Lobos start spring football on Tuesday - Albuquerque Journal

Lobos start spring football on Tuesday

Everything is so new when it comes to the University of New Mexico football team.

• New offensive coordinator (Joe Dailey)

• New defensive coordinator (Jordan Peterson)

• Basically a new defense, as the unit returns just one starter

There is so much newness that UNM coach Bob Davie admitted during a press conference on Friday that he feels like he’s starting over, getting flashbacks to his first days as a coach. That’s going back to 1977 when the Lobos coach was a graduate assistant at Pittsburgh.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“I’m right back to where I started my first time coaching, attacking it like that,” Davie said. “We’re starting, in a lot of ways, completely over, which is dramatically needed.”

Davie, entering his eighth year at UNM, described his coaching staff and players as, “hungry,” coming in every morning as if their backs are against the wall after back-to-back 3-9 seasons, each of them ending with seven-game losing streaks.

That special season of 2016 when the Lobos went 9-4 and won the New Mexico Bowl with a share of the Mountain West Conference regular-season championship is a thing of the past, and they would be fooling themselves if that had any meaning during this offseason.

“It starts with me,” he said.

The Lobos will begin spring football on Tuesday, much later than most programs across the country.

“(That) was really by design,” Davie said. “We can take advantage of this pre-spring practice time to develop schemes … We have to coach better and we have to play better.”

UNM will have 15 spring practices, including Tuesday and Thursday, April 1, 3 and 5. The remaining 10 practices will be announced the week prior. The practices, set to begin at 8:30 a.m., are open to the public.

The Lobos do return seven starters on an offense that will be directed by Dailey, the former offensive coordinator at Liberty. Davie said Dailey, who is also the quarterbacks coach, has been formulating plays and schemes that will be to the advantage to each of the four quarterbacks – Tevaka Tuioti, Sheriron Jones, Trae Hall and junior college transfer Brandt Hughes – in contention to be UNM’s starter.

Last year, the story was much different, Davie said, as then-offensive coordinator Calvin Magee wanted each quarterback to run the Rich-Rodriguez-spread offense that Arizona used the previous year.

Davie said the Lobos don’t have the talent to be a better spread-offense team than other teams that use the spread.

“We still have to be, from a schematic standpoint, a pain-in-the-butt to prepare for,” he said. “On a given week, we have to do some things different from what they saw before.”

Davie added that the Lobos have also made a new commitment to be “different and absolutely unique each and every week,” on defense.

Linebacker Alex Hart is planning to contribute largely on that defense as a fifth-year senior. Last season, he suffered a season-ending knee injury on Sept. 15 when the Lobos beat rival New Mexico State 42-25 in Las Cruces.

Davie said Hart is on schedule to fully practice for the fall, but that he will be held out of contact drills during the spring. The same goes for Trent Sellers, a key defensive player who suffered a season-ending knee injury last August.

Davie said the majority of the players are unlike Hart, they are inexperienced when it comes to playing time. The UNM coach said it’s his job to motivate those players to make the most of their opportunities, especially the athletes who are preparing for their final season with the Lobos.

Spring football isn’t just for the returners. UNM will also use the 15 spring practices to see what they have in their incoming recruiting class that features 12 junior college transfers who are already enrolled at UNM and are set to compete.

“We don’t have a lot of momentum,” Davie said. “We don’t necessarily have a lot of confidence, but that could be a good thing.”

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