Stevens: Davie's Lobos Look To Make Good First Impression

Aug. 31, 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 GameTracker, Game Story, Stats, Quotes, Photo Gallery

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

It's a new season with new coaches, a new turf, a new offense, a new defense and a new New Mexico Lobo team looking for different results to splash some new impressions on a hopeful, but probably wait-and-see crowd.

For sure, when Lobos meet Southern Jaguars there will be butterflies churning in stomachs, good plays, bad plays, mistakes, smooth execution, and eventually a winner and a loser.

And there is really nothing like a season opener at home on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon.

"The first game doesn't feel like any other game," said LaMar Bratton, a 6-foot-2, 280-pound offensive lineman. "The first game is just a different feel, a different type of nervousness that you have in your stomach."

Said tight end Lucas Reed: "The first game is different because you are out there making first impressions. We are hyped up and ready to go."

"You go out on this turf and it tells you that we have people who care about this program."
Lobo O-lineman LaMar Bratton on Branch Field

The impressions of the past are something that the 2012 Lobos want to - and need to - wash away. They went 3-33 over the past few years for a whole lot of reasons, including poor execution of fundamental football. They too often shot themselves in the foot and then worked their way up the Lobo body.

First year New Mexico Coach Bob Davie knows there are a lot of holes to be plugged in this program. He first wants to field a Lobo product that executes the fundamental Xs and Os and doesn't help the enemy by self-destructing. He seeks improvement and physical football.

He also looks down the UNM schedule and admits that Southern is an important game. It gets tougher down the road and next Saturday the road leads into Austin, Texas and the Texas Longhorns.

Normally, a big-school program like New Mexico would be expected to go out and squash Southern University squad from the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Jags are 0-5 against D-1 competition.

But the Jags return two solid quarterbacks, four quick receivers and four offensive linemen. They had a lot of defensive woes in 2011 - like the Lobos - but look to be improved and have a big defensive front. The Jags are quick and playing on a quick field.

The Lobos' have their top returning running back, Kasey Carrier, on the injured list and the Jags have their top returning back on the same list.

It will be an interesting game.

Coach Davie stresses that the Lobos will worry about themselves in the opener and try to execute on both sides of the football. The Lobos have a new offense - Pistol. The Lobos have a new defense - 3-4.

For Lobo quarterback B.R. Holbrook, it's his fourth offensive coordinator at UNM.

"I feel really good in this offense," said Holbrook. "It's one of the more dynamic offenses I've been in. It has the capabilities of so many different looks. It's exciting as a quarterback because you have to be running back and you have to be a passer. It's fun to do all those things.

"We have a lot of stuff in. I think we're going to be able to do everything we want to do. We'll tweak some stuff for Southern, but for the most part we are pretty good."

Said Reed: "In every new offense, there are ups and downs. But we have the hang of it and are getting better every snap."

Bob DeBesse is UNM's first-year offensive coordinator. He brings the "Pistol" over from Sam Houston State, which threw out 48 points on the Lobos last year in a 48-45 UNM loss in overtime.

"We have tried to narrow things for execution purposes, but we still have some variety," said DeBesse. "You have to go out there and expect the unexpected, so you can't go out there with not enough in your arsenal.

"There is a fine line between not enough and too much."

On defense, the Lobos also are once again looking at a new coordinator and a new form. Jeff Mills, the UNM D-coordinator, also doesn't want to sacrifice execution by getting too fancy on the defensive front.

"We have enough multiple stuff in to not be predictable," said Mills. " But we are trying to keep things at a level where our guys can play fast. The last thing I want to do is have too much defense in.

"On defense, we will be reacting to what the offense shows us. We'll have things to go to vs. various looks, but we're not trying to do so much where we are playing slow. We have to react, but we have to react with speed."

Said linebacker Dallas Bollema: "We want to go out there and not be over-thinking and just allow adjustments to be second nature. We have to get rid of the butterflies on the first snap.

"The coaches gave us a good game plan," he continued, "and we have gone over everything and just polishing things up right now and getting it to look pretty for Saturday."

In a way, that's what the Lobos plan to do on their pretty, new field - look pretty, make that good first impression.