The Mamma's and the Pappas made a season famous by singing "Hazy Shade of Winter" well today at the Lobo Football Complex the weather was doing its rendition of "Hazy Shade of Springtime" as the dust and pollen flew all over and filled the air with haze. So too did the Lobos at this spirited 2 hour post Cherry-Silver practice.
I spoke to 3 people today to get their thoughts on just how this spring has sprung.
I first talked to Mark Paulsen the strength and conditioning coach. He probably has seen more spring practices than just about any person associated with the coaching staff. He has been here at UNM from Joe Morrison to Rocky Long with Dennis Franchione and Mike Sheppard in between stints at South Carolina. His impressions of this spring are interesting. Coach Paulsen thinks very highly of not only Bob Toledo but also Bob Stanley the new O-line master Sgt. (37 years experience as an offensive line coach). I share Mark's view that Bob Stanley will bring a whole new intensity to "The Hitmen". The emphasis is on not only hard work but also TOTAL attention to detail. Footwork and hand-to-hand drills are a HUGE part of this spring. This will be a totally reenergized O-line as Coach Stanley is a relentless teacher who accepts nothing but "THE RIGHT WAY". It doesn't hurt to have former Hitmen Jason Lenzmier as a graduate assistant either. The bottom line is that this O-line will be a force in the trenches.
Next I spoke to new Offensive Coordinator Bob Toledo. To answer the burning question on every Lobo fans lips, yes, he has found and purchased a home in Albuquerque! I asked him if there are enough hours in the day for this new offense to mature and his answer was an unequivocal "YES!" Coach Toledo has an air about him that exudes confidence. I asked him if, as some offensive minds think, it was the other teams job to keep the score down and he said "NO" that is not the philosophy: instead it is to know and master the plays and to execute them to the best of each players ability. Coach Toledo is a TOTAL stickler for detail, is not a yeller or screamer, yet he is constantly teaching and correcting each and every flaw that he and the other offensive coaches catch and, believe me, they don't miss ANYTHING! If one phrase can describe this spring it would be the phrase "RUN IT AGAIN". Today the offense worked on everything from "Alley Drill" (where a defender must defeat a blocker and tackle the runner in a defined space), to 7 on 7 "Pass Skeleton". The team also used this practice to begin installing game plans for three games next season! Talk about planning ahead! Coach Toledo stressed the importance of execution and assignment sound offensive football as keys to next season. He is hopeful that not only will the leaders step forward now but more importantly, this summer. The coach believes that the commitment to perfection begins now but must continue at this pace all summer for the Lobos to be the offense he and all Lobo fans want. He is COMMITTED to running the football and using it to make play action more effective. I also asked him about former Lobo Head Coach Mike Sheppard because, in alot of ways, Coach Toledo reminds me of how Sheppard approached teaching the game of Offensive football. Coach Toledo agreed saying it is not in his nature to yell and scream, but as he so eloquently put it "If I ever do yell, the players will GET IT!"
The final interview went to "The Rock". He explained that the reason spring practice was arranged this way be so that the Cherry-Silver game would not have to be played so close to Finals week. (Yes Virginia, these Lobos also HIT THE BOOKS!) Coach Long and his staff decided to use the last three practices to install game plans as I described before. Coach Long said that it would otherwise not make sense to try and practice AFTER the scrimmage, and if you think I am going to tell you the three games that are being installed you obviously do not know who you are dealing with! "KEEP IT SECRET, KEEP IT SAFE!" as Gandalf told
Frodo Baggins in "The Lord of the Rings" and that is exactly what I am going to do!!
Bo Greer. Bo knows that this is a new offense and the Lobos lost some real talent in Baskett, Cook, Moore and Byrd. Bo ALSO KNOWS the O-line must double-time it to be good and he is pushing not only himself but shouting encouragement and advice to all the other Hitmen who dare so much as slack off for even one second.
Quincy Black is NOT a 3-letter senior. In fact the Lobos have only 3 (that's right THREE) 3-letter seniors. So... that means that experience is at a premium. Quincy is bound and determined be a big time defensive playmaker and was very active on the field today.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO KOLE MCKAMEY!!! I hope he finally got unstuck from the three miles of athletic tape that Robert Turner (who else?) and some other players used to tape Kole to the goal post in the South end zone of "Rocky Long Stadium"!!!! You gotta have a little fun sometimes!