UNM's defense turns it up a notch - Albuquerque Journal

UNM’s defense turns it up a notch

It was a Lobo defense takeover on Day 5 of preseason camp.

UNM’s defense made several plays and secured at least five interceptions on Wednesday night.

There were a few other defensive backs who made catches, but appeared to be slightly out of bounds.

The UNM defense basically turned around from what it did on Tuesday, when the offense had the upper hand.

“It’s great to see the defense energetic like that today,” UNM linebacker Reco Hannah said. “(Tuesday) wasn’t so good. Today we got better. I could feel it in the air. Everybody could feel it.”

Now it’ll be interesting to see how the offense responds on Thursday afternoon, when the Lobos will be practicing in pads and will be scrimmaging.

UNM coach Danny Gonzales said he liked the energy shown throughout practice, but he said there were too many mistakes.

Gonzales said the defensive backs’ ball skills have improved. He’s expecting to use a three-man rotation at cornerback with senior Donte Martin, sophomore A.J. Odums and sophomore transfer Hunter Sellers (Pittsburgh).

Several times during Wednesday’s practice, the Lobo defense frustrated the offense.

“There were some ruffled feathers. You could see it out there,” Hannah said. “It’s good. It makes them come out (Thursday) fired up. I can’t wait. I hope the defense keeps the same energy (Thursday) so the offense can come out fired up just like they did the other day when they whooped our tail. I hope it’s a good practice (Thursday).”

QUARTERBACK COMPETITION: Redshirt freshman CJ Montes and sophomore transfer Justin Holaday (Fresno City College) took the majority of the snaps on Wednesday. Montes struggled with three interceptions.

Gonzales said he should gain a better assessment from Thursday when the Lobos are in full pads and scrimmaging.

“It’s kind of the direction it’s heading,” Gonzales said of Montes and Holaday taking the bulk of the reps. “We’ll evaluate it again. We won’t have a true evaluation. We’ll scrimmage a little bit (Thursday) so we’ll have an idea. Then we’ll split the reps again next week.”

INJURY: Junior transfer offensive lineman DJ Wingfield (El Camino College in Torrance, Calif.) tweaked his left knee and was on the ground for several minutes.

The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Wingfield, who is projected to start at right tackle, will be evaluated, Gonzales said. UNM trainers said the knee felt stable, Gonzales said.

FANTASTIC FRESHMEN: Jah’Mar Sanders, the freshman out of Port Arthur High in Texas, continues to make plays. Recruited as a quarterback, Sanders has shown great athleticism as a receiver. He flashed big-time speed on jet sweeps and scored a touchdown on a corner route.

Freshman Jer’Marius Lewis from North Pike High in Summit, Miss. recorded an interception and is showing that he’ll be capable of contributing this season.

RECOGNITION: Tight end Trace Bruckler, who led the Lobos in touchdown catches as a true freshman with three, was named to the 10th annual Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Watch List.

The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award recognizes the top offensive player in Division I football who also exhibits the enduring characteristics that define Earl Campbell: integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community and tenacity; specifically, tenacity to persist and determination to overcome adversity and injury in pursuit of reaching goals. In addition, the nominee must meet one or more of the following criteria: born in Texas and/or graduated from a Texas High School and/or played at a Texas-based junior college or currently playing at Texas DI four-year college.

Bruckler, from Lone Star High in Frisco, Texas, switched positions from wide receiver to tight end late in preseason camp last year. He recorded 15 catches for 194 yards (both totals second on the team) in 2021.

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