First-team defense dominates at UNM football practice - Albuquerque Journal

First-team defense dominates at UNM football practice

UNM wide receiver Michael Buckley (80) gets tackled by Reco Hannah (44) during Lobo football practice on Saturday at University Stadium. (Chancey Bush/Journal)

University of New Mexico coach Danny Gonzales calls sophomore Cody Moon “the quintessential New Mexico kid,” a type of player who comes to the Lobos as a walk-on.

Moon, a Volcano Vista graduate, might as well be the quintessential player for the UNM defense: attacking the opportunity, never content and playing with something to prove – or as the Lobos say, “with bad humor.”

The UNM defense made several highlights on Saturday afternoon, during an instrasquad scrimmage in University Stadium, but Moon and Gonzales both said: “We’ve got a long way to go.”

Moon had no offers out of high school. He said he was thinking about joining the Marines, but after speaking with safeties coach David Howes, the former Rio Rancho High School coach, he decided to join the Lobos as a walk-on.

“The Lobos, they betted on me so I can’t let them down,” Moon said. “I do think I was under-recruited. But it all worked out for the best.”

Gonzales said he told Moon and freshmen like him, “come and prove me wrong.”

“Cody Moon proved me wrong from day one,” Gonzales added. “He earned his scholarship his freshman year. I probably should’ve given one to him out of high school. … He’s about 200 pounds. If we can ever get him to 225 he might be the best linebacker in the league. He’s got a great opportunity in front of him. He needs to eat a little bit more. …

“Those are the New Mexico kids that we talk about that have an opportunity to do that, and he’s shown it at a very high level.”

The Lobos’ first-team defense was on a high level on Saturday. Junior linebacker Ray Leutele recorded a safety as part of the relentless effort.

“The 1 defense came out and competed really well,” Gonzales said. “They didn’t give up a first down today, which if we want to be good on defense, that’s the standard around here, not to give up first downs in a game. Limit the opportunities that the offense has.”

FAB FRESHMEN: Christian Washington, a freshman running back from Helix High in San Diego, California, scored on a 10-yard run and had a handful of other impressive gains.

Gonzales said he showed that he’ll be able to contribute this season.

Washington wasn’t the only freshman making plays.

Safety Jer’Marius Lewis, from North Pike High in Summit, Mississippi, recorded an interception and cornerback Zach Morris, from Marcus High in Flower Mound, Texas, delivered a big hit on a running back.

Linebacker Tate Zimmerman, from Irvine High, had a Pick-Six late in the scrimmage.

OFFENSE, OH SO CLOSE: Redshirt freshman quarterback CJ Montes, who directed the first-team offense, nearly connected for a 10-yard touchdown with freshman Jah’Mar Sanders, a wide receiver who was recruited as a quarterback from Port Arthur, Texas.

That play was among a handful early on that could have made it a different day for the offense, Gonzales said.

“Early on it was a game of missed opportunities,” Gonzales said of the offense.

“They had a real nice flare screen blocked up for (sophomore wide receiver Luke Wysong) that Luke dropped. Took his eyes off it to look up field. The corner route to Jah’Mar was a great route. That’s a ball that Jah’Mar should catch.”

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