Bob Davie was shocked Tuesday by a reporter’s suggestion that he might feel added pressure this week because his New Mexico Lobos are expected to beat the New Mexico State Aggies in football Saturday.
Shocked. Absolutely shocked.
“Really? Wait a second,” the second-year UNM coach said in response to a question at UNM’s weekly fall sports news conference. “If we win, it’s kind of like (people) expect that? I thought we lost three straight (to the Aggies) before I came here.
“… Expected to win? I don’t think so. We’re scratching for everything we get. And it will always be that way. That’s what this game is, and that’s what this game should be.”
Yet, based on both the history and the betting line, the Lobos indeed are expected to win Saturday in the 105th renewal of their rivalry with New Mexico State.
The Lobos (1-3) are nine-point favorites against the winless (0-5) Aggies.
New Mexico leads the series 67-32, with five ties.
In addition, the Lobos beat the Aggies on the road last year, 27-14, and have the home field Saturday.
And, while it’s true NMSU won three straight against UNM from 2009-2111, it’s also true the Lobos won the previous six and 20 of the previous 25.
To Davie, all that matters is Saturday’s game between two struggling football teams. Neither the record book nor the oddsmakers are playing.
First-year Aggies head coach Doug Martin, Davie notes, is in virtually the same position Davie found himself last year.
“I know the credibility it can give you,” Davie said, “coming in in your first season, if you can win a game against your archrival.”
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Last Saturday, after the Lobos gave up 581 yards total offense in losing 56-42 to UNLV, Davie was a frustrated football coach.
“It’s humbling,” he said of his defense’s performance.
Tuesday, after viewing the UNLV game film and having had a couple of days to reflect, he was considerably more upbeat.
“(The Rebels’) inside running game, we played it pretty darn good,” he said. “All their zone-read stuff.”
Of the Lobos’ defensive problems downfield and on the perimeter, Davie gave UNLV full credit. But he added, “We just have fundamental breakdowns. Particularly at positions when you’re overmatched a little bit, if you have one little fundamental breakdown, it’s a big play against you.”
The Lobos’ triple-option offense, which dented the Rebels for 497 yards on the ground, ranks third nationally in average yards rushing per game (324). The UNM defense, in contrast, ranks 110th in average total yards allowed (472).
Yet, Davie said, “Our scheme on defense is every bit as good as our scheme on offense. It’s every bit as progressive as our scheme on offense.
“(But) on defense, your scheme can be as good as it can be, but that ball doesn’t always go where you want it to go. … That’s the reality on defense. It takes longer to build it. It takes longer to develop players.”
THE FRANKLIN FACTOR: In answer to a question, Davie said he didn’t realize NMSU star wide receiver Austin Franklin – expected to redshirt this season because of academic problems – had been reinstated.
Franklin saw his first action of the season last Saturday in the Aggies’ 26-16 loss to San Diego State, catching two passes for 18 yards.
Last year in Las Cruces, Franklin caught six passes for 107 yards and a touchdown against UNM.
“He’s a great player,” Davie said. “He’s one of the most explosive players we played all last year.”
THE QB PICTURE: Davie said junior quarterback Clayton Mitchem probably will see some action against the Aggies, despite the outstanding game (108 yards rushing, two touchdowns on the ground, a TD pass) sophomore Cole Gautsche turned in against UNLV.
“I think Clayton Mitchem is too talented (to relegate to the bench),” Davie said, “and we need to play him.”
Plans always can change, Davie said, depending on the flow of the game. Mitchem started against UNLV, but saw limited action after Gautsche proved so effective in running the option.