Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Scouting report: New Mexico Lobos
The Lobos are an improved team under first-year coach Bob Davie. They’re also a rebuilding team.
Davie has put young players on the field, with the New Mexico depth chart dotted with freshmen. This is a sound way to build a program, assuming such freshmen prove to be good players in the long run.
Simply put, the Aggies should win this game and have to win this game. They’re favored by a touchdown on their home field. It’s a VERY BIG game for New Mexico State.
Still, expect the Lobos to come out ready to play some football — they’ve lost three-straight games in the rivalry series and are competing in it for the first time under Davie.
The X’s and O’s part of this matchup appear well defined, at least days before kickoff. The Aggies bread and butter is the deep passing game, and the Lobos have struggled defending that particular area throughout the season. That, and four Lobos defensive backs are considered doubtful for Saturday’s game, according to Davie. NMSU quarterback Andrew Manley’s protection will be key (it always is) and, if he’s provided time, the Aggie wide receivers can make plays in a downfield passing game.
As for the Lobos offense, they run the triple option and not much else. When watching their game last week against Texas Tech (a 49-19 loss) quarterbacks B.R. Holbrook (a senior) and Cole Gautsche (a freshman) looked similar in this respect: both are athletic enough and seemed reluctant to actually pitch the ball on the option, rather preferring to take it on the carry themselves.
As for the passing game, the Lobos haven’t had much of it in the first three games of the season. The team has completed 19-of-38 passes all year, with their leading receiver (Carlos Wiggins) catching just four passes for 36 yards.
One intriguing player is Lucas Reed, a fine tight end who caught 55 balls over the past two seasons leading up to 2012. With the sweeping changes in the team’s passing game, however, he’s been swept off the map, making just one catch for four yards on the season. In part, Reed’s role has changed in the offense — against the Red Raiders, for instance, he was seen lining up in the backfield as a blocker. Could he be more involved in the Lobos passing attack? Undoubtedly. Perhaps the better question is, will he more involved in the passing game and will his inclusion occur this week?
The Lobos do have a threat in the kick-return game, that being Chase Clayton, a sophomore from Carson, Calif. Clayton strutted his stuff with a 98-yard return to the house Week 1 against Southern, and then repeated the feat last weekend at Texas Tech. Another player to keep an eye on Saturday night.
Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg