Saturday: New Mexico at Air Force
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Location: Falcon Stadium, Colorado Springs, Colo.
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: KKOB 94.5 FM, 770 AM
Line: Air Force favored by 13 1/2
By Greg Archuleta
Enchantment Sports Assistant Editor
This week on, “As the Lobos Turn,” the University of New Mexico football team again is limping into game day.
Coach Bob Davie said Tuesday during his weekly news conference that starting quarterback Coltin Gerhart is questionable for Saturday’s game at the Air Force Academy Falcons (3-6, 1-4 Mountain West) because of a sprained foot that forced him to miss six games earlier in the season and that he reaggravated during UNM’s 31-23 loss to San Diego State last weekend.
“I’m concerned because Coltin’s injured,” Davie said. “He played tough, physical, left it out there (vs. the Aztecs). He practiced yesterday, didn’t practice much today at all. That complicates things, as it has complicated things all year.
“Right now, I don’t know who’s going to be the starter or how much Coltin will be able to play.”
Gerhart made his first start last week in place of Sheriron Jones, who has been the Lobos’ only healthy QB for the majority of the season. He took over twice for season-opener starter Tevaka Tuioti — after Tuioti suffered a concussion in Week 2 vs. then-No. 5 Wisconsin and two weeks later against Liberty when Tuioti broke the clavicle on his throwing shoulder.
The senior and brother of former NFL and Stanford running back Toby Gerhart did not have a productive start statistically last weekend against SDSU. He completed 9 of 20 passes for 41 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Gerhart also was sacked six times, which limited him to 18 yards rushing on 14 carries.
He walked into the postgame news conference on Saturday night with a noticeable limp.
The Aztecs do have the No. 4 rushing defense (83.1 yards allowed per game) and the No. 10 overall defense in total yards (287.4 yards allowed), and the Lobos had hoped that Gerhart and the offense would be much more effective in his second start.
Jones has not been horrible — he has completed 53.7 percent of his passes for 1,197 yards with 13 touchdowns. But he also has thrown 10 interceptions, which has crippled a Lobo team (3-6 1-4) that has little margin for error and is struggling to put together enough momentum for a 60-minute game.
UNM led SDSU 23-14 with 10 minutes to go in the game last week, but then gave up a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in less than three minutes, then gave up a 34-yard punt return that set up SDSU’s go-ahead field goal, threw an interception on its next offensive play and then gave up a game-clinching 50-yard touchdown run.
The Falcons know the Lobos pain; in fact, they know it better than the Lobos do. They have not lost a game by more than 10 points this season.
Coach Troy Calhoun was questioned about a series of decisions he made during AFA’s 17-14 loss to Navy last week, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported, to which most of Calhoun’s replies were that his team had the right calls but just needed to execute better.
Like the Lobos, the Falcons have used three quarterbacks this season — Isaiah Sander, DJ Hammond III and Aaron Worthman.
Davie added that the teams have similar defensive styles. UNM, however, had 20 first-half plays against San Diego State; Air Force had 19.
None of that matters to the Lobos, who need to find out soon whom their starting quarterback will be so they can put in the best game plan for that quarterback to have the best chance to win.
Otherwise, Davie is staring at his 14th loss in his last 17 games.
TOHI SUSPENSION CONTINUES: Davie said senior linebacker Evahelotu Tohi remains suspended and will miss the Air Force game.
“He’s in the university process of how these things are conducted,” Davie said. “There’s also an element of team rules, and when the time’s right, I’m going to dip into it more with both young men (Tohi and walk-on David Brown, whom Tohi knocked unconscious at a party on Oct. 27, sending Brown to the hospital).
“Regardless of what the university piece of it is, there is a team standard as well. That’s what Tohi is suspended on right now, that piece of it. The university hasn’t suspended him; I’ve suspended him from football.”
Davie was vague about what the next steps are with Tohi and Brown.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: One media member noted that Davie’s 33 wins at UNM make him the fourth-winningest coach in school history, 32 behind leader Rocky Long.
“Do you have your sights set on Rocky Long’s title?” the reporter asked.
“It’s probably not a good week to ask me,” Davie said, smiling.