First Look: New Mexico vs. Idaho State
Lobos take on the Bengals in Week 0
Danny Gonzales-era begins
An early preview of the UNM Lobos matchup against Big Sky opponent Idaho State Bengals
Team: Idaho State
Conference: Big Sky
2019 Result: 3-9
Head Coach: Rob Phenicie
On August 29, the Danny Gonzales era begins as the Lobos battle the Bengals from Idaho State at DreamStyle Stadium in Albuquerque for the first game of the year.
With the summer months upon us and the whole world talking about the COVID-19 virus, it’s nice to even be able to talk about college football being played this year.
The Bengals from Idaho State come into the Land of Enchantment to take on Lobos in the high altitude of Albuquerque at 5000 feet above sea level.
The Lobos under former Head Coach Bob Davie finished 2-10 last year, concluding with a nine-game skid before Athletic Director Eddie Nunez and Bob Davie mutually agreed to part ways.
Eddie Nunez: “I’m appreciative of the work that coach Davie has done at UNM.” Davie has a career record of 35-63 in eight seasons with the program. He led the Lobos to a 7-6 record and appearance in the New Mexico Bowl in 2014 and followed it up with a 9-4 campaign and a win in the New Mexico Bowl the following season.
Nunez then pursued and hired Defensive Coordinator Danny Gonzales from Arizona State, where he was on staff with former NFL head coaches Herm Edwards and Marvin Lewis.
Gonzales who has been offered other head coaching jobs made it very clear he was not interested in any head coaching job as he was quite happy at ASU with Coach Herm Edwards.
The only head coaching job he would consider would be his alma mater in New Mexico, but only if they pursued him, as he was not looking as he was very happy at Arizona State.
Athletic Director Eddie Nunez really got a two for one with the hire of young and bright Danny Gonzales. Then, Rocky Long, who is known for super aggressive and physical defenses, it should bode well for the Lobos on the gridiron.
The Idaho State Bengals are a good team for the Lobos to start the season off before heading on the road for two very challenging teams back to back, in the USC Trojans and Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Idaho State game should be one to allow the Lobos to get things worked out and have success before those two Power Five opponents.
The Bengals are picked by Street & Smith’s College football to finish dead last in the Big Sky Conference in their preseason magazine and have the fewest starters of any team in the conference.
What they do have is returning Quarterback Matt Struck, who passed for an impressive 2,334 yards for the Bengals. He could be challenged by Wyoming Cowboy transfer Tyler VanderWaal. He is a 6’4, 220Lb Quarterback from Elk Grove Calif.
With New Mexico, Danny Gonzales inherits over 30 seniors on the roster for this year’s Lobo football team, many have with game experience, and that should really help them.
Then you factor a Rocky Long who without question is one of the top defensive minds in college football and runs the 3-3-5 better than most teams.
The Lobos should dramatically improve on defense under Long from last year’s Lobos, who gave up an average of 37.2 points per game. One of the biggest question marks right now would be the Quarterback of the Lobos for OC Warehime.
Sophomore QB Trae Hall is listed as the tentative starter, but it should be a dogfight with Junior Tevaka Tuioti and Brandt Hughes.
Offensive Coordinator Derek Warehime was also an excellent hire for Danny Gonzales as Warehime.
Derek Warehime was a big reason for a very productive era of a big-play offense under former Offensive Coordinator Bob Debesse when both were part of the Lobo coaching staff with Bob Davie.
Gonzales has gone on record saying that the Warehime be a head coach one day and feels fortunate to have hired him and bring him on staff.
There is no doubt that all NCAA Football teams with limited reps, limited workouts, and limited practice will look a little rusty after dealing with the COVID Virus.
The Lobos have some very good talent this year with nine players named to the Athlon Sports Preseason All-Mountain West team, with four players earning the nod on offense, two on defense, and a league-leading three on special teams.
So, you have some players like TE Marcus Williams salivating under this spread offense under Warehime, he can light up as a TE or Split receiver. He should have a very good year under this offense.
They have some speedy receivers as well with Elijah Lilly as one of the speed burners for the offense.
The Lobos have some good talent at running back and Bryce Carroll comes to mind as very explosive back with quickness to take it to the house given the opportunity.
Shoring up the offensive line is Teton Saltes and Kyle Stapley and on defense, Jacobi Hearn at the Linebacker spot and cornerback Donte Martin are solid defenders for the Lobos.
The Lobo without a doubt come into the season with one of the best punters in the nation with Tyson Dyer averaging 46.1 yards per punt and long of 63 yards Ray Guy Award semifinalist
So the bottom line is that this should be a fun team to not only watch, they should be able to surprise a few teams with the coaching staff and the upperclassman for this years team.