Even though Tevaka Tuioti beat out Trae Hall to become University of New Mexico’s starting quarterback last month, Tuioti has been providing Hall with advice and coaching tips.
Tuioti offered another encouraging message to Hall this week.
“(Tuioti) has been a great person with leading me and showing me,” Hall said during a virtual press conference on Tuesday. “Now he says it’s my time to shine and it’s my time to go out there and take over for the team, and help the team get a win.”
Hall, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound redshirt sophomore, will start for the Lobos (0-2) in their “home” game Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Tuioti, a 6-2, 195-pound redshirt junior, is in concussion protocol after taking a hit to the head late in last week’s game against Hawaii.
Following Tuioti will be a challenge for Hall. Tuioti threw for 181 yards and two touchdowns on 17-for-31 passing with no interceptions. He also ran for 71 yards on five carries in the Lobos’ 39-33 loss at Hawaii.
He threw for 294 yards and two touchdowns, completing 20 of his 31 passes with one interception in a 38-21 season-opening loss at San Jose State on Oct. 31. He ran for 69 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries.
The Lobos’ 21 points and 443 total yards of offense are the most the 3-0 Spartans have allowed to this point.
“For me the best part is actually having the opportunity, actually being able to start at the beginning of the season and not the end,” Hall said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to show my skill set and what I can do on the field.”
Hall, who is from Henderson, Texas, started his first game for UNM in last year’s season finale when the Lobos lost to Utah State, 38-25, to close out a 2-10 season.
He led the team in rushing with 115 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns. He also threw two touchdown passes. He completed 10 of his 21 passes for 107 yards to go with two interceptions.
Hall is confident he can produce. He is similar to Tuioti with strong running ability, so the Lobos can run a lot of the same plays, UNM coach Danny Gonzales said.
Hall entered Saturday’s game in a tough spot, Gonzales said, because Tuioti actually went in the huddle after taking the hit to the head at the end of his 23-yard run. Hall never had a chance to warm up with UNM trailing 39-30.
Hall completed 2-of-6 passes for 39 yards with one interception late in the loss to the Rainbow Warriors.
“It will be a lot better to have a week of practice under his belt with plays and schemes designed around him,” Gonzales said of Hall. “I’m excited to see him play. I thought they had a great battle all the way to the last two weeks before we were going to (open the season).”
Hall was UNM’s No. 1 quarterback in March when Tuioti was demoted after being two minutes late to a team treatment appointment.
Hall said he doesn’t feel pressure about avoiding injury with inexperienced quarterbacks now backing him up, but he knows he must be smart when he runs against the Wolf Pack.
Connor Genal and Isaiah Chavez, neither of whom has played in a college football game, have been splitting reps behind Hall this week, Gonzales said. Chavez is a 6-foot, 191-pound freshman who starred for Rio Rancho High. Genal, a 6-5, 213-pound redshirt freshman, is from St. Paul High in Santa Fe Springs, California.
“First time starting this year, it’s very exciting for me,” Hall said. “It’s time to take over and lead the team and get a victory. We need a win.”