New Mexico vs. Air Force: Keys For A Lobos Win
This is a makeup game for the Lobos and Falcons
Can New Mexico pull off the upset?
WEEK 13: Air Force Falcons (8-2) at New Mexico Lobos (2-8)
WHEN: Saturday, November 23 —12:00 PM MT/ 11:00 AM PT
WHERE: Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, NM
RADIO: Air Force | New Mexico: Lobo Radio Network 77 AM/94.5FM
SERIES RECORD: Air Force leads the series 22-14
GAME NOTES (PDF): New Mexico | Air Force
ODDS (via OddsShark): Air Force -22.5
The Lobo football team once again takes the field to take on the Air Force Falcons from Colorado Springs. The 2-8 Lobos are doing their best to get a win or two in the last two regular-season games to wrap up the 2019 season.
Last week’s game against the 19th ranked Boise State had one of those, as head Ccach Bob Davie has said recently of this season, “did that just really happen?”
Coach Davie at his presser said, “on the very first play of the game, after all the buildup of the game, after all our preparation for the game, all the emotion after the Najah Flowers memorial at midfield, on the very first play of the game, to give the ball up and Boise scores.
“On the third play of the game, our losing our leading rusher Ahari Davis tears his ACL, and then on the sixth or seventh play of the game, Bryson Carroll has a very serious ankle injury.
“With all that said, we have lots of injuries on this team, and we have had 83 scholarship players to start the season, and we only have 57 scholarship players to play in this game against Air Force Saturday.”
New Mexico has had a whopping 14 season-ending injuries this year that started with our starting quarterback Brent Hughes & starting nose guard Aaron Blackwell In the first game of the year.
New Mexico enters the game Saturday with many backups being pulled up from the scout team to help shore up the wide receivers and running backs where they are most hurt by injuries and most critical for them to compete per Davie.
“Their Air Force talent level is the best I have seen since I have been at New Mexico as the head coach and schematically are a nightmare running the trip option,” Davie said.
“They run a two offense that they really started full speed at Hawaii and has caused lots of team’s problems and made it harder schematically to teams playing them.”
The Lobos have their hand’s full playing with a ton of injuries to significant players and playing one of the best Air Force teams that Coach Davie has seen since he has been here.
Saturday’s game at DreamStyle in Albuquerque is being called Heroes Day; it will be a day that the military, armed forces, and first responders, as well as those affected by breast cancer, will be honored.
So what does UNM have to do to pull the upset?
1) The offensive line must by physical and dominate the line of scrimmage.
This is going to be a challenge for the Lobos with their starting running backs being hurt of banged up. The Lobo offensive line must use their size and dominate the line of scrimmage to be effective to run the ball for first downs.
The Falcons rank 7th in the nation in rushing defense and 68th in passing defense, so it will be a challenge running the ball but should be able to pass against them.
Air Force is a fierce team defending the run this year and have played some top rushing teams the last few weeks and held they are own staying top ten in the nation against the run.
If the quarterbacks can be accurate in throwing the Lobo receivers in open spaces to use their athleticism to make plays or could be a long game, they must throw the ball; after all, it’s a spread offense.
2) The defense must contain the trip option or not give up big plays
The Lobo defense has actually improved against the run, thanks to their three-headed New Mexico linebacker monster, Alex Hart, Mo Vainikolo and Jacobi Hearn, who have combined for 27.5 tackles for loss and all have had outstanding seasons helping the Lobos stop opponents running the ball.
These guys have played lights out and more than likely because two of them are seniors and see the writing on the wall that this football days and all the years of playing could be coming to an end soon.
The triple-option is a considerable challenge to any teams who have are not used to defending it. There is no better challenge at stopping the triple option of playing the service academies.
They keep the ball away from your offense in time of possession and then score, so must games are not high scoring games, but the Falcons are more balanced this year.
They have an outstanding fullback and solid quarterback who will not only run on you and hit you but will throw when you least expect it to catch the defense off guard.
These Falcons are going some sharp guys and very academically inclined and play smart on the football field. So if you plan to defeat them, you will have to play smart football.
They are not at the Air Force Academy because they are not sharp; on the contrary, they are very smart and will have a game plan on how to beat you.
Troy Calhoun is one of the top coaches in the country, and there is a reason he is 92-69 and has been the head of the helm there since 2007.
3) Win special teams wars
The Lobo football team as one strength that stands out, and it’s their special teams play.
They have a very good kicker on kickoffs, a very accurate field goal kicker, and one of the best punters in the country.
Their punters, Tyson Dyer is one of ten semifinalists in the country for the Ray Guy Award, which honors the nation’s top punters.
Dyer averages over 45 yards per punt and leads the nation with 31 punts inside the 20-yard line, and he also leads the nation in percentage of punts inside the 20, which is 62 percent of those kicks.
Combine that with maybe a run back for a touchdown or punt return for a touchdown; you don’t know in a college football game what will happen.
Special teams are one of those things that fans never realize how vital they are until you need a game-winning field goal or a big play to change the momentum in the game.
The Lobo trip of field goal kicker Andrew Shelley, punter Tyson Dyer, and kicker Donovan Murphree have been reliable this year and could come into play should the game be a low scoring game or it becomes about field position late in the game.