UNM senior running back Tyrone Owens, the team’s leading rusher last fall, did not participated in the Lobos’ Monday spring-practice session.
He won’t be out the field for a while longer, coach Bob Davie said.
It is not, though, a matter of what Owens did. It’s what he didn’t do.
“He needs to focus on academics right now,” Davie said after spring-practice session No. 2.
Owens’ absence is the result of Davie’s decision to reinstitute a class-monitoring program that was discontinued last year for budgetary reasons.
At least partly as a result, Davie believes, the Lobos team grade-point average for the fall was 2.53, the lowest since Davie took over the program in 2012.
The academic fallout, he also believes, seeped onto the field. The Lobos went 3-9 last fall, matching their worst record (2013) during his tenure.
“We had a system in place since I’ve been here,” he said, “… a ‘strike system’ that we monitored every day. Mandatory class attendance, class checks.
“We checked every class of every (player), what we would call no margin for error, or ‘red list.'”
Last fall, he said, the money for that provision was gone from the budget.
“I told the kids today (after practice), I really wish in hindsight now I would have paid the money out of my own pocket,” he said. “I did them a disservice by not checking classes, even though the money was taken away to do that.”
Now, he said, “We’re back full strike system, full checking classes. Tyrone needs to focus on academics right now, so he won’t be out here for the next two weeks, football-wise.
“He’ll be somewhere. He’ll be (attending to) academics.”
MISTAKEN IDENTITY: No, Lobos tight end Marcus Williams is not the New Orleans Saints safety of the same name who so spectacularly whiffed on a tackle in last month’s Minnesota-New Orleans NFL playoff game — enabling Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs to score the winning touchdown.
Some people on social media, though, had to be convinced.
“I got a lot of grief for that, a lot,” Williams — the Lobo Williams — said Monday. “I got a lot of notifications. I was just, ‘It wasn’t me, and I don’t want that reputation right now.'”
Williams said, though, that he has great respect for his namesake. The New Orleans Williams had a terrific rookie season, making 73 tackles with four interceptions for the Saints.
“He’s a great player, I’m not gonna lie,” Williams the Lobo said. “It’s a great name to have.”
Williams said he was amazed by some of the misdirected vitriol that came his way.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “I’m in New Mexico, (the Saints) are all the way in New Orleans.”
Yet, whether it was genuine anger or razzing from friends and UNM teammates, he said, “It was kind of funny. I just let (it flow like) water off my back.”
Besides, for Williams, the NFL season couldn’t have turned out any better. He’s a Philadelphia Eagles fan.