Stevens: Lobos Return From Ruidoso Better But With Work To Do

Aug. 17, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Football - University Stadium - Branch Field

Who: Lobos vs. Southern University
When: 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1
Radio: 770 KKOB-AM, Lobo Radio Network; pregame at noon GameTracker, Game Story, Stats, Quotes, Photo Gallery

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

The Lobos are home. The artificial turf called "Branch Field" is looking good in preparation for Southern's invasion on Sept. 1 which will mark the first game of the Bob Davie era.

But are the Bob Davie Lobos ready?

For sure, Davie's Lobos returned from their 12-day camp in Ruidoso looking better. There is the shape of a football team being sculptured by Davie and his staff. But it's not yet a Michelangelo.

"We have a broad base of things in. We got a lot in," said Davie after UNM's final practice Friday in Ruidoso. "We have every situation there is from the kicking game to end-of-game situations to the unexpected things.

"Now, we have to, over the next two weeks, narrow the focus on what we can play to honestly give these kids a chance to go out there and play. I feel good overall where we are, but we couldn't play a game right now. I'm being dead honest. But we don't have to play yet."

The Lobos have to play at 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1 when the Southern University Jaguars step onto Branch Field probably chomping at the bit to take a bite out of a Lobo program that has won only three games in three seasons.

The Lobos have two weeks to put a game plan into place. Part of the game plan likely will be aimed at Southern and how the Jaguars plan to attack the Lobos. The other part is defining and polishing what the Lobos can do.

The camp in Ruidoso helped Davie and his staff focus in on Lobo strengths - and weaknesses. There is more sculpturing to do.

The Lobos got good news when a medical evaluation of starting quarterback B.R. Holbrook discovered chest inflammation that is treatable. Holbrook is on anti-inflammatory medicine and will return to the field when cleared.

Davie is a detail guy and wants to put a team on the field that is precise, focused and confident enough to execute. Holbrook would help those things on offense, but Davie said, "We're not ready to get on it (Branch Field) yet. We aren't in the level to go in there yet."

The Lobos will scrimmage Saturday in Albuquerque, but the contact level in Ruidoso was influenced by the number of bodies - and the number of healthy bodies. Most of the injuries were minor, but, at times, UNM had to practice without Holbrook, receiver Lamaar Thomas, linebackers Joseph Harris and A.J. Butler, and running backs Kasey Carrier and Demarcus Rogers - just to name a few.

Still, the camp that utilized three facilities - The Lodge at Sierra Blanca, the Ruidoso Convention Center, and Ruidoso city fields - was a booming success.

"I don't know if you can make it any better than this," said Kevin Cosgrove, UNM's inside linebackers' coach. "This was a great teaching environment and a great bonding environment.

"We were together 24-7 and relationships are so important in football. The coaches got closer to the kids and the kids built trust in their coaches."

Said senior Chris Biren: "I think being up here just helps us get away from everything that distracts you in Albuquerque. We can focus on one thing and really get down to business.

"Everyone is real focused and intense here. Everything is right here and there just aren't many external factors. It's all football and all we have out here is each other. It's just you and your teammates."

The focus provided by this all-football Ruidoso camp is one thing that makes it special. Another aspect was emphasized Friday morning in the final day on Ruidoso grass.

"Today (Friday) was definitely the best day with the weather," said tight end Lucas Reed. "There was a light sprinkle and 100 percent cloud cover. It was around 78 degrees. That gives everyone more energy and it's so much easier to do that next rep."

Said senior Ty Kirk: "There are no distractions here and the weather is perfect. We are isolated as a team and that helps us come together."