Cougars Face Scrappy But Young Lobos

While the New Mexico offensive line may be called "The Hitmen," and head coach Mike Locksley was recently involved in an altercation with an assistant coach, one thing is for sure: there won't be any punching or hair-pulling being done to these Cougars like the Lobo women's soccer team recently did. Next up, the 0-9 Lobos of New Mexico.

Against the Cowboys of Wyoming, Max Hall completed 20 of 22 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns – a season high – to become the MWC all-time touchdown leader.

Meanwhile, last week the Lobos gave up 251 rushing yards and 306 passing yards, for a total of 557 yards, to the Utah offense. The Cougars look to fare just as well against a young defense learning a new defensive scheme.

"Their defensive backs are young, really young," said Cougar wide receiver O'Neill Chambers. "They don't have that much technique and they open up a lot. They don't stay in their backpedal and they don't trust their speed. They seem to turn and run a lot, and that opens up the middle. They have a lot of weaknesses on their defense."

At the cornerback positions for New Mexico are two redshirt freshmen in 5-foot-11-inch, 163-pound Edrick Boger and 5-foot-11-inch, 178-pound Nathan Enriquez.

"They're not very big and kind of small," said Chambers. "They're scrappy but don't have a lot of experience. This is a conference game so we expect them to be scrappy, but they've got young corners and we expect it to be rough for them."

The Cougar offense racked up a total of 543 yards on 67 plays against a Wyoming defense that statistically included some of the nation's top tacklers. The Wyoming defense was chockfull of returning starters, but the situation is quite different for the Lobos since former head coach and defensive specialist Rocky Long moved to San Diego.

"They're just trying to find their base and are starting over basically," Chambers said. "Some issues I've seen is they give away a lot what they're trying to do. They open up and run all the time, and in my opinion that's one of the worst things you can do. You can't open up that fast or you're going to get into trouble. That's mostly because they're young and still learning."

During the Lobos' last defensive outing against the Utah offense, Ute freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn completed 18 of 28 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns.

"As a receiver you get your white eyes when you see that," said Chambers. "When you attack a defense looking to find themselves you look for pinpoints. You look at how many steps they take and which way they open up out of their backpedal to start running. You also look at how quick they turn their hips, and if they don't turn their hips it's a good advantage of breaking on their routes.

The base of the Lobo defensive scheme has changed from the 3-3-5 under Coach Long to a 4-3-4. However, they'll switch things up and show some different looks.

"They run a base 5-3-3 defense and do different things with that," said Chambers. "They basically like to go man on the outside with their cornerbacks and then use the one safety over the top. They leave the middle open with the defensive backs with the one safety and then with the linebackers and line cluster up front. For a passing offense it can leave a lot of open access if you don't have an experienced secondary.

"They do a lot of man-free coverage where they have a safety in the back and everyone's covered up with one-on-one on the outside," Chambers continued. "They go man coverage on the outside, and that can make it kind of hard to defend against an offense that likes to spread the ball around."

The Lobos will also try and use their linebackers to try and take away the passing lanes of quarterbacks and the inside routes of receivers.

"Sometimes they'll drop back and try and take away the shorter routes of receivers," Chambers said. "We've seen how they'll do that, but their linebackers can't cover as well as a cornerback. They don't have as good of feet."

Past BYU opponents have switched up their defense when playing the Cougars so as to catch them off guard and better defend their high-powered offense. It remains to be seen whether or not New Mexico will take that approach.

"I think we have a big advantage against that type of defense, but you never know; they might change things up a bit against us," Chambers said. "From what we've seen they don't really disguise their coverages, so it's going to be pretty obvious to us early what we can and cannot do against them. We've seen teams change things up for us from what we've seen them do against other teams on film. We've seen how they try and change things up to better match up against our offense and what we try to do. You just don't know until we step on the field, but those are things we've seen."

Keys to Victory

"I would say first spread the ball around to as many receivers as you can," Chambers said. "Put pressure on them by having everybody score, and then everybody have fun."

BYU running back Harvey Unga gives his thoughts on what he's seen on film from the Lobo defense in the audio interview below.

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