Stevens: Branch Field Meets Bob Davie's Lobos

Aug. 23, 2012

Branch Field Photo Gallery

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/

It wasn't exactly a 100 percent "welcome-to-football" day for Branch Field Thursday, but the fancy and flash new carpet in University Stadium got to feel some Lobo cleats dig into it for the first time.

It becomes 100 percent on Saturday, Sept. 1 when the cleats from Southern University join the cleats of the Lobos.

The Lobos trotted over from their practice fields South of University Stadium and scrimmaged for about an hour on All-University Day in front of University of New Mexico faculty, staff and students.

The scrimmage wasn't 100 percent either as Coach Bob Davie is holding back full contact as much as he can to avoid any more injuries to his depth-challenged Lobos.

"It's about what I thought it would be," said the first-year Lobo coach. "Anybody knows now that I'm not bluffing when I say how far we have to go as a team. But I appreciate their efforts.

"I'll say this, this is a beautiful turf. This is a faster track than a lot of places. It's not quite as spongy as some of the other ones. It was good to get our guys in her for the first time. We're going to come back in Saturday and crank it up a little bit more."

Said senior receiver Ty Kirk: Kirk: "The offense looked pretty good today. We didn't really show much, worked on our run game. Our O-linemen are blocking well and the running backs are running hard. It's kind of tough without B.R., but backups always need to be ready to step up."

B.R. UPDATE: Lobo quarterback B.R. Holbrook, who has been sidelined with chest inflammation, said his symptoms are gone and he is just waiting for medical clearance.

Holbrook, minus pads, was tossing the ball around prior to the short scrimmage in University Stadium.

"I haven't seen him (Holbrook) do a whole lot, but he's symptom free right now," said Davie. "He threw a little bit in pre-practice, but, to be honest, we don't know (when Holbrook will be back). All of us are keeping our fingers crossed because it is evident to everybody what he means to our team.

"This isn't the football team's new turf. This is everybody's new turf."
Coach Bob Davie on UNM's new Branch Field

"One good thing about it is we have had a lot of times to work those young guys and they certainly need every rep."

The battle for the backup spot behind Holbrook again looks to be a battle between freshman Cole Gautsche, sophomore transfer Quinton McCown and junior transfer David Vega.

Vega was dropped to the bottom of the pecking order when he was reinstated to the roster on Monday after a short suspension. He already is pecking - and passing - his way closer to Gautsche and McCown.

"Vega made some throws. He's kind of a little playmaker," said Davie. "But it wasn't the kind of (scrimmage) where anybody had a chance to establish themselves. It was kind of helter-skelter."

Holbrook, who has had his share of injuries and bench time as a Lobo, said he's had "a run of bad luck over the years, but you just gotta roll with the punches."

Holbrook has missed about a week of practice, but said he doesn't think that time off will impact his performance when he returns to the field.

"I think offensively I feel pretty comfortable with the system," he said. "Obviously, not 100 percent being a brand new coaching staff and all that stuff, but I do feel really comfortable.

"Right now, I feel 100 percent (healthy), so I'm just waiting on the doctor's word to say `go for it.' I feel good."

KNOW THY ENEMY: The word from Louisiana is that Southern University is watching as much tape on Sam Houston State as the Jaguars can get their hands on.

The reason for this is obvious. The Lobos have a new coaching staff, but the New Mexico offensive coordinator is Bob DeBesse, the former O-Coordinator at Sam Houston State. DeBesse ran the "Pistol" offense at Sam Houston State for two seasons and his offense averaged 36.9 points in 2011. The Jags are guessing DeBesse will run some of the same stuff.

The Jags' coaching staff even gets a bonus in studying Sam Houston State tapes. The Jags can check out some of the Lobos' talent since UNM played and lost to Sam Houston State last season in University Stadium.

Davie said his Lobos will go into the opener understanding what Southern might do on offense, but he isn't spending a whole lot of time worrying about Southern's attack.

"Truly, the first game of the year, especially with a new coaching staff and new systems, it's all about us and executing," said Davie. "We're not going to spend a whole lot of time on worrying about what Southern does schematically because they can change. It's more about our execution and what we do."

Southern returns its top two quarterbacks from 2011 and four of its top five receivers. The latest report from Southern says their No. 1 rusher will miss the New Mexico game with an ankle sprain. If those reports are true, the Southern game plan might lean heavy toward a four-letter word: PASS.