2013 New Mexico football's 10 things to know: Bob Davie talks to SB Nation

Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE

New Mexico completely fell off the radar screen under Mike Locksley, and while the Lobos still weren't very good in Bob Davie's first season in command, they had an identity and stayed mostly competitive. That's a start.

Confused? Check out the glossary here.

1. Welcome back onto the grid

"We were No. 2 in the country in time of possession last year," says New Mexico coach Bob Davie. "Everybody's speeding the game up, but we have to slow it down. We had the lowest number of scholarship players in the country, and we played 13 straight weeks. We had to put our best players on special teams because we just didn't have enough players. Our identity was to outwork, outhit, and outdiscipline you. Slow the game down, run the ball, force turnovers."

Davie is describing Year 1 of his New Mexico reclamation project. The former Notre Dame coach and ESPN commentator inherited a team that could really do only two things well -- run the ball and return kickoffs -- and somehow came within a few eyelashes of bowl eligibility.

The scale for the chart above is off. Almost every team falls between the range of plus-40 percent and minus-40 percent in the F/+ ratings. But New Mexico was so horrendous in 2011 that the Lobos fell below that range. I could have corrected the range for the above image, but I like the story being told here instead.

In three years under Mike Locksley, New Mexico almost literally fell off the grid. He won just two of 28 games as the Lobos' head coach; when he was dumped a month into the 2011 season, his replacement, George Barlow, won just one of eight, and that represented a relatively significant improvement in win percentage. The program had begun to slip in Rocky Long's final season in Albuquerque (2008), but it cratered under Locksley, who is a strong recruiter but was evidently not ready for a head coaching position.

2. Building a full roster

In last year's New Mexico preview, I said this of Bob Davie:

His resume is what it is, and while quite a few college football fans were happy to get him out of the television booth, his disciplined, pragmatic (if less than flashy) style may be exactly what is needed to at least get New Mexico back on a competent path. This was not the most high-upside of hires, but in Albuquerque you have to focus on a higher floor before you can focus on a higher ceiling.

In 2012, the Lobos indeed had a higher floor. The defense still couldn't stop anybody, and the offense couldn't even pretend to pass competently, but Davie took his team's minimal strengths as far as they could go, and in 2012 New Mexico won more games (four) than it had in the previous three years combined (three). The Lobos were just lucky enough to be unlucky -- they probably shouldn't have stayed close in as many games as they did, but they were still a bit unlucky to go 0-5 in one-possession games.

In Year 2, New Mexico will probably have a rather similar identity as in Year 1; there is still no assurance that the passing game or the defense will improve, but the Lobos should be capable of running the ball even better than last year. But another full recruiting class should ensure that Davie has enough bodies to actually field a team that doesn't have to use its first stringers on special teams.

Despite facing the grind of a "13 games in 13 weeks" schedule with the thinnest roster in the country, New Mexico did stay salty and mostly competitive down the stretch. A little depth could go a long way for the Lobos.

2012 Schedule & Results

Record: 4-9 | Adj. Record: 3-10 | Final F/+ Rk: 114
Date Opponent Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L
1-Sep Southern U. 66-21 W 27.0 - 53.0 L
8-Sep at Texas 0-45 L 13.7 - 31.9 L
15-Sep at Texas Tech 14-49 L 12.0 - 39.2 L
22-Sep at New Mexico State 27-14 W 22.3 - 37.8 L
29-Sep Boise State 29-32 L 39.8 - 39.3 W
6-Oct Texas State 35-14 W 26.3 - 16.8 W
13-Oct at Hawaii 35-23 W 35.1 - 41.0 L
20-Oct at Air Force 23-28 L 29.4 - 34.7 L
27-Oct Fresno State 32-49 L 37.0 - 41.3 L
3-Nov at UNLV 7-35 L 19.8 - 63.4 L
10-Nov Wyoming 23-28 L 31.3 - 35.1 L
17-Nov Nevada 24-31 L 28.7 - 28.6 W
24-Nov at Colorado State 20-24 L 25.6 - 37.2 L
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Points Per Game 25.8 80 30.2 79
Adj. Points Per Game 26.8 75 38.4 122

3. The day Boise State came to town

For the first month of the 2012 season, New Mexico looked a lot like the New Mexico of the previous three years. Yes, the Lobos were 2-2, but the wins came over Southern (one of the worst FCS teams in the country) and New Mexico State (one of the worst FBS teams in the country). The Lobos were entirely non-competitive in losses to Texas and Texas Tech and faced a visit from Boise State with little hope of success; and sure enough, Boise State took a 25-0 lead into halftime.

