Former Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie returns to the sidelines to oversee rebuilding of New Mexico's program.
By: Athlon Sports | 5/5/12, 12:50 PM EDT
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#117 New Mexico
HEAD COACH: Bob Davie, First Season | OFF. COORDINATOR: Bob DeBesse | DEF. COORDINATOR: Jeff Mills
Senior quarterback B.R. Holbrook is learning from his fourth offensive coordinator in his five years at New Mexico as Bob DeBesse installs his version of the Pistol attack.
“On the plus side, he’s seen a lot of X’s and O’s,” says new head coach Bob Davie, who says Holbrook enjoyed a strong spring. Holbrook started New Mexico’s final eight games last year and finished with four touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Davie wants to be a run-first offense, feeling that is the best way to stabilize a program that has won only three games in three years, and that will mean improving an offensive line that has been subpar in recent years. Sophomore LaMar Bratton and junior Dillon Farrell led the eight scholarship linemen who went through spring drills.
Running back Demarcus Rogers figures to be the primary back with the departure of leading rusher Crusoe Gongbay. Rogers averaged only 3.0 yards on his 81 rushing attempts as a sophomore in 2011.
And while Davie wants to run, his pass-catchers are probably the most talented players on the offense. Tight end Lucas Reed, who was bothered by a hamstring in the spring, is a good target, while playmakers out wide include former Ohio State transfer Lamaar Thomas (who could be used as a Wildcat quarterback) plus veterans Ty Kirk and Quintell Solomon.
The new coaching staff is installing a base 3-4 defense after last year’s 4-2-5 alignment finished the year 119th in the nation in points allowed. There are plenty of seniors up front for the three defensive line positions, with former Illinois transfer Reggie Ellis expected to anchor the middle.
At outside linebacker, the Lobos have a promising senior in Joe Harris, who will be counted on to put pressure on the passer. Harris impressed with his athleticism in the spring and will be the key component of improving New Mexico’s paltry sack total of 10 in 2011. Returning starter Dallas Bollema also had a good spring. A.J. Butler moved from safety to linebacker to add speed to the unit. Incoming freshman Richard Winston is one of the top prospects of Davie’s first recruiting class and should have an immediate impact.
In the secondary, corners DeShawn Mills and Devonta Tabannah are consistent. The staff has some questions at safety, where Dante Caro is a returning starter.
Justus Adams, who handled kickoffs last year, will take over the placekicking duties from James Aho, while directional punter Ben Skaer returns to his starting role.
Davie, who last coached at Notre Dame in 2001, knows what is in front of him. He is taking over a team that ranked 120th in scoring offense and 119th in scoring defense and has had 34 of the 67 players signed in the last three years leave the program.
“This is a complete rebuilding job,” Davie says. “No one is going to argue that point. I’m comfortable with that. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity.”
Discipline and attention to detail have been the themes since he took over, two areas that were apparently non-existent in the disastrous Mike Locksley era. The Lobos are lacking in personnel to make any sort of an immediate jump, but it is imperative for Davie to make some progress in the statistical rankings and in the win-loss record. He needs to be able to sell his next recruiting class on the hope that the program is headed in the right direction.