RUIDOSO – The defense won the Hot Water Bowl, but the offense appears to have found a No. 3 quarterback who can guide his teammates through the deep water if his number is called.
The New Mexico Lobos on Friday ended their 11-day stay in Ruidoso with a spirited, 90-minute scrimmage at Ruidoso Middle School.
The defense, as it had done Sunday on the same field, bested the offense according to a points system devised by coach Bob Davie. In a seesaw battle, the guys in white prevailed, 39-36.
As the spoils of victory, the defensive players left the middle school first and were bused to the high school, where they showered before heading back to Albuquerque. The defense was encouraged to use all the hot water it could, leaving the offense as little as possible.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Lamar Jordan wasn’t looking forward to a cold shower, but he was anticipating more heated battles with the defense – for the mutual benefit of the two units – between now and the Lobos’ Aug. 30 opener against UTEP.
“Last year, the offense used to go (down the field) and kill ‘em 15, 20 yards a play,” Jordan said. “Now we have to step it up and actually make a play; it’s not always going to come to us. It actually betters the offense a lot, big time.
“I would love to get the hot water, but we got the ‘L’, so we’ve got to take the cold shower, I guess.”
Most of the Lobos’ top offensive skill players – quarterbacks Cole Gautsche and Clayton Mitchem, running backs Jhurell Pressley and Teriyon Gipson, wide receivers Carlos Wiggins, Marquis Bundy and Ridge Jones – did not participate. Inside linebacker Dakota Cox and defensive end Brett Bowers, the team’s most accomplished returning defenders, also were held out.
With Gautsche and Mitchem on the sidelines, Jordan took the snaps Friday with the first-team offense. Though he didn’t have a spectacular day, he made plays – as he has done all month – with both his arm and his legs.
After hitting senior wide receiver Tyler Duncan for a touchdown from 9 yards out, Jordan found senior Jeric Magnant in the corner of the end zone for what would have been a 25-yard touchdown – had Magnant not been called for offensive pass interference.
Jordan also had a 10-yard run for a first down.
“He’s had as good a camp as anybody out here,” Davie said. “He’s very explosive; he’s quick as a cat; he can throw the football.”
The Lobos have seven scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, a figure that might strike some as overkill. But Davie remembers well the quarterback shortages of the past two years.
Faced with either the reality or the threat of injuries to both of his top two quarterbacks – Gautsche and B.R. Holbrook in 2012, Gautsche and Mitchem last year – Davie and offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse had few options.
“It was scary,” Davie said.
Now, DeBesse and Davie have Jordan – a talented player who this fall will have two preseasons and a spring practice under his belt.
Jordan, an All-District run-pass quarterback at Centennial High School in Frisco, Texas, originally committed to Arkansas as an “athlete” – no specific position. After coach Bobby Petrino’s forced exit from Fayetteville, Jordan’s Razorbacks scholarship was lost in the transition.
He wound up at UNM, which had been recruiting him as a quarterback all along.
“I think it was just God’s plan,” Jordan said.
And if injuries or illness should put him on the field at some point this season?
“I pray (Gautsche and Mitchem) don’t go down, because they’re my brothers,” he said. “But if my number’s called, I’m gonna go win it for the Lobos.”
MOORE TO THE BOOTH: Former Lobo star running back DonTrell Moore will provide analysis on KKOB-AM’s broadcasts of UNM games this season, it was announced Friday.
Moore, who last year did a pre-game show with Scott Stiegler, replaces former Lobo teammate George Carter in the radio booth next to play-by-play announcer Robert Portnoy.
Moore, a former Roswell High School star, is UNM’s and the Mountain West Conference’s all-team leading career rusher with 4,973 yards gained from 2002-05.
Because of a prior commitment for Moore, Stiegler will work with Portnoy on the broadcast of the season opener against UTEP.
D’AVANZO OUT: Sophomore defensive end Nik D’Avanzo is at home in Baltimore attending to a family matter, Davie said. He’s expected back early next week.
D’Avanzo, 6-3 and 285 pounds, has played with the first-team defense most of the preseason.