recruiting prowess. “Delivery is the most important part. Are you monotone and mundane or original and passionate? That goes a long way. You just need to be sincere, be original and be yourself.”
Sacks’ optimism surrounding UNM stems from the past successes he’s had at other programs. He was on a Boise State staff from 1993-96 that actually ended an 11-game losing streak to in-state rival Idaho in 1994. At Nevada, he helped the Wolf Pack win the Western Athletic Conference in 2010, beating Boise State 34-31 in overtime that ESPN dubbed its college football “Game of the Year.”
“All these things confirm there’s a cycle in football,” Sacks said, “and I’m convinced that cycle is going to swing to the University of New Mexico.
“The future is bright here; that’s the message I want to send. I can tell – I’ve been around the block,” he says. “We’ve got to tell the fans just to get behind us, rally up and jump aboard.”
PRACTICE NO. 2: The team spent their second day of practice Thursday without pads with the same up-tempo rhythm they established on Tuesday’s first day of spring ball.
Both units did extensive work with the scout teams, with senior wide receiver Tyler Duncan and senior strong safety David Guthrie looking sharp.
Davie stressed to his players that the tempo at which they’re practicing will help them get better more quickly. He spoke of a general team goal of moving from “Point A to Point B” – Point B referring to a position where the Lobos compete for bowl berths.
Part of the movement will consist of the necessity of a shift from UNM being a coach-driven team to being a player-driven team.
“There has to be a maturity about everything we do,” he said.
Saturday’s practice will be the first opportunity the team has to don full pads and get in some live-contact work.
“I heard some of the guys say, ‘Wait till we put on the pads,’ ” Davie said. “I love that enthusiasm, and they’ll get their wish on Saturday.”