New Mexico Lobo Preview: Defense

A solid defensive line along with emotional linebackers and speedy, athletic corners make up the nationally ranked Lobo defense.

Senior defensive tackle D.J. Renteria (6-3, 282) leads the tenacious Lobo defensive line with his quickness and power.  The All-Mountain West Conference (MWC) first-team selection clogs up the middle much like Oregon State's Dwan Edwards.  His statistics, 41 tackles, 7 for loss, and a team leading seven quarterback hurries, do not tell how good of a player he is.  Renterira's pressure on the pocket has helped his team grab 37 sacks on the season.

Lining up to the left of Renteria is junior Kyle Coulter (6-1, 255) who has grabbed twenty tackles, two for loss, and recovered one fumble in 12 games.  He splits starts with fellow defensive tackle and All-MWC second team selection Daniel Kegler (6-3, 260) who has harnessed 25 tackles, 9.5 for loss, a team and conference leading 6.5 sacks, and a team leading three forced fumbles.

Next to Coulter and Kegler is senior and All-MWC second team selection Zach Rupp (6-5, 250) who leads all defensive ends in tackles including a team leading 15 for loss.  He also grabbed four sacks and forced two fumbles.

Sophomore Marcus Parker (6-2, 256) also gets some playing time as he has 21 tackles, 6.5 for loss, three sacks, and three QB hurries.


Solidifying the middle of the field and applying extra pressure are the linebacking crew lead by a trio of seniors and one junior.  UNM's leading tackler, middle linebacker Daniel Gawronski (6-0, 252), has wrapped up 93 opponents, knocked down three quarterbacks, and has recovered one fumble for 29 yards.  He is the leader of the defense both statistically and vocally.  He also loves to deliver the big hit.

Daniel Gawronski leads UNM in tackles with 93.

To the left of Gawronski is fellow All-MWC second-team selection Billy Strother (6-0, 230) who is second on the team in tackles (92), tackles for loss (12.5) and sacks (6).  The senior plays with a lot of emotion and is known as a play maker for UNM.

To the right of Gawronski is junior Nick Speegle (6-6, 235) who was an honorable mention All-MWC selection after his 74 tackle, 2.5 sack, and one interception, and a co-team high five pass breakup regular season.

Roaming the field with the outstanding trio is senior free safety Brandon Ratcliff (6-1, 200) who is fourth on the team in tackles with 65.  The All-MWC first-team selection is second on the team in interceptions with three and is a dangerous blitzer  Splitting time with Ratcliff is senior Sindney Wiley (6-0, 185) who has grabbed 59 tackles and three interceptions in 12 games.


Leading the primary cover men is sophomore left corner Gabriel Fulbright who has a team leading four interceptions.  The All-MWC second-team selection has also snatched 37 tackles, one for loss, and broke up five passes.  Fulbright is another vocal player on the Lobo defense who has excellent speed and superb footwork.

On the opposite side of the field is another speedy sophomore, Jerrell Malone (6-1, 186),  who has defended two passes and has zero interceptions.  The Beavers may pick on Malone as he is still learning the system.  Splitting time with the starters is junior Brandon Payne (6-0, 188) who has grabbed 31 tackles and defended four tackles.  Payne has good football instincts, but is a little rough around the edges.



Sidney Wiley was an honorable mention All-MWC selection.

Providing secondary coverage are a pair of seniors who have combined for 102 tackles, 8.5 for loss, one sack, three picks, and seven pass breakups.  Terrell Golden (5-10, 210) is a heady player who knows the game very well while Sidney Wiley (6-0, 185), an All-MWC honorable mention selection, is a solid tackler and a gifted coverage man.


The corners.  All of the UNM cornerbacks are young. and Oregon State may test them early.  If the players are ready, Derek Anderson's interception total will increase, if they catch the Red Menace cover men napping, OSU will score early and often.

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