ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Locksley acknowledges offensive struggles while praising the defense
RUIDOSO – If you put an opponent on the ground, you walk away and leave him there.
If you knock down a teammate, you extend a hand and help him up.
Saturday, after he and his Lobo defensive teammates thoroughly dominated an intrasquad scrimmage, defensive tackle Reggie Ellis had kind and encouraging words for his brethren on offense.
“I love those guys,” said Ellis, who made at least three tackles behind the line of scrimmage during the two-hour workout. “They’re gonna get better.
“We just need to get better as a team; we have areas to work on on both sides of the ball.”
Linebacker Spencer Merritt, who intercepted a Tarean Austin pass on the third play of the scrimmage, said coach Mike Locksley had passed on that same message afterward.
“You never know in a game who’s gonna need who,” Merritt said. “There’s gonna be games when the defense needs the offense, and vice versa. (The offensive players) just have to keep working, and we’ll get it corrected. … It was just our day today.”
Yes, it was.
The defense sacked UNM’s quarterbacks seven times, had two interceptions and recovered three fumbles.
Defensive ends Jaymar Latchison and Jacori Greer and two sacks apiece. Jake Carr, another defensive end, had seven unassisted tackles.
Was the defense that good, or was the offense that bad? The answer must await another intrasquad scrimmage, or perhaps an actual opponent.
But Locksley, while making it clear he was disappointed in the offense, heaped praise on the defense.
“They had the emotion, the energy,” he said. “They attacked. They didn’t have a lot of mistakes, didn’t give up many big plays, created turnovers.
“As I told our defense (afterward), that’s what I expect and hope to see out of them.”
What Locksley hopes to see from his quarterbacks is far more consistency than they displayed on Saturday.
Austin, a sophomore, and junior B.R. Holbrook combined to go 16-for-45 for 188 yards, with two interceptions and no touchdowns.
“I’d venture to say that neither one of them did well enough to allow either of them to say they’re No. 1, or ahead (in the competition),” Locksley said.
“The object on the offensive side of the ball as a quarterback is to get us in the end zone, and we didn’t do that very often.”
The Lobos did score five touchdowns during the scrimmage, but all five came with the offense set up by the coaching staff inside the defense’s 25-yard line.
A rare highlight for the offense was redshirt freshman quarterback Detchauz Wray’s 20-yard touchdown run on a bootleg.
Freshman wide receiver Deon Long caught three passes for 56 yards. Junior wideout Lamaar Thomas had four catches for 48 yards but also muffed a punt and fumbled on an end-around.
So dominant was UNM’s defensive line that the Lobos’ running backs never had a chance. On contrived short-yardage situations – third-and-1, fourth-and-2, etc., the defense stuffed the offense repeatedly.
Afterward, Ellis had more words of encouragement for the offensive line that he and his fellow defensive linemen so dominated.
“Those guys are really strong, strong and athletic,” Ellis said. “They will be a force to be reckoned with this season.”
NOTES: Sunday was the Lobos’ only day off during their 12-day stay in Ruidoso. They’re scheduled to practice today from 3:30-6 p.m.
… The Village of Ruidoso hosted a free barbecue dinner Sunday afternoon for the team and fans.
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal