Coach hopes offseason progress translates to success vs. UTSA
When folks on both sides of a football game are warning against overconfidence, there are two conclusions to be drawn.
One: It’s probably a season opener between two teams with strikingly different storylines, open to interpretation.
Two: It’s probably an even and intriguing matchup.
Dillon Farrell, the starting center on the University of New Mexico football team, said this week it’s his impression that some UNM fans believe the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners are so much Lobo meat.
The Roadrunners play the Lobos tonight in the season opener for both teams. Won’t UTSA, little-known hereabouts, surely be devoured on the synthetic turf of University Stadium, just as the little-known Southern Jaguars were in last year’s opener?
“I think maybe (that’s the consensus),” Farrell said. “I don’t know why. They’re a really good team; they went 8-4 last year. They’re definitely not Southern by any means.
“You throw on the tape and you see a team that hustles, plays hard and is physical.”
Meanwhile, in San Antonio, a contributor to a UTSA fan website was telling his Twitter followers not to take the lowly Lobos too lightly.
“Biggest mistake we can make as fans,” he tweeted, “is think that UTSA is gonna roll over UNM. It might happen but don’t hold your breath.”
Both sides, clearly, have reason to think their team will win handily.
From the UNM standpoint, sure, UTSA went 8-4 last year. But four of those eight wins came against teams from the lesser NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
The Roadrunners are newbies in the Football Bowl Subdivision, in which the Lobos have competed since before it was called Division I-A.
The four FBS teams UTSA beat last year had a combined record of 8-41. Two of those, New Mexico State and Texas State, also lost to the Lobos.
And, by the way, the Roadrunners never even played football until 2011.
Lobos coach Bob Davie doesn’t look at any of that.
He looks at the UTSA roster, and at Roadrunners game film from last season, and sees danger everywhere.
Davie notes that UTSA hired Larry Coker, who won a national title as the coach at Miami 12 years ago, as its coach in 2009. The Roadrunners practiced as a team in the fall of 2010 before taking the field for the first time in 2011.
“They’ve really taken advantage of the time they’ve had,” Davie said, “the continuity they’ve had, and you see it (on film).”
What UTSA supporters might see when they look at the Lobos is a bedraggled program that took only a small step forward last fall in Davie’s first year.
Who, after all, did New Mexico beat in finishing 4-9? Southern, New Mexico State, Texas State and Hawaii – teams that went a combined 13-35.
Coker, however, has no doubt watched film of a 2012 New Mexico team that lost five games by a total of just 23 points and rushed for 330 yards against Boise State, 409 against Air Force and 349 against Fresno State.
Running back Kasey Carrier ranked 12th in the nation in rushing, and quarterback Cole Gautsche averaged 7 yards per carry out of UNM’s option-based, pistol-formation offense.
Carrier and Gautsche are back, a year older and presumably better. Four of five starters return on the offensive line.
“They’re really good,” Coker said of the Lobos during his weekly news conference. “The running back (Carrier) is really good. They do an outstanding job running the ball. … They’re going to be a real challenge for us.”
The challenge for the Lobos, other than the guys in the white uniforms, is to transfer onto the field the progress Davie has seen off the field since last November.
“This year,” Davie said, “I know the culture’s better. The culture’s consistent. … On the practice field, in the meeting room, going to class, doing the right things, that’s all completely better.
“We just have to go play with the lights on.”
While fans on both sides might be anticipating a blowout, the oddsmakers see the Lobos as 3- to 4-point favorites.