Lobos football hosts to balance razor’s edge with San Jose State
ALBUQUERQUE — There was a time when The University of New Mexico’s football team wished for the chance to live on the razor’s edge that separates winning and losing.
Well past the days of one-win seasons and last-place finishes, the Lobos seem to have taken up permanent residence in exactly that spot — and it’s not entirely comfortable, says head coach Bob Davie.
On any given weekend, UNM is just a snap or two from winning or losing. Aside from the occasional lopsided affair, most every game is determined in a series of plays that tops the scales.
It’s enough to drive Davie nuts.
“There wasn’t a game we won last year that, quite honestly, we couldn’t have lost,” he said. “Every one of those games we won we could have lost. The margin was that much. Now, there wasn’t a game we lost that we couldn’t have won. And we’re still that team.”
The Lobos have come up short in the last two trips to the razor’s edge, losing three weeks ago at New Mexico State and again in their last game at Rutgers. They enter Saturday’s homecoming game against San Jose State having researched every possible angle, from the players’ body language at practice to their mood swings in the locker room.
Every aspect of this has been analyzed and talked about.
“That’s all of our time spent on that,” Davie said, referring to the intangibles like the players’ attitudes and their confidence levels. “Those are the things that take away that razor sharpness that can affect that margin for error. And that is absolutely our world that we are in.”
UNM is also living in a world where its punting game has caused headaches, its tandem quarterback system is now a one-man show, and its defense has ceased causing turnovers.
Junior college transfer Corey Bojorquez has averaged just 36.1 yards on 14 punts. He had one kick returned for a touchdown against Rutgers and has continuously put the defense in a tough position after a short kick.
That prompted Davie to address one of the team’s biggest issues this season: Field position. Opponents have actually gained 433 fewer yards than the Lobos through three games, but the fact that they’ve had much shorter fields to work with is an underlying theme that points to Davie’s reference of a razor-thin margin.
“Unfortunately we are in a position where on most weeks we’re going to be in that position where there’s a very small margin,” he said. “Now how do we do it?”
The Lobos will hand the keys of the offense to junior quarterback Lamar Jordan, the starter for most of last season. He assumes control after senior Austin Apodaca injured his throwing shoulder against Rutgers, an incident that will keep him out for the foreseeable future.
Apodaca started last season’s loss to San Jose State, a game in which Jordan didn’t play. Giving the option-oriented Jordan a shot to carry the load full time is something Davie hopes will kick-start an offense that has averaged over 315 yards rushing but still somehow feels stagnant.
Couple that with a defense that hasn’t forced a turnover since the season opener, and things are getting antsy on UNM’s south campus.
“If you’re going to give up a big play on defense, you better create a big play on defense and we haven’t been able to knock that ball out,” Davie said.
With it being homecoming weekend and the Mountain West opener for both teams, Davie said the pressure is squarely on UNM’s shoulders to turn the season around right now. Starting the conference schedule out with a win doesn’t necessarily right the ship, he said.
“You don’t ever just wipe the slate,” said Davie. “If you do, you’re not being very smart. Whatever you’ve learned in those first three weeks, well those apply to these next nine weeks as well.
Injury status: Linebacker Dakota Cox and running back Teriyon Gipson, both of whom sat out the Rutgers game with concussions, will be back Saturday. Out or a second straight game will be defensive back Jadon Boatright.
Boatright has been diagnosed with turf toe and his status for next week’s game against Boise State is questionable.
Uniforms: The Lobos will wear white helmets for the third time in four games. The logo will be an oversized and interlocking “NM”. The jersey will be dark gray — officially called anthracite — with red lettering and numbers. The pants will be white.
It’s the fourth different uniform combination in as many games this season.
Easy on the upset talk: Davie said there were people who overreacted to his team’s loss to the Spartans last season.
“San Jose’s still ahead of us,” he said, adding, “Absolutely not do I see it as a revenge game, or ‘Oh my god we lost to San Jose.’ I mean, that’s like an insult to them. Who are we to say San Jose’s an upset beating us? I’m not quite ready to do that just yet.”
Saturday: San Jose State (1-3, 0-0 MWC) at New Mexico (1-2, 0-0), 2:08 p.m.
TV: ROOT Sports
Radio: KVSF-AM (1400) and KKOB-AM (770)
Live stats: www.lobos.statbroadcast.com