But something happened in the third quarter against Boise State, and it carried on through most of the remaining season. The Lobos recovered a fumble on the second-half kickoff and scored six plays later. They stopped Boise State on fourth-and-1 at their 4-yard line, then drove 96 yards in seven plays to make it a 25-14 game. They gave up a touchdown, then drove 75 yards in 10 plays for another score. They forced a fumble, returned it to the Boise State 1, and score again. Suddenly, midway through the fourth quarter, it was a 32-29 ball game, and New Mexico hadn't attempted a single pass in the second half. The comeback fell short when New Mexico's only pass of the half fell short on fourth-and-4 with 2:05 remaining. But this was as clear a statement as possible that New Mexico could compete.

For most of the rest of the season, New Mexico indeed competed. The Lobos took out Texas State and Hawaii, lost by five at Air Force and finished the season with three consecutive tight losses. They weren't losing to great teams by any means, but they were in the games. There was a one-week glitch in Las Vegas, when they were routed by an awful UNLV squad, but as I like to say, improvement is never linear. As a whole, the New Mexico of October and November was interesting and competitive. That alone is a massive improvement.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 4 games): Opponent 40.5, New Mexico 18.8 (minus-21.7)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 8 games, sans UNLV): Opponent 34.3, New Mexico 31.7 (minus-2.6)

Offense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 89 89 86 89
RUSHING 5 63 81 55
PASSING 123 121 121 120
Standard Downs 69 77 64
Passing Downs 112 109 113
Redzone 99 99 102
Q1 Rk 88 1st Down Rk 63
Q2 Rk 118 2nd Down Rk 73
Q3 Rk 37 3rd Down Rk 115
Q4 Rk 73

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2013 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
B.R. Holbrook 62 112 647 55.4% 2 1 9 7.4% 4.9
Cole Gautsche 6'4, 227 So. *** (5.6) 13 31 222 41.9% 2 2 1 3.1% 6.9
Quinton McCown 6'4, 208 Jr. NR 4 11 26 36.4% 1 1 0 0.0% 2.4
Clayton Mitchem 6'1, 180 Jr. ** (5.3)






Lamar Jordan 5'11, 180 Fr. ** (5.4)






Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
TD Adj.
POE
Kasey Carrier RB 5'9, 185 Sr. ** (5.2) 255 1,469 5.8 5.9 15 +12.2
Cole Gautsche QB 6'4, 227 So. *** (5.6) 108 762 7.1 8.5 7 +17.9
Jhurell Pressley RB 5'11, 198 So. NR 104 461 4.4 3.6 6 -0.5
B.R. Holbrook QB 44 225 5.1 4.2 1 -2.5
Chase Clayton WR 6'3, 202 Jr. ** (5.2) 32 209 6.5 4.8 0 +3.8
Lamaar Thomas WR-H 31 220 7.1 6.7 0 +4.5
Crusoe Gongbay RB 6'0, 205 Jr. *** (5.5) 22 159 7.2 8.1 0 +4.5
Carlos Wiggins WR-H 5'8, 157 So. ** (5.3) 18 141 7.8 4.5 2 +3.4
Demarcus Rogers RB 5'11, 185 Sr. ** (4.9) 14 105 7.5 4.3 2 +2.3

4. A complete run game

"You have to have your niche," Davie says. "You have to have something you do that gives you an identity schematically. We're kind of a triple-option team. We're running it out of the Pistol. My plan at Notre Dame wasn't a whole lot different -- it's forming your identity to the place you are at. That's how it's going to be sustainable. My plan has to be specific to the University of New Mexico."

He continues. "That's what I love about coaching -- take the hand that you're dealt, but be able to spin that into a positive. I've embraced the underdog mentality here. Small population, tough, hard-working people. New Mexico's kind of quirky, kind of different."

New Mexico was quirky and different on the field, too. The Lobos ran nearly all of the time on standard downs and two-thirds of the time on passing downs. Cole Gautsche took over more and more of the quarterback responsibilities as the season progressed -- he took over at halftime of the Boise State game and rushed 12 times for 183 yards in the wins over Texas State and Hawaii -- and while he wasn't much of a passer (despite the pro-style build), he formed a hellacious option combination with Kasey Carrier. Carrier took over as the primary runner when Demarcus Rogers was lost to injury two games into the season, and he had just about the best October imaginable: four games, 116 carries, 826 yards (7.1 per carry), 11 touchdowns. Beautifully-named Crusoe Gongbay also began showing potential late in the year as well.

