On Sunday, a day after suffering his first loss of the season, a 34-0 setback at No. 7-ranked Texas A&M, University of New Mexico football coach Danny Gonzales challenged his staff and players to turn it up a notch for its game at UTEP (2-1) on Saturday.
This wasn’t like a year ago when he told the media the Lobos (2-1) were “terrible” after their fifth straight loss to start the season.
This time, it was behind closed doors. He expressed the disappointment that the defense showed up way too hesitant early on vs. A&M, and that the offense failed to score or gain any type of momentum.
After the team meeting, quarterback Terry Wilson gathered the offense for another meeting without coaches. The senior transfer quarterback from Kentucky wanted to tell the offense that it is time to go back to making big plays, being explosive, as the Lobos had during their first two games – home wins over Houston Baptist (27-17) and New Mexico State (34-25).
“I believe in this team,” Wilson said. “I believe in every player that we have. I had a meeting with them the other day, just telling them everybody in this room is dogs. I told them that we’re all good players. Everyone can play. Don’t ever doubt yourself.”
Wilson wanted to boost the offense’s confidence after it experienced great frustration against Texas A&M, finishing with just 122 yards and nine first downs. The Lobos didn’t have any plays over 20 yards. They struggled against an Aggie defense that is considered by many among the top five in the nation.
They believe it will be a different story against the Miners, who are 2-point favorites for Saturday’s matchup in El Paso.
“There’s definitely frustration just not being able to put up points,” senior wide receiver Mannie Logan-Greene said. “You get past that by just looking into this week coming up. Just moving forward, the next play, the next game. That’s behind us. All we can do is let out all our frustration, the zero points that we had against A&M, and really just run it up on UTEP.”
Logan-Greene, who leads UNM with 132 receiving yards and 13 catches, said the Lobos can’t just simply hit the reset button. They’ll have to trust in each other.
The UNM offensive line struggled against A&M’s vaunted defensive line. Early in the first quarter, each UNM tackle got beat, and Wilson was hit high and hit low, Gonzales said. Wilson, who had thrown for a career-high 381 yards in the win over New Mexico State on Sept. 11, threw for 33 yards and was sacked four times against Texas A&M.
The Lobos say all they can do is move on, but how they respond to such a defeat will be important against UTEP and for what they can do in the Mountain West Conference. A win against the Miners, and UNM will be 3-1 before heading into MWC play for the first time since 2007.
Wilson didn’t appear too worried about the Lobos’ resolve.
“We’re going to do what we do,” Wilson said. “Nothing is really going to change. We’re going to be able to get the ball down the field, be able to run the ball, be explosive. That’s the thing we take pride in on offense and look forward to be doing. Nothing is going to change.”