Stevens: New Mexico Lobos' Trip To Hawaii Is Strictly Business
Oct. 10, 2012
New Mexico Lobos at Hawai'i Warriors - Mountain West Football
When/Where: 10 p.m. (MT), Saturday - Aloha Stadium - Honolulu
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It's not personal. It's business.
No, this isn't a quote from the classic movie "Godfather" - or Tom Hanks in "You've Got Mail."
This is a paraphrase of Lobo Coach Bob Davie's message to his New Mexico Lobos prior to their trip to the exotic city of Honolulu.
Yeah, that Honolulu! The one with Waikiki Beach, the North Shore, the Polynesian Culture Center, Downtown Honolulu, scuba diving and romantic midnight strolls down the palm-lined beaches.
Lobos in various sports over the years have done just about all these things, including rides on jet skis and the educational jaunt over to Pearl Harbor.
If Davie's Lobos want to see the sights and sites of Oahu, they might have to go to their rooms. They should not expect Davie to take them on a sunset cruise to do some whale watching.
"If we have to get some pictures of the beach, some pictures of bikinis and the beautiful surroundings, then we'll put them in their rooms over there and let them look in their room," said Davie of the Lobos' trip to Honolulu to play the Hawaii Warriors in what could be a pivotal Mountain West game for UNM.
"But it really is (a business trip). It really is. I'm not one to let them go down to the beach for a couple hours or let them snorkel for a couple hours. This is all about us trying to win our fourth game of the year. Totally."
A fourth win for this team Davie once labeled "fragile," would be a huge accomplishment especially considering the Lobos, who went 3-33 over the past three seasons, are only seven games into the season.
Heck, the three wins are considered a huge accomplishment. The Lobos still might be considered fragile because of their depth problems.
The change in culture that Davie promised might not have the roots of the Polynesian culture. However, there already are some promising buds as the Lobos surge forward with their option-fueled "Pistol" offense and a confidence that defies their broken past.
These Lobos believe they can and will win. And why not? They have steamrolled over Southern, New Mexico State and Texas State.
Here's a quick way to put the change under Davie into perspective: The Lobos are favored to beat Hawaii in Hawaii.
Of course, part of the reason the 3-3 Lobos are favored is because of Hawaii. The Warriors have lost 49-10 to Southern Cal, 69-24 to Nevada, 47-0 at Brigham Young and 52-14 at San Diego State. They have been outscored 168-38 in their past three games.
They are 1-4.
First-year Coach Norm Chow came to Hawaii and almost totally revamped a Warrior run-and-shoot system. The new stuff hasn't worked very well --- well, not against the big boys.
Still, Davie says there are some things to worry about. He says the Warriors are a different team at home and, over the seasons, that has been true. They have a 54-2 win over Lamar on the island on Sept. 15.
Davie also expects the Warriors to man-up at the line of scrimmage and try to distort the Lobos' backfield with penetration and frustrate UNM's `Pistol" attack.
It is a distinct possibility that Hawaii will flood the line of scrimmage with Warrior bodies. But the Warriors have run into problems trying to stop the run. Hawaii gave up 335 rushing yards to Nevada and 396 to Brigham Young. Their rush defense is rated 106 out of 120 teams. The Lobos are No. 8 in the nation in rushing offense.
Simply put, the Warriors can't let the Lobos run over them. That's UNM's strength.
"They will come up there man-to-man and press on us," said Davie. "They will have more people in the box, and I'm kind of looking forward to it."
What this might mean is that the Lobos will go to that new-fangled attack called passing. UNM has tried four passes in the past four quarters. UNM's nine yards passing vs. Texas State was the lowest total since Rocky Long quarterbacked the team in 1971. That's like 41 years!
Davie isn't worried if his Lobos have to go over the top now and then to produce a win at Hawaii.
"I think we've got some good receivers," he said. "I think we practice the throwing game a lot. They're probably going to force us to throw the ball, but you never know how it'll turn out.
"But I'm kind of anxious to watch us. I think we're capable of throwing the football, I really do."
The Lobos' ability to throw the football on Saturday might not be the key issue. If the Lobos can run and if Hawaii can't stop the run --- well:
"Once you settle in to what you can do, that's what you do," said Davie. "That's what the game is."
And if the Lobos are able to run the ball down the Warriors' throats, the Warriors shouldn't take it personal.
It's strictly business.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former award-winning columnist and associate sports editor for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.