Heading into 2013, then, all of the pieces are coming together. Gautsche and running back Jhurell Pressley are no longer freshmen, Gongbay is more of a known commodity, Rogers should be close to 100 percent in the fall, Carrier is Carrier, and an offensive line that didn't have enough healthy bodies to fill out a two-deep last year, returns six players with starting experience, most of whom are actually healthy.

The identity that Davie created out of necessity in 2012 could become a serious strength for the Lobos moving forward.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Yds/
Target
Target
Rate
%SD Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Ty Kirk WR-X 27 13 200 48.1% 7.4 18.2% 63.0% 7.5 30.4
Lamaar Thomas WR-H 22 15 165 68.2% 7.5 14.9% 50.0% 6.8 25.1
Saqwan Edwards CB 17 5 65 29.4% 3.8 11.5% 52.9% 3.6 9.9
Kasey Carrier RB 5'9, 185 Sr. ** (5.2) 16 10 75 62.5% 4.7 10.8% 37.5% 5.5 11.4
Carlos Wiggins WR-H 5'8, 157 So. ** (5.3) 13 9 83 69.2% 6.4 8.8% 46.2% 6.5 12.6
Quintell Solomon WR-Z 11 3 23 27.3% 2.1 7.4% 54.5% 2.3 3.5
Lucas Reed TE 9 5 37 55.6% 4.1 6.1% 66.7% 3.9 5.6
Jhurell Pressley RB 5'11, 198 So. NR 7 4 86 57.1% 12.3 4.7% 57.1% 12.4 13.1
Chase Clayton WR 6'3, 202 Jr. ** (5.2) 7 4 43 57.1% 6.1 4.7% 71.4% 5.8 6.5
Jeric Magnant WR-X 6'0, 180 Jr. NR 6 3 23 50.0% 3.8 4.1% 50.0% 3.4 3.5
Andrew Aho TE 6'3, 221 Sr. NR 2 2 55 100.0% 27.5 1.4% 50.0% 31.8 8.4
Chris Edling TE 6'3, 223 So. ** (5.2) 2 1 13 50.0% 6.5 1.4% 100.0% 3.9 2.0
Ridge Jones WR 5'10, 157 RSFr. ** (5.4)








Jalyn Judkins WR 6'3, 208 Fr. ** (5.4)








5. Of course, you have to at least pretend to be able to pass

Georgia Tech won the ACC running the triple option in 2009, but the Yellow Jackets also had receiver Demaryius Thomas hitting homeruns in the passing game. Nebraska's mid-1990s I-formation option attack was devastating, but the play-action pass (often to a tight end) made the Huskers unstoppable. New Mexico should be able to run the ball well, but you are only going to be so effective when opponents have no fear of the pass.

That the Lobos were able to break off quite a few big runs was semi-miraculous considering how horrendous the passing game was. Of the five players targeted at least once per game, none averaged better than a mediocre 7.5 yards per target. And now, with SaQuan Edwards moving to defense, only one of the top six receivers and tight ends returns. Of course, a little bit of new blood might not be a bad thing. Andrew Aho could be interesting at tight end now that he's healthy, and converted running back Chase Clayton could have some potential.

But for UNM to have a better-than-mediocre offense, the Lobos will have to be able to throw at least a little bit.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 100.5 3.27 3.47 44.0% 75.4% 17.7% 84.0 7.1% 6.1%
Rank 71 16 38 15 26 42 86 103 54
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Career Starts/Honors/Notes
Dillon Farrell C 6'5, 292 Sr. ** (5.1) 34 career starts
Darryl Johnson LT 6'4, 208 Sr. ** (4.9) 26 career starts
LaMar Bratton LG 6'2, 281 Jr. ** (5.4) 25 career starts
Korlan Chambers RT 22 career starts
Calvin McDowney LG 6'3, 346 Sr. NR 12 career starts
Garrett Adcock RG 6'2, 281 So. *** (5.5) 8 career starts
Jamal Price RG 6'6, 330 Jr. ** (5.4) 3 career starts
Dillon Romine RT 6'7, 290 So. ** (5.3)
Johnny Vizcaino RG 6'3, 288 So. ** (5.2)
Andrew Aqua OT 6'5, 333 So. NR
Bryan Oldenkamp OL 6'5, 292 So. ** (5.4)
Solomon Normore OL 6'4, 310 Jr. ** (5.2)

Defense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 99 119 118 123
RUSHING 75 112 91 118
PASSING 106 120 120 115
Standard Downs 113 100 115
Passing Downs 121 123 121
Redzone 123 116 123
Q1 Rk 102 1st Down Rk 119
Q2 Rk 122 2nd Down Rk 117
Q3 Rk 124 3rd Down Rk 122
Q4 Rk 114

6. When "four returning starters" isn't a bad thing

It is difficult to even know what to say about the 2012 New Mexico defense. The Lobos weren't a complete train wreck up front -- they were not good, but they weren't "worst in the country" bad, and out of Davie's patented 3-4 defense, they were able to generate a little bit of pressure on passing downs. But they couldn't stop the pass to save their lives, and despite a decent pass rush, they had the fourth-worst passing downs defense in the country. They were also the second-worst defense in the country when it came to giving up big plays, and they were a sieve in the red zone.

