Flashback: New Mexico (4-7 overall, 1-5 in Mountain West Conference play) piles up a season-high 551 yards, but big plays given up in the passing game doom the Lobos to a 28-23 loss against Wyoming (3-7, 2-4). With its seventh loss, and fourth in a row, UNM has squandered its chance for a bowl bid.
What Went Right: The Lobos had by far their best run-pass balance of the year, rushing for 396 yards and throwing for a season-best 155. True freshman quarterback Cole Gautsche was terrific, accounting for 304 yards rushing and passing. After falling behind 21-7, New Mexico held Wyoming to just one touchdown in the second half. The Lobos had three sacks against elusive Cowboys quarterback Brett Smith.
What Went Wrong: Wyoming had second-quarter touchdown “drives” of 81 yards in one play and 91 in two plays, as the UNM defense’s tendency to yield “grenades” — as coach Bob Davie called them — continued. The defense also failed to produce any turnovers. The Lobos had their share of big offensive plays as well, yet had trouble finding the end zone. A failed fake field goal and a missed field goal deprived the Lobos of precious first-half points, and an all-too-deliberate late drive ended with a disputed personal-foul penalty. In spite of Gautsche’s obvious improvement in the passing game, he threw incomplete four times in a row on the Lobos’ final possession.
Injury Report: Gautsche (right hand) and offensive guard LaMar Bratton (ankle, knee) should be OK for his week, Davie said. Outside linebacker Rashad Rainey, who missed the Wyoming game with a high ankle sprain, probably will not be ready for Saturday.
Quoting Davie: “I said back when we were 4-3, quite honestly, that it’s too early to just put all of our focus on the wins and losses. It’s too early in (the development of) this program. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that, because we really had nothing to show, again, for some really good things.”
Next Up: Nevada (6-4, 3-3) brings its explosive offense and suspect defense to University Stadium on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff. The Wolf Pack have stumbled badly of late, losing their last three games — most recently to Fresno State, 52-36. Nevada has scored 135 points in its last four games but has allowed 174.
— This article appeared on page B2 of the Albuquerque Journal