Gonzales wants Lobos to take on blue-collar persona - Albuquerque Journal

Gonzales wants Lobos to take on blue-collar persona

Air Force’s Lakota Wills (8) signals touchdown in the first quarter against New Mexico. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

What University of New Mexico coach Danny Gonzales told his team after a 38-10 loss to Air Force Academy, he could’ve easily said at halftime as well.

The Falcons (4-1, 1-1 Mountain West) scored on their first four possessions, playing near-perfect football to build a 24-0 lead at the half, and essentially putting away the game.

“When we play against a triple option it’s a tough man’s game,” Gonzales said after the Lobos fell to 2-3, 0-1. “I told my team in the locker room: ‘They’re tougher than we are.’ ”

Gonzales said that type of game is supposed to show what his team is made of, and UNM will show that in the future.

Keeping Saturday’s game competitive, instead of being dominated, would have revealed that the Lobos could be a blue-collar team, which is exactly what Gonzales wants.

He wants his team to be tough.

“I don’t think people are naturally tough,” Gonzales said. “Some are. The majority of them aren’t. They have to convince themselves that they’re going to be a tough guy. It comes through the process in everything we do. In the weight room, out on the field, the way we do things, fast speed. The way we transition from drill to drill. It’s everything. It’s the way we take the field. It’s everything that creates that attitude.”

UNM senior defensive end Joey Noble is one of the Lobos’ toughest players. He led UNM with a career-high 18 tackles against Air Force. However, the defense as a unit simply could not stop Air Force. The Falcons ran for 408 yards.

The Lobos look to this coming Saturday as another opportunity to play its best game and end its three-game losing streak. Yet, things don’t get any easier as the Lobos will play against No. 25-ranked San Diego State in Carson, Calif.

Gonzales assuredly wants his team to improve against a program that is close to his heart. It will be a game that’s just as meaningful for Gonzales’ mentor, Rocky Long, the former SDSU coach who is the Lobos’ defensive coordinator.

Gonzales worked on staff with Long at SDSU for seven seasons. The Aztecs made seven straight bowls, winning three Mountain West titles and three division titles before Gonzales went to work as a defensive coordinator at Arizona State for two seasons.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Not much went right for the Lobos against Air Force, but kicker Andrew Shelley continued to show great improvement. He connected from 49 yards out, a season-best. He has now made five in a row and he is 7-for-9 on the season.

WHAT WENT WRONG: The Lobos’ offensive line struggled again. Last year, Teton Saltes started the season slow before improving significantly at right tackle. He’s gone, but the Lobos need another big improvement at that spot.

NOTABLE: Running back Bobby Cole is out for the first half when the Lobos play against No. 25-ranked San Diego State on Saturday. Cole was flagged for targeting during the second half against Air Force and was ejected.

HE SAID IT: “I told (Air Force) coach (Troy) Calhoun: ‘Give me some time, because we’ll have a competitive football team that will have a chance to beat you.'” — UNM coach Danny Gonzales on what he told Calhoun after the game


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