ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Whether they be rookies like Daniel Adams or veterans like Jake Carr, no football team wins without quality backups.
Saturday’s New Mexico football scrimmage at University Stadium was a mixed bag of big plays made and missed opportunities by the offense, dominance at the line of scrimmage and some big plays given up by the defense.
Coach Mike Locksley, who saw the defense punish the offense during a scrimmage in Ruidoso a week earlier, will take the mixed bag and run with it.
“For me as a head coach, I liked what happened,” Locksley said. “… It was one of those scrimmages where it went back and forth, and for me as a head coach I like it that way.”
Locksley also liked the performance of Adams, a true freshman wide receiver from Washington, D.C.
Adams, 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, plays behind returning starter Ty Kirk and heralded transfers Deon Long and Lamaar Thomas.
Early in Saturday’s scrimmage, Adams ignited an eight-play, 60-yard scoring drive by catching a 25-yard pass from Tarean Austin. The sophomore quarterback, who is in a battle with junior B.R. Holbrook for a starting job, got the touchdown on a 6-yard scramble.
Later, Austin faked a handoff to running back Demarcus Rogers and scored on a 48-yard run around right end. Austin also threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Long.
Holbrook had his moments, as well, throwing for four TDs- including a perfectly thrown ball to Adams from 25 yards out.
“It was a post (pattern),” said Adams, who caught six passes for 82 yards. “I ran, got vertical, got inside the defender and made a play on the ball.”
Adams then dunked the ball over the goal post in celebration, drawing a 15-yard excessive-celebration penalty.
“We’re not gonna practice celebrations,” Locksley said. “That way, we won’t do it in games.
“He’s a talented freshman. He’s got great size and he’s got a bright future as a Lobo.”
Locksley said he saw things he liked from both quarterbacks but wouldn’t say either had inched ahead in the contest for the starting job.
The two quarterbacks’ statistics were strikingly similar. Austin was 18-of-29 for 201 yards, Holbrook 18-of-28 for 186. Each threw an interception, and each was sacked three times. Linebacker Spencer Merritt picked off a Holbrook pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown.
The offense, dominated a week before, wasted no time in making a statement.
Holbrook engineered a brisk, eight-play, 80-yard drive, completing 5-of-6 passes for 76 yards.
On the next series, Austin took the offense 66 yards, setting up a 33-yard James Aho field goal.
Later, Aho kicked a 47-yarder on the final play of the scrimmage. He was 3-of-4.
Then, the defense reasserted itself. The offense failed to score on its next five series.
Carr, a junior, backs up senior Jaymar Latchison at defensive left end. He had 1 1/2 sacks and 1 1/2 tackles for loss as the defense continued to get the better of the offense in short-yardage situations.
“Jaymar’s a one (first team), I’m a two, and that’s all we’ve got (at left end),” Carr said. “But I’m feeling real good about the entire D-line. Even though we only have eight guys, I think all those guys can get the job done.”
Senior linebacker Carmen Messina missed Saturday’s scrimmage with a hyper-extended elbow. True freshman running back Crusoe Gongbay scored on a 25-yard catch-and-run from Holbrook but sat out the latter portion with a twisted ankle.
A crowd of perhaps 500 attended.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal