New Mexico Preview

For any head coach, a 45-point win is a dream start. And new Lobo head man Bob Davie hopes last week's New Mexico coaching debut is the start of something great.

Texas fans are familiar with Davie from his time as defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, helping to craft the Wrecking Crew defense with R.C. Slocum. Davie went on to coach at Notre Dame, including the head coaching job, before moving into the broadcast booth.

His big message for the Lobos? Don't make mistakes. Davie has preached that New Mexico needs to not beat itself, something that was a problem in a 1-11 season (1-6 in the Mountain West) last year, before Davie arrived.

It worked in Week One, a 66-21 victory over Southern, New Mexico's first season-opening win since 2005. Not only did the Lobos blow up the scoreboard, but they committed one penalty for five yards and didn't have any turnovers, an impressive feat for a team freshly dedicated to a new offensive system.

That system comes courtesy of ex-Sam Houston State coach Bob DeBesse, an option guru of the highest order. DeBesse brought what he refers to as a pistol-based option to New Mexico, and it fired on all cylinders against Southern. The Lobos piled up 347 yards rushing at 6.8 yards per carry, and did so in a balanced way, with four players putting up at least 65 yards rushing. New Mexico threw just 10 passes, but the Lobos didn't really need to pass, either.

When a quarterback does throw, it's typically going to be senior BR Holbrook (6-3 196). Holbrook threw eight of the Lobos' 10 passes, completing six for 57 yards an a touchdown. He started eight games a year ago, hitting on 59.7 percent of his passes for 1,490 yards and four touchdowns to seven interceptions. He missed 10 days of fall camp with a chest inflammation, but is fine now.

Holbrook will rotate with true freshman Cole Gautsche (6-4 227), the New Mexico Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011. He's considered the running quarterback — he ran eight times for 88 yards and two touchdowns against Southern — though it should be noted that he passed for 3,085 yards and 39 touchdowns to four interceptions as a senior at Cleveland High School. He did run for 1,218 yards and 23 touchdowns as well, and he may be a better fit for DeBesse's scheme as a runner.

Redshirt freshman tailback Jhurell Pressley (5-11 190) is listed as the starter, though he should split carries with sophomore Demarcus Rogers (5-11 190). Pressley had a great opener, rushing for 75 yards on 10 carries and a score, while also catching a pass for 24 yards. Rogers led the Lobos in rushing with 13 rushes for 103 yards and a score.

Like most pistol offenses, the Lobos will employ at least three wide receivers on most plays. The interesting player to watch will be Ohio State transfer Lamaar Thomas (6-0 180) in the slot, an explosive player with serious track speed. Thomas has run as fast as 10.33 seconds in the 100-meter dash, and was clocked at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash at Ohio State. He touched the ball just twice in the first game, rushing once for 15 yards and catching a pass for 10, but he figures to see it more in the future.

Jeric Magnant (6-0 168) is the starter at the 'X'. He didn't catch a pass in the first game, though his backup, Ty Kirk (6-2 180), caught the lone touchdown pass, a 16-yarder. Kirk is tied for the most starts on the Lobos with 29 over his career. He had 47 catches a year ago. Quintell Solomon (6-3 185), a former walk-on, is the other starter, at 'Z'. He had a 12-yard carry in the opener.

Lucas Reed (6-6 250) is a John Mackey candidate, and was first-team All-Mountain West two years ago. Reed is a better receiver than he is a blocker, and has snagged 55 passes over the last two years. He's tied with Kirk for the highest number of career starts on the team.

All five offensive line starters graded out at 97 percent or better on their assignments, a welcome sign in their first game under a new offensive system. Right tackle Darryl Johnson (6-4 305) graded out as the team's best lineman with an 87-percent overall grade, a 100-percent assignment grade and a team-leading 10 knockdown blocks. Left guard Lamar Bratton (6-2 282) had the second-best team grade. Center Dillon Farrell (6-5 290) is a Rimington Award candidate. Left tackle Korian Chambers (6-6 302) is in his second year at the position. And true freshman Garrett Adcock (6-2 270), a Dallas Christian graduate who picked New Mexico over an offer from Cal, among others, showed up well with a 98 percent assignment grade and six knockdowns of his own.

For all the Lobos' successes on offense in the first week, Davie built his reputation on building a strong defense. And at Texas A&M, that meant crafting a 3-4 unit. Slocum and Davie decided to go that route largely for recruiting reasons: they found that it was easier to find and recruit an extra linebacker type as opposed to a bigger-bodied defensive tackle. It makes sense, then, that New Mexico will also employ a 3-4 defense.

The unit up front is buoyed by a pair of Illinois transfers, nose tackle Reggie Ellis (6-2 298) and defensive tackle Ugo Uzodinma (6-4 275). Uzodinma had the front seven's only sack in the Southern game, and teams with defensive end Jacori Greer (6-3 255) to form a nice tandem on either side of Ellis.

Of course, a 3-4 is typically only as good as its best rush end, and in linebacker Joseph Harris (6-2 230), the Lobos appear to have a pretty good one. He had four tackles, including 1.5 per loss and a fumble return for a touchdown in the first game. Last year, he had 55 tackles, four tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. Javarie Johnson (6-3 240), a Maryland transfer listed as Harris's backup, had another four tackles against Southern.

Joe Stoner (5-10 240) and Dallas Bollema (6-2 226) man the middle of the four-linebacker group. Bollema made 68 tackles a year ago despite missing two games, while Stoner made an interception in Week One. SAM linebacker Rashad Rainey (6-2 200) is a quicker player.

The Lobos are small at cornerback. Out of the six cornerbacks listed on the two-deep, only one is 5-10 or taller. That's starting right cornerback Deshawn Mills (5-10 176), who made a sack last week. Destry Berry (5-9 180) is the starter at the other spot, while Cranston Jones (5-9 170), a true freshman from West Mesquite, returned an interception 39 yards for a score. Height isn't an issue at safety, where Freddy Young (6-1 201) and Dante Caro (6-0 190) team up at free safety and strong safety, respectively. Caro led the team in tackles with five in the first week.

Justus Adams booted a 38-yarder last week, while Greg Rivara put seven of his 11 kickoffs into the end zone for a touchback. Punter Ben Skaer wasn't used. Three of the opponents' four kickoffs went for touchbacks. The one that didn't, Chase Clayton ran it back 98 yards for a touchdown. He shares kickoff return duties with Thomas. Tim Foley, a backup cornerback, didn't get a chance to return any punts.

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