At the halfway point of the season and with New Mexico’s football team amid a three-game skid, Lobo coach Bob Davie is already facing questions about his job security.
“That really, quite honestly, is of zero issue to me. Zero,” Davie said after he was asked to give his thoughts on his job security after the host Lobos lost 35-21 to Colorado State on Friday night. “I’ll take full responsibility for us. Full responsibility. That’s what it is. That’s what this profession is. There’s a scoreboard on what we do, and the bottom line you’re expected to win and I take full responsibility.”
Before the season began, Davie, 65, whose contract runs through the 2021 season, said he wanted to turn around his program and return the Lobos to bowl games as in 2015 and ’16, instead of back-to-back 3-9 campaigns in ’17 and ’18.
UNM (2-4, 0-2 in Mountain West Conference) is struggling on offense and on defense. The Lobos are clearly outmatched, especially in the secondary.
In addition on Friday, the Lobos had 11 penalties for 102 yards. Three of those penalties, for 45 yards, aided the Rams on their 85-yard drive to end the first half, when they scored to go up 21-14.
ATTENDANCE: The announced crowd for Friday night’s game was 15,393. The number of people in the stands appeared to be half that. That number dwindled after halftime and late in the game, there were fewer than an estimated 1,000 fans remaining.
The Razzle Dazzle youth cheerleaders factored into the attendance, as they performed at halftime. The roughly 800 cheerleaders were given complimentary tickets, and counted in the final attendance, while their parents paid for theirs, said Dave Williams, UNM’s deputy athletic director.
WHAT WENT RIGHT? UNM redshirt sophomore running back Bryson Carroll provided some explosive plays, and one glaring error, during a career-high performance. He rushed for 193 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries. The 193 yards rushing are the 15th-best single-game rushing total in UNM history.
But Carroll found his way onto ESPN Sportscenter’s Not Top 10 Friday night when he let go of the ball before crossing the goal line on what would have been a 57-yard touchdown run. Fortunately for the Lobos, the fumble was not recovered by any player on either team, and they regained possession at the 1. Kentrail Moran punched it in for the touchdown on the ensuing play.
Carroll was not made available to the media after the game, but will speak to the media this week.
On Twitter, Carroll retweeted Sportscenter’s video of his gaffe along with his message that read: “Aye man, say man, my pops always told me to hand the ball to the ref!” He added an emoji of a sweating smiley face.
“Bryson ran hard,” said Kyle Stapley, UNM’s center and a team captain. “He ran with his pads down. He was making people miss. We gave him a little bit of space and he did his thing. He made us look good. Bryson played extremely well tonight. Hopefully that’s something we can keep establishing for the rest of the season.”
Carroll started the game in place of senior Ahmari Davis, the Lobos’ leading rusher, who was out with back spasms, Davie said.
Linebacker Jacobi Hearn delivered a standout performance on defense. He had three tackles for losses and one sack. He was third on the Lobos with six tackles, five unassisted.
WHAT WENT WRONG? The UNM defense, once again, struggled against the pass. The unit entered the game ranked last in the Football Bowl Subdivision for passing yards allowed per game (386).
CSU quarterback Patrick O’Brien threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns on 25-of-34 passing with no interceptions. His favorite target was 6-foot-6, 218-pound wide receiver Warren Jackson, who went for 210 yards and two touchdowns on nine catches.
His 87-yard touchdown reception was perhaps his greatest grab, as he made the catch near midfield between three defenders, bounced off a tackle and went the distance.
“We are young there,” Davie said of the secondary. “We are a little bit undersized as far as length. People are coming at us. In this day and age, everybody’s going to able to throw it. We had some matchup difficulties and that’s not going to change. I appreciate how hard those guys work. I do think we can get better. But there’s no question we’re exposed right now.”
On offense, quarterback Sheriron Jones played the entire game, which was somewhat of a surprise, considering Davie had entered the week saying that both Jones and Tevaka Tuioti would see action against the Rams.
Jones finished with just 89 yards passing on 8-of-17 passing with no touchdowns and one interception. He did run for 54 yards.
Davie said Tuioti “didn’t seem ready to go.
“According to (offensive coordinator) Joe Dailey, there was a conversation with (Tuioti) about getting ready to play (during warm-ups),” Davie said. “I need to find out more about it, but I don’t think he was just really ready to play. But we did entertain (putting Tuioti in), particularly when we got two scores down.”
Davie said he has also thought about seeing what redshirt freshman Trae Hall could do at quarterback, but has chosen to continue with Jones.
“I just look at how hard Sheriron plays and how much effort he puts into it,” Davie said. “… I’m going to keep giving him opportunities because, man, he puts it out there.”
NOTABLE: Wyoming (4-1, 1-0), UNM’s next opponent, played at San Diego State late on Saturday night.
HE SAID IT: “I love these guys. I want to ride and die for these guys every single day. We just have to find a way, myself included, to be perfect in everything we do. To be better in our techniques. Just keep fighting. Keep grinding.”
– Alex Hart, senior middle linebacker and a team captain
Coach Bob Davie’s postgame interview, below: