Stevens: MW Football Media Puts Chip On Lobo Shoulders
July 24, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Football - 2012 Mountain West Football Media Day
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Lobo Coach Bob Davie addressed a portion of the Mountain West media Tuesday in Las Vegas saying "the past doesn't have to dictate the future."
However, the past that saw the University of New Mexico win three games in three seasons surely was a consideration for the media at the Mountain West Football Media Day which picked the Lobos to finish last in the 10-team MW race of 2012.
"I think it's a factor that we haven't performed well in the past," said Lobo quarterback B.R. Holbrook.
If a chip on the shoulder is a good thing for a football team to carry into the 2012 season, the Lobos and were handed a huge chip by the MW media.
The new-look, restructured Mountain West has three new football programs in the mix this year, but for the third consecutive season the Lobos were picked to finish in the league's cellar.
"The past does not have to dictate the future," Davie said during UNM's podium session with the league's media. "But if you want different results, you had better change how you do things.
"That's what I've talked to our team about. We had better change everything that has been done from A to Z, if we don't' want the same results. And that's what we've been trying to do."
Said senior linebacker/DE Joseph Harris: "We don't want things to be the same around here. We need some change."
For sure, the Lobos need to change things in the "W" column. The Lobos are coming off three seasons that saw a single win on the positive side of the ledger. All three wins came in MW play.
"We all know what matters is what's on that scoreboard," said Davie, who will take to the 2012 season with a team at least 10 players short in the scholarship column.
Davie admitted he had some early question marks about the team he inherited from Mike Locksley, but said, "I like these guys now."
"That's a big statement," said the first-year Lobo coach. "That gives us a chance. We are anxious to see what kind of team we can put on the field; see where we're at. None of really know."
The media that gathered at Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to meet and interview coaches and players from the 10 MW teams seemed to know one thing: Boise State will wear the 2012 crown. The Broncos, who leave the MW after the 2012 season, picked up 27 of the 30 first-place votes to earn the target as the preseason favorite.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen pointed out that his Broncos did not win the Mountain title in 2011 and "have a lot to prove," this season with so many holes to fill from last year's 12-1 team.
"We are all about earning whatever we can out there," said Petersen. "We always have a chip on our shoulders toward preseason polls. Last year we were picked first (in the MW) and we didn't get it done.
"There is no higher expectation in Boise than in our football complex. The kids have locked into it. They have extremely high standards."
The Lobos got an addition chip - and a snub - from the MW media as no Lobos were named to the preseason All-Mountain Team. The last time the preseason team did not include a UNM student-athlete was 2000.
"Seeing that is pretty disappointing," said Harris, referring to UNM being picked last and having no preseason All-MW picks.
"It makes you want to player harder and faster and stronger I don't believe that to be true -- that we are last in the conference and that we don't have any All-Mountain West players on the team. I believe that's just preseason."
Said Holbrook: "I think during the course of the year we'll be able to show the talent we do have."
Coach Davie took to the podium with Harris and Holbrook and threw challenges at the two seniors. He said Harris has not yet played up to his potential and he expects stronger leadership and better decision making from his senior quarterback.
Davie admitted that Boise State was playing football at a high level, but sees "a lot of schools, a lot of programs fighting to be the next team to emerge. I see parity. I see opportunity."
If Boise State lives up to the preseason hype, there might not be a lot of Mountain West teams with the opportunity to knock the Broncos off the Mountain top in 2012. If the Broncos are to be denied a MW crown in 2012, the best bets, according to the media poll, are two newcomers to the Mountain: Nevada and Fresno State.
However, Nevada did not pick up a single first-place vote. Fresno State was awarded two first-place picks and San Diego State, falling into the No. 5 slot, picked up the other first-place nod.
If the media predictions hold true, the Mountain West cellar could be determined Nov. 3 in Las Vegas when the Lobos visit the Rebels. UNLV was dropped into the No. 9 spot in the ten-team league with 63 points. UNM was in last place with 33 points. Colorado State was tabbed No. 8 with 111 points and Hawaii was No. 7 with 116 points.
Boise State rolled out a gaudy 12-1 mark in 2011 and finished No. 6 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll and No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll. The Broncos will be tested early as they open their season Aug. 31 at Michigan State. Boise State has to replace seven First-Team All-Mountain players from 2011 including quarterback Kellen Moore and running back Doug Martin.
Boise State was hit hard by graduation and returns only two starters on defense and five on offense. However, this program has won 50 games over the past four seasons and is expected to challenge for a spot in the Top 10 again in 2012.
The Nevada Wolf Pack joins the Mountain out of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and any charge at the title likely will hinge on the arm of quarterback Cody Fajardo, the 2011 WAC Freshman of The Year. Nevada is coming off a 7-5 season and returns six starters off an offense that was ranked No. 6 nationally in total offense at 506.7 yards.
Boise State and Nevada dominated the All-Mountain preseason team as each school had two first-team picks on offense and two on defense. UNLV joined New Mexico with no preseason All-MW picks and Hawaii had only one preseason pick.
The team, selected by members of the media, features eight players that were all-MW selections in 2011.
Fresno State junior quarterback Derek Carr was named Preseason MW Offensive Player of the Year, while San Diego State senior defensive back Leon McFadden was selected Preseason MW Defensive Player of the Year. Boise State redshirt senior return specialist Mitch Burroughs was tabbed Preseason MW Special Teams Player of the Year.
In 2011, Carr threw for 3,544 yards to rank 15th nationally on the season and third all-time at Fresno State. During his sophomore campaign, the native of Bakersfield, Calif., tallied 26 touchdowns against just nine interceptions. He threw for 272.6 yards per game and completed 62.6 percent of his passes (279-of-446) in his first year as a starter. His 279 completions and 446 attempts ranked as the second-most ever by a Fresno State signal caller in a single season.
McFadden led the Mountain West and ranked 12th nationally in passes defended (17) last season. The Inglewood, Calif., product also notched 46 tackles (35 solo), 15 pass breakups, three tackles for loss (-11 yards), two interceptions and a sack.
Burroughs ranked first in the Mountain West and eighth nationally in punt returns a year ago, averaging 13.3 yards on 18 returns. The senior from Meridian, Idaho, returned five kickoffs in 2011 for 114 yards and ranked third on the Broncos with 947 all-purpose yards.