Lobo football faces 'great challenge" at Fresno State - Albuquerque Journal

Lobo football faces ‘great challenge” at Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif. – Fresno State is expected to have pent-up frustration when it plays host to University of New Mexico on Saturday, and it’s not just because the Bulldogs lost to Boise State 40-14 and fell out of the top 25 last week.

The frustration is actually more about losing to the Lobos last year, 49-39, in the season finale. The Bulldogs (7-3, 4-2 in Mountain West) went into the offseason bitterly, while the Lobos (3-6, 1-4) gained hope for the future and the belief they have the right coach in charge, Danny Gonzales, for even brighter days ahead.

Fresno State used that loss as motivation for the 2021 season. UNM continues to point to that win as proof that it can overcome great odds.

But, this year’s matchup appears to be even more challenging for the Lobos, who are 24½-point underdogs. They’ll be without senior quarterback Terry Wilson, the Kentucky transfer who is expected to miss his fourth straight game with an injured left, non-throwing elbow.

UNM redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Chavez, who suffered a right ankle injury last week when he lost two fumbles, is expected to start. The Rio Rancho High alumnus and former walk-on led the Lobos over the Bulldogs last year in his first start. The 49 points are the most scored by the Lobos in the 16 games of the Gonzales era.

UNM might need that type of offensive performance on Saturday to keep up with Fresno State, which is led by quarterback Jake Haener. Gonzales says the Bulldogs are balanced and capable of beating the Lobos on the ground or through the air.

“They have the ability to play both styles,” Gonzales said. “When you go to the Rose Bowl and beat a good UCLA team and you beat an undefeated San Diego State team and earlier in the season take Oregon to the wire, you’re a great team. It’s going to be a great challenge.”

COACH CHRISTIAN RETURNS: UNM special teams coach Jamie Christian played for Fresno State (1991-93) as a fullback and was an assistant coach for the Bulldogs (2017-19). Saturday’s game is a case of been there, done that as he has been back to Fresno several times during his career.

“I’m here now and I’m a Lobo,” Christian said. “… I’ve been doing this for 22 years, so it happens a lot. It’s not that big of a deal.”

Prior to coaching running backs at Fresno State, he was the running backs coach at UNLV, where he recruited running back Charles Williams from Fresno to Las Vegas. Williams ran for 74 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries to lead the Rebels to their first win of the season, 31-17, against UNM last week and became the program’s all-time rushing leader with 3,763 yards.

Christian said he was disappointed the Lobos lost, but was happy for Williams.

“As always it’s about our team, but he’s just an awesome kid,” Christian said. “I’m proud to see him do well. He’s had a great career there. I know his family real well. I’m just proud of the kid, of who he is as a person. He’s one of the best kids I’ve been around.”

Christian was on the Fresno State staff when the Bulldogs won the MWC title in 2018 after they had finished last the previous year. He said there are many Fresno State players on the team that he worked with and recruited to the Bulldogs, including running backs Ronnie Rivers and Jordan Mims.

“We had some success,” Christian said. “There are some kids on that team that I recruited that I always want to see do well. But just not this week.”

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop


Men's Basketball: Height-challenged Lobos may go even smaller
The talk around the Lobo basketball ... The talk around the Lobo basketball team since Mountain West play began, and for good reason, has centered around the center spot. But in ...
Boise State dominates on boards, tops UNM men
ABQnews Seeker
The Boise State Broncos outrebounded the ... The Boise State Broncos outrebounded the UNM Lobos by 24 and won in the Pit, 71-63.
Emptying the Notebook: A glimmer of hope for Lobo ...
ABQnews Seeker
Extra notes, quotes, stats, tweets, video ... Extra notes, quotes, stats, tweets, video and whatever else I could empty out of the notebook after Saturday's Lobos loss to Boise State in ...
Lobo women unload record number of 3-point tries in ...
Prior to game one of the ... Prior to game one of the 2021-22 season, UNM women's basketball coach Mike Bradbury made a prediction. 'This team will shoot a ton of ...
UNM Athletics receives endowment in honor of late coach ...
University of New Mexico Athletics said ... University of New Mexico Athletics said Friday that an anonymous donation of $500,000 has established the James 'Jimmy' Butler Track and Cross-Country Student Support ...
Boise State's Shaver, UNM's House are friendly foes on ...
ABQnews Seeker
Friends since they were high school ... Friends since they were high school teammates, Boise State's Marcus Shaver and UNM's Jaelen House go against each other Saturday in the Pit.
Women's hoops: Hot Lobos brace to face 'angry' Colorado ...
Moby Arena figures to be an ... Moby Arena figures to be an unfriendly destination for the University of New Mexico women's basketball team Saturday. Colorado State's home court has never ...
Aggie big man McNair: Scorer, rebounder and wallet-returner
Will McNair Jr. didn't have to ... Will McNair Jr. didn't have to do the right thing — but he wanted to. The Las Cruces Sun-News reported that New Mexico State's ...
Ruggiero leaves UNM Athletics, will join UNM Foundation
Janice Ruggiero has devoted virtually her ... Janice Ruggiero has devoted virtually her entire professional life, and the majority of her adult life, to the University of New Mexico athletic department. ...