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Lobos, Falcons Are Experienced

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Air Force Coach Touts UNM; Davie Praises Falcons

There’s experience and, then again, there’s experience.

New Mexico, Air Force football coach Troy Calhoun said on Tuesday, is a vastly more experienced team than his Falcons. He cited numbers that support his case.

Then again …

There’s experience in the school of hard knocks, said first-year Lobos coach Bob Davie, acknowledging his team has tons of that. But there’s also the experience that comes from playing in a stable, winning program with almost complete continuity on both offense and defense.

That’s Air Force, which hosts the Lobos on Saturday in a Mountain West Conference game.

During Tuesday’s Mountain West coaches’ teleconference, Calhoun was asked a couple of times whether he was surprised at the success New Mexico is, uh, experiencing this season. The Lobos, winners of one game each of the past three seasons, are 4-3 this year and 1-1 in league play.

No, he said. In fact, after listening to Calhoun, one almost wonders how UNM has managed to lose three games.

“We know it’s quite a task in front of us this week to play against a very good football team, an exceptionally veteran group and an exceptionally talented group,” he said.

Calhoun noted that players on the UNM roster have a combined 430 starts – the precise number, according to the UNM sports information department, is 429 – and that the Falcons (3-3, 2-1) have not “even half that.”

That precise number, according to the Air Force sports information department, is 226.

Calhoun also noted the UNM roster includes several transfers from BCS schools.

“I don’t think it’s very often you get a chance to play against a team (with) a bunch of guys that signed out of high school with Illinois, with Maryland, with Ohio State,” he said, “and with the massive disparity in terms of the experience between these two teams.”

Despite all this, Calhoun promised his team would show up as scheduled at Falcons Stadium on Saturday.

Air Force is an early 10 1/2-point favorite.

How can this be, given all that UNM experience?

Davie points out that, of those 429 starts, the vast majority came in games the Lobos lost by wide margins – including defeats against Air Force the past three years by a combined 91 points.

“They were three years of winning one game,” he said, “so it hasn’t been great experience.”

Davie did acknowledge that that which didn’t kill his upperclassmen has made them stronger.

“The older guys and the experience they’ve brought has definitely, definitely helped us,” he said. “They’ve paid a tremendous price, and I think they realize the difference between winning and losing.

“And because of the past experiences, we’ve got some pretty tough guys that have been through a lot.”

Davie, however, also attaches great value to the Falcons’ brand of experience. The schemes the Lobos are playing under Davie and his staff are still new to them; Calhoun is in his sixth year at Air Force, and the system has changed little.

“They have such a bank of things they do that they can just dust off in a heartbeat,” Davie said. “They are so much more seasoned in what they’re doing and have such a broader bank of things they can operate at the snap of a finger.

“We don’t quite have that luxury yet, of having different packages that we’ve invested a lot of time in.”

Speaking of experience, a New Mexico victory at Air Force would be just that. The Lobos haven’t won at Falcons Stadium since 2000, are 0-4 at the Academy since, and are 2-10 there all-time.

Both teams have injury concerns.

Air Force tailback Cody Getz, the nation’s second-leading rusher with an average of almost 155 yards per game, injured an ankle during last Saturday’s 28-27 victory at Wyoming. His status for Saturday is unknown.

“We’ve just got to see when he’ll be able to return to action,” Calhoun said.

Lobos true freshman Cole Gautsche, who shares time at quarterback with senior B.R. Holbrook, took a blow to the head at Hawaii. As of Tuesday afternoon, Davie said, there was no determination as to whether Gautsche will be available against Air Force.

“They evaluated him this morning, so it’s really the same,” Davie said. “Tomorrow’s another test.

“As he goes through those batteries of tests, when they clear him, they clear him. If they don’t, they don’t.”

If Gautsche doesn’t play, Davie said, Holbrook likely would play the entire game. But No. 3 quarterback Quinton McCown, he said, would need to be ready.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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