Stevens: An Old Friend Returns As a New Foe For Lobo Homecoming

Oct. 1, 2012

LOBOS' HOMECOMING: New Mexico Lobos Vs. Texas State Bobcats

When/Where: 4:06 p.m. (MT), Saturday - Branch Field - University Stadium
On The Air: 770 KKOB-AM; ProView Networks (Comcast 27) Game Story, Game Tracker, Stats, Quotes

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer / Go

Old Friend? Sure. New Foe? Definitely.

It's a New Mexico Lobos' homecoming game with a few special twists including the return of a former Lobo good guy coming back to his New Mexico roots as a University Stadium enemy.

Dennis Franchione probably will be welcomed - as he should be - and a few boos likely will rain down on the former New Mexico coach, too.

However, there really shouldn't be much venom in any catcalls aimed at the coach who held the Lobo reins from 1992 to 1997. Until he bolted for TCU, Franchione served his Lobos well and took the program to its first bowl game in 36 years.

The homecoming for Franchione has a few twists, too. The Lobos plucked Franchione from the Texas State program in 1992 and Franchione comes back to Albuquerque once again as the leader of Texas State football fortunes. He returns to his New Mexico roots after returning to his Bobcat roots in San Marcus.

Lobo Coach Bob Davie says he shares many of Franchione's philosophical views on football and you can see that in what the two coaches emphasize: discipline, smash-mouth football, execution, fundamentals, consistency - to name a few.

They also were tossed into similar situations as a first-year Lobo coach. Davie took over a UNM program with a 3-33 past. Franchione inherited a UNM program that went 9-50 over five years. They both had to pull a program out of a hole and change a culture.

Davie already is one win away from matching the win total of those ugly three seasons. In 1997, Franchione took UNM to the Bowl -- its first bowl game since the 1961 Aviation Bowl. Remember, that rise came out of a 5-50 hole.

The Bobcats are in their first season at the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision and also in their first year in the Western Athletic Conference. They will jump to the Sun Belt Conference in 2013.

They come to Albuquerque with a 2-2 mark, coming off a 34-21 loss to a solid Nevada team. The Bobcats were up 21-20 at the half. Nevada is good. They are 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the Mountain West race along with Fresno State, Boise State and UNLV.

Texas State has a 30-13 win at Houston and a 41-37 win over Stephen F. Austin. The Bobcats also were mauled 58-10 by Texas Tech. The Lobos lost to Tech, 49-14.

The Tech loss messed up the Texas State stats just as that game hurt UNM statistically. The Bobcats average 25.5 points and give up 35.5. They average 4.1 yards per carry for 150.8 yards per game.

The Cats, like the Lobos, like to run the option, but Texas State does throw more with a 206 average per game. The Bobcats average 29 passes a game. The 2-3 Lobos have totaled 68 passes in five games.

Texas State quarterback Shaun Rutherford has the most carriers in four games with 50, but he averages only 2.6 yards per carry. Marcus Curry is more effective with a 5.1 average on 38 attempts. He had 131 yards vs. Houston. Texas State's Tim Gay has only 13 totes, but has an impressive 7.0 average per carry.

If the Bobcats can run it all day on the UNM defense, they probably will. But they can pass it. Rutherford has completed 68 percent of his 82 throws for a 162.8-yard average. He threw for a career-best 301 yards and three scores in the win over Stephen F. Austin. He went 21-of-26 with no interceptions.

Andy Erickson had a career-best eight catches for 108 yards and a score vs. Nevada and has jumped to the top of that statistical category with 13 grabs on the season. Isaiah Battle has 12 and Chase Harper has 10 receptions.

The Bobcats are 91 percent in the red zone (10-of-11) with seven of those scores touchdowns. They are 40 percent on third-down conversions.

They attempt to play the game much like the Lobos: keep possession, win field position, don't make mistakes. Texas State has fumbled five times, losing four. They have 27 penalties for 265 yards.

The Bobcats, also like the Lobos, have trouble stopping teams on defense. They give up 35.5 points a game. That defense allowed a Nevada runner to romp for 178 yards and a SFA quarterback to throw for 385 yards.

That defense also held Houston to 1-of-13 in third-down conversions. The Cougars led the nation in offense in 2011.

Editor's note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at