Stevens: Lobos Look To Measure Up To No. 24 Boise State

Sept. 28, 2012

New Mexico Lobos vs. Boise State Broncos -- Mountain West Conference

When/Where: 4:06 p.m. (MT), Saturday - Branch Field - University Stadium
On The Air: 770 KKOB-AM, Lobo Radio Network; Comcast 77 (TV)
GoLobos.com: GameTracker, Game Story, Stats

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

His arsenal of gear includes the obvious: pads, helmet and cleats. But for New Mexico center Dillon Farrell, you probably could add some sort of measuring device.

For Farrell, it will be a season in which the Lobos always will be measuring something. That's kind of how it is when you are trying to step out of the shadows of a 3-33 past.

"Measuring is an easy phrase to use and I'm using it, too," said the 6-foot-5 junior. "But a team is always changing and we are always continually seeing where we are at and if we are getting better.

"It might be a little cliché to keep saying we need to see where we are at and everyone is saying it. But it's a big deal to see where we are at again this week."

Where the Lobos are this week is looking into the teeth of one of the more successful football programs in the nation - Boise State. It's also the Mountain West opener for both teams.

"Boise State is a great program and it's a privilege to be able to play against them," said Farrell. "But at the same time, they are human just like us. We just have to go out and play the best that we can play. See where we're at."

The Lobos already have gone through several stages of measurement. They were measured in their 66-21 opener vs. Southern against a team the Lobos were expected to beat. The Lobos measured up.

They were measured again in back-to-back games with Texas and Texas Tech that tested how the young and depth-challenged Lobos would match up with obviously superior talent and programs. UNM lost 45-0 and 49-14.

The Lobos were measured again last week in Las Cruces playing a New Mexico State team that owned a three-game win streak against UNM. The measurement there was to see how UNM would fare on a competitive field that was pretty much even. The Lobos won convincingly.

The measurement which begins at 4:06 p.m., Saturday on Branch Field is similar - if not identical - to what the Lobos faced at Texas and at Texas Tech. Boise State is considered to be at another level of NCAA football. They are 75-7 under Coach Chris Petersen. They are big, deep and talented.

"It's a big challenge for us to be able to see if we can raise our level emotionally, in intensity, physically," said Lobo Coach Bob Davie. "Can we raise our level?

"Can we get better to be able to go out there and just match them - maybe not on the scoreboard - just match them physically, effort-wise, execution-wise, our guys against their guys?

"Can we do what we do as well as what they do with their guys? Can we get our guys to play at as high a level as they get their guys to play? That's the challenge."

Davie is a realist when it comes to evaluating what he sees on the field and what he sees on the scoreboard. The Broncos are heavy favorites. They are expected to win by several touchdowns.

What Davie wants to see from his 2-2 Lobos is a team that has improved on several levels now that they are five games into the season.

"Boise is a big-time program," said UNM freshman Carlos Wiggins. "They are a good team and they are going to come hard. We have to come harder. We should be good. We're not worried. Everybody is feeling good right now. Everybody is happy and smiles all around."

That might not be the case with the 2-1 Broncos, despite coming off back-to-back wins. The Boise State defense has been outstanding in 2012, but the Broncos offense needs some kick. It did not score a touchdown in a 17-13 loss at Michigan State. It did not score, period, in a 7-6 win over Brigham Young.

This is the program that has led the nation in scoring since 2000 and averages 50 points in conference openers under Peterson. They average 19.7 points in three games this season.

The Broncos are looking to - and probably expecting to - explode against a Lobo secondary rated 116 in the NCAA in pass efficiency. An explosive passing game probably would put some smiles on some Bronco faces.

The Lobos might need to pass in order to hang with the Broncos. UNM is No. 21 in the NCAA in rushing with 234.8 yards per game. The Broncos are tough against the run and there is a chance they will stack up their defense to control UNM's option and force UNM to look for yardage in the air.

The Broncos yield 11.7 points a game and are No. 18 in the NCAA in total defense. They simply do not crack much.

"Boise State has a great defense," said Farrell. "It's a tough opener but I like starting with them. It gives us another chance to see where we are."

The Lobos are No. 119 in the nation in passing offense at 60 yards per game. That figure helps pull UNM down to No. 114 in total offense at 294.8 yards per game.

The key to UNM passing game is to establish that they can run against the Broncos. The key for Boise is its passing game and quarterback Joe Southwick, who is 54-of-87 for 206 yards per game at a 62 percent completion rate.

Southwick has talent. That's why Boise recruited him out of San Ramon Valley (Calif.) High where he threw for 3,781 yards and 36 touchdowns as a senior. Southwick has spent the past two seasons backing up Kellen Moore, one of the best college arms ever.

Southwick's first-ever collegiate TD pass was a 78-yarder he tossed in University Stadium in 2010.

The Lobos won't be the only thing on the measuring block on Saturday. Southwick and his offense will be measured, too. The UNM O-line might get measured the most. They need to produce holes for the UNM running game and keep the Boise State charge off B.R. Holbrook.

"We will try to be the most physical team out there," said Farrell. "Coach (Jason) Lenzmeier preaches that the most physical team wins."