2011 Record: (1-11, 1-6 in MWC)
Head Coach: Bob Davie (1st year at New Mexico, 35-25 at Notre Dame)
2007 New Mexico Bowl: beat Nevada 23-0
Big Name Opponents: 9/8 at Texas, 9/15 at Texas Tech, 9/29 vs Boise State
Must Win: 9/1 vs Southern, 10/6 vs Texas State
Stat to Cheer: Mike Locksley went 2-26 at New Mexico, he’s not the coach anymore
Stat to Fear: scored just 18 TDs in all of 2011 (last in the Nation)
Phil Steele’s Returning Starters (Offense: 8; Defense: 6; Specialists: 1)
Key Defensive Returnees: LB Dallas Bollema (68 tackles), DE Joseph Harris (55 tackles)
Key Offensive Returnees: QB B.R. Holbrook (4 TD, 7 INT), WR Ty Kirk (47 rec)
CFBZ: The Mike Locksley era (or error) is over. Bob Davie was an interesting hire. What are the initial impressions of Davie now that he’s been on campus for a few months?
Jeremy Mauss: Bob Davie was actually very honest by saying that the team was not very good during the spring, so perhaps that is motivation the players need to get better and want to win instead of getting their face smashed in every single game. With a new coach there is always optimism and it should transfer through fall camp. One smart thing that Davie did was to bring in a Bob DeBessee to be his offensive coordinator who came from Sam Houston State and will install a spread offense which is the complete opposite of Davie who is a more conservative head coach.
CFBZ: New Mexico scored a FBS low 12.0 points per game last season. Who are some players that need to step up on the offensive side of the football?
Jeremy Mauss: Pretty much everyone. One thing they need to do is find stability at the quarterback situation, last year they were decimated by injuries and ineffectiveness between B.R. Holbrook and Tarean Austin. Austin has transferred and so the quarterback position falls to Holbrook.
One thing about Holbrook is that he is actually a pretty good quarterback but he has been hurt and has needed knee surgery and had an injured shoulder that has held him back. The first key is Holbrook to stay healthy, and second is for the offensive line to actually block and protect their quarterback. In 2011 the New Mexico offensive line allowed 30 sacks which was sixth in the Mountain West and 85th nationally.
Losing freshman wide receiver Deon Long was huge, because he showed a lot of promise and was one of the best freshman in the Mountain West last season and led the Mountain West in yards per game, fourth in total yards and second in yards per catch at 17.2. With a more spread offense coming to Albuquerque, the Lobos will need multiple receivers to step up and it starts with leading returning receiver Ty Kirk who was top-10 in the major categories in the Mountain West. Other receivers that showed promise during spring were Lamaar Thomas and Daniel Adams, plus the Lobos return tight end Lucas Reed who will provide an extra option in the wide open passing game.
CFBZ: What do you see as the strengths of this New Mexico team?
Jeremy Mauss: There are not many strengths with this team as they won two games in the past two seasons, but I really think the quarterback play is the strength. However, there is a caveat with that statement, because Holbrook needs to stay healthy and needs an offensive line to block for him. Plus, the receivers need to catch the ball, so there are a lot of things that need to go right for the quarterback play to be the strength of the team.
CFBZ: What is your gut feeling on the final record for 2012 and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
Jeremy Mauss: Three wins would be a great success since they play Southern University, Texas State and New Mexico State. All three of those are winnable games and they may even have a shot with road games against UNLV and Colorado State. As for a record I think they will go 2-10, but for a better measure of success they need to not get blown out as often and stay competitive.
I actually like the hire of Bob Davie. I know it came out of left field but I think it makes sense. Teams in the position of New Mexico can either go for the young hot shot hire that they might lose in a year or two if he’s good or they catch somebody on the way down from coaching a bigger school. I also like that, as Jeremy stated, Davie hired someone to run the offense that thinks differently then he does. That’s a good sign.
To put it simply, this isn’t a one year turnaround. Moral victories do matter this year for the Lobos. I think they beat Southern and Texas State and then they find a way to win at least one other conference game. For them, that’s a huge win.
2012 Prediction: 3-9
Previous 2012 Previews: