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Lobos' Offensive Line Still Unsettled

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Farrell Splits Time At Center, Tackle

RUIDOSO – More than three weeks before a college football season opener, in drawing up a depth chart, a ouija board might be more useful than a blackboard. Virtually nothing is certain. Most starting positions are still up for grabs.

Even so, there are interesting developments afoot within the University of New Mexico roster – even though anything and everything could change between now and the Lobos’ opener against Colorado State on Sept. 3.

On the offensive line, sophomore Dillon Farrell, last year’s starting center, is working at left tackle. Prize junior-college transfer Korian Chambers, who was at left tackle for most of spring practice, is at right tackle. And redshirt freshman LaMar Bratton is getting most of the repetitions at center with the first-team offense.

Aug. 20
Fan photo day, scrimmage, University Stadium, 4 p.m.

After Thursday’s practice, first-year offensive line coach Ron Hudson said he doesn’t know if that’s how the Lobos will line up against Colorado State.

But, he added, “I know this, we’re trying to get our best players on the field.”

Hudson said Bratton, a 6-foot-2, 275-pounder from Riverside, Calif., has made rapid strides since the spring.

“He’s put on some weight, gotten stronger, and he’s a great young man,” Hudson said. “So, he’s earned a shot, and his natural spot is center.”

Bratton plans to make the most of his opportunity.

“I feel really good about the trust that coach Hud has in me,” Bratton said. “I think he believes in my abilities and he thinks that I’m the man for the job, and he thinks that if I keep on working, stay in the weight room and keep my weight up, I’ll be perfect for the spot.”

Farrell, meanwhile, has experience at center but also has the size and strength (6-5, 290) to play offensive tackle.

“Dillon’s a great center,” Hudson said, “and I have no doubt he’s going to play some center for us this year, if he’s not the starter there the whole time.

“But LaMar’s done a great job and earned the right to be out in the middle of those guys, and Dillon’s athletic enough that we can put him out there (at tackle), too.”

The center is the guy who, in tandem with the quarterback, looks at the defensive shell at the line of scrimmage and sets the blocking scheme. Farrell said he misses those duties but relishes the mental and physical challenge of playing left tackle.

“It’s more of a head game, in that it’s more one-on-one (with the defensive right end), like a chess match,” he said. “You really have to study the guy you’re going against – his technique, what his favorite move is, how quick he is off the ball.”

Hudson said Chambers’ move from left to right tackle is based in part on the belief that, if Farrell is to play tackle, he’s better off on the left side.

“The key to this,” Hudson said, “especially when you don’t have a ton of depth, is that you make sure you have guys that can play some multiple positions.

“You’ve got to have a positive outlook and understand what you’re doing is best for the team, even though it doesn’t always feel like it’s best for you.

“That’s what those guys are doing.”

RAIN REHEARSAL: Rain, which fell before and during Thursday’s practice, made the turf and footballs slippery on the Lobos’ practice fields. Players occasionally slipped, and some passes and punts were dropped early in the workout before the sun came out.

Perfect weather conditions, head coach Mike Locksley said, won’t be a given at any point during the season.

“You’ve got to get this type of work,” he said. “… For us, this was a great opportunity to come out and learn how to play on wet turf with wet footballs, and I thought we got in some good work.”

SMITH TO PURDUE: Former Lobos defensive tackle Calvin Smith has transferred to Purdue, it was announced.

Smith, the highest-rated recruit signed by UNM since Locksley became head coach, played for the Lobos as a backup last season. After this year’s spring practice, he asked for and received a release from his scholarship agreement.

At Purdue, he’ll sit out this season as per NCAA transfer rules and will be a sophomore in 2012.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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