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Lobo football: Team not yet reaching Gonzales’ standard

University of New Mexico coach Danny Gonzales saw improvement and a few big plays during an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, but the Lobos still have a long way to go to reach his standards.

Gonzales said that will take time, so expect the Lobos to be learning throughout this eight-game 2020 season in the Mountain West Conference that begins Oct. 24 at Colorado State.

“I keep saying we’re changing a culture to what we want it to be,” Gonzales said during a post-practice virtual press conference. “I’m not talking bad about the previous culture. It’s just not what we do.”

Too many players are talking back and providing a reason or excuse for a mistake, he said.

“That ain’t your job,” Gonzales said. “Your job isn’t to think what it’s going to be. Your job is to do your assignment and if all 11 guys do their assignment, then we’re going to be good.”

Gonzales also believes the Lobos need to be more aggressive.

“I don’t think we’re anywhere near as physical, or as mean, or anywhere near the style that we want to play,” Gonzales said. “It’s not (a dirty style). It’s a violent game. It’s a mean game. … They believe in what we’re doing, They’re just not good at it yet. They don’t understand. They don’t have the muscle memory yet.”

STANDING OUT: Joey Noble, a 6-foot-3, 236-pound senior defensive end, stood out on defense during Saturday’s scrimmage that was closed to the media, Gonzales said.

Dion Hunter, a 6-2, 200-pound freshman linebacker from Cleveland High, showed promise. He sat out last year as a grayshirt.

“Dion Hunter is a physical, physical young man,” Gonzales said. “He’s going to be a really, really good player down the road. He’s going to be a good player this year but he has a chance to be a big-time player.”

Redshirt junior running back Bobby Cole (5-9, 211 pounds) “ran the ball pretty hard,” and redshirt junior running back Bryson Carroll (5-7, 182 pounds) had a “long run,” the coach said. The tight ends, including Marcus Wiliams (Cleveland) and Kyle Jarvis, “caught the ball pretty well.”

QB BATTLE: Quarterbacks Trae Hall and Tevaka Tuioti took the majority of the snaps, both with the first-team and second-team offense.

“I thought they did a good job of leading the offense,” Gonzales said of the pair. “I don’t think either one stood out as better than the other though. We’ll decide on one because I think it’s better for your team when you do. … Whoever the starter will be will be the primary guy. And then we’ll have a package for the other guy because I think they have different tangibles. But we have to have a guy who has a voice at that position. I think it’s too hard to rotate.”

TRANSFER PORTAL: Redshirt junior Eric Cuffee, a 6-foot-1, 191-pound defensive back who started his college career at Texas, has entered the transfer portal, Gonzales confirmed. Cuffee, who saw some time as a wide receiver during the spring, suffered an Achilles injury recently and would not have played this season anyway, said Gonzales.

Cuffee is the eighth player to leave the program since coach Bob Davie was let go following last season.

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