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September 30, 2009
The upcoming clash between the New Mexico Lobos and the Texas Tech Red Raiders will feature a program in turmoil and a team in distress. The Lobos are the former, and that's much worse than the latter.
Mike Locksley, New Mexico's first-year head coach, has had anything but a dream honeymoon in the Duke City. Rather, he's been duking it out with an assistant coach (J.B. Gerald) when not fending off sexual harassment charges. Compounding matters immensely, the Lobos are off to an 0-4 start, and lost to bitter rival New Mexico State last weekend for the first time in six seasons.
Predictably, the statistical picture is not a pretty one for New Mexico. Opponents are almost doubling up the Lobos in rushing yardage, averaging 204 clicks on the ground as opposed to 104 for UNM.
The Lobos fare slightly better in the passing yardage rubric, but still trail the opposition 159 to 204 yards per contest. New Mexico quarterbacks have also thrown five interceptions, while opposing signal-callers have tossed only one. UNM's third-down conversion rate is an abysmal 19-percent. Opponents have sacked the Lobo quarterbacks 14 times. New Mexico has scored only six points all season in the third quarter.
The misery extends to the special teams where the Lobos are surrendering kickoff returns at a 25-per rate, while gaining only 16 yards per return themselves. UNM averages only 4 yards per punt return and allows 12 yards per return.
The "experts" in Las Vegas have listed Texas Tech as a 36-point favorite this weekend.
Quarterbacks Donovan Porterie and B.R. Holbrook have seen action and neither have fared particularly well. Porterie completes 62-percent of his passes, but for only 132 yards per contest. He's also thrown three interceptions to one touchdown. Holbrook has thrown 23 passes, two of which have been intercepted.
New Mexico's workhorse is Demond Dennis who has carried the ball 42 times for 200 yards and averages a respectable 4.8 yards per tote. UNM's most interesting rushing option, however, is 240-pound Dallas native James Wright who averages 19 yards per carry on nine attempts. That's right-19 yards per carry.
New Mexico has no receivers that really stand out. The leading wideout is Ty Kirk who has caught 13 passes for 152 yards and averages 12 yards per catch. Running backs A.J. Butler and Demond Dennis are UNM's second and third leading receivers respectively. Victor James averages 13 yards per reception on nine catches. It is worth noting that New Mexico has only one aerial touchdown in four games.
Linebacker Carmen Messina leads Lobo tacklers with 57 stops and three tackles for losses. Fellow 'backer Tray Hardaway is a distant second with 36 tackles. He also has a fumble return for 92 yards. The Lobos actually boast a pair of good pass rushers in Jaymar Latchison and Jonathan Rainey. Latchison, a native of New York, has 2.5 sacks and seven quarterback hurries. Rainey boasts an impressive 5.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hurries. He may be the most talented player on the New Mexico roster.
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