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'D' in Charge All Day

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Lobo Offense Comes Up Empty

RUIDOSO – The south-central New Mexico wind howled, and so did the New Mexico Lobos’ defense.

For most of a sometimes rainy evening, the offense was all wet.

In Saturday’s scrimmage at W.D. Horton Stadium, the Lobos’ first of their fall camp, the defense dominated virtually throughout.

The offense scored only three points when beginning a drive on the far side of the 50-yard line. Its only other scores came as the result of goal-line and red-zone situations contrived by the coaching staff.

As offensive coordinator David Reaves heatedly reminded his players afterward, they were responsible for five turnovers and seven dropped passes during the two-hour scrimmage.

The weather was only partly to blame, since the scrimmage began and ended in near-optimum conditions with rain and wind in the middle portion.

The defense would like some credit for those numbers, as well.

Junior linebacker Spencer Merritt set the tone early, intercepting a Tarean Austin pass on the third play from scrimmage.

“I was just doing what I was coached to do,” Merritt said; “make a break on the ball. I think it helped start the day off right, and I was glad to do that for the defense today.”

The Lobos’ defensive line had its way with its offensive counterparts. Repeatedly, in contrived third- and fourth-down situations, the offense was unable to pick up the needed short yardage.

On one third-and-3 from the offense’s 30-yard line, junior defensive tackle Reggie Ellis threw running back Demarcus Rogers for a 1-yard loss. A bit later, Ellis dropped Kasey Carrier 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Ellis said changes in the defensive scheme effected by first-year coordinator George Barlow are paying off early.

“We’re executing our techniques in the scheme,” Ellis said, “but it’s more of an attack ‘D’ so we can just go play ball. Everyone on the defense did their assignment, and we played well.”

Not much went went well for the offense, which went scoreless on its first five series. At the end of a 10-play, 46-yard drive, the offense finally scored on a James Aho 29-yard field goal.

The offense would not score again unless it was set up within 20 yards of the defense’s goal line.

“I didn’t think we had the energy, the enthusiasm that it takes (on offense),” head coach Mike Locksley said. “And when things started going bad, I didn’t see the leadership on that side of the ball to pull the team up.”

Locksley was particularly disappointed in the offensive line’s failure to win the line of scrimmage on short-yardage plays.

“Short-yardage situations should be dominated (by the offense),” he said. “We had, I want to say, 12 short-yardage opportunities and I think our defense won eight of the 12.”

In the passing game, Austin and junior B.R. Holbrook struggled throughout. Holbrook finished 9-for-20 for 103 yards, Austin 7-of-25 for 85. Both were intercepted once and neither threw for a touchdown, though junior wide receiver Quintell Solomon dropped what would have been a 21-yard TD pass from Austin.

Junior tight end Lucas Reed, a key component of UNM’s offense, sat out the scrimmage with a thigh strain.
— This article appeared on page D3 of the Albuquerque Journal

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