Flashback: The New Mexico Lobos get back to their tried-and-true offensive formula — yards rushing, control the clock — and the UNM defense tames a potent Tulsa offense, producing a gritty and much-needed 16-13 road victory on Saturday.
What went right: The Lobos (2-2, 0-1 Mountain West), quite simply, dominated this game. They controlled the ball for more than 42 minutes, surpassed the 300-yard rushing mark for the first time this season, and held Tulsa 34 points below its average offensive output. Quarterback Coltin Gerhart, getting his first start in place of injured starter Lamar Jordan and injured backup Tevaka Tuioti, turned in a clutch performance. The defense effectively contained a Tulsa offense that had scored 24 points and piled up 432 yards total offense in a season-opening loss to 15th-ranked Oklahoma State. Junior free safety Bijon Parker made the defensive play of the game with a diving interception, setting up Jason Sanders’ game-winning field goal. Sanders, given new life (thanks to a false start penalty) after missing from 48 yards, nailed a 53-yarder at the gun for the winning points.
What went wrong: If the Lobos dominated, you ask, why did they need a 53-yard field goal at the gun to win? Answer: three turnovers, two of those in the red zone. Two first-half drives totaling 132 yards produced Sanders field goals rather than touchdowns. As good as the defense was, the UNM secondary was beaten deep several times but was bailed out by inaccurate throws or dropped passes.
Injury report: There was no word Sunday regarding the availability of Jordan and/or Tuioti for Saturday’s home game against Air Force, or if Gerhart’s non-throwing shoulder — he played the second half with the injury — would be a problem moving forward. Offensive guard Charlie Grammel and tight end Dyson Chmura missed the Tulsa game with injuries.
Quoting Davie: “I’ve never (coached) a game with a third quarterback. I told the team before the game, I didn’t want to say third quarterback because it’s disrespectful-sounding to (Gerhart) because of his journey and the type of kid he is. He’s a cool, cool customer, and tough.”
Next Up: Air Force (1-2, 0-1) comes to University Stadium on Saturday, hoping to beat the Lobos for the first time since 2014. The Lobos have put up 92 points and rushed for 750 yards against the Falcons the past two years,