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Lobo QB Mitchem’s status uncertain

New Mexico junior quarterback Clayton Mitchem was hit hard during last week’s game against the Aggies.
New Mexico junior quarterback Clayton Mitchem was hit hard during last week’s game against the Aggies.
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Lobos backup quarterback Clayton Mitchem’s availability for Saturday’s game at Wyoming is in question after the junior-college transfer displayed concussion symptoms, coach Bob Davie said Monday.

Mitchem took two big hits during the first quarter of last Saturday’s 66-17 victory over New Mexico State.

“Right now, I’d say he’s doubtful,” Davie said.

If Mitchem can’t play, Davie said, junior walk-on David Vega becomes the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Cole Gautsche. The emergency No. 3 is true freshman Lamar Jordan, whom the Lobos hope to redshirt.

Mitchem was hit hard as he threw a 19-yard completion to Marquis Bundy on the Lobos’ second play from scrimmage. He took another shot on UNM’s second offensive series and did not return to the game.

NEMESIS: Brett Smith is human, after all.

You just couldn’t prove it by the Lobos.

On Sept. 28 in San Marcos, Texas, the Texas State Bobcats scored a major upset – defeating the Wyoming Cowboys 42-21.

The big surprise was how well coach Dennis Franchione’s Bobcats contained Smith, a major Lobo nemesis the past two seasons.

The junior quarterback’s raw passing numbers against Texas State weren’t bad – 25-of-48 passing for 292 yards, one interception, one touchdown – but somehow the Bobcats managed to take the run out of the equation for one of the nation’s most talented and prolific run-pass quarterbacks. Smith, sacked three times, finished with a negative 17 yards on the ground.

The Lobos, in contrast, have had virtually no success containing Smith. The past two seasons, he has run and passed for a total of 748 yards against UNM in a pair of Wyoming victories.

Last year, Smith threw for 374 yards in a 28-23 Cowboys win. In 2011, he ran for 140 as Wyoming beat the Lobos 31-10.

But then, it’s not just the Lobos that Smith has torched.

On Sept. 21, Smith put up 511 yards – 410 in the first half alone – against Air Force in a 56-23 Cowboys victory. He ranks third nationally in total offense, despite the hiccup at Texas State.

Davie noted that the Wyoming-Texas State game was a strange one, interrupted by a three-hour, 28-minute delay for lightning in the second quarter.

He and his defensive staff have, of course, taken a close look at the Cowboys-Bobcats game film for any clues toward stopping Smith on Saturday.

But, he said, “(the delay) seemed to slow them down a little bit. … Not to take anything away from what Texas State did, but that was a unique game.”

LOBOS HONORED: UNM defensive end Brett Bowers has been named the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against New Mexico State. Bowers, a junior from Ukiah, Calif., recorded three quarterback sacks and forced a fumble.

STAT SHEET: As noted in Monday’s Journal , the Lobos lead the nation in rushing yards per game with an average of 367.8 But running back Kasey Carrier, despite an outstanding outing against the Aggies, actually dropped a couple of spots to ninth among individual rushers.

Carrier rushed for 127 yards against the Aggies on only 14 carries, lowering his average from 139.8 to 137. He’s tied for fifth place nationally in rushing touchdowns with eight.

Sophomore Carlos Wiggins’ 100-yard kickoff return against NMSU – actually 102, but the NCAA doesn’t count return yardage behind the goal line – vaulted him to fifth nationally in that department with an average of 32.7 yards.

As a team, the Lobos rank eighth in fewest penalty yards incurred with 30.6 per game. They’re 12th in red-zone offense, having scored on 19 of 20 trips inside their opponents’ 20-yard line (16 touchdowns, three field goals).

The Lobos are tied for 18th in turnover margin with a per-game average of plus-1: nine takeaways and four turnovers in five games. They’re fifth in net punting average (42.75). Bowers is tied for ninth nationally in sacks, with five (one per game).

On the flip side, UNM is 109th in total defense with an average yield of 467.8 yards.

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