Bryson Carroll chuckled and said “Crazy,” when asked about the possibility of being the University of New Mexico starting quarterback for the Lobos’ season finale against Utah State on Friday.
Carroll, who began this season as a graduate manager, was called into action as a backup quarterback due to injuries – and he actually played during UNM’s 37-0 loss at Boise State on Saturday. He filled in after redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Chavez went out with an ankle injury that he has been dealing with for the past three games.
If Chavez, the former walk-on from Rio Rancho High who was the fifth-string quarterback in 2020, is not available Friday, the Lobos will turn to another made-for-movie type story in the 5-foot-6 Carroll, who was recruited as an option quarterback in 2017.
“It’s so crazy, but it’s cool,” said Carroll, a 22-year-old redshirt senior. “It’s like full circle. I came in as a quarterback and I’m going to finish as a quarterback.”
If Carroll starts he will become the seventh quarterback to start in Danny Gonzales’ 19 games as UNM’s coach. The Lobos (3-8, 1-6 Mountain West) have made seven switches at quarterback during that time, six due to injuries. Last week, they used sophomore Connor Genal in passing situations and might do the same against the Aggies (8-3, 5-2). Genal, a walk-on, started one game last year.
“I’m ready for it,” Carroll said of starting. “I’m looking at it as a fun opportunity to go play football for one more good time and play as a Lobo one last time.”
Carroll will be among what is expected to be 20 seniors to be honored at University Stadium on Friday. Some of the UNM seniors might return next season on another season of eligibility granted by the NCAA after the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season.
Senior quarterback Terry Wilson, a Kentucky transfer who started six games this season, will most likely stop playing college football even though he could gain a redshirt year after a knee injury in the second game of the 2019 season with the Wildcats.
Wilson sustained a dislocated elbow on his left, non-throwing arm late in the 31-7 loss against San Diego State on Oct. 9. After a 36-7 loss to Colorado State on Oct. 16, when true freshman CJ Montes started, the Lobos switched to an option offense.
Wilson threw for 1,058 yards and seven touchdowns on 101-of-174 passing with four interceptions. UNM has thrown for just 198 yards total in the four games after Wilson’s injury.
“Right now we cannot protect the quarterback when he drops back,” Gonzales said. “That’s when our guys have been getting hurt. The triple option, when we execute it, gives us a really good chance to be competitive and successful. I think it’s really hard to defend. But if you’re a triple-option team and you only throw it three times a game and they stone the run, you’re done. We have to develop a way to be able to throw the ball.”
Gonzales said he met with UNM offensive coordinator Derek Warehime to go over game film after the loss to Boise State. It was the second time UNM was shut out this season and the fourth time the offense couldn’t score. UNM ranks 130th and last in total offense (239.4 yards per game) among Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
“We’re going on the right path,” Gonzales said. “We need to continue to recruit great players.”
Gonzales said some players have missed assignments on offense, for example not blocking the proper defender, otherwise the Lobos could have bigger plays.
“I think what we’re able to do in the run game is really hard to defend,” Gonzales said.
“If we had done it for a full year or two then we would be really good at it.”
WYSONG: The Lobos might be without freshman wide receiver Luke Wysong, who leads the team with 717 all-purpose yards, Gonzales said. Gonzales said he is holding out Wysong during practices this week because of the wear and tear of the season. Wysong is a game-time decision, Gonzales said.
“He’s just banged up and beat up,” Gonzales said. “I think we have used him a little too much. We didn’t have much of a choice, but Luke has a bright future and we’re going to make sure he’s healthy for the game and healthy for the longevity of his career. He’s mad at me for keeping him out.”