Stevens: Coach Davie Wants Lobos To Be Most Improved Team in America

Aug. 28, 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
GoLobos.com: GameTracker, Game Story, Stats, Quotes, Photo Gallery

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

Coach Bob Davie has a decided edge in meeting with the media. He was the media for the past ten seasons and understands the questions - and the thought process - that come from that side of the camera or microphone.

And probably his time in the broadcast booth has helped forge the answers he throws out now that he is the University of New Mexico head coach. He know the media wants honest answers with minimal coach-speak or song and dance.

That's what Davie gives them. He is direct and no nonsense. He avoids corners. He held his first pregame press conference as a Lobo Tuesday in the Tow Diehm Center and calmly, smoothly, answered questions about suspended players, season expectations, playing time, Southern University, etc.

One telling comment from Davie was this: "I don't want to back myself into a corner."

The corners usually come with coach-speak, sidestepping and avoiding direct answers. It comes with insecurity. Davie is not insecure. Oh, Davie doesn't tell all. Some things are best kept in-house. He'll tell you that, too.

One thing Davie didn't keep in-house was his expectations for the 2012 season. He didn't toss out any expectations as far as wins and losses, but he did have a few simple goals.

He wants his Lobos to improve throughout the season. Davie also said, "I expect us to be the most improved team in college football."

Of course, that's a natural goal for a team coming off a three-season plunge that produced a 3-33 mark and dropped New Mexico into the bottom echelon of a number of statistical categories.

And even though it would be nice to see Lobo improvement on the scoreboard and in the won-lost column, there are a lot of ways to mark improvement on this 2012 Lobo team.

Southern University likely will test one of those categories come 3 p.m., Saturday when the Jaguars kick off with the Lobos on Branch Field.

"Southern is going to throw it," Davie told the media on Tuesday. "They are a pass first kind of team. That's what I'd do if I was them. I'd come in here and throw it.

"We were the 120th ranked team in pass efficiency defense last year which is dead last. So, I expect them to come in here and throw it."

Southern probably won't disappoint Davie. The Jags return two solid quarterbacks from 2011, four of their top five receivers and their No. 1 and No. 2 running backs appear to be out with injury.

Saturday's game opens the first season of the Bob Davie era, but it's the 114th season of Lobo football. It's Davie's first game as a coach since Dec. 1, 2001 when he was the head coach at Notre Dame. Davie's last game as a coach was a 24-15 victory.

Davie also was frank with the media Tuesday in looking at Saturday's kick with Southern. "I know this is an important game, as you look at our schedule and who we play after this."

The Lobos schedule is an ornery one - 13 consecutive games with no bye week. After Southern, the Lobos hit Texas turf with trips to play the Texas Longhorns and Texas Tech. The Lobos stay on the road for a Sept. 22 visit to New Mexico State.

There are games in which the Lobos will be heavy underdogs: Texas, Texas Tech, Boise State. There are games the Lobos probably won't be favored to win: Hawaii, Air Force, Fresno State, Wyoming, maybe Nevada.

There are games that are 50-50 games with either team having a shot to win: Southern, New Mexico State, Texas State, UNLV, and Colorado State.

If the Lobos are to pull a few upsets and pull out a few 50-50 games, youth probably will be a key.

Davie said he expects 12 first-year Lobos to start against Southern and three more first-year Lobos should see playing time. "Fortunately, we do have some older players, too," said Davie.

"The opening day is a free-for-all," said Davie. "No matter where you are, the best laid plans . . . (often go astray).

"It's never going to go as planned. It's hard to script what is going to happen. As calm as collected as you expect everyone to be; all of a sudden you get out there and it turns into controlled chaos."