LOS LOBOS LOCOS
Arizona defeated New Mexico 45-37 in the 2015 New Mexico bowl. Why is that important? Well, among the rush of exuberant fans were critical voices that wondered why the Wildcats, who were double-digit favorites, barely survived. After all, New Mexico had not had a winning season in nearly a decade. In fact, eight years earlier, the lowly Lobos had completed a three-year stretch with just three wins – total – for all three years.
It seemed to me that those who were critical of Arizona just didn’t know what has been happening in Albuquerque. The New Mexico Lobos have become the one team that opposing really don’t want to see on their schedules.
So, what has been happening? How could a team that was predicted to finish dead last in the 2015 Mountain West Conference season actually finish second?
Well, we’ll begin with their head coach, Bob Davie. Yes, the former head coach at Notre Dame. Since Davie came to Albuquerque, the Lobos have finished in the top-10 nationally every year for running the football. In 2015, the Lobos were number one (number one!) in the nation for number of plays over sixty yards, fourth in red zone defense, top-25 in tackles for a loss, had the leading tackler (per game average), and the nation’s leading kick returner. In just the month of November, the Lobos beat Utah State, Boise State, and Air Force—all of them bowl-bound teams!
Those are great accomplishments on the field, but here are some off-the-field that impress me just as much:
* Twenty-five players are from the state of New Mexico which means the roster is loaded with two-stars
(and less) by a coach committed to the people of his state.
* His recruiting class last year ranked 118th and this year, it currently stands at 126th.. How is he winning?
* His final year at Notre Dame, the player-graduation rate was 100% and he won national honors.
* And now, in his fourth year at New Mexico, he leads the Mountain West in player-graduations.
Fate makes strange bedfellows sometimes and so it did with Bob Davie and the University of Arizona. Besides meeting in last year’s bowl game, Davie had accepted a full-ride scholarship to—wait for it—the University of Arizona. However. Although the death of his brother caused him to leave Arizona, he later returned as an assistant coach. Last December, his sophomore safety Markel Byrd died in Arizona when a tire blew and the car catapulted through the air. Before Rich Rodriguez was hired at Arizona, Davie’s name was high on the list of rumored candidates.
New Mexico‘s success is largely founded on the brilliant defensive mastery of it’s coach. Davie is considered the chief designer of Texas A&M’s “Wrecking Crew” which led the nation in total defense in 1993 and then the next year at Notre Dame defense where his defense produced the lowest yards-per-game defensive total of the decade. At New Mexico, he has significantly upgrading the Lobos’ key defensive stats every year.
But what makes New Mexico so feared is the triple-option offense that is as entertaining as it is effective. what New Mexico does on offense with its feared triple-option attack. In 2015 that offense became the ONLY on in the FBS to produce 3000 yard rushing seasons, three years in a row.
So, what makes it so magnificent? Well, this should give you an idea. Take the Georgia Tech offense, plug plug it into a 220 circuit, and stand back. Yeah, that’s Los Lobos Locos.
On one play, three running backs might scatter while on another, they all stampede in one direction and crush everything in sight. On another play, they might hand off straight up the middle while on the next, they fake two—and sometimes even THREE— times before getting the ball to someone. Sometimes it’s a bull-rush in a straight line veer while the next is misdirection. Is it any wonder that opposing coaches have come to loathe the Lobos?
Can they pass?
Well, sort of.
There are some schematically sound passing plays, but when you run the ball 80% of the time, you find it hard to recruit high school quarterbacks so when it comes to passing, there is more hoping and coping that actually producing anything that is pretty or proficient.
You and I aren’t the only ones who know that recruiting to New Mexico is painfully difficult and I suspect the days for Davie in Albuquerque are numbered. The day will come when the folks in the Land of Enchantment will gaze at their magnificent sunsets and reminisce about the good ol’ days—those days of Bob Davie and Los Lobos Locos.