Scouting Report: Lobo Offense

The Lobos of New Mexico bring their high-powered rushing attack to LaVell Edwards Stadium this Saturday in an attempt to beat down a Cougar team that hasn't lost at home since November 19, 2005. Bringing Cougar fans the scouting report are Brandon Howard, Andrew Rich and Brett Denney.

Over the past couple of years the Lobo offense has revolved around quarterback Donovan Porterie, who passed for more than 3,000 yards last season, and running back Rodney Ferguson. With Porterie going down with a torn ACL earlier this season, the Lobo offensive success is primarily on the shoulders of Ferguson.

"Their running back Ferguson - in whom we've seen over the years - we know quite a bit about," said cornerback Brandon Howard. "We know how he is, and he's had around 35 explosive plays so far this season, so it's something that we have to look out for."

"New Mexico has two really good running backs in [Paul] Baker and Ferguson," said safety Andrew Rich. "Ferguson is the type of running back that never goes down with one tackle. It usually takes more than one person to tackle him, and I'm very impressed with his patience. He uses his offensive line well and is a very patient runner by setting himself up with his runs. [With him] being a bigger back, I'm very impressed with that. He's kind of the center of attention there and they try to work things around him in that offense. They have a couple of running backs that are pretty good that we've seen on film. They run really hard and are physical type backs."

In addition to the 6-foot, 234-pound Ferguson and the 5-foot-7-inch, 198-pound Baker, the Lobos also have 5-foot-11-inch, 235-pound James Wright. Wright rushed for 120 yards against Wyoming last Saturday. He is a power runner similar to Ferguson and will figure to be in the rotation at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

"They're a team that plays hard and we're expecting them to come out and play us tough," said Rich about the Lobos. "Their offensive line plays physically up front and they have powerful running backs that have experience. We're looking forward to playing the game knowing that they are a physical team. We have to be prepared defensively with that mindset going into the game."

"I would describe New Mexico's offense as powerful," said Rich. "They're big, strong and powerful and they want to try and beat us up. They'll want to establish the run with their bigger running backs behind an aggressive offensive line. They're going to try and run over us and then try and pass over the top by doing play action. That's kind of what they like to do. They'll pound, pound, pound with the run and then pass on you over the top."

"They ran for over 200 yards a game basically," said Howard. "So, we're going to have to flow to the ball well and be sure we wrap up while watching for the pass over the top. That's kind of what they like to do. They'll either hit you with the screens or go over the top."

Looking to catch passes from new quarterback Brad Bruner will be four main Lobo receivers in Roland Bruno, Chris Hernandez, Jermaine McQueen and Bryant Williams.

"There's [Bruno], who's been around and had some good playing time last year," said Howard. "He's quick and shifty and is their screen guy. He's the type of receiver that they like to get the ball to quickly and let him make something happen afterwards."

The 5-foot-10-inch, 166-pound Bruno is a junior and former walk-on from Texas. He made his debut last year and was the biggest surprise for the Lobo offense. Bruno is a student of the game and is the best downfield blocker in the Lobo receiving corps.

"Then they have [Hernandez], who is their newer guy, but he's definitely their playmaker," said Howard. "They like to go downfield with him. He can stretch the field."

At 6 feet 3 inches and 191 pounds, Hernandez is bigger than Bruno.

"Their speed guy is [Williams], who is really fast," said Howard. "He runs a 10.6 100x and runs track too for New Mexico. They haven't done a whole lot with him, but we're expecting something because he's fast and can be a vertical threat. We haven't seen too much with his hands, but he can definitely be a vertical threat."

Williams comes in at 5 feet 11 inches and 190 pounds, and is the Lobos' fastest receiver.

The type of offensive system the Lobos often run - in coaching jargon - is called 21 personnel. The 21 personnel offensive system is in reference to the two running backs in the backfield and one tight end. Hence, the two and one or 21 personnel.

"It's basically just two running backs in the backfield and one tight end, then the two wide receivers out," said Howard. "The personnel [formation] starts with the backs and then the tight end, so it can be 21 personnel, 12 personnel, 11 personnel or 10 personnel, so you start with the backs and then move out to the tight ends. The tight end can either be in the tight end position or split out. It can be 01 personnel, meaning there are no backs and one tight end. They also call that an empty formation, but the one formation New Mexico likes to run is the 21 formation."

When an offense revolves around the 21 personnel formation, it generally means that offense that likes to run.

"We've seen a lot of 21 and 11 personnel," said Howard. "When you see a 21 personnel team, they like to run it and do play action with the tight end. They like to go max protection with the tight end and then throw it deep. The 11 personnel is a one-back and one-tight end [formation], and that's when an offense has more of a spread look and usually goes into a shotgun formation."

The Lobo offense relies on its ability to execute better than a defender can defend against it.

"It's a very basic offense yet very effective," said Howard. "It's simple for them because there's not a whole bunch of things they do, but they execute what they do very, very well. They like to come at you and run, run, run, and then [use] play action or get you with gadgets to catch you off guard. They like to pound you and then go deep. They have a nice scheme and it's basic, but it works."

"In watching film we like to look for tendencies in certain formations," said Rich. "We look at what they like to do in certain formations in down and distances. The coaches prepare us well in helping us in breaking down film and in understanding those small things. They've prepared us as well for this game as any other."

"We have to do our homework this week," said Howard. "We've checked out their patterns and tendencies with Coach Hill. He does a great job of breaking it down for us and helping us out."

Keys to Victory

"We have to stop the run," said Howard. "We have to stop the run and make sure nothing goes over our head. Stopping the run will be stopping about 60 percent of their offense, and they pass about 40 percent, so stopping the run will be taking away a big portion of their offense."

"Play harder and want it more than our opponent," said Rich when asked about the keys to victory. "We have to play and do the things our coaches have asked of us scheme-wise. We have to go out there and play and want it more than they do, and do the things the coaches have asked us to do in our schemes."

Cougar Conversations

Brett Denney gives a brief report of the Lobo offense in this audio interview.

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