First Week of Two-A-Days

The grueling week of Two-A-Days started on Saturday, but this week it is two-a-days!


The New Mexico Lobos were again mixing it up in full pads on Monday night at the UNM practice fields and the workout produced some of the best fireworks seen from the team to date.  LT Sylvester Hatten was back in action as was CB DeAndre Wright as he suffered an ankle sprain during Saturday night's practice.  Sr. LG Matt Streid remained with the first team throughout the practice.  There were a wide variety of drills that took place Monday night that ranged from 10 second countdown field goal practice to punting drills from the offense's own end zone to some full scrimmaging with live down and distance at the conclusion of practice. 


The field goal kicking drills began the practice and freshmen James Aho and Drew Zamora remain locked in a close battle for starting placekicker.  Zamora was the kicker that was placed on the hotseat during the 10 second countdown field goal drill.  One has to sympathize with the kicker in this drill as Head Coach Rocky Long begins a 10 second countdown to simulate a game winning field goal as time expires.  The entire kicking unit must rush onto the field and set up and the kicker must get a successful FG attempt away with the pressure of the Head Coach standing right behind him counting down.  Zamora rose to the occasion and booted the ball through the uprights from about 35 yards out on the left hash.  Perhaps drills like these have helped the Lobos develop some of the most mentally tough and clutch performers at placekicker in the MWC in recent years.    


The Lobo Punters faced similar pressure as they were forced to practice punting from the very back of their own endzone in dangerous territory.  A high or mishandled snap can easily result in a safety in this situation and both the UNM punters and deep snappers are untested heading into this season.  Luckily Sr. Jake Bowe was able to deliver accurate snaps and there was no trouble handling the ball for any of the three Lobo punters currently in training camp.  The punts themselves were inconsistent though Jr. Adam Miller boomed one that would have been fielded on the opponent's side of the 50 yard line making it more than a 60 yard punt.  Miller truly possesses phenomenal leg strength when he gets a hold of the ball and could help the offense out of some tricky situations this season.


Next up was a brief but spirited Alley drill session which tests the blocking skill of offensive and defensive players.  True Freshman Edrick Boger from Dallas caught our eye as he delivered a punishing hit to WR Michael Scarlett.  The team quickly moved into the Pursuit drill in which the entire defense sprints onto the field and then reacts to a direction shown to them by the coaches.  Every player must sprint to the ball, drop to the ground, and pop back up and finish the play running hard.  The pursuit drill is approximately half conditioning, half assignment practice and likely helps to develop the "swarm to the ball" mentality that is a trademark of Rocky Long's defense. 


Following the Pursuit drill we were able to get another look at the receiving corps with WR vs. DB one on one situations.  So. Chris Hernandez looked great this evening and made a fantastic grab in the corner of the endzone in which he was able to jump up, secure the ball, and get both feet down in bounds.  Jr. Daryl Jones had a nice grab on a post against tight coverage by Frankie Soloman and Soloman's brother Quintell, a freshman WR in the Lobo program, showed great concentration when he stayed with a deflected ball and secured it for a reception.  Sr. WR Jermaine McQueen made a great diving catch on a go pattern in which he turned on the jets and ran by Jr. Lobo Clint McPeek in one of the more exciting plays of practice and true freshman DB Jesse Paulsen came up with an interception on a great read and break on the ball.  So. WR Bryant Williams also ran great routes and showed dependable hands throughout the passing drills.   


Last but certainly not least was a very entertaining live scrimmage period.  The defense opened the scrimmage as the aggressor, forcing Donovan Porterie to scramble on the first play.  The Jr. QB showed his good mobility and pocket presence and was able to break containment around the right side of the offensive line for a first down run.  The defense came up with big stops on the next three plays of the series and Sr. trio Zach Arnett, Herbert Felder, and Kevin Balogun blew up a Rodney Ferguson run in the backfield on first down.  Ferguson was able to get back to the original line of scrimmage on the following play with some tough running inside but Porterie's third down pass attempt fell incomplete giving the defense a three and out.

DeAndre Wright


The second team offense trotted out onto the field and began what was a nicely engineered drive by Fr. backup QB Brad Gruner.  Fr. RB James Wright began the drive with a nice interior run on a shotgun handoff for a gain of about 7 yards.  On second down the defense once again had multiple players in the backfield to stop the run for a loss; this time with Sr. Jeremiah Lovato, Fr. Jaymar Latchison, and Jr. Frankie Baca leading the charge.  After the loss of about 5 yards Gruner rolled right and threw back across the field to uncovered FB Josh Fussell (Soph.) who then picked up about 20 yards.  Lobo fans might remember a similar play that lead to UNM's first touchdown against NMSU last season.  The defense stiffened after the big gain by Fussell as Jr. DE Phillip Harrison dropped Wright for a loss followed by a great stop by Fr. LB Carmen Messina on a screen pass to Wright.  The second team offense was forced to settle for a field goal which Fr. Drew Zamora added from about 30 yards out. 


Hungry to avenge their three and out earlier in the scrimmage the first team offense returned to the field determined to get into the endzone.  Things did not begin well for the offense on the drive as the Lobo defensive linemen including Lovato and Fr. Mark Hunter were able to get to Porterie for a sack.  Unfortunately I am not at liberty to describe in detail what happened next as the offense reached deep into its bag of tricks and ran two consecutive trick plays, the second of which went for a touchdown.  In the interest of protecting the secrecy of the plays and the wishes of the coaching staff I will not describe them here but I will say that they are very well designed, have not been seen to date, and stunned the Lobo defense.  Fr. K James Aho of Roswell added the extra point after the trick play touchdown and the scrimmage came to a close in exciting fashion.

Podcasting with Rudy C.


Next up:  Two practices Wednesday (6-8 am and 7-9 pm), both are open to the public.



Offensive Player of the Practice:


WR Chris Hernandez.  Hernandez consistently caught everything thrown his way tonight as he has done throughout training camp.  The set of drills that were run tonight allowed him the opportunity to showcase his other gifts including his leaping ability and footwork around the sideline and at the back of the endzone.  As has been said a time or two before Hernandez may begin to remind us of another Lobo WR that wore #18 quite soon.      


Defensive Player of the Practice:


DE/NT Jeremiah Lovato.  Lovato was in on two sacks and penetrated into the backfield throughout the live scrimmage period.  The Sr. Rio Grande HS product is also a strong leader that sets a great example for the younger d-linemen in the program and is greatly respected by his teammates.     


505/575 Pride:


DE Phillip Harrison.  Highland HS graduate Harrison was also in the backfield often during Monday night's workout.  In addition to his solid performance at DE Harrison has been serving as the Lobos' snapper for field goals and extra points.  Freshmen kickers Drew Zamora and James Aho seem to have an easier time putting the ball through the uprights when Harrison delivers the snap.

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