Not much has changed in New Mexico's overall defensive system since Mendenhall left the program as defensive coordinator. The Lobos are still confusing opposing offenses with their system while maintaining their aggressive play.
"They haven't changed much of anything from what I've seen," said Cougar center Dallas Reynolds about the Lobo defense. "They're still coming at offenses from everywhere with their blitzes, and they're going to be a challenge for us. We're going to have to be prepared this Saturday for sure."
The key element in the 3-3-5 system is confusion. By rushing a myriad of different players throughout the game, the Lobos hope to create enough confusion for an opposing offense to create turnover opportunities and throw an offense off their tempo.
"The challenge with their defense is that they do a bunch of different stuff," said Reynolds. "They do it quick and they do it really aggressive in an attack style, so you have to watch a lot of film to know how they do things and go from there."
While Reynolds has faced New Mexico's 3-3-5 system before, Saturday will mark the first time he's seen them from the center position. It will be Reynolds who will have to make the line calls relative to what the Lobos pose defensively.
"It's definitely going to be a challenge for me, but I think Coach Weber has done a good job watching film with me and prepping me for what is coming," said Reynolds. "We've spent a ton of time watching what they do, and if we know what's coming and execute, then we'll be fine."
Pre-snap reads by both a quarterback and a center play a big part in any game. Against a defense that thrives on confusion and aggressive play, those pre-snap reads play perhaps a bigger factor , something Reynolds is certainly aware of.
"If you look up and see what they're doing and who is where and put your head down, then they'll likely have changed it," said Reynolds. "So that's going to be key for me, just to keep my head up and try my best to see what they're doing and what they're bringing and going from there."
Despite the radical alignments and aggressive nature of the Lobo defense, the key to executing against them isn't all that much more different than against more traditional defenses.
"Once you recognize what they're doing you just have to execute properly, and we'll be fine," summed up Reynolds. "It's no different than against any other team. The difference is the difficulty in identifying what New Mexico is doing, and like I said, Coach Weber has done a great job prepping me and everyone else on that, so if we execute like we've been coached we should be fine."