Spring Wrap: New Mexico Lobos
By Ken Pomponio
Spring drills have hit the finish line in the Mountain West Conference with all 12 squads having put the wraps on their allotted 15 practices.
Here’s a glance at how the spring went for New Mexico, which is coming off a 4-9 season in its first year under coach Bob Davie:
- There’s a positive vibe in Albuquerque in the wake of the Lobos’ 2012 improvement (three wins total from 2009-11) and the second-year familiarity with Davie and his staff and schemes. It also resonated in the contract extension Davie received the final week of spring ball. “At this time of year, you can only compare yourselves to where you were a year ago,” Davie said in a post-spring article on the UNM athletics website. “There’s no question right now – just the operation of things, just in the process of things as we should be a year along – it’s a whole different thing, a whole different mindset. All I can do is judge what I see on a daily basis, and it’s better than it was a year ago.”
- One of Davie’s stated goals is to beef up a passing attack which ranked last in the Mountain West and 119th in the FBS a year ago with an average of 68.8 yards per game, and second-year starter Cole Gautsche appeared to take some significant strides, showing the ability to pull the ball in and connect on passes down the field out of the Lobos’ triple-option offense.
- The New Mexico defense, which returns only three starters coming off a ragged 2012 campaign, is seeking to shore up a number of holes, particularly in the secondary. The unit is replacing all four starters while integrating two players transitioning from the offensive side of the ball. The defensive backs made strides this spring, but the position remains a work in progress.
- A rash of spring injuries – which shelved three defensive linemen and a trio of outside linebackers, including returning starter Rashad Rainey – hampered the defense’s progress. The Lobos also were missing starting right guard Garrett Adcock (shoulder) this spring and had JUCO transfer QB Clayton Mitchem go down with an injury in the 10th practice.
- Gautsche showed more comfort and command in directing the UNM offense this spring, and appears to have held off a challenge from Mitchem.
- Senior Kasey Carrier set a school single-season record with 1,469 rushing yards last season and appears poised to better that mark with four returning offensive line starters leading the way in his second year in the system.
- Along with Carrier, senior center Dillon Farrell and senior defensive end Jacori Greer, senior inside linebacker Dallas Bollema was named a team captain this spring, picking up where he left off in 2012 after leading the Lobos in tackles.
The countdown until fall camp has begun for the Lobos, who kick off the season Aug. 31 with a home game against Texas-San Antonio, a Conference USA newcomer entering only its third season as a football program.