Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Summer Filler #6: New Mexico

I had an entry all lined up and scheduled to be posted last Friday morning, but due to some difficulties beyond my control, that entry was deleted by this hosting service. It was a good one, too, and I'm sad I won't be able to bring it to you. Maybe I'll be able to recall it by memory at a later date, but for now, I'll just have to settle for the second episode in my Slog Through Red October four-part saga. Joygasm.

New Mexico Lobos

Former Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley was brought to Albuquerque in 2009 to replace Rocky Long and -- for lack of a better phrase -- it's pretty much been all downhill for the Lobos since then. In spite of his (apparent) recruiting prowess, they've gone 2-22 in Locksley's first two seasons, fielding some of the most inept offenses and defenses in the country in that time.


Scoring: 15.8 ppg (116th)
Rushing: 108.4 ypg (106th)
Passing: 167.4 ypg (99th)
Total: 266.1 ypg (120th)
1st Downs: 15.7 pg (t-112th)
3rd Downs Converted: 32.2% (109th)
Red Zone Conversions: 84.0% (46th)


Scoring: 44.3 ppg (120th)
Rushing: 250.2 ypg (120th)
Passing: 218.8 ypg (57th)
Total: 469.0 ypg (119th)
Sacks: 11.0 (t-116th)
Tackles for Loss: 55.0 (t-108th)
Turnover Margin: -12 (t-115th)

Special Teams

Touchbacks: 5 (t-82nd)
Kickoff Returns: 23.5 ypr (24th)
Punts: 39.6 ypp (84th)
Punt Returns: 2.3 ypr (119th)

Some Numbers to Ponder: 9.58 - number of tackles per game senior-to-be linebacker Carmen Messina averaged last year, 26th in the country; 31.4 - average margin of defeat in the Lobos' 11 losses last year; 6 - total number of games the Lobos have won since shutting out Nevada in the 2007 New Mexico Bowl.

When the best thing you can say about the Lobos is that they aren't the worst team in the state of New Mexico historically, you can probably deduce there's not much to discuss about them back in the present. To give you a unique idea of how truly bad this team has been, here's a link to the Google Images search I performed on the aforementioned Messina. Notice how the best image I could find of him from last season -- gang-tackling a TCU running back -- compares to the next-best images you'll see: standing with his helmet off during practice and limping off the field with an injury. Truly a fitting metaphor for how far this program has fallen of late.

Granted, the Lobos aren't really known as a world-beating program anyway, as evidenced by their lack of a single conference championship since 1964. But they were at least adequate with the occasional bits of greatness sprinkled here and there -- this was the same program that gave the football world Brian Urlacher and the 3-3-5 defense, after all. They're actually not much different than Nevada in many ways, but the two programs have gone in very different directions since that fateful December afternoon in Albuquerque in 2007.

Locksley will no doubt be under a lot of pressure to perform in this coming season, and he'll have relatively few personnel questions to answer first. The biggest area of concern will be on the offensive line, where three starters are gone from a unit that already had a lot of trouble generating offense and protecting its young quarterbacks. Two wide receivers and a fullback also depart, and that's fortunately where the major losses appear to end. The defense's only losses of note are end Seth Johannemann, tackle Peter Gardner, linebacker Cody Neely and safety Brian Hill, the latter two of which were both back-ups. This team has the makings of a put-up-or-shut-up season for its beleaguered coach -- if they want to get back to the .500 plateau, it will have to be with this group, or Locksley's own lox could be cooked.

We're halfway done with the Slog Through Red October, and a brief respite is on the horizon: Fresno State, the least terrible quarter of this crimson quartet.

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