Dust City Bowl
Saturday, Dec 19: Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Lobo Football Cannot Hold Lead in Season Opener
Are we in for another bumpy season?
When the University of New Mexico Lobos took the field for the first regular-season game on Saturday afternoon, things felt fine. The weather was good, the pre-season had gone well and second-year coach Bob Davie was looking to continue down the trail of improvement that he'd begun last year. For the first quarter—and most of the first half—things seemed like they'd stay pleasant. By the end of the game, though, the Lobos offense showed that it could not advance beyond an early spurt, and the defense proved porous the entire game long. The Lobos fell to the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners, 21-13.
The game started on a positive note, as SaQwan Edwards returned a fumble for a touchdown. Coach Davie, showing confidence in his team, went for two, but missed the conversion. A disappointment for the Cherry and Silver home crowd, certainly, but never a bad move at home, in the first game, after such an early touchdown. The first quarter ended with UNM up 6-0 and the second quarter proved more of the same; the Lobos scored quickly again on a perfect pass from second-year quarterback Cole Gautsche to a wide-open Marquis Bundy. UNM took the easy kick this time, and sat pretty on a 13-0 lead.
However, the Roadrunners began their comeback at the end of the second quarter, and the Lobos never scored again. The Lobos lost the game on every conceivable benchmark, possessing the ball for just under five minutes less than the Roadrunners, while throwing and running for fewer yards as well. As impressive as the game began, the Edwards touchdown came off the only turnover in the game. With the Roadrunners playing a protective game, UNM wasn't aggressive enough to cause any other opportunities. While Gautsche provided an impressive running game, tallying 118 yards, he only completed four of 12 passes, for 65 yards. In stark contrast UTSA's quarterback, Eric Soza, threw for 237 yards, completing 21 of 34 attempts. The Roadrunners ran for another 157, dominating a Lobos defense that seemed lost at times.
The Lobos have come a long way from going win-less through entire seasons, or winning a mere one game per. But the home opener proves that they still have a long way to go. Their next two games are at UTEP on September 7 and then at Pittsburgh on September 14, before getting a bye week and finally coming home. When the Lobos return to University Stadium, it will face a UNLV team that lost their first game as well (against the Minnesota Golden Gophers) and will have had three games in between. The game will be played on Saturday, September 28 at 6 MST.
Lobo Football Wins Again
UNM overhauls Texas State 35-14
Last weekend, Lobo football defeated Texas State for their third victory of the year, matching the total wins of their last three seasons combined. When Bob Davie took over the cherry and silver head coaching duties, not even the most jaded Lobo fan could have imagined such a convincing change of course.
Infamous former head coach Mike Locksley evoked some ridicule with an early statement that the Lobos were going to need “... a third digit for the scoreboard ...” because they were going to be piling on the points under his leadership. So far this season, the Lobos are still nowhere near that level of ambitious boasting, but they are averaging more than 28 points a game, which far surpasses previous records. Consider that in 2011, the Lobos scored a meager 17 touchdowns over the entire season (and only 21 in each of the two before that).
Unlike the Lobos' first victory this season, their last two have come over respectable, even if not powerhouse, Division I schools. The win two weeks ago against instra-state rivalry NMSU was extremely important to most sports-loving New Mexicans. But the near-win last week against burly Boise State seemed to say even more. With these games adding to the Lobos' self-esteem and win total, things seem to be primed for a turnaround.
As exciting as the early season has been, don't declare the future a bed of roses just yet. Despite a Lobo triumph, the game against the Bobcats wasn't pretty. New Mexico managed only one completed pass in the entire game. Though rushing yards were ample, making up for the lack of a passing game, that won't be enough to assure wins in the future. The Lobos have now rushed for more than 400 yards in four separate games, but they'll need to balance out their attack in order to see victories over more quality opponents.
And the more quality opponents are on their way. All of the games from this point on are conference matches, and the Lobos currently sit at 7th in the Mountain West. Staring up at our opponents is not necessarily the way we want to start conference play but, fortunately, next week the Lobos face Hawaii (one of the three teams that hasn't won a game in our conference thus far).
If the winning ways can keep up, even just for next week, the Lobos can lay claim to something they haven't had in more than four years: a winning record halfway through the season.
Hangover Sports Roundup
Lobos crash back to reality, 49ers bully Packers
When the University of New Mexico defeated the Southern Jaguars 66-21 their opening weekend, it was the fresh start the football program desperately needed. For the first time in three years every part of the team worked in sync, showing some potential for Lobo Football to be successful again. The only only damper on the victory was the fact they beat a poor team from a weak conference. Southern offered little opposition and little opportunity for UNM to show their stuff beyond a spectacular halftime show. So when the Lobos squared off against the No.15 Texas Longhorns, fans and critics were given an accurate depiction of New Mexico's football program.
Lobo fans watching the first half had reason to feel okay as their defense kept Texas to a less-than-terrifying 17-0 lead at halftime. But after UNM quarterback B.R. Holbrook suffered a concussion in the second quarter, the optimism quickly turned into panic. The Longhorns proved why they are a true college football powerhouse by forcing four Lobo turnovers and a crushing final score of 45-0. Even though UNM suffered another beat-down at the hands of a top college football team, the Lobos had a solid ground attack and were even able to rush for 206 yards. Local sports talk radio were surely filled with calls angry and depressed fans already claiming this season was a failure. But sensible fans can hardly expect head coach Bob Davie to work a miracle in one season. Former coach Mike Locksley caused huge damage to an already fragile program. It's going take years to transform UNM into a threatening college football program. As for this season, if Davie can lead his team to a decent performance at Texas Tech before the big grudge match against New Mexico State, the Lobos should feel confident heading into Mountain West Conference play.
NFL Opening Weekend
Just two years ago, The San Francisco 49ers looked like the shell of a franchise that won five Super Bowls. But ever since second-year head coach Jim Harbaugh took over, honor and respect have been restored to the Bay Area. Last year, the 49ers proved to be a dark horse when came out of nowhere to go 13-2, win their division and play in the NFC Championship game. With the target off their backs, the 'Niners looked towards a tough season opener against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field this last weekend. Meanwhile, the Packers were looking to erase the memory of losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champions the New York Giants. If the 49ers could defeat Green Bay on the road, it would seal their place as one of the elite teams of the league.
San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith exercised his new offensive weapons Mario Manningham and Randy Moss while picking apart the Packer defense. Along with Frank Gore's power-running game, he led the 49ers into a 16-7 lead at halftime. Aaron Rodgers was able to move the ball for Green Bay but failed to make the game-changing play that would have captured the lead. The Packers cut the Niners' 16-point lead to just 8 in the fourth quarter. But Harbaugh's signature defense held steady and managed to avoid a last-second Green Bay comeback. San Francisco’s 30-22 victory should give them the momentum they need moving forward into the season and will potentially set them up for a repeat of last year's success and beyond.