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September 15, 2011
Ultimate Preview: New Mexico
Tommy Tuberville said he didn't like the open date on his schedule coming up as early as the second week of the season, mostly because it meant his Red Raiders would be playing 11 weeks in a row after that.
But the coach made pretty good use of the extra time following his team's opening 50-10 win over Texas State, working on both sides of the ball in preparation for the outing at New Mexico.
"I think a lot of that had to do with just the continuity of our offensive line. It wasn't what it was last year. They've got to learn to play well together."
Defensively, Tuberville said the Raiders didn't miss many tackles, but they did take poor pursuit angles at times, "especially in the running game.
"They ran the option on us, and we had a couple of breakdowns in assignment football, which you are going to have.
"But the thing that we didn't give up was a big play."
Whatever the case, the Raiders are glad to get back on the field, even though they will be away from home for the first time.
"I'm excited about it," junior quarterback Seth Doege said. "I haven't thought about it being on the road or anything like that. I'm just excited to play again."
-- Sports Xchange
THREE LOBOS TO WATCH
QB Tarean Austin - 35-of-59, 341 yards, TD; 23 att., 88 yards - Austin spurned multiple offers from lower tier BCS AQ schools to attend New Mexico and is entering his first season as the Lobos' full-time starter. With such a young and inexperienced offensive line in front of him, Austin's athleticism is an asset and allows him to extend plays when the pocket breaks down.
LB Dallas Bollema - 21 tackles, 0.5 TFL, two PBUs - Bollema is also in his first season as a full-time starter, and has been one of the few bright spots for UNM defensively. Through two weeks, the Artesia, N.M. native leads the Mountain West in tackles (21) and is second on the team in pass breakups.
WR Deon Long - 12 rec., 126 yards; 4 ret., 67 yards - With Lamaar Thomas sidelined with a back injury, Long is the Lobos' only big play threat heading into this weekend. A former four-star prospect, Long signed with West Virginia out of high school before transferring to New Mexico in 2010. He leads the team in receptions (12) and receiving yards (126) and is also expected to be the Lobos' primary returner this weekend.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Let's Get Together - Tech's biggest problem on offense against Texas State, in my eyes, was the early troubles of the offensive line. They were erratic, sluggish, and just didn't seem to have much want-to. It really hurt the rest of the offense in the first half, and when the big uglies got it going in the second half, Tech rolled. If the o-line will gel together early on, the rest of the offense will take off and leave New Mexico's defense in the dust.
Loud Noises! - For a young team, it's important to not get flustered in the first road game of the season. The emotional high of coming onto the field at home is nowhere to be found, and some guys could be flat when the game starts. If the Red Raiders want this game to be business-as-usual, they must not get caught up in the atmosphere or crowd in Albuquerque. It does help that the first road game is out of conference against an inferior opponent, but Tech's veteran players will have to make sure that their younger counterparts aren't M.I.A. early on.
Shut The Door - For the defense to have the kind of game they want, they absolutely must stop New Mexico on third down and fourth down. The Red Raiders gave up three fourth down conversions to Texas State and allowed them to sustain some long drives because of it. New Mexico quarterback Tarean Austin has some wheels, and could cause problems in those situations if the pocket breaks down. If the Red Raiders can do that and play good pass defense, then they should be able to get the Lobos in a hole early on.
• New Mexico has lost 24 games during Mike Locksley's two-plus years in Albuquerque, and all but five of the team's losses have been by double-digits.
• Tech lists 12 freshmen on its depth chart for this week, including three on the offensive line. LB Blake Dees and LB Sam Eguavoen are the only true freshmen that are expected to start on Saturday, but WR Bradley Marquez and DE Kindred Evans are listed as co-starters.
• The Red Raiders are currently riding a four-game winning streak, second only to Oklahoma (6) in the Big 12.
• DE Leon Mackey suffered a deflated lung injury as a result of a hit he took in the opener against Texas State and is expected to be sidelined for several weeks, if not the season.
• QB Scotty Young, listed third on the depth chart, is not on Tech's travel roster, but true freshman Michael Brewer is listed. Brewer is expected to redshirt this season, but in an emergency situation he would likely be forced into action.