After a frustrating 32-21 loss at San Jose State, plagued by turnovers, penalties and sloppy play, New Mexico’s football team is back to square one with its quarterback situation.
UNM coach Bob Davie said Monday he is unsure about who will start for the Lobos (2-3, 0-1 in Mountain West Conference) when they play host to Colorado State (1-5, 0-2) on Friday night.
Tevaka Tuioti started the past two games, but has regressed after a stellar performance that led to a 55-52 win over rival New Mexico State on Sept. 21.
Sheriron Jones came in relief on Friday at SJSU and provided a spark with great effort and big plays, but also threw three interceptions.
“We’re in the mode that we don’t want to be really in,” Davie said of the UNM quarterbacks. “I don’t really want you to ask that question (about who will be the Lobos’ quarterback), but it’s a fair question. We’re not sure. We would think both of them would play and we’re going about it like that.”
It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if both Tuioti and Jones played against the Rams, even by design for UNM’s scheme. Both quarterbacks have flashed dual-threat ability, yet Jones has been the most recent to shine with both his arm and legs.
He rushed for 104 yards and one touchdown and passed for 127 yards and two touchdowns upon entering the game about midway through the second quarter against the Spartans.
“His good is really good; and at times his bad is really bad,” Davie said of Jones. “He can get better. But I love his heart and I love the way he goes in there and plays.”
Davie said he hasn’t lost confidence in Tuioti’s potential, but the redshirt sophomore has not been playing to his capabilities.
Tuioti’s style hasn’t been as crisp while directing the offense the majority of his past two past appearances, Davie said.
Jones started seven games last year when the Lobos went 3-9 with seven straight losses to end the season. Yet he said Friday’s loss was a rock-bottom point for the offense because of six turnovers. He was accountable about his mistakes, saying, “it was kind of selfish,” that he was sometimes the one that adversely affected the 11 on the offense.
“There is plenty of the season left,” Jones said. “You have to make the best of whatever comes next week and prepare and go out and execute.”
Tuioti said Friday’s game against the Rams is a chance for the Lobos to redeem themselves.
“Before we move on, it’s important to identify the mistakes we made,” Tuioti said. “As we clean it up, we will be able to identify ourselves as an offense and be able to move the ball.”
INJURIES: Linebacker Dylan Horton suffered a “significant” ankle injury against SJSU and will miss Friday’s game as he will be “out for a little bit,” Davie said. Horton, who is tied for third on the team with 23 tackles and tied for the Lobos’ lead with 1.5 sacks, will have an MRI this week, Davie said.
Davie reminded the media during his weekly press conference that the UNM defense lost nose tackle Aaron Blackwell to a season-ending knee injury during the season opener. The Lobos might also be without defensive lineman Adebayo Soremekun, who is dealing with pain in his shoulder, Davie said.
The defense also lost safety Patrick Peek, who told Davie he will redshirt the season two days before UNM’s game against the Spartans.
The UNM defense showed some progress against SJSU, but still allowed big plays. The Lobos showed they are vulnerable against deep passes, Davie said.
That allowed for Spartans quarterback Josh Love to have a big game. Love was named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 405 yards and two touchdowns on 24-of-36 passing with no interceptions.
“None of that matters,” Davie said of the injuries and Peek’s decision to redshirt. “The great thing about football is that there is a scoreboard and that’s all that matters. Nobody cares about anything else. It’s a bottom-line deal. We have to get better.”