Posted at: 12/06/2012 12:39 PM
By: J.P. Murrieta, KOB Eyewitness Sports 4
The University of New Mexico football team will hold their end of the year banquet this weekend so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the season.
Full disclosure, when Bob Davie was first hired as head coach one year ago I didn’t know what to think. Hiring a guy who’d been out of coaching for 10 years? That’s your best option? People would come up to me and ask, “What do you think about the hire?” I would respond, “I think UNM needed to get a big name. Check. I think they needed to get someone the polar opposite of what they had. Check. I thought they needed someone who could instill more discipline. Check. Could he win games? Question mark.”
At the start of every year, sports broadcasters are like fans. We look at the schedule and try to predict wins and losses. UNM had lost to the Aggies the last couple years. We didn’t know what to expect out of a school like Texas State. Hawaii is always a tough place to win. Looking at the schedule and based on the previous seasons, most people (myself included) didn’t see or expect more than another one win year. Boy, were we wrong.
Flashback to week one against Southern. I’m on the sidelines on the brand new Branch Field (which was scorching hot from the heat, by the way) and I see Jhurell Pressley take in the first score of the game. I think to myself, “Ok, that was nice. This season is off to a good start, but let’s not get carried away. I’ve seen how this story ended before.”
Second quarter, BR Holbrook finds Ty Kirk in the endzone. Joseph Harris picks up a fumble and takes it in for a touchdown. Demarcus Rogers carries the ball eight yards for another score. True freshman Cole Gautsche gets in the endzone for the first time in his college career. Then Chase Clayton returns a kick 98 yards for a touchdown! 38 points in the second quarter?! Now I say, “Holy smokes! I did NOT see this coming.” The 28 thousand fans in attendance are going bonkers. Later in the third quarter, Gautsche breaks one 47 yards (after looking to pitch to a running back that wasn’t there) and you could see Davie on the sidelines with his hands held high as Gautsche runs into the endzone. This is the Lobo football team fans have been waiting for.
I recently came across my reporter’s notebook from that game. I wrote my introduction to the highlights for my live shot that night on the news. My introduction read, “Based on what we saw out of the Lobos the last three years, I did NOT recognize the team wearing Cherry Red today.” Those words still hold true at the end of the season.
The Lobos beat the Aggies on September 22, a date Davie had circled on the calendar for months. The Lobos celebrated on that field like we haven’t seen from this program in years.
The conference wins might not show much progress to the outsider, but anyone who’s followed this program will tell you this is a MUCH different Lobo football team. Against Boise State, the Lobos got a standing ovation in a losing effort. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. They had the ball in the fourth quarter with a chance to win or tie against Boise State, Air Force, Wyoming and Nevada. THIS TEAM HAS FIGHT!
This team also has discipline. They were top 20 in the country in fewest penalty yards. Davie has the players leave the lockeroom after every home game in suits and ties. That’s class. The players are held accountable like they hadn’t been before. One stat I think is really impressive about this team is they were top 5 in the nation in rushing offense. EVERYONE IN THE COUNTRY KNEW THE LOBOS WERE GOING TO RUN THE BALL! But they still managed to put up over 300 yards a game on the ground.
When the conference awards were announced this week, I didn’t expect too many UNM players to make the list. But I thought coach of the year was a no brainer. The job Bob Davie did with this program was amazing. He turned it around in the right direction. Looking at my ballot for the conference honors, I voted Cole Gautsche the freshman of the year and Bob Davie the Mountain West Coach of the Year. Apparently others agreed with me. After the awards were announced, another conference coach told me he thought Bob Davie did the best coaching job in the Mountain West, hands down.
Bob Davie is what’s right about the Lobo football program right now. They’re disciplined and they fight. The wins will come.