University of New Mexico acting head coach Saga Tuitele said his new role amid preparation for the Lobos’ game at No. 7 Notre Dame on Saturday has been “a seamless transition.”
Tuitele on Sunday met with the media for the first time since being named acting head coach on Thursday, when head coach Bob Davie announced he would not be making the trip to South Bend, Indiana because of his doctors’ advice after a health scare he experienced on Aug. 31.
Tuitele said Davie continues to be involved. Davie, who coached at Notre Dame for eight years as the head coach and defensive coordinator, has encouraged Tuitele to have fun with this week.
“It’s still his team,” Tuitele said. “We’re going forward as if he’s still here. He’s with us but not all the time.”
Davie was rushed to UNM Hospital after he experienced what was believed to be chest pains following the Lobos’ 39-31 season-opening win over Sam Houston State.
A few days after Davie confronted what UNM officials said was, “a serious medical condition,” many of the players were emotional, Tuitele said.
However, Davie’s visit to the team on Thursday morning lifted their spirits and gave everyone hope that the Lobos’ coach in his eighth season at UNM would be OK.
“Now, because Coach is going to be fine, it’s back to business,” Tuitele said. “It was good to get out there on the practice field and get after it. We are all excited (for the game against Notre Dame). This is what he built and we continue to go as if he was here.”
Tuitele, who has never been to Notre Dame, said he has “no idea,” how long he will be the acting head coach. Davie’s role could increase in the future depending on his doctors’ advice, UNM officials said on Thursday.
“I just know I’m doing it this Saturday,” said Tuitele, who is in his fourth year as offensive line coach. “I can’t wait till he comes back and I can hand the reins to him. I can’t wait to get him back 100 percent in the fold.”
Davie will address the media at his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
QB: The Lobos are back to square one with regard to who will be their starting quarterback against the Fighting Irish.
“We’re splitting reps with all of them,” Tuitele said. “We’ll probably know on Friday. Today was a pretty clean practice. It’s a situation where we have four really good players (Brandt Hughes, Sheriron Jones, Tevaka Tuioti, Trae Hall). (Offensive coordinator Joe Dailey) and myself, we won’t make that decision until later in the week.”
Hughes started at quarterback against Sam Houston State. He did not play in the second half because of a shoulder injury to his right throwing arm. He threw for 218 yards on 12-of-29 passing. He has been practicing. Jones was a dual threat with two rushing touchdowns in the second half.
BLACKWELL: Tuitele said he would not disclose the status of defensive lineman Aaron Blackwell, who suffered a right knee injury against Sam Houston State.