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Lobo football: homecoming for Clay Davie; a ‘Rudy’ reference for Hernandez

UNM’s Johnny Hernandez, right, tries to tackle Sam Houston’s Chandler Harvin in the opener. Hernandez, a former walk-on, led the Lobos with 11 tackles. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

When University of New Mexico coach Bob Davie addressed the media for the first time after his health scare, he said Saturday’s game at No. 7 Notre Dame “hasn’t gone completely to script.” Following his doctors’ and his wife’s advice, he isn’t on the trip.

However, Davie’s son, Clay, is playing a different part in an amended script.

Clay Davie, UNM’s tight end coach, spent the majority of his childhood in South Bend. He was born in College Station, Texas, when his father coached at Texas A&M, and moved to South Bend when he was 7 years old.

Bob Davie was the defensive coordinator for the Fighting Irish 1994-96 then the head coach 1997-2001.

“I have a lot of deep roots there,” Clay Davie said. “It will be cool going back there.”

South Bend is also a special to Clay Davie because his wife Nora’s family is from there. Her grandfather, Jack Hickey, lives in South Bend and has always been a big Notre Dame fan.

Clay Davie said it has been important for him to continue his role as tight ends coach for the Lobos – even minus his father, who turned ill following the season-opening win at home Aug. 31 vs. Sam Houston State.

“It’s how Coach wants it, to carry on the mission of what he set,” Clay Davie said. “He set so much in place and he wants us to carry it out. He wants us to carry on.”

RUDY MOMENT: Notre Dame is a program of rich tradition, and one known for “Rudy,” the 1993 film inspired by Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger.

The Lobos have a Rudy story of their own in Johnny Hernandez, a 5-foot-10, 187-pound safety. He came to UNM as a preferred walk-on after playing at Saddleback Junior College in Mission Viejo, California.

Last year, he was mostly a scout-team player but improved throughout the season. During the offseason he earned a scholarship. He started his first game for the Lobos in the season opener and led UNM with 11 tackles.

“I used to watch that movie all the time,” Hernandez said of “Rudy.” “It’s probably not going to hit me until I walk into that stadium. That probably will go in my head at some point during the Notre Dame game. I will probably have a Rudy moment.”

Hernandez said he was proud of his first game as a starter. But he said he also saw mistakes that he made and he wants to step up Saturday.

“We need to be physical,” he said. “They are big guys. The O-line is very big. They have really hard runners. It’s going to be loud in there. We just need to play hard.

“We need to have a next-play mentality. If something goes wrong, we can’t dwell on it. We have to go on to the next play. We have to play physical, fast and hard.”

MORE AHMARI: UNM senior Ahmari Davis said he’s ready to continue his role as the Lobos’ lead running back against Notre Dame.

Davis had a breakout game against Sam Houston State, rushing for 107 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.

“It was a good little game,” Davis said of his performance. “But with more work, I can do better than what I did. That’s my goal to just get better every day.”

Davis received the bulk of the carries in game one and is fine if other running backs step up against Notre Dame.

But if he gets the majority of the carries again, he’ll be excited.

“It’s going to be a big game,” Davis said. “It’s a good experience. We played Wisconsin last year, but I didn’t really get in like that. Being the No. 1 right now and being the starter? I have a lot of pressure on me. I’m just trying to do my job. It’s going to be a nice experience.”

TRAVELING FANS: UNM requested from Notre Dame 1,450 tickets to Saturday’s game and sold them all, per assistant athletic director David Williams.

Per the contract, UNM could have received as many as 5,000.

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