If you don't like the weather in New Mexico stick around for 5 minutes it will change… and indeed it did the weather changed drastically every few minutes this afternoon at the UNM practice fields as the Rocky Long's football team went through their second day of the spring practice season. The day started off sunny with a stiff breeze, fast forward 5 minutes a stiff wind with huge gusts, 25 more minutes a light rain, 5 more minutes sunny and windy, 15 minutes rain, 5 minutes hail, 5 minutes wind.
A day for an indoor practice facility? "During spring we would probably put them indoors today," said Coach Long. "Now if we were in the middle of the season with a trip up north we would bring them out here," added Long.
With the wind coming from the west the Lobos started going through some passing drills as Coach Dodd had mentioned last week the balls were going to be flying… and there was no doubt that the wind did play havoc with the passing game as balls weren't hitting their targets and plenty of passes were dropped… a good excuse? Not if you want to win the MWC championship it isn't. "I don't give a rat's %#$ how windy it is out here! Get the ball in the receiver's hands!" Offensive Coordinator Dan Dodd screamed at his quarterbacks and the QB's did respond, unfortunately, many receivers started dropping the ball earning the wrath of Coach Dodd… "Defense don't work on stripping the ball out of the receivers hands, in fact why don't you get off the field! We do a good enough job defending ourselves!"
I'd like to say it worked for everyone, but for some reason when a team gets the "dropseys" it becomes contagious… and as I left the practice field Coach Dodd still had his receivers out on the practice field explaining the importance of them concentrating and challenging them to catching the ball.
Speaking of the "new" offense that has been reported by the local media. Coach Long was asked by our television partner Scott Stiegler about the new "Air Long" offense. Coach Long kind of chuckled and said, "It will be part of our offense… It is a package that we can and will go to when our defense isn't stopping the other team and we need to score quick points… or when the other team is more physical then we are… the reason you are seeing more of it during spring is that we know how to run our regular offense and we want to introduce this package during spring." Rocky went on to say, "there are times you're going to see this offense and I still like that 2 tight end, running game where we are knocking them on their ass offense as well."
With that in mind I was watching the running backs today and the one-two punch of Rodney Ferguson and Paul Baker was working well today but the guy that had some nice runs… Adrian Byrd. With the injury to DonTrell and everyone looking for the next back Byrd has become the forgotten man… except for the coaches and the guys that Adrian puts a hat on. Most people think of Adrian as a fullback, and while he is an excellent fullback, Adrian can also play tailback and he is a receiving threat out of the backfield. Not to mention that he is the most experienced college running back the Lobos have on the roster… Don't count Byrd out!
I also checked out the play of the tight ends today and while they did drop a few I find myself impressed with Curtis "The Passion" Pino's receiving ability. The guy during 7 on 7 drills and 2-minute drills finds ways of getting open in the seams. We will see how the blocking is coming along Thursday, as the fellas will be in pads. I also had a chance to check out JC transfer John Mulchrone. At 6-4 225 he is an impressive size and he did make some nice catches today during 1-on-1 drills but also dropped one earning him some running time.
I think this is going to become a reoccurring theme all spring long, but boy do we have some safeties! These guys are big, quick, physical, and they make some plays. Between Tyson Ditmore, Ken West, and DeAndre Wright I can't even count how many passes they broke up and their pass defense was tight! How about back to back touchdowns scored by the Lobo safeties?
First TD scored was freshman DeAndre Wright jumping in front of a Bryan "Jed" Clampitt pass and takes the ball in! The next time up the line of scrimmage Ken West scoops up a fumble goes and goes for six! Coach Stretz and Long will have some tough decisions to make on playing time with this group of playmakers! Shoot they don't even have pads on yet.
When that happens watch out… Do any of you remember the old Rocky Balboa movie Rocky III when Mr. T. was asked what his prediction was for the fight vs. Rocky and he looked in the camera and said, PAIN!
I'm gonna make a prediction for Thursday!
Other defenders that really caught my eye today was the play of DE Adam Garday and Evroy Thompson. Garday had to be in on at least 3 sacks today and when he wasn't in there Evroy was swooping in from the other side. These two seniors are looking to make a huge impact this year and with the depth that Osia Lewis all of a sudden finds himself with the defensive line unit looks like a competitive place to keep your spot. Sr.'s Garday, Thompson, and Parker are going to have to work hard to keep their starting spot as Billy Brittain, Kevin Balogun, Siosafa Vave, Stephen Hutchinson, and newcomers Ryan Boyd and Tyler Donaldson will be fighting for their spots.
Ryan Boyd attacks the sled!
Defensive player of the day
I'm going to split it up once again. I could go three or four but I'm going to say DE Adam Garday. If I'm not mistaken I'm sure he had an INT at least 2-3 sacks, and a play where he jumped straight up in the air from his defensive end position that ended a well developed screen play by the Lobo offense.
Safety Tyson Ditmore who was all over the field on defense today during one on one drills, 7 on 7, and two-minute drills. Dom poked me in the ribs and said, "That guy is going to be a star. How many plays has he made today?" To tell you the truth Dom, I don't know, but I agree about the star thing!
One last thing
Hey Lobo football players! Go back to studying! I hear you guys are checking out the website during study hall. Get back to your books and don't take anything I say to seriously… After all, I am a grown man in a red wig! LOL!
Don't forget Thursday afternoon around 2:45 the Lobo football team will be wearing shoulder pads and helmets. Saturday afternoon should be a day of full pads.
If interested The Red Menace will be putting together a tailgate part for the Cherry Silver game on April 25th prior to the football game. If interested please let us know on the message board so!