Sunday November 12th New Mexico Head Coach Rocky Long dropped in to do the final Lobo Coaches Show of the 2005 football season. The season of promise had just ended in a thud as the Air Force Academy dropped the Lobos 42-24 crippling any post-season hopes. I recall a very disappointed Rocky Long talking about taking time to evaluate the season and making serious changes where needed. Even then Coach Long was talking about a spark…
Flash forward a few months and the promised changes were made as a reorganization of the coaching staff was made, starting with the hiring of former UCLA Head Coach Bob Toledo. From there the dominos fell as Asst. Coach Dan Dodd was moved from Offensive Coordinator to Special Teams Coordinator/Wide Receivers/Kickers. Jason Strauss and Everett Todd were moved to supporting staff. Def. Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Osia Lewis and Linebacker Coach Lenny Rodriguez switched duties, and then former coaches Grady Stretz and Bob Bostad left for other jobs that were filled by Todd Throckmorton (Tight Ends), Bob Stanley (Offensive Linemen) and Danny Gonzales was elevated to coaching safeties/punters. All this movement in 5 months and all this movement for one purpose, to spark up the program.
Today, the "spark" was unveiled as the 2006 UNM Spring football session started!
Since most people feel the major move of the off season was the hiring of Coach Toledo I spent most of the afternoon following Coach T around to see what the "spark" was all about. First thing I noticed about Coach T. is that he wants to have fun as he is teaching the players. Today he was telling his QB's about the real estate agent finding him a home and that the agent wanted him to skip practice today as the agent found him a steal. He followed it up commenting about the fashion sense of many of the players. The whole time he is teaching, guiding the players in what they will be doing all spring. "Come on guys we are going to run thousands of curl patterns before this spring is up."
After warming up there are 2 things I noticed immediately about the passing game.
First, the quarterbacks are going to have to be adept with the play action. Whether the Lobos were in single back, split back, or I formation the play action pass is going to be the bread and butter of this offense. I was very impressed with the running of Martelius Epps and Rodney Ferguson so we know the Lobos can run. That being said, the running backs will set up play action passes that are going to toast the competition.
Second, Coach Toledo was downright giddy watching John Mulchrone's route running and pass catching ability. I'll tell you right now Mulchrone was hitting the seams perfectly and if the ball is there he will catch it! Now the trick is to get the quarterbacks to make those passes perfectly for big gains with the tight ends.
Other things I noticed about the offense today, and like I said, I spent most of the day following the offense around is that the fullbacks are going to be weapons this year. I noticed Rodney Ferguson spend time at the FB position, and Matthew Quillen is going to be a beast as well. A surprise at fullback was Alex Porterie at 6-3 225 he has some nice speed for a fullback and I really liked seeing the fullback being the outlet pass for the QB's. Watch Rodney Ferguson to bust quite a few from this position.
#22 Alex Porterie
Another thing the "spark" brings is every player is auditioning for the new coaches. No player is guaranteed a starting job or playing time based on what happened last year or if they started last year. It comes down to this, the players that pick up the changes the quickest are going to be the eventual starters and playing the lion's share of minutes come fall, with everything wide open that makes for an exciting spring practice!
Offensive Player of Practice
Tight End John Mulcrhone
Mulchrone runs excellent routes and has nice hands. As the offense looks at the tight end this season and the QB's and he get that special chemistry there is no reason Mulchrone can't be an all-conference player.
Defensive Player of Practice
Safety Danny Martin
I didn't spend much time watching the defensive side of the ball though the Lobos did have scrimmage some (no pads) and Danny was flying to the ball, picked up a fumble for a TD and was involved in a nice interception tip play. As practice ended Danny was talking with Coach Gonzales trying to find a way into more practice time.
QB Kole McKamey (Artesia High School)
While he wasn't perfect, Kole was crisp during scrimmages today, hooked up on a nice play seam play with Mulchrone and was making good decisions when to dump the ball off.
**It isn't just spring practice for the players. It is for us as well as today's videos weren't the best quality we are hoping for. We will continue to work on quality!