By Greg Archuleta
Enchantment Sports Assistant Editor
To use a certain University of New Mexico coach’s phrase: “Being dead honest,” it’s going to be difficult to get excited about Lobo football in 2019.
The aforementioned coach, Bob Davie, held a news conference on Friday that is the precursor to spring football practice beginning on Tuesday. In his State of the Lobos spring speech, the coach entering his eighth season talked about the challenges his team faces in 2019.
The Lobos are an eclectic group of younger and older players that don’t have a lot of experience, he said. The upperclassmen collectively lack a lot of on-field playing time.
UNM also has new coordinators on both offense and defense. Davie said his staff can’t afford to work on any concepts in the spring that aren’t guaranteed to be used in the fall. He said his staff has to coach better, the team has to play better.
The team is coming off back-to-back 3-9 seasons that ended with seven-game losing streaks. At the end of last season, David started mentioning that the athletic department as a whole had to get together and talk about the commitment to Lobo football, what it would take — financially and otherwise — to turn the program into a consistent winner and what expectations should be based on the current commitment to the program.
Davie was asked Friday whether he was satisfied with the offseason discussions about the direction of the football program.
“It’s an interesting time,” Davie said. “I don’t know that anything’s moving forward now at a real fast clip because there are issues with sports that are being dropped and final decisions being made. But I know we are aligned as far as what the vision needs to look like moving forward.
“… It’s just — when is the time and when are those resources to step forward and do that? I want to answer it as honestly as I can. Right now, no — we’re probably at the lowest point we’ve been here as far as some of those things you actually have to do to get an advantage.”
So that leaves the program to rely on internal innovation to get the program turned around in the right direction.
To that end, Davie has made moves, replacing both his offensive and defensive coordinators in the offseason. He hired former Liberty offensive coordinator Joe Dailey to replace Calvin Magee, who left to become the tight ends coach at Ole Miss.
Magee reunites with his former boss at Arizona, Rich Rodriguez, who is now Mississippi’s offensive coordinator, and Magee will make more money as a position coach than he did as a coordinator for UNM — which goes back to Davie’s original comments about expectations for the Lobos based on their resources.
Davie also promoted safeties coach Jordan Peterson to defensive coordinator. Kevin Cosgrove, who was UNM’s defensive coordinator the previous five years, left to become the lead defensive analyst — a coaching position that does not include on-the-field coaching of the players — at LSU.
Dailey will continue to work on marrying the spread- and triple-option offenses that the Lobos tried to do last year under Magee until both starting quarterback Tevaka Tuioti and backup Coltin Gerhart sustained injuries that cost both the majority of the 2018 season.
Peterson will attempt to make the defense a much more aggressive unit with the intent of the Lobo defense dictating what opposing offenses do, as opposed to the offense dictating what UNM’s unit had to do during the last two seasons.
“It’s gonna look a lot different schematically but have the same principles always,” Davie said. “New faces; a fairly dramatic overhaul of the scheme.”
Both coordinators believe they can make dramatic improvements in one year. History dictates that new schemes take more time than that to become solidified. Last year, Davie himself said that the transition from the triple-option to the hybrid offense of both the triple and spread was going to take time.
Davie recognizes that the 2019 Lobos don’t have the luxury of time.
“As a group, we are up against the wall a little bit in the fact that it hasn’t gone well the last two years,” he said. “I’m right back to where I started my first time coaching, attacking it like that. That’s what it is. We’re starting, in a lot of ways, completely over, which I think is dramatically needed.”
When Davie first arrived at UNM, he took over a team that had a 3-33 record over the three seasons prior to his arrival and went 4-9. He did an admirable job with a program that was in disarray at the time.
But his fingerprints have been all over the program for the last seven years, and as most people realize, it’s also harder to proofread your own writing — to fix your own mistakes.
So Davie’s starting over but doesn’t exactly have a blank canvas. He has a roster with a mix of older and younger players — neither with much experience.
And UNM can’t do anything resource-wise to help his cause anytime soon.
That doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the immediate future. Beginning Tuesday, Davie’s staff will try to dramatically alter that picture with haste.