New Mexico vs. Fresno State Preview: Keys For A Lobos Win
Lobos looking for a second win.
New Mexico has a tough challenge
WEEK 15: New Mexico Lobos (1-5) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (3-2)
WHEN: Saturday, December 12th — 7:30 PM PT/8:30 PM MT
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium; Las Vegas, NV
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, including FS1, by following this link.
You can also find the audio broadcast on TuneIn.
RADIO: The Fresno State broadcast can be found around the Central Valley at 940 AM. The New Mexico broadcast can be found on the affiliates of the Lobo Radio Network, including the flagship 770 AM (KKOB) in Albuquerque.
SERIES RECORD: Fresno State leads the series 13-4. In the last meeting on October 28th, 2018, the Bulldogs defeated the Lobos in Albuquerque, 38-7.
LAST WEEK: Fresno State lost on the road at Nevada, 37-26, while New Mexico won at “home” against Wyoming, 17-16.
ODDS (as of 12/10, via Vegas Insider): Fresno State -11.5
SP+ PROJECTION: Fresno State by 13.4 (78% win probability)
FEI PROJECTION: Fresno State by 8.3
The UNM Lobos (1-5) look to take on the Fresno State Bulldogs (3-2) in the last scheduled football game for the 2020 football season.
The Lobos are hoping to get back-to-back wins as they take on Fresno State at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas Saturday night.
Coach Danny Gonzales would get his first victory of the season last Saturday against the Wyoming Cowboys; the Lobos played hard all four quarters as a team.
The Lobo’s has dealt with several critical injuries to their starting quarterbacks this year, and they are down to their 5th string quarterback Isaiah Chavez.
Chavez, a 6-foot 191 walk-on true freshman, played for local high school Rio Rancho high (2016-2019) for head Coach David Howes. Howes is now on staff with the Lobo football team coaching the Safeties and is head Lobo coach Danny Gonzales brother in law.
Chavez, last year’s Gatorade New Mexico High School Player of the Year who led Rio Rancho to the state title game, never showed any fear against Wyoming, Gonzales said.
“He’s a very confident young man, which is what you want at that position,” Gonzales said. “My honest opinion, the third-and-7 that he rushed for the first down, I thought that might have been the biggest play in the game against Wyoming.”
Despite their record, the Lobos are one of those teams going through some growing pains and are a better team than their record indicates.
One specific example of this would be the Nevada game, as the Lobos very well could have won that game, losing only 27-20 to an excellent Nevada team this year.
The Lobo football team has been living at the Hilton Lake Las Vegas since November 2nd due to the COVID-19 protocols in New Mexico.
Staying at the Hilton Lake Las Vegas, which is 15 miles outside of the strip, has made it possible for players to stay safe from the Virus, and the coaches know the comings and goings of each player.
This week in Coach Danny Gonzales pressers, he has commented that the Lobo program was an excellent example of how other college athletic teams can handle Covid-19.
Numbers do not lie as the team has had zero positive cases since November 2nd and test their team at least three times a week. This game will be the final game of the Lobos season as they head on back to home base in Albuquerque Sunday night.
You really must commend this New Mexico team as its one of the most impacted college football teams in NCAA because of COVID-19.
Three Keys to a New Mexico Victory
1. Lobo offense to keep the chains moving
Last week, the Lobo offense against Wyoming looked good, particularly the offensive line, spearhead by 6’6 322 lb OT Teton Saltes and 6’3 300 lb Kyle Stapley.
The offensive line was a bright spot in this game as they were blowing the Cowboy’s defensive line off the ball and allowing the Lobo running backs big holes for significant gains.
Bobby Cole rushed for 139 yards on 22 carries and added two catches for 53 yards, one touchdown. He had an impressive 6 yards a carry.
Running back, Nathanial Jones ran for 55 yards and a touchdown for New Mexico, which compiled 223 yards on the ground. Jones had 4.6 yards per carry.
The Lobos will be looking for a repeat offensive performance against the Bulldogs, they need to stay on the field to help the defense and keep an excellent Fresno State offense off the field.
Getting the ball to the receivers’ talented receiving core will be significant and giving the Lobo quarterback time to throw the ball.
2. Sold Defense against the Bulldog offense
The Lobo defense is coming into the final game of the year allowing 3.15 points per game and 453.7 yards of total defense.
The Lobos have given up 271.8 passing yards per game, which ranks 109th in the FBS; this is huge. Look for the Bulldogs to try and exploit these glaring weaknesses for the Lobo secondary.
They must find a way to pressure Fresno State Quarterback Jake Haener in the pocket and not allow him to pick the Lobo secondary apart. Fresno State Jake Haener completed 41-of-65 passes for 485 yards and two touchdowns against Nevada in 37-26 loss.
Haener, a 6-foot-1 junior, has been excellent the last two games going over 400 passing and has thrown for 907 yards with six touchdowns and one interception over the past two games
This loss eliminated the Bulldogs from contention for the Mountain West Conference Championship, but they still have post-season hopes for another game.
This Rock Long defense must defend the pass and not give up big chunks of yards against the Fresno State passing attack.
So look for Rocky Long‘s very aggressive 3-3-5 defense to attack this offense with many blitzes from different angles to slow down this strong passing quarterback.
3. Strong Special teams play by the Lobos
The Lobos must have solid special teams play at Kickoffs, Kickoff returns, and booming punts by their punter Tyson Dyer.
Football is a game of field position, and when you have a great punter like Tyson Dyer, the kid from Down Under, it can be a game-changer. Kicker Dononvan Murphree must kick the ball well and, when called upon, score the field goals. Any scoring opportunity will be huge for the Lobos.
The Lobos must take advantage of any scoring opportunity and their kicker and get great punts to turn the field by their punter to flip the field.
This should be an exciting game as the Lobos come off the win last week against Wyoming, and the Bulldogs looking to make sure this is not their last game of the year.
The football team that wins any game does so upfront in the trenches, the offensive and defensive line, so they must be solid on both offense and defense.
Can the Lobos put pressure on the Bulldog QB and the secondary not give up the big plays? This will be critical for the Lobos to have a chance of getting another win.
They will also need to score points against this Bulldog team and do it with Isaiah Chavez, a solid offensive line, and a great receivers’ core.