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First Look: Talking New Mexico Football

Mountain West Conference
UNM Athletics Web Site 2012 Media Guide
2012 Record: 1-0 Last Week: W, 66-21 vs Southern (Box)
CFBStats Profile Page Bill Connelly Season Preview
SB Nation Blog: MWC Connection
Barking Carnival Game Preview
BON's Texas Longhorns Gameday
Where to watch on the LHN

To achieve any type of depth discussing the New Mexico football program, it's probably necessary to take a step back from recent history and understand where the program was entering the ill-fated Mike Locksley era (obligatory reference to the sexual harassment suit and punching out an assistant coach).

It's a trip that Bill Connelly hosts in the above link (obligatory mention that you should read it), but here are the basics -- UNM alum Rocky Long took the Lobos to a number of bowl games, five in six years, in fact, before suffering some close losses and resigning after a 4-8 season in 2008. At the time, New Mexico was hardly a powerhouse, but they were at least competitive most seasons under Long.

Attempting to tap into some of that famous Ron Zook magic (lulz), the Lobos turned to the Zooker's ace recruiter, the aforementioned Locksley. Things, uh, didn't go so well. In fact, to call his tenure in Albuquerque (obligatory Breaking Bad reference) a train wreck would be charitable.

Try three matching 1-11 seasons, though Locksley only made it through four games last season before getting himself canned. In 2011, the Lobos managed the unenviable achievement of being about the worst team in the country on both sides of the ball. As a result, the games weren't even close. Like, really not close.

Enter Bob Davie. Enter Bob Davie jokes.

Scipio has them!

First year head coach Bob Davie left the broadcast booth to mark a triumphant return to college football after destroying 100 years of Notre Dame tradition and mastering such color commentary turns of phrase as: "Very risky to throw the ball here on 3rd and long inside your own 45 yard line."

He so Davie!

But New Mexico is 1-0 for the first time since 2005. And Davie's new catchphrase: "The Lobos don't beat the Lobos anymore" is catching on.

Isn't that cute?

If the staid Davie takes some heat for his conservative nature as a defense-first coach, he did make the intriguing hire of former Sam Houston State offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse. Like many coaches do when starting the hiring process, Davie started asking around about which coaches were tough to prepare against, picking the brains of the defensive staff from the Loskley regime before letting them go.

They told Davie about DeBesse, as the Lobos had lost to the eventual FCS runner up in late September, the game that sealed the fate of Locksley. So Davie went out and hired Sam Houston State offensive coordinator after watching film and apparently having the triple-option attack appeal to his run-first sensibilities. Davie was described as having "fallen in love" with DeBesse. Who knew Davie was capable of such an emotion beyond a third-down punt from inside the opponent's territory?

DeBesse runs a Pistol-based triple option offense that helped the Bearkats put up over 407 yards per game last season, while dropping nearly 37 points per contest. A run-heavy attack, SHSU gained roughly two-thirds of their yards on the ground on the way to the FCS title game. The formations may be a bit new school, but the option concepts are pretty ancient now in football years and it looks like they will mix some shotgun zone stuff with the Pistol veer schemes and such.

Having come from SHSU, it's easy to characterize DeBesse as an up-and-coming coach. However, his actual resume reflects a different story. A product of Stratford High School in Houston, he graduated from what is now Texas State before serving as a running backs coach at TCU, ascending to the OC position before taking the same job at Minnesota, sticking with his mentor and former head coach at Texas State, Jim Wacker, along the way. When he returned to the state of Texas in 1997, it was as the head coach at his alma mater.

It didn't work out there, as DeBesse went 27-39. Bouncing back after an unsuccessful head coaching tenure can be difficult -- just ask Davie -- and DeBesse landed in West Lafayette as the wide receivers coach under Joe Tiller and Jim Chaney, becoming exposed to the high-powered spread attacks Purdue ran in those days, which were ahead of the curve for the time.

Parlaying that gig into the same position at A&M, it would seem that DeBesse adopted the triple-option attack from Franchione that he now favors, albeit in a Pistol guise that suggests some Nevada influences as well. Of course, things didn't work out so well in College Station for Frannypants and DeBesse was once again out of a job, this time sticking around College Station to coach the secondary at A&M Consolidated.

All of that a long way of saying that DeBesse probably deserves the "resurgent" label in regards to his career, and one that Davie would like to add to his own resume, as well as that of New Mexico. And to provide a little perspective on the influences that led to DeBesse becoming a purveyor of the productive Bearkat offense for the last two years.

Offensively, New Mexico only attempted 10 passes in the win against Southern last week. Only two were attempted by freshman quarterback Cole Gautsche, an early enrollee who received numerous accolades as the best large-school player in the state last fall leading an attack that won the 5A state championship as he produced over 4,000 yards of offense and 62 total touchdowns. A big kid at 6-4 and 225 pounds, Gautsche ran for 88 yards on eight carries against Southern.

When the Lobos are more interested in throwing the ball, look for senior B.R. Holbrook, who was efficient against Southern (6-of-8), though he didn't pass for many yards and only attempted two runs.

The load back for the game was junior Demarcus Rogers, who is described as shifty by Connelly at 5-10 and 190 pounds. Explosive? Well, not so much. He did manage to break off a 22-yard run in the opener, which was longer than his best effort of last season, which went for only 16. Rogers had over 80 carries on the year and managed only three yards per attempt.

At wide receiver and tight end, they have a former Ohio State wideout in Lamaar Thomas and a productive senior tight end in Lucas Reed, who has nearly 1,000 career receiving yards, an incomprehensible number for Texas fans at that position.

About the defense? Well, they will line up 11 players every play, the defensive tackles are good (both Illinois transfers), and the move to a 3-4 should benefit the undersized defensive ends. Depth will be a major issue against the Longhorns.

They did, however, help produce two touchdowns in the second quarter against Southern (fumble return, interception return), a quarter in which the Lobos scored 38 points, which they did not manage cumulatively in the final six games last season. Marinate on that for a minute. In all, the nine touchdowns scored against the Jaguars represented half of the total from 2011.

Ladies and gentleman, the Mike Locksley era!

Stay tuned for more to come on the Lobos and the DeBesse offense.