New Mexico vs. Air Force Preview: Keys For A Lobos Win
Is this the game New Mexico gets its first win?
Friday night football.
Game Day Details
Series Record: Air Force 23 wins- New Mexico 14 wins
When: Friday, November 20th @ 7:30 p.m. MT
Where: Falcon Stadium- Colorado Springs, Colorado
How to Watch on TV: FS1
Stream: FuboTV – Get a seven-day free trial
Radio: Stream on TuneIn
Stop giving up big plays on Defense
New Mexico head coach Danny Gonzales is still searching for his first win for the Lobo football team after three games this season. As good as the Lobos played last week against the Nevada Wolf Pack, they continue to give up big plays went it counts the most.
New Mexico entered the game as 17-point underdogs showed that they could play with the elite of the MWC, but ultimately lost the game 27-20.
The Lobos have played teams tough, with two of their three losses by seven points or less, coach Gonzales has gone on record that the Lobos have been their own worst enemies in all three games with bad assignment errors in the defensive secondary.
The Lobos really showed last week that they are very capable of playing against the MWC best, going toe to toe against heavily favorited Nevada (4-0).
Despite the losses, you are starting to see a glimpse of what Lobos fans can expect from the Lobo football team.
Head Coach Danny Gonzales liked the improvement as far as physicality is concerned for his team.
“I think that mentality is in the beginning stages,” Gonzales said. “I saw some guys on Saturday throw themselves around like they hadn’t done since I’ve been here. They’re starting to believe, and they’re starting to see it because we’ve had some success with what we’re doing. It gives them some belief in why we preach the things we preach and why we expect them to do the things we do.”
“Playing against Nevada, I think we found our identity a little bit,” said UNM senior middle linebacker Brandon Shook. “I think we are getting to where we want to be. I still think there is a lot of room for improvement, but we’re getting better.”
Gonzales went on to say that the Lobos showed improvement regarding being a very physical, aggressive, and violent team.
He also said that they are nowhere near where they need to be to compete as far as being extremely physical, flying to the ball, and playing smart football.
The mean, nasty, and almost chip on their shoulders has played well for New Mexico teams of the past; one can look at the Rocky Long teams of the past to see that.
It’s a high energy, physical style that leaves the opponent wholly sore after every football games. He demands that the players leave it all on the field after every game.
The Lobos (0-3) aren’t totally there yet, but they showed they could reach that level against heavily favored Nevada (4-0), which held off UNM for a 27-20 win.
A statistic that is very telling for the Lobo defense is that of the 13 touchdowns scored against the Lobos, 12 have come through the pass
Contain the triple-option offense.
It’s no secret when playing the Air Force Falcons; you are playing one of the nation’s top rushing teams each year.
One big concern that Coach Gonzales had regarding his defense was the speed at which the Falcons run their offense and if his players understand that speed.
Many teams try to defend the option in various ways, but there is no replicating the speed at which the Falcons run it, and it all starts with the Fullback on the Dive. The Falcons come into the matchup with five players who have rushed for more than 100 yards.
Leading the Falcons is JR fullback Timothy Jackson, 34 carries for 178 yards and a 5.2 yards per carry average, and He had 19 carries against Navy for 118 yards and a 6.2 average.
The Falcons also have Junior Brandon Lewis, who has run the ball 19 times for 172 yards and 9.1 yards per carry, and one touchdown.
Under Rocky Long, the Lobos have actually done better than most teams at containing this offense with his 3-3-5 defense.
So, with the Air Force Falcons being predominantly a running team and an occasional pass, this should be a fun game to watch with this defense that Long runs.
One could look at history to see Coach Rocky Long has kept this Air Force team from scoring lots of points, as the former Head Coach of San Diego State or New Mexico
This defense traditionally does well to defend the run and Long has a reputation at being one of the best defensive minds in the NCAA football world.
That being said, it’s the Falcons who are ranked 24th in total defense nationally, giving up an average of 331 yards per game.
However, Rocky Long’s run defense is ranked third in the country, but it’s the pass defense that’s been the achilles heel for this defense.
So, it will be very interesting to see how this Lobo team and its talent level can do the same thing.
Continue the Solid Offensive Production
Offensive Derek Warehimes’s Lobo offense has been solid for the Lobos after three games this year.
Junior QB Tevaka Tuioti is the team’s leader in passing yards going 37 of 66 attempts (56%) for 475 yards and four scores. Tuioti was very good in the opener against San Jose State, 294 yards passing, two touchdowns, 69 yards rushing, and just one interception.
He then added another 181 passing yards and 71 against the Hawaii Rainbows and two touchdowns. This is the game that he got hurt after being hit on a scramble run that sidelined him.
Tuioti missed the Nevada game being held out for concussion protocol, but if cleared to play would more than likely start with his having more game experience.
Sophomore Trae Hall, who started last week for Warehime offense, will start if Tuioti is not cleared.
Hall completed 17 of 32 passes for 195 yards and an interception and ran 16 times for 27 yards against the Wolf Pack. He also caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from running back Bryson Carroll for a touchdown. So Hall had a solid performance for the Lobos.
Leading the team in rushing is redshirt Junior Bobby Cole with 226 yards on 39 carries (5.8 yards) per carry) and one score.
He is a solid receiver with three receptions for 22 yards and 7.3 yards average and has rushed for 90 or more yards in the last two games for the Lobos.
As a sophomore, he saw game action in all 12 games and, for his career, has 66 carries for 415 yards or 6.3 yards per carrying with three touchdowns
Cole is a very bruising running back for OC Derek Warehimes Lobos at 5’9 and 211 pounds.
Wide receiver Jordan Kress is a weapon for the Lobos and has gotten off to a great start with 170 yards receiving, two touchdowns on eight catches. (21.3 yards per catch)
He has an average of 21.3 yards per catch and is a dangerous player in the secondary with his playmaking ability.
So, this should be a fun game to watch with some talent on both sides of the ball with the Falcons triple option and the Lobos 3-3-5 and playmakers on both sides of the ball.