Stevens: Lobos Put On The Pads & Smack Each Other Around

March 29, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Football - 2012 Spring Ball

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

What is Superman without his cape, a gladiator without his sword, or a wolf without his bite?

Lobo Coach Bob Davie put some bite into New Mexico spring ball on Wednesday by bringing out the pads - which brought out the hitting and the Lobo smiles.

"I feel like I put my combat equipment on," said LaMar Bratton, smiling over and around his red mouth piece.

"It feels real," said Lucas Reed, UNM's talented 6-foot-6 senior tight end.

The Lobo spring drills began a few days ago, but, in a way, it began for real on Wednesday because pads were added to the helmets and the Lobos got to smack each other around a bit. Yeah, that's what football players like to do.

"When you first put the helmet on, you still know you can't go hard," said Bratton, a 275-point offensive lineman. "When you put the pads on you can go as hard as you want and leave it all out there.

"Football is hitting. That's my favorite part. I don't care if I'm using technique or not; I just love to hit."

If you are an O-lineman, you had better love to hit. That's about all you are allowed to do on the football field. You won't carry the football. You won't pass the football. If you make a tackle, it's usually after a punt or after a mistake.

"I feel like I put my combat equipment on."
Lobo O-Lineman LaMar Bratton

But that D-lineman across the line is fair game - even if it's a Lobo in spring ball.

"You love that first chance to hit people," said Darryl Johnson, a 6-4 offensive tackle. "With the pads on, you get the contact and that's real football."

Said Davie: "It's good to put those pads on; guys knocking each other around a little bit. I think everybody is energized by that. It's good to be out here and hear some collisions and hear some guys having some fun."

One of the first drills Wednesday was to gather the Lobos in a circle and call out two players to go one-on-one, mano-y-mano, in the center of the pack. It's an intense, competitive, prideful - and fun - drill.

O-lineman J.V. Mason was one of the Lobos called into the circle to get tough. "If you're not nasty, you're not going to last long. You have to be mean," said Mason. "It's helmets on, pads on, hit."

The one-on-one battles are intense, competitive, prideful - and fun. The drill gets the competitive juices flowing and that carries over into other drills. There is no question that Lobos are looking for contact on the first day of pads.

"There is a whole lot more energy when the pads go on," said Reed. "Everyone is hyped up and ready to hit. It's what you've been waiting for the whole semester, to start hitting people.

"Everyone is talking smack and it's time to show up."

A lot of what is happening on the Lobo football field is typical football stuff - blocking, tackling, technique, teaching. But there is a huge difference - in tempo, in organization, in discipline. Things are changing.

"Everything out here is more positive now," said Reed. "Everything is technique and discipline. Positive teaching."

Said Bratton: "There is so much emphasis on detail now - detail, detail, detail. The little things are now very important."

The Lobos' spring camp will end on April 25 with practice days set for Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday. There will be no Cherry & Silver game this spring to cut down on the possibility of injury. This is not a deep UNM team.

"It doesn't matter what our numbers are. It doesn't matter what are talent level is," said Davie. "Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, I promise you that.

"It's kind of a transition, probably a pretty dramatic transition for these guys. They want to do right. They want to get this thing turned around. That's a start right there."

Said Darryl Johnson: "Our mindset is outwork, outhit, out discipline people. That's the mindset for practice and for the whole season."

Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at