By Jerry Briggs
The New Mexico Lobos employ a triple-option attack with a twist – plays start when the ball is snapped to quarterback Lamar Jordan in a shotgun formation.
From there, all sorts of crazy things can happen.
Most of the time, the Lobos run, but it’s hardly a plodding offense that lulls fans to sleep.
It’s an explosive, triple-option scheme that results in averages of 37.8 points and 470 yards per game, including a nation-leading 360 yards rushing.
Speedsters Teriyon Gipson and Tyrone Owens have taken full advantage, running for more than 1,000 yards apiece. Gipson, a senior, averages 9.2 yards per carry.
Richard McQuarley, at 218 pounds, has rushed for 588 yards and 16 TDs.
“They’re a big run team,” UTSA defensive end Kevin Strong said Monday. “They love to run. They might pass a little. But, from what we watched today (on film), their whole game against Wyoming was basically all run plays.”
In its season finale, New Mexico produced 690 yards of offense, including 568 rushing, en route to a 56-35 victory over Wyoming.
Now, UTSA’s defense is next up.
The Roadrunners will play the Lobos in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 17 in Albuquerque.
“We’re going to have to be steady on the D-line,” Strong said. “We’re going to have to be disciplined, very disciplined.”
In becoming bowl eligible for the first time in history, UTSA has emerged with a top 50-ranked run defense, yielding 154.8 yards per game and 3.8 per carry.
The Roadrunners have done so with a steady front three that includes Strong, Jonathan Tuiolosega and Ben Kane.
Sparking the run-stopping patrol is a group of speedy linebackers, including standouts Josiah Tauaefa, Marcus Davenport and La’Kel Bass.
On the back end, safeties Jordan Moore, Michael Egwuagu and Nate Gaines all deliver hits with force.
Gaines said he’s “pretty confident” that his teammates can make the adjustment to play effectively against an offense that, in some ways, is a throwback to the 1970s and 1980s.
“We have some very intelligent guys,” Gaines said. “I just feel like coach (Pete) Golding will put us in position to get the job done.”