Scouting Report: The Lobo Offense

New Mexico has struggled under first-year head coach Mike Locksley, going 0-9. Nevertheless, the Cougars aren't taking the Lobos lightly and are preparing to face a Lobo offense with some dangerous weapons. Total Blue Sports caught up with linebacker Terrance Hooks and Coach Kaufusi to get the scouting report.

"We don't want to think just because they haven't won a game that they can't come out and win one," Terrance Hooks said. "We feel like with any team that gets a new staff they're going through some growing pains, but once they're able to get that stuff out of the way they have some talent to do some things. In their last game, they were playing with Utah for the first quarter or half or something like that.

"The thing about New Mexico is we as a team don't feel their record represents who they really are, at least from the offensive side of the ball. We don't feel their record reflects their capabilities and how hard they play. I'm not really sure about the defensive side, but on the offensive side of the ball that's how we feel."

Coach Kaufusi also isn't taking New Mexico lightly.

"Who cares about the 0-9 record they might have?" Coach Kaufusi said. "We still have to line up and play and they're a bunch of hungry guys right now because they want to get that win. On top of that they're playing BYU and nobody likes us, so everybody wants to knock BYU off, so we're expecting their best game. It's always scary when you play a team like this and there is no feeling of being relaxed."

After suffering a leg injury in the spring of 2008, Hooks made his return to the field against New Mexico later that year. He faced a Lobo offense that featured running back Rodney Ferguson, who rushed for 1,105 yards in 2008.

"I remember coming back for that game and playing against Rodney Ferguson, who was a beast," said Hooks. "He was one guy that you had to stop and was an amazing runner between the tackles in that offense."

Though Ferguson is no longer at New Mexico, the Lobos still have some weapons at running back.

"From what I've seen on film they're definitely pretty good at running the ball," said Hooks. "They've got some good backs over there and they use them in different ways in their offense. They can run and catch the ball out of the backfield. The big thing about their running backs is one of them [6-foot, 200-pound A.J. Butler] is actually the leading receiver on their team. They can definitely catch the ball out of the backfield and get some yards like our backs in our offense.

"They're a versatile group with one that is smaller and quicker [5-foot-9-inch, 175-pound Kasey Carrier] and the other is bigger [6-foot, 239-pound James Wright]. We feel like they have some great runners and are probably one of the better group of backs in our conference. The thing is, we just have to be sure that we don't let that 0-9 record seep into our minds and affect how we play them, and like I said they definitely don't play like their record."

"I think they run ball really well and run it better than Wyoming," said Coach Kaufusi. "I feel like they have some good backs back there, and just because they're 0-9 doesn't mean we don't still have our work cut out for us. Their running backs are good and their offensive line will do a good job of blocking, and so when we look at this game we are going to treat them like anybody else."

According to the Cougars, New Mexico has some other offensive weapons as well.

"They have great athletes and have some good receivers and a really athletic and experienced quarterback in Porterie that can hurt you in different ways," said Hooks. "He's got a pretty good arm that's accurate and he can run when needed. I think as the season's gone on, things have clicked more for them offensively, so we can't take them lightly because everyone is gunning for BYU."

"When you have a mobile quarterback it creates a nightmare for defensive lines," said Coach Kaufusi. "When you have a quarterback that's so versatile and athletic and can pull the ball down and run, it just makes you work harder to contain those guys. I mean, you have to pass rush but you also have to contain and that brings a different set of challenges that we have to address."

The Lobo offense is designed to compliment Porterie's mobility.

"They do the ride or option ride and spread the ball around to try to get you out of position a lot," Hooks said. "They want to get you out of your assignment and try and break a big play, and they've had some big plays this year in their offense. They've have some 80-yard runs and some 60-yard runs, so they want to put pressure on a defense by forcing them to cover and prepare for different aspects and get you out of your assignments.

"But again, [Porterie] can definitely throw and move the ball up and down the field, and we've seen that having faced him over the years, but when he can't find someone downfield to throw the ball to he can move the ball with his legs. He's a playmaker for their offense. So they do the option ride and do it without the tight end because they have a really good and experienced offensive line."

The Lobo offensive line was been given the nickname "Hitmen" at the start of the year. Coach Kaufusi had some complimentary things to say about the Lobo offensive line after reviewing film and scouting out what his defensive line will face.

"They've always had big guys up front," said Coach Kaufusi. "They have three seniors up front in their center, their right guard and their right tackle. Then they have a sophomore and junior at the left guard and tackle. They do a great job and are athletic and again are just going through some soul-searching, and I bet it's hard. I've never been involved in losing that many games. The coaches are trying to do a good job in keeping those guys focused throughout the season and getting a win, and we can't relax one bit right now. We can't take those guys lightly just because Rocky Long is no longer there, and I'm sure in time they'll figure it all out. I just hope they don't figure it out before we get there."

Nose guard Romney Fuga recalls playing against the Lobo offensive line as a freshman prior to serving his mission.

"I just remember they were one of the hardest offensive lines I faced that year," recalled Fuga. "I just remember I had more bumps and bruises after that game because of how hard they played."

More and more teams like New Mexico are moving towards the ride option or spread option offense. But, BYU matches up well against that scheme according to Hooks.

"The 3-4-4 defense matches up well against the spread offense or option ride offense because you can have guys lined up in a four position or five position," said Hooks. "It makes it a lot easier for the guys on the outside to be in a better position to make plays against teams that might have a tendency to go more side to side like the ride option. The middle is set up for the dive and outside is naturally set up for the option, so the defense is naturally built to handle that type of offensive scheme. The defense is also built more around speed with one less defensive tackle and with one more smaller but maybe quicker linebacker. Just overall the 3-4-4 defense works really well against the option spread offense just because you have guys, as long as they are assignment-sound, in the right place to defend.

"I feel like the 3-4-4 defense also provides good versatility within the scheme. Like any other defense, you have your cornerbacks to play the pass, but with the linebackers you can get your reads and then use the versatility of the linebacker to either defend against the run or help out the secondary in the passing game. It's not necessarily a man and it's not necessarily a zone but a combination of both with communication on the field. It's like basketball in the grass and a good deal when covering the pass, especially when you have guys like Jordan Pendleton who was a safety and can drop back into a pass defense and defend like a safety downfield."

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