UNM has no answers for offense or who will play QB at Wyoming - Albuquerque Journal

UNM has no answers for offense or who will play QB at Wyoming

Lobo quarterback CJ Montes, center, under fire from Dequan Jackson and Colorado State last Saturday, is one option to run the struggling UNM offense again Saturday at Wyoming. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

If the University of New Mexico had to play against Wyoming on Tuesday, senior quarterback Terry Wilson would not have been ready as he continues to recover from a left non-throwing elbow injury, coach Danny Gonzales said at his press conference.

True freshman CJ Montes, who struggled during his first collegiate start last week, and Isaiah Chavez, who led the Lobos to wins over Wyoming and Fresno State last year, will compete during practice this week to become the starter, if Wilson is not available.

“Ideally, we would like for Terry to play,” Gonzales said. “Terry is our starting quarterback. … We only have two games left until we lose CJ’s redshirt. I would ideally like to keep that, but the team is the most important thing. We’ll evaluate that as we get further along.”

Wilson sustained a dislocated elbow during the fourth quarter of a 31-7 loss to San Diego State.

Regardless of who starts at quarterback, Gonzales wants the offense to establish the run, “get back to the basics and fundamentals of blocking people.”

UNM (2-5, 0-3 Mountain West) produced 69 yards of offense (10 yards fewer than originally reported because of a later statistics correction) in its 36-7 loss to Colorado State on Saturday. It was the lowest yardage total in a league game and the second-lowest in program history.

The UNM offense has been shut out the past two games and has scored just one touchdown in the past 15 quarters.

“If Isaiah performs the best in practice, he’ll start,” Gonzales said. “If he doesn’t, he won’t.”

None of the three quarterbacks were available to the media after Tuesday’s practice, the school said, because of the uncertainty of who will start.

Last year, Chavez, a Rio Rancho High product who began the year as the fifth-string quarterback, came in the second quarter of the Wyoming game after Connor Genal suffered a wrist injury. Chavez threw what proved to be the game-winning touchdown pass to Bobby Cole for 44 yards in a 17-16 win in Las Vegas, Nevada. That gave Gonzales his first win after the Lobos had started the season 0-5 and the victory also snapped UNM’s 14-game losing streak, which led the nation at the time.

The Lobos, who also ended their 20-game MWC losing streak, were 16½-point underdogs.

This year, Wyoming (4-2, 0-2) is a 20-point favorite in Laramie.

YEAR TWO, ROUGH: Gonzales says that when he was hired as coach in December of 2019, he believed this season, his second year, would prove to be extremely challenging.

The roster showed 31 seniors on scholarship for his first season. The previous coaching staff of Bob Davie had recruited 64 junior college players in a three-year period and redshirted roughly a third of them.

“In our sophomore class we had three kids on scholarship,” Gonzales said. “You should normally have a class of 20-25 (players).”

Gonzales has gone about building the roster to his liking by recruiting mostly high school players.

Meanwhile, with a few transfers in and the return of 14 seniors due to the extra year of eligibility granted because of the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, Gonzales was hopeful that 2021 wouldn’t be as challenging as he had originally thought.

However, “I knew this was going to be a really rough year,” he said. “I’m disappointed in how the scores have turned out because we should be more competitive. We’re not doing a good enough job on offense to give ourselves a chance. So, starting with me, we evaluate everything we’re doing.”

With that evaluation comes several questions.

“How are you practicing?” Gonzales said. “How do you game plan? Who’s playing? Are we giving those kids the best chance to be successful? Obviously, we haven’t, so you keep going down that path to get better.

“There’s a plan around here to win a conference championship,” Gonzales continued. “We’re going to win a conference championship. You don’t deviate from the plan because we’ve had (five) bad weeks. You adjust, you make changes to give yourself a chance and you keep playing and going forward.”

ROLO’S A FRIEND: Gonzales provided one comment after he was asked for his reaction to Washington State firing Nick Rolovich and four of his assistants on Monday after they refused to comply with a mandate that all state employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I’m proud (of him) that he has values and stuck to them,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales said Rolovich is a good friend of his. Rolovich previously coached at Hawaii before becoming the Cougars’ head man two years ago. Gonzales had been an assistant at San Diego State before leaving to become the defensive coordinator at Arizona State in the Pac-12 for two seasons prior to returning UNM.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee gave a deadline of Monday for state employees, including the Cougars’ coaches, to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or risk losing their jobs.

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