It’s a question of “ooomph,” or the lack thereof.
The New Mexico Lobos’ tight ends, coach Bob Davie says, didn’t block last Saturday with the authority UNM got last season from two departed fifth-year seniors.
“The tight end position hurt us (in a 21-13 loss to Texas-San Antonio),” Davie said this week.
“We probably didn’t realize the impact of (losing) Lucas Reed and Chris Biren, their blocking ability. … We lost some ‘ooomph’ right there.
“It’s nobody’s fault,” Davie added, noting that none of the Lobos’ top three tight ends weighs more than 232 pounds and that they have limited experience. As seniors, Reed weighed 250, Biren 242.
Starting tight end Andrew Aho is a fifth-year senior and has played in 33 games, but started only three. He’s considered a fine all-around tight end and an excellent receiver – he made a diving catch of a Cole Gautsche pass against UTSA for an 18-yard gain – but at 230 pounds probably is better suited to line up in the backfield as an H-back than on the line of scrimmage.
That goes as well for former Cleveland High School star Reece White, a 217-pounder who is a converted wide receiver.
Sophomore Chris Edling, 232 pounds, played in 10 games last year but mostly on special teams.
“We took a hit there (against UTSA),” Davie said.
Solutions, starting Saturday at UTEP?
Senior Mat McBain, a former offensive lineman, is UNM’s biggest tight end at 256 pounds but in the past has been relegated to special teams. Davie said McBain is a possibility in short-yardage situations. True freshman Christian Rebhun, 240, suffered a season-ending knee injury during training camp in Ruidoso.
As is the case with the Lobos in general, Davie said, it’s a question of the tight ends doing what they do – only better.
“You’re seeing where we are and what we are,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep going.”
ZIGGING VS. ZAGGING: The offensive line, and by extension the tight ends, have shouldered most of the blame for star running back Kasey Carrier’s limited success against UTSA.
Carrier, who last year averaged 122 yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry, managed just 54 and 2.7 against the Roadrunners.
But Davie said Carrier cut back on several occasions when he might have found daylight running straight ahead.
“Kasey, quite honestly, was looking for the cutback every time because he’s had so much success on the cutback,” Davie said. “There were some (plays) were Kasey could have just hit that thing.”
THE FLIP SIDE: Davie has said UTEP has an advantage in preparing for Saturday’s game in El Paso because the Miners’ coaching staff is new this season and because they haven’t played a game.
“It’s a disadvantage (for UNM),” he said, “because they’re watching our tape (from the UTSA game) and we have nothing to watch.”
Predictably, first-year UTEP coach Sean Kugler doesn’t see it that way.
“New Mexico has already had a game under their belt,” he noted at his Monday news conference.