ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Practice Facility Needs OK From Engineers
Supposedly, there are no rain delays in football.
Try telling that to University of New Mexico coach Mike Locksley.
The Lobos’ first fall practice of 2010 was interrupted for 2½ hours because of the heavy rain that swept through Albuquerque on Thursday afternoon.
It wasn’t the weather, however, causing the delay. UNM still is awaiting affirmation that its modifications on the indoor practice facility make it safe to use.
Until then, no one is allowed inside the facility. That caused the football team to lose a portion of its first day of preseason camp.
Lobo senior associate athletic director Tim Cass said UNM is awaiting an engineer’s report about the safety of the building.
The school is dealing with two issues involving the practice facility.
The exterior fabric on the north face of the building ripped April 29. The school already had been dealing with a study Chavez-Grieves Consulting Engineers conducted that was made public Jan. 8, stating that the practice facility had a design flaw that make it vulnerable to high-speed winds.
“There were modifications made the first time around (based on the Chavez-Grieves report),” Cass said, “and with the wind damage (April 29), a third-party engineer has reviewed the building, and I have not seen his report. The report is not complete.”
Cass said Jaynes Corporation is handling the fabric repair; Cass said new vinyl arrived at UNM on Thursday.
“Repair will take all of next week to be completed,” he said, “and we hope to have access to the building the following week — at least on a limited basis — based on the engineer’s report. He may have further recommendations.”
Locksley, meanwhile, split his team into two squads for the first four days of camp, which are noncontact practices. The idea behind the split is to give the players more repetitions.
The first group started at 2:30 p.m., with temperatures near 90 degrees. The clouds moved in an hour later and a lightning sensor on the roof of the Tow Diehm complex sounded at 3:45 p.m., in which Locksley sent the group inside.
The first group joined the second group in the weight room, and the team then went into meetings shortly before 5 p.m.
Practice started again at about 6:05 p.m., but Locksley had both groups on the field to compensate for the lost time.
“We got the work in,” Locksley said. “The first four or five practices are big teaching practices for us. We typically get our philosophies in the first five practices, so we were able to get that taught. For a lot of these guys, meetings are just as good.
“The hard part is that with some of the young guys, kinetically is how they learn by doing and by not being able to split the practices, they missed out on some of the reps that they normally get.”
True freshman quarterback Tarean Austin took the most advantage of his limited repetitions, showing off a strong arm in hooking up with wide receiver Lamaar Thomas on a 70-yard touchdown pass during 7-on-7 drills.
He seemed to be the quarterback most on target during the first practice.
Unless you ask him.
“There’s things that look good but aren’t always good,” he said. “There was something I did wrong on that play. I was a little confused out there, but watching the older guys helped me learn and stay positive.”
Locksley said the team had a good first day, despite the delay.
“The effort was unbelievable,” he said. “They were running around, as they should be. For a first practice, I like the energy and the effort they gave. I like the focus they had.”
Locksley said he will monitor the weather the next few days and may conduct practice earlier if another storm approaches.
Cass suggested that the team could use the tennis bubble if rains continue to interrupt practice.
“I don’t think they have big enough rackets for our guys,” Locksley quipped.
The Lobos will practice today, Saturday and Monday at their practice fields just south of University Stadium until they move their camp to Ruidoso on Tuesday.