University of New Mexico senior transfer quarterback Miles Kendrick (Kansas) and redshirt freshman QB CJ Montes each describe the other as funny.
As hotel roommates for road games, they’ve gotten to know each other better while on trips to LSU and UNLV. They competed for the starting job during August, but they were roommates who were excited about a new game plan in Las Vegas, Nevada last week.
Call them QB1 and QB1-A.
The Lobos started Kendrick as they have each game, but mixed in Montes against UNLV. They also went up-tempo and threw off the Rebels to build a 17-0 lead. UNLV, however, came back to win 31-20.
Will New Mexico deploy both Kendrick and Montes again when the Lobos (2-3, 0-2 Mountain West) play host to Wyoming (3-3, 1-1) on Saturday?
“I’m sure coach (Craig) Bohl would like to know that,” UNM coach Danny Gonzales said at his press conference on Tuesday, not wanting to reveal the Lobos’ strategy on offense.
Gonzales later added: “Miles is our starting quarterback. Miles is the manager of our team. He’s the voice. He’s the leader.”
Montes said he’ll be ready regardless of the game plan.
“My dad told me to stay ready so you don’t have to get ready,” said Montes, the California kid from Pasadena who turned 20 last month. “I’m always prepared.”
Kendrick said Montes is one of the funnier guys on the team, but when it’s time to focus Montes will become serious.
“CJ is already a very mature guy,” said Kendrick, who is 23. “He’s already a leader. He’s already talented. … He just watches me on a day-to-day basis. I just try to be the best I can be and prepare as much as I can prepare. I come out and practice and just go through everything a certain way, so that if he’s watching, maybe he’ll be able to take one or two things from me. He’s done a great job of helping this team each week.”
Gonzales believes in both quarterbacks, as well as Justin Holaday, a junior college transfer from Fresno City College.
Montes had the best chance to win the starting job heading into preseason camp, Gonzales said.
“We have confidence that he can play,” Gonzales said. “I have confidence that Justin Holaday can play and there are certain things we can do with him that give people something to prepare for. They haven’t seen Justin play. They’ve seen CJ play. I’m not ruling out any of those kids.”
BRUCKLER OUT: UNM sophomore standout tight end Trace Bruckler is out for the season after dislocating his right shoulder against LSU on Sept. 24. Bruckler missed UNM’s game against UNLV and will have surgery this week, Gonzales said.
Bruckler, who led the Lobos with three touchdown receptions last year, tore his left labrum in March when New Mexico ended its spring session, Gonzales said. Bruckler built up enough strength that he was able to forgo surgery and play the first four games, Gonzales said. But Bruckler was not at his best because of the left shoulder pain.
He’ll have surgery on his left shoulder this week and about a month later will have surgery on his right shoulder, Gonzales said.
Will Dennis, a junior transfer from Coffeyville Community College in Kansas, is starting in his place. He is an effective receiver but better known for his blocking.
The Lobos also lost Jacob Trussell during the offseason to an Achilles injury. Trussell was UNM’s fastest tight end and a receiving threat. Junior Elijah Queen, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound converted receiver from Carson, California, could become an option as more of a receiving tight end.
• Junior middle linebacker Ray Leutele, who has missed the past two games with a right foot injury, is expected to miss the game against the Cowboys, but he hasn’t been ruled out yet, Gonzales said.
Leutele has been assessed each week. He’ll likely return after the Lobos’ open week and play at Utah State Nov. 5, unless his status greatly improves.
Alec Marenco, a sophomore from Burges High in El Paso, Texas, has filled in nicely. He has 24 tackles this season.
Sophomore Dion Hunter, from Cleveland High, also contributes at middle linebacker. He has 13 tackles, one sack and 1 1/2 tackles for loss. They’ve shown UNM’s great depth at the linebacker position.