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ALBUQUERQUE — The evolution of the Bob Davie era of the University of New Mexico Lobo football team raises the curtain of scrutiny Thursday afternoon on season three, and Davie expects a season of “many twists and turns.”
There is still some rebuilding going on and this is still a baby-faced football team with only 15 seniors on the roster. But there also is Lobo talent and Lobo numbers that have Davie with guarded but real optimism.
“There is one more year of transition in building that foundation in the roster,” said Davie, whose Lobos open practice Thursday. “But we have some legitimate guys in this program. We have some talent. I’m excited about where we are. There are a lot more positives than negatives. We have done a lot. We are in a position for the first time to gain some traction and gain some momentum in this program that will continue to multiply over the years.”
The Lobos feel they are bigger, faster and stronger going into 2014. But there is still a gap that UNM needs to shorten and ultimately proof of that shows up on the scoreboard.
A huge key for that scoreboard is seeing smaller numbers on the opponents’ side.
“They (defense) stepped their game up,” said quarterback Cole Gautsche, one of 102 Lobos who begin fall drills Thursday. “We’re making strides in the right direction on the defensive side of the ball.”
Said defensive back Cranston Jones, “I think we’ll be a whole lot better.”
The Lobos don’t dodge the obvious entering the 2014 season.
The 2013 UNM defense gave up too many yards, gave up too many points and spent too much time on the field allowing teams to march. That needs to change.
Davie restructured his defensive staff in the off-season and one emphasis under first-year defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove is to structure a unit with a junkyard dog identity — with a growl-and-bite attitude.
Davie said he won’t go into the season necessarily looking for “three-and-outs,” from his UNM defenders. He is more interested in just getting the “outs” part: get the defense off the field and get the UNM pistol offense back on the field.
The Lobos’ identity on offense remains steady. They run the ball with smash-mouth intensity and expect to do exactly that again in 2014. Maybe with some added aerial stuff.
“We can do just what we’re doing (option) and win,” said Davie. “I think we are very progressive on offense. I think we are ahead of the curve on offense.”