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Freshman QB Shows Promise

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Gautsche calls two-TD effort in college debut a ‘great experience’

Cole Gautsche, the 2011 New Mexico Prep Player of the Year, was all set to attend New Mexico State. Then, Bob Davie was hired as the new head coach at New Mexico.

Davie told Gautsche, among other things, that the offense he planned to run at UNM was virtually a perfect fit for the big, strong, running quarterback from Rio Rancho’s Cleveland High School. Gautsche made the tough decision to switch to the Lobos.

Saturday, in Gautsche’s first college game, that fit looked more snug than a jersey over shoulder pads.

Gautsche, playing large portions of the first half and most of the second, finished with 88 yards rushing on eight carries as the Lobos routed Southern 66-21. He scored touchdowns on runs of 7 and 47 yards.

And, yes, he completed one pass — a 13-yarder on a juggling catch by fellow true freshman Chris Edling.

His debut was, Gautsche said afterward, more of a success than he could have imagined.

“It was a great experience, especially to go out there and get the ‘W,’ ” he said.

He hadn’t expected, he said, to take that many snaps in relief of starter B.R. Holbrook. But the lopsided score, coupled with the heat — Holbrook had missed practice time and lost conditioning because of a chest inflammation — worked in Gautsche’s favor.

“I think I did pretty good,” he said. “There’s areas that I need to improve on. I think that goes for the whole team, but overall we did a great job.”

The Lobos run a pistol-formation, option-based offense that had the Southern defense tackling the wrong guy most of the afternoon. Gautsche, who graduated from high school early and participated in UNM’s 2012 spring practice, looked comfortable at the controls.

Coach Bob Davie said he was not at all surprised by Gautsche’s performance.

“First of all, he’s very smart,” Davie said. “He’s a great leader; he’s strong; he’s really a good option quarterback.”

Davie was quick to pour cold water on the suggestion of a quarterback controversy, saying Holbrook will start next Saturday against Texas.

Gautsche, Davie said, needs to improve his passing. “But I’ll tell you, he’s a weapon.

“When you talk about a true freshman walking out there with the composure he had … I thought he played really well.”

Gautsche’s first collegiate touchdown came after a Joe Stoner interception set up the Lobos, already leading 28-0, at the Southern 28-yard line in the second quarter.

The freshman QB had a 14-yard run — nullified by the Lobos’ only penalty of the game — and later added an 11-yarder before taking the ball into the end zone from the 7.

On the opening drive of the second quarter, with UNM up 45-6, Gautsche kept the ball on an option play run to the right from the Southern 47. Running around and through the Southern defense, he found the end zone.

“I ran out there and (a Jaguars linebacker) ended up flying outside,” he said. “So I had to cut it up (inside), and there was great downfield blocking.”

Running, Gautsche said, “is my comfort zone. But I’m trying to get it to where (passing and running) is equal.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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