ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Three games into a 12-game season, Lobos football coach Bob Davie is far from giving up on Cole Gautsche as a passer. He’s far from giving up on Clayton Mitchem as a triple-option quarterback.
In the meantime, he’s dealing with the current realities. Mitchem hasn’t proved he can effectively run the triple option. Gautsche hasn’t proved he can move the UNM offense through the air.
But Davie believes that, between the two, his quarterback situation is – if not the least of his worries – far from the top of the list.
“(Mitchem) probably has a little bit of an advantage right now in the passing game, and Cole has an advantage in the run game,” Davie said Sunday, the day after the Lobos’ 49-27 loss at Pittsburgh. “I think it’s a pretty good situation for us.
“We’ve got a lot more pressing issues, probably, on this team than just that.”
Which quarterback will start against UNLV on Sept. 28, when the Lobos – after a more-than-welcome bye week – resume play?
“I don’t think it’s that big of a decision with us, because of the personalities of the players,” Davie said. “It’s more what the game plan is.”
A GOOD BYE: This is the first bye week the Lobos (1-2) have had since Davie took over the program last year. It has come, he said, at an opportune time.
“We really need to just kind of regroup,” he said. “A lot of self-scouting, a lot of self-evaluation.”
The Lobos will practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week, then will get three days off before resuming their normal schedule in preparation for UNLV
They’ll have a second bye the week of Oct. 26, seven games into the season.
IT’S NO SNAP: During the Lobos’ 42-35 overtime victory over UTEP on Sept. 7, junior offensive linemen LaMar Bratton – filling in for injured senior Dillon Farrell at center – was as precise as Farrell could have been with his snaps out of the pistol formation.
Against Pittsburgh, not so much. Bratton had eight bad snaps.
Davie said he believed Bratton was affected by the presence of Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, a first-team All-Big East selection last year.
“(Bratton) was back on his heels,” Davie said. “(Donald) is a great player. … LaMar struggled a little bit with the snap, and that got us off balance a little bit.”
Davie was quick to add, however, that Bratton wasn’t alone in his discomfort against the Pitt defensive line.
“They shocked us a little bit for a lot of reasons,” Davie said. “We fought through it and played better as the day went on. Hopefully, it was a good learning experience for us.”
The Lobos, who trailed 42-6 in the third quarter, outscored the Panthers 21-7 the rest of the way.
Davie said Farrell, who injured a knee injury in the second quarter at UTEP, probably will be back for UNLV. Bratton normally is UNM’s starting left guard.
THE STAT SHEET: Senior running back Kasey Carrier’s total of 22 yards (on seven carries) against Pitt dropped him from first to 16th nationally with an average of 122 yards rushing per game.
But after gaining just 5 net yards rushing against Pitt in the first half, the Lobos, led by Gautsche and junior running back Crusoe Gongbay, had 208 in the second. They rank 17th nationally in rushing offense with an average of 267 yards.
Punter Ben Skaer ranks 16th nationally with an average of 44.7 yards per attempt. Even better: as a team, the Lobos rank seventh in net punting average (punt yardage minus return yardage) at 43.
The Lobos rank ninth in fewest penalties per game (2.67) and 10th in fewest penalty yardage per game (26).
PAT PERFECTION: Senior kicker Justus Adams has struggled a bit on field-goal attempts so far this season. But his three successful point-afters in Pittsburgh gave him (and the entire field-goal unit) a school-record 50 PATs made in succession in 2012-13.
The old record was 47, set by Joe Hartshorne in 1970-71.
Adams, who took over the place-kicking duties last year, has never missed a PAT. Credit goes as well, to Skaer as the holder and to deep snappers Evan Jacobsen (2012) and Steven Romero (2013).
A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE: Comparing college football scores is the most inexact of sciences. Still, it’s worth noting that Florida State – the team that beat Pittsburgh 41-13 on Aug. 31 – thrashed Nevada 62-7 on Saturday. It’s also worth noting that Cody Fajardo, Nevada’s star quarterback, was out with an injury.