So when you see that the Lobos return just four starters on defense, refrain from thinking this is a bad thing. New blood is a good thing. And the New Mexico defense almost literally can't get any worse.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 92.5 3.17 3.39 42.4% 74.4% 17.4% 92.8 3.9% 7.2%
Rank 95 95 79 104 105 90 77 83 52
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Jacori Greer DE 6'3, 272 Sr. ** (5.1) 13 25.5 4.0% 8 5 0 1 0 0
Ugo Uzodinma DT 13 23.5 3.7% 5 1 0 0 2 0
Rod Davis NT 11 13.0 2.1% 2.5 0 0 0 0 0
Reggie Ellis NT 13 12.0 1.9% 2.5 0.5 0 0 0 1
Jake Carr DE 11 5.5 0.9% 0.5 0.5 0 0 0 0
Dominic Twitty DT 6'2, 288 So. ** (5.4) 13 3.5 0.6% 0 0 0 3 0 0
Paytron Hightower DE 6'4, 260 So. ** (5.4) 5 1.5 0.2% 0.5 0 0 0 0 0
Gerron Borne DT 6'2, 280 So. *** (5.7)

Fatu Ulale DT 6'2, 282 Sr. ** (5.2)
Darian Allen DT 6'5, 275 RSFr. ** (5.4)

Brett Bowers DE 6'3, 265 Jr. ** (5.2)

Donnie White, Jr. DE 6'3, 215 Fr. *** (5.5)
William Udeh DE 6'2, 225 Fr. *** (5.5)






Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Dallas Bollema WLB 6'2, 230 Sr. ** (5.3) 13 73.0 11.6% 6.5 1 3 3 1 2
Joe Stoner MLB 13 42.0 6.7% 2.5 1 2 3 0 3
Joseph Harris RUSH 13 40.0 6.3% 7 1 0 2 1 2
Rashad Rainey SAM 6'2, 204 Sr. ** (5.3) 10 31.0 4.9% 5.5 2.5 0 3 0 0
A.J. Butler SAM 12 26.0 4.1% 3.5 0 0 1 1 1
Javarie Johnson RUSH 6'3, 240 Jr. **** (5.8) 13 20.5 3.2% 6.5 4.5 0 1 1 0
Tevin Newman SAM 6'0, 202 Jr. ** (5.3) 11 9.0 1.4% 0 0 1 0 0 0
Toby Ball MLB 5'11, 233 Jr. ** (5.4) 13 8.0 1.3% 1 0 0 0 1 0
David Orvick WLB 6'3, 230 Sr. ** (5.3) 12 5.5 0.9% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Michael Arredondo LB 6'2, 223 So. ** (5.2)
Kenya Donaldson LB 6'2, 204 RSFr. NR
Richard Winston LB 6'4, 220 So. ** (5.3)

Kimmie Carson LB 6'2, 210 Fr. *** (5.5)
Dakota Cox LB 6'1, 220 Fr. *** (5.5)
Tre'von Roy LB 6'2, 208 Fr. ** (5.4)






7. Giving the front seven a boost

Davie isn't loading up on junior college transfers by any means (you'll find a few sprinkled in) but there will be quite a few three-star recruits entering the mix this fall. That probably won't mean great things in 2013, but there could be some potential for nice things in the 2014-15 range. New Mexico should be able to rush the passer again this fall -- the top three rushers from last year all return -- but really we're just looking for potential and hope here. It's probably not going to get worse, but it's probably not going to get better right away, either.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Matt Rayer SS 11 68.5 10.9% 8 2 1 1 4 0
Freddy Young FS 11 45.0 7.1% 2.5 0 0 2 1 0
Destry Berry CB 13 40.5 6.4% 2 1 3 11 0 0
Tim Foley CB 5'7, 180 Jr. NR 13 31.5 5.0% 0 0 0 2 1 1
DeShawn Mills CB 6 21.5 3.4% 1 1 0 2 1 0
Brandon Branch FS 5'11, 187 So. NR 9 13.0 2.1% 0 0 0 0 0 1
Jamal Merritt S 6'0, 188 Jr. *** (5.5) 6 12.5 2.0% 0 0 0 2 0 0
Dante Caro SS 6'0, 182 Sr. ** (5.2) 12 9.5 1.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Cranston Jones CB 5'7, 167 So. *** (5.5) 13 7.5 1.2% 0 0 1 2 0 0
Rashad Jackson CB 5'9, 175 So. ** (5.4) 6 5.0 0.8% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Vershad Jackson CB 5'9, 165 So. ** (5.4) 7 4.5 0.7% 0 0 0 1 0 0
Devonta Tabannah S 5'10, 170 Jr. ** (5.4) 4 4.5 0.7% 1 0 0 0 0 1
Saqwan Edwards CB 6'1, 188 Jr. NR

Ryan Santos DB 5'9, 179 RSFr. *** (5.5)

David Guthrie DB 5'11, 200 Jr. ** (5.4)

Isaiah Brown DB 5'11, 170 Fr. *** (5.5)

8. It probably won't get worse for the secondary, but...

In Destry Berry, New Mexico's awful pass defense did have one pretty active, interesting quarterback. Throw in an aggressive safety in Matt Rayer, and the Lobos were at least able to make a few big plays while allowing a ton of them.

But both are gone; of last year's top five defensive backs, only passive corner Tim Foley returns. There are some high-upside options like safety Jamaal Merritt (when healthy) and corners Cranston Jones and Rashad and Vershad Jackson. But the only production that existed is gone, so we'll just repeat what was said above: It's probably not going to get worse, but it's probably not going to get better right away.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Ben Skaer 6'0, 197 Sr. 54 43.9 6 12 15 50.0%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB TB%
Greg Rivara 63 63.6 28 44.4%
Justus Adams 6'4, 200 Sr. 1 65 1 100.0%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Justus Adams 6'4, 200 Sr. 40-40 8-11 72.7% 1-2 50.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Chase Clayton KR 6'3, 202 Jr. 20 30.4 2
Carlos Wiggins KR 5'8, 157 So. 8 16.8 0
David Anaya KR 5'11, 192 So. 7 23.1 0
Tim Foley PR 5'7, 180 Jr. 9 6.4 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 91
Net Punting 25
Net Kickoffs 29
Touchback Pct 31
Field Goal Pct 73
Kick Returns Avg 26
Punt Returns Avg 98

9. Don't kick to Chase Clayton

Chase Clayton returned kickoffs for touchdowns in two of his first four returns of the season, and while he didn't ever get a third score, he was still averaging 30+ yards per return at season's end. Combine that with strong-legged options at punter and place-kicker (with the thin air, UNM should never have a problem with long kicks), and you've got a potentially solid special teams unit. Punt returns might again be an issue, and Justus Adams could stand to be a little more accurate in the field goals department, but all in all special teams should be a net-plus for the Lobos.

2013 Schedule & Projection Factors

2013 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
31-Aug UTSA 114
7-Sep at UTEP 108
14-Sep at Pittsburgh 31
28-Sep UNLV 110
5-Oct New Mexico State 123
12-Oct at Wyoming 109
19-Oct Utah State 46
2-Nov at San Diego State 53
8-Nov Air Force 91
16-Nov Colorado State 117
23-Nov at Fresno State 60
30-Nov at Boise State 12
Five-Year F/+ Rk 122
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 99
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* +11 / +8.8
TO Luck/Game +0.9
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 9 (5, 4)
Yds/Pt Margin** -0.3

10. Get hot early, Lobos

It is difficult to say New Mexico will improve too much in 2013. The Lobos should once again have a strong run game, an iffy passing game, decent special teams, and a non-existent defense. Davie has recruited pretty well, and depth should improve, but a lack of experience should still hold the team back quite a bit.

That said ... look at the schedule. If New Mexico plays at just a Top 105 level, the Lobos could be better than five of their first six opponents. They get UTSA, UNLV, New Mexico State, Air Force and Colorado State at home, and trips to UTEP and Wyoming are far from intimidating. Asking for six wins might be too much to ask, but it isn't entirely inconceivable.

Bob Davie still has quite a bit of work to do in Albuquerque. That much is obvious. But he indeed raised New Mexico's floor and gave the program an identity in 2012. The Lobos might need to wait another year or two to field a truly solid squad, but they are competitive and interesting again. They are back on the grid. That's a victory in and of itself.

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