Stevens: DeBesse's Pistol Offense Still Evaluating the Lobo Ammo

April 8, 2012

New Mexico Lobo Football --- 2012 Spring Ball

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

In coming up with a name to describe the offensive attack that Bob DeBesse is trying to inject into a New Mexico unit that just stumbled out of three-years of frustration, maybe it's best to see which Lobos will be running it.

That's DeBesse's plan, too.

"One goal this spring is to identify 14 to 15 guys, maybe 16 guys, who we feel we can line up and compete with," said UNM's first-year offensive coordinator under first-year UNM Coach Bob Davie.

"We are out to identify our playmakers and then define what they are comfortable doing and put them in positions to be successful. The scheme might look a little different in two-a-days (fall) depending on who emerges after spring ball."

Now, this doesn't mean in the fall that UNM might go pro set or veer or three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust depending on which Lobos step up. The Lobos and DeBesse do have a scheme. The multi-chambered "Pistol" that DeBesse is injecting into this offense has, well, multiple chambers.

But some of those chambers might not be called up that much and other might be going off like machine-gun fire. It depends on things: like execution and production, which usually depends on personnel.

"I think what matters most with this offense and any offense is executing, doing your assignments and cutting down on mental errors," said quarterback B.R. Holbrook, UNM's only returner in that slot. "That's how any offense becomes explosive.

"This is an exciting offense and I like it. But there are a lot of similar concepts from what we ran last year. We just have to run it better. Some of the changes are little tweaks in how we read this or how we react to that."

The growth of this offense in the spring has had its ups and downs. That's to be expected. Naturally, DeBesse is hoping (and expecting) for more "ups."

"We've thrown a lot at the kids," said DeBesse, who came to UNM from Sam Houston State, the team that escaped University Stadium last year with a mild upset over UNM. "It's all new. The tempo is new and the snap count is new. We have been making progress, but we've also taken some steps back.

"The steps back can't happen."

There is a sense of urgency in implementing this offense because the Lobos are coming off three one-win seasons, are looking at a tough 13-game schedule, and this program is still short on scholarship bodies. The Lobos need to execute well and do it quickly.

It is probably fair to say there is only so much Davie and DeBesse can do with their numbers in 2012, but this also is a motivated staff that is expecting optimum results with the talent and the hand they have been dealt.

"We have three goals," said DeBesse of his offensive unit. "One, is to win. Two, is to secure the football. Three, is no foolish penalties. We can control those things."

To win, the Lobos obviously have to move the football and move the scoreboard. UNM returns eight starters on offense: Holbrook (QB), Ty Kirk (WR), Lucas Reed (TE), LaMar Bratton (OL), Calvin McDowney (OL), Korian Chambers (OL), Dillon Farrell (OL), Darryl Johnson (OL). The offense also returns 12 lettermen so DeBesse has 20 experienced bodies from which to pluck his playmakers.

DeBesse has the most experienced bodies at the receiver positions. Kirk is joined by Quintell Solomon, Lamaar Thomas, Daniel Adams, Donnie Duncan, Jeric Magnant, Jamal Merritt and tight ends Reed and Andrew Aho.

"Our receivers are further ahead than any position on the offensive unit," said DeBesse. "We are seeing flashes from other guys."

The offensive line took a hit last week when J.V. Mason quit the team. The Lobos now have six lettermen up front on offense and need to develop some depth in that trench.

"I'm pleased with the effort, but we have to do a better job with focus," said DeBesse. "We have to come out and grind each and every practice."

DeBesse said he made the jump from Sam Houston State to UNM for two main reasons: Coach Davie and a challenge.

"I bought into Coach Davie's vision," said DeBesse. "I liked where he was coming from with his plan and the challenge to get New Mexico to where it needs to be.

"Everybody loves a challenge and there is nothing more fun in coaching athletes than to do something that hasn't been done for a while or to do something that's difficult. I've been involved in a few other turnabouts and I really enjoy that challenge."

DeBesse's "Pistol" at Sam Houston State burned UNM for 48 points and 547 yards in producing an overtime win over UNM. The Bearkats finished 14-1 and lost in the title game in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Sam Houston scored almost 37 points a game in 2011. Mike Locksley's cap gun averaged 12 points a game and has seven games of 10 points or fewer.

DeBesse will be doing similar things on offense at UNM as he did with the Bearkats, but there will be adjustments based on the Lobos who fire out of the UNM Pistol. He will try to do what his Lobos can do.

"We'll find what fits," he said. Of course, DeBesse wants explosiveness, consistency, efficiency, passing, running and lots of points. A disciplined multi-chambered Pistol does those things and maybe it's not fair to expect all those things in 2012. There is some reloading to do.

For DeBesse, he says he will be happy if his 2012 Lobo offense "is called an offense that scores one more point than the other team."

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