3 Keys for a Lobo Victory
- Score Points and, yes, a touchdown!
Both teams have struggled this year at the Quarterback position and find that one athlete who can throw the ball downfield can run the option if need be and lead the team.
On the Lobo side, Gonzales had to change from Kansas transfer Myles Kendrick to sophomore Justin Holliday who has looked good in spots but is a work in progress with a significant upside for the Lobos.
The Aztecs changed from Braxton Burmeister to one of their safety Jayden Mayden at the quarterback position. He did have a quarterback background before playing safety.
New Mexico is 129th in the 131-school FBS scoring offense, scoring 14.7 points per game.
They’ve been held to 10 points or less in four games this season. Only Massachusetts and Colorado (15 each) have scored fewer TDs than the 16 times that New Mexico has visited the end zone.
Danny Gonzales made a change at Offensive Coordinator, letting former OC Derek Warehime go and putting Quarterbacks coach Heath Ridenhour as the interim offensive coordinator.
Gonzales, at the presser this week, complimented Ridenhour for his commitment to the team, being thrown in mid-season, and having to learn a new offense.
What will our seniors miss the most?
— New Mexico Football (@UNMLoboFB) November 16, 2022
Gonzales said, “Most likely, we’ll have an offensive coordinator (in 2023) who’s not here (now).” He also mentioned getting tons of texts from coaches interested in the offensive Coordinator position with the Lobos.
So, for the time being, Ridenhour has the challenge of putting the ball into his very talented skills guys’ hands to help give the Lobos a chance at the upset against the Aztecs.
The lack of a passing game that has generated just 73.7 yards per game over the last three starts puts them at 128th in FBS; that has to change for this game to be competitive.
The Lobos quarterbacks have thrown for three touchdowns all season, which has made the Lobos very one-dimensional.
Most of those offensive issues for New Mexico stem from a lack of a passing attack that has generated just 73.7 yards per game over their last three starts, which is 128th in the country.
Look for the Aztecs to load the box and force the Lobos to put the ball in the air; also, look for them to be aggressive on blitzes to force QB Dustin Holliday to make quick decisions.
The Aztecs are sitting 37th in Division 1 concerning team defense, allowing 21.9 points per game, so they play well on Defense.
New Mexico’s run game will have to do well in this game if it wants to keep it close.
It ranks 88th in the country on the ground, and running back Nathaniel Jones leads the team in rushing with 466 yards on 108 carries and two touchdowns.
Last week Freshman Christian Washington carried the rock seven times for 24 yards, finishing the contest with 3.4 yards per carry for New Mexico.
Justin Holaday finished the game last week with 128 yds. On 10/21 through the air, his quarterback rating was 98.8.
He didn’t toss any picks, and his Y/A was 6.1. New Mexico gave up 70 attempts on the ground for 421 yards (6.0 yds. per carry).
So the Lobos must play solid in the trenches on the offensive line giving Holliday time to throw to talented wide receivers Luke Wysong, Geordan Porter, Bobby Wooden, Andrew Erickson, and Duece Jones.
2) Lots of pressure on the Quarterback.
The QB play of Jaylen Mayden (6’3, 220 lb.) has boosted the offense and given more support to a defense that has paid dividends for the Aztecs.
Mayden (QB-turned-safety-turned-QB) played a terrific game, throwing for 268 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception while adding 61 yards on the ground.
Jalen Mayden finished 17/22 with 268 yards through the air and 3 TDs. He had a QB rate of 215.5 and ended the game with one interception.
The Aztecs became bowl eligible with last week’s 43-27 home win over San Jose State; they remain in the hunt for the West Division title and the conference crown.
So there is a huge incentive to continue the trend to beat the UNM Lobos and show who the big dog is in the mountain west conference.
The Lobo defense must play lights out against the Aztecs, and if anybody knows them well, it’s Defensive Coordinator Rocky Long.
The Lobos are giving up 25.5 points per game, which has them 61st in D-1. New Mexico has surrendered a total of 1,639 yards rushing (163.9 yards per outing) in addition to 17 touchdowns via the rush for the year.
In total, they have allowed 255 total points. They have given up 11 touchdowns through the air in addition to 192.1 yards per outing, which has them in 26th in Division 1.
Lobo standouts on Defense this year Cody Moon who leads the Lobos with 83 tackles, 50 assists, 33 solos, 3.5 sacks
Freshman AJ Haulcy has 76 tackles, Jerrick Reed 71 tackles, followed by Reco Hannah and Dion Hunters 57 tackles.
These players must step up their physical game against the Aztecs and get stops and turnovers to give this Danny Gonzales team a chance to pull the upset.
3) Great special teams play and mentally sharp
There must be a solid game from the kickoff team, especially with speedster Jordan Byrd who can flat-out fly; he was New Mexico’s fastest high school player out of local Manzano high school and can turn the game fast with a 99 return.
The Lobos need all hands on deck when it comes to this game and must get sick of losing, and players step up to make plays on Kickoff, kickoff return, and punt return with speedster Luke Wysong.
You keep waiting for this Lobo team to have had enough of this, not scoring points finally and losing the game, and they have all the tools to match up with the Aztecs physically, so will this be the game?
The Lobos always have that one game that they finally put it all together and have a game to say we are a work in progress but are slowly but surely getting better!
UNM Lobos 24, SDSU 20