- Carter Strickland, Reporter, HornsNation
To help breakdown the teams on Texas' 2012 schedule, HornsNation will be conducting Q&As with the opposing team's beat writers to get a more in-depth look at that opponent.
To get more information on the New Mexico Lobos, Carter Strickland talked with Albuquerque Journal UNM beat writer Rick Wright.
Carter Strickland: When Bob Davie was at Texas A&M he was known for putting together outstanding defenses. What can Texas expect to see out of Davie's defense this September?
Rick Wright: Davie has switched UNM from a 4-2-5 alignment to a 3-4, which is his preferred scheme. But it also makes sense, since the Lobos are deeