Stevens: Lobo Quarterback B.R. Holbrook Is Back!!!

Aug. 27, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Football - University Stadium - Branch Field

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

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

For a second, you thought Lobo Lamaar Thomas might duck - dodge the bullet, avoid the leathery missile that came spiraling toward his head.

New Mexico's talented wide out had just made the cut on his route, turned to find the football, and there it was - right in his face.

"I remember the first route I ran today," said Thomas, who played only four games in 2011 thanks to injury. "I came off my break and turned around and the ball was right there. I was like, `Whoa, who's that?'

"I looked back and it was No. 12."

Yep, No. 12 is back: B.R. Holbrook. UNM's senior quarterback, who was sidelined for over a week with chest inflammation, was back on the practice field Monday zipping passes and keeping things tight and no nonsense in the huddle.

Holbrook looked sharp, fresh and even a bit vitalized by his time on the sideline. You could tell Holbrook was where he wanted to be.

"Like a kid in a candy shop," he said. "It was nice being in the huddle and getting guy's attention, directing traffic and telling guys what to do. It's kind of fun to be in charge."

Come Saturday when Southern University visits, the Lobos need Holbrook to be in charge and executing. He needs to find guys like Thomas, Ty Kirk, Lucas Reed and Quintell Solomon with some bullet passes. He needs to move the Lobo offense down the field.

"He looked good," said Thomas. " I think that rest might have helped him out. He got a week's rest on his arm. He came out and took control of the huddle like he normally does.. He was B.R. to me. You couldn't even tell he had left. He and I were connecting like we were before he left.

"I'm excited he's back. Everyone is happy that he is back. He's not only our quarterback, but he's a leader on this team. If he wasn't our quarterback, he'd still be a predominate leader. Everyone looks up to him for that."

Holbrook has been sidelined a number of times for a number of reasons in his UNM career. In 2011, he was sidelined by a coach's decision that forced him to earn back his starting nod.

No big deal. Holbrook did exactly that completing 141 of 236 passes for 1,490 yards. But Holbrook only threw four touchdown passes and UNM only threw seven as a team in 2011.

His path to starting status was easier this season as UNM's only returning quarterback. He threw a scare into the New Mexico staff when shortness of breath and chest pains pulled him out of practice during fall camp in Ruidoso.

The good news was the problems were caused by inflammation and Holbrook was placed on anti-inflammatory medicine. He was cleared to return to the field for Monday's practice.

"His arm strength and his velocity on the ball was really impressive," said Lobo Coach Bob Davie. "He was crisp. It was impressive what he did. He looked sharp out here."

The Lobos had been working with three rookie quarterbacks trying to find a backup if Holbrook could not return for Saturday's season opener. The candidates were freshman Cole Gautsche and two junior transfers, David Vega (6-0, 185) and Quinton McCown (6-4, 215).

You almost expected to see Bob DeBesse, UNM's offensive coordinator, break out into a sideline-to-sideline grin as Holbrook snapped passes and snapped out commands in the huddle.

"He did a nice job," said DeBesse. "I didn't see any residual effects; no issues at all. He had fresh arms and fresh legs. It also was just great to have his presence out there. He took charge of the huddle.

"Anytime you get a starter back, it's a big lift, particularly at that spot because it's a big spot."