Words from the enemy: New Mexico vs. CSU

Justin Michael

New Mexico beat reporter Cameron Goeldner of the Daily Lobo breaks down Friday night’s matchup between CSU and UNM. 

Coming off of a 38-0 loss to Fresno State, the New Mexico Lobos (3-3, 1-2 MWC) will look to rebound in a Friday night matchup against Colorado State (5-2, 3-0 MWC) in Albuquerque. 

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Colorado State running back Izzy Mathews (35) breaks a tackle for a first down against New Mexico at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium on Nov 19. This was the final game at Hughes Stadium. (Luke Walker | Collegian)
Colorado State running back Izzy Mathews (35) breaks a tackle for a first down against New Mexico at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium on Nov 19. This was the final game played at Hughes Stadium. (Luke Walker | Collegian)

Traditionally, the Rams have proved a tough test for the Lobos, taking seven straight matchups in the series and this year doesn’t look to be any different. The Rams high-octane offense will be among the toughest tests the Lobos have faced all year. The toughest challenge for the Lobos will be the same as it is for any team facing the Rams; slowing down wide receiver Michael Gallup and quarterback Nick Stevens.

The Lobos defense is giving up an average of 375 yards per game this season, including 233 per game through the air, and has given up more than 500 yards twice this season, first to New Mexico State, and then again last week to Fresno State. New Mexico head coach Bob Davie is well aware of the weapons that the Rams possess offensively.

“Weapons at quarterback, two wide receivers that are big time players, two tailbacks, a tight end,” Davie said. “They always have a really good offensive line and have a really good scheme. They’ve given up two sacks all season… This is a full on challenge. We got whipped by Fresno State, and no disrespect to Fresno State, but Colorado State is to me the most talented team in this league.”

On Tuesday it was revealed that multiple injuries along the Lobos offensive line will make the Rams job defensively just a bit easier, as the Lobos lost their top two right tackles in Teton Saltes and Izrael Castellanos. This is causing a lot of shuffling along the offensive line, which has the potential to make things harder on the Lobos as they try and get their signature running attack back on track after only being able to rush for 109 yards against Fresno State. 

Offensively, that will be the most important task. When the Lobos are forced to rely on the passing game like Fresno forced them to do last week, things tend to fall apart. When forced to pass more than 20 times in a game under Davie, the Lobos are 1-14 all-time, but Davie knows that when the run doesn’t work, you have to make adjustments. 

“This thing has been built around the ability to run the football, but we get at Fresno and we can’t run the ball,” Davie said. “Now we lose two offensive tackles from that point on, from the fifth play of the game. Do you just keep doing what you’re trying to do? No. We put (backup quarterback) Tevaka [Tuioti] in there and tried to throw it a little bit.”

Tuioti has been impressive during the time he’s seen this season, including a 151 yard, two touchdown performance in the second half of the New Mexico State game as he lead the Lobos in their attempted comeback. Davie was non-committal about the possibility of a two quarterback rotation, saying only that “we’ll do what we have to do,” but it’s highly likely, especially if the Rams are able to slow the run game down early, that Tuioti will be given an opportunity in place of senior starter Lamar Jordan.

It’s all hands on deck for New Mexico this week, but whether that’s enough for the Lobos to defeat the Rams won’t be known until Friday night when the team’s take the field at Dreamstyle Stadium.

The Collegian sports desk can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or Twitter @RMCollegianSpts.