Stevens: Spring Ball Is Over; Now Lobos Work To Get Better
April 17, 2010
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
You could label it Cherry-Silver II for second-year coach Mike Locksley and his Lobos, but you could also label it Pop Quiz II.
There were referees on the field, numbers on the scoreboards and chains moving up and down the sidelines. But as much as anything, Spring ball is evaluation time.
Time to find out what your players do well and what your players don't do so well. Time to evaluate personnel and look for ways to make them better Lobos.
The Lobos were put through the test of live action Saturday at University Stadium and the results will be banked, evaluated and probably even applied later to the final grade. But the starters won't be named until August.
Until then there are films to grade and Lobo things to do, like: "Get better," said Lobo receiver Chris Hernandez.
The Lobos definitely have improved, but you have to throw the Spring football footnote in there because it was Lobo vs. Lobo for 15 days of football and UNM's Sept. 4 visit to Oregon is a summer away. Oregon probably is getting better, too.
The Lobo coaching staff will hit the film room, hit the recruiting trail, and the Lobo players will hit the weight room and do some running.
"We'll evaluate every rep we took this spring," said coach Locksley. "We'll continue to tweak, but it was a good, productive Spring."
There were a lot of good things happening in University Stadium Saturday in a game officially won 21-7 by the B.R. Holbrook-led Cherry squad. A big movement forward was made by Holbrook this Spring thanks to his good work and because Brad Gruner and Tate Smith spend a lot of time on the sidelines hurt.
"My confidence has soared just from taking those (extra) reps," said Holbrook. Holbrook has looked anywhere from solid to outstanding at various times this Spring. He threw for 256 yards Saturday going 17-of-28 with no interceptions. He threw three TDs: one to Lamaar Thomas and two to Hernandez.
Holbrook, the modest type, acted as if the 256 yards and three TDs would have happened if linebacker Carmen Messina had been in the pocket.
"All I did was put the ball out there and let them make plays," said Holbrook. "All the credit goes to them (receivers) and the offensive line.
"I think we did more good than bad today. I'm happy with where we are right now. I think we are going to be ready to go."
The Lobos went into Spring ball emphasizing the run, but that aspect of the game wasn't exactly electric in the Cherry-Silver game. The Cherry ran the ball 28 times for 24 yards, but Holbrook lost 32 yards on sacks. Demond Dennis had 66 yards on 18 carries for a 2.9 average.
Hernandez led the Cherry with five catches for 77 yards and two scores. Solomon paced the Silver with five grabs for 44 yards and a score.
Hernandez, who played on the 2007 UNM team that went 9-4 and won the New Mexico Bowl said, "I feel we have more talent on this team."
Hernandez, like most Lobos, admits there were some struggles in 2009 when UNM went 1-11 while adjusting to a new system on offense, a new look on defense and a new coaching staff. The Lobo senior-to-be expects better things in 2010.
"I think our unity as a team has made a complete 180," he said. "Now, we have to not be satisfied with what we accomplished in the Spring."
Hernandez almost had three scores Saturday. "I dropped a touchdown," he said. "That kind of fueled me to make plays when I had them."
"It's important now that the kids go into the off-season programs with the right attitude," said Lobo defensive coordinator Doug Mallory. "We have to continue to develop as players and get bigger, stronger, faster."
The Cherry offense ended with 280 yards off 56 snaps. The Silver had 208 yards off 58 plays. There was only one interception and one lost fumble. The third-down efficiency was not real efficient with the Cherry going 4-of-13 and the Silver 2-of-14.
"We didn't execute on third down," said Hernandez. "We have to make sure we stay on the field."
Said Jaymar Latchison. "We were running around (last spring). Coaches were telling us where we had to go. We really weren't sure what we were doing. This Spring we had a better feel for what we were doing.
"Coach (Rubin) Carter tells us to be hungry every day and if we're not producing, we're just killing grass. We get back in the weight room now; get back running. We're just going to keep lifting and get bigger, get faster and stronger.
"We have set the bar really high for ourselves because nobody wants any kind of repeat of last year."