It’s not often that opposing coaches communicate with each other during game week, but University of New Mexico’s Danny Gonzales and Utah State’s Blake Anderson have been friends for over 20 years.
This past Sunday night, they were trading texts and joking with each other.
“Blake said, ‘Can you cut us a break and not blitz?’ ” Gonzales said. “And, I said,
‘Only if you don’t do all that voodoo stuff you do on offense.’ We were just having fun.”
But Gonzales and Anderson both know it will be serious on Friday when the Lobos (3-8, 1-6 Mountain West) play host to the Aggies (8-3, 5-2), who are 16½-point favorites, in New Mexico’s season finale.
Utah State needs to win on Friday and have Boise State lose to San Diego State, also on Friday, to secure the Mountain Division title, a spot in the Mountain West Championship game and continue a remarkable turnaround season. The Aggies went 1-5 last year.
“I want to spoil it and give us some momentum going into the offseason,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales met Anderson when Anderson got his start in major college football as running backs coach at UNM, where Gonzales was starting out as a graduate assistant in 1999. Rocky Long, UNM’s defensive coordinator, was the Lobos head coach at that time.
Anderson, who was a graduate assistant (1992) and wide receivers (1993) coach at Eastern New Mexico, refers to Long as his “football dad” for giving him his first job on the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
Gonzales nodded his head in approval when he heard that Anderson refers to Long as family.
“Coach Long has been good to all of us,” Gonzales said.
The Lobos will rely on their defense for a chance at pulling off the upset. Their offense stastically is the worst or near the worst in the country. UNM most likely will start redshirt senior Bryson Carroll at quarterback. Redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Chavez could be out with an ankle injury.
Carroll, a former graduate manager after beginning his time at UNM as a player, was called into action three weeks ago due to injuries at the quarterback position. If Carroll starts, he will be the seventh different quarterback to start in the 19 games that Gonzales has been coach at UNM.
Carroll was recruited as an option quarterback in 2017 and also played for the Lobos as a running back in 2019 and 2020, when he dealt with bone spurs.
Carroll said he is excited to play for the Lobos. He has family and friends coming to the game as he will be honored on Senior Day. He was honored in last year’s season finale, too, but that was in Las Vegas, Nevada, where there were no fans.
He believes the offense can produce big plays against Utah State.
“We’re just one person away on a play every time,” Carroll said. “If that one person does their assignment, then it’s a big play. We’re just basically one assignment away from being a really good offense.”