MADISON, Wis. — New Mexico did not make starting quarterback Tevaka Tuioti available to the media after the Lobos lost, 45-14, to No. 5 Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.
And Tuioti, because of a head injury, most likely won’t be available for UNM’s rivalry game at New Mexico State next week.
The redshirt sophomore’s head hit the turf late in the first quarter on an option play, UNM coach Bob Davie said. Tuioti took a hard hit on an option pitch and left for the locker room after the quarter.
Junior transfer Sheriron Jones, who threw two interceptions and lost a fumble on a quarterback sneak in the second half, will take most of the reps during practice this week and could be the starter against the Aggies.
Jones began August in a three-way quarterback battle with Tuioti and senior Coltin Gerhart. Jones, who began his college career at Tennessee, suffered a setback during preseason workouts with a hamstring issue. But now Tuioti and Gerhart (foot) will be nursing injuries and it’s Jones’ turn to step up.
Jones threw for 79 yards and a touchdown on 9-of-16 passing against the Badgers. He called the experience a learning process and a steppingstone.
“It was bad reads on my part,” Jones said of the interceptions, his first pick proving to be among the most pivotal plays of the game — swinging the momentum to the Badgers in the third quarter. “I take full responsibility for those.”
Jones said his hamstring feels fine, and he doesn’t believe he’s behind in the offense.
Tuioti showed great command of the Lobos’ new spread offense, especially during their opening drive. He threw for 55 yards and a touchdown, completing five of his six passes.
UNM was 4-for-4 on third down during that possession. Tuioti completed two 11-yard passes to Delane Hart-Johnson on the drive, the second for the TD.
“I’d like to see what would happen if Tevaka would have played the whole game,” Davie said. “But that isn’t the way football goes. We had to play our absolute best. We had to get some breaks. We actually had a couple of those things happen, but we just lost our rhythm offensively once the quarterback went out.”
Jones said he expects an upcoming hard week of practice as the Lobos learn more about the status of Tuioti and Gerhart. Freshman Trae Hall (6-foot-2, 181, Henderson, Texas), who entered Saturday as the Lobos’ No. 3 quarterback, would bump up if UNM is without Tuioti and Gerhart.
“(I will be) getting in the film room with those guys, improving, flipping the page and going on to the next week,” Jones said.