Gonzales to football players: no slacking off allowed - Albuquerque Journal

Gonzales to football players: no slacking off allowed

All the momentum and energy built up from the first week of spring football at University of New Mexico came to a halt on Monday, Lobos coach Danny Gonzales said after practice.

Several times Gonzales shouted at players to run faster, and not to walk, from drill to drill.

After Saturday’s practice, which included situational scrimmage plays, Gonzales said the Lobos had a long way to go but he was pleased with the effort. Not so after Monday’s practice. The Lobos’ want-to was a no-show.

“I thought last week we made progress,” Gonzales said. “I thought (Monday) we took a step back. I don’t think they came out with the right mindset (Monday). … I don’t think we got better (Monday) and I told them.”

Gonzales added that the newness and excitement of him taking over the program and adding his coaching staff “has wore off a bit.”

He said some players still haven’t grasped the expectations he has for each practice, each drill. Some players expressed self-pity and showed body language that they were tired, Gonzales said.

“They need to come out (Tuesday) with a little bit more energy and take a step in the right direction,” Gonzales said. “It’s black and white around here. There’s no gray area. We’re not going to lie to them. We’re going to tell them exactly where they’re at and how they are. And, that wasn’t very good (Monday).”

LOBO BACK: After the first week of spring practice, especially Saturday’s session, Gonzales gained a better perspective of the talent on his team and where certain players could contribute.

Gonzales saw two players — Nico Bolden and Brandon Burton — step up to vie for the “Lobo Back,” or versatile safety in the 3-3-5 defense.

Both Bolden, a 6-foot-3, 207-pound redshirt junior from Woodbury, Minnesota, and Burton, a 6-1, 200-pound redshirt senior who transferred in from UCLA two years ago, have been making plays during the spring. Bolden and Burton saw their playing time increase toward the end of the season last year when the Lobos struggled mightily against the pass.

UNM finished 130th, dead-last in the FBS for passing yards allowed per game (321.4).

“We’re seeing they fit that mold (for the Lobo Back position),” Gonzales said of Bolden and Burton. “We might move other guys in and out of that spot, because that position is hard to recruit to. You have to find a really good football player that’s not afraid to be in the box and that can cover in space. We got a couple of guys on our team that we think can fill that spot. Those two are getting the first crack at it. Physically they’re doing a good job. We gotta see if they can cover and see if they can do it for the next two weeks.”

PUZZLE PIECES: There is no locked-in starter at any position, Gonzales said.

He didn’t talk about a depth chart and said the coaches are grading each player based on effort for now.

Gonzales has also been moving around players, including seniors Joey Noble (6-3, 253 pounds) and Eric Cuffee Jr. (5-11, 190)

Noble, who was in the defensive line rotation last year, has been practicing as a linebacker and has been doing “a nice job,” Gonzales said.

Cuffee, who didn’t see playing time as a cornerback last year, is working with the wide receivers. He came out of Waco High School as a highly touted athlete and began his college career at Texas, and then transferred to Trinity Valley community college before coming to UNM last year.

The position switches aren’t set in stone, Gonzales said.

“We’re trying to find puzzle pieces and put them where we think they’ll help us,” Gonzales said. “There’s some offensive guys that can move to defense and vice versa by the time we get to fall camp.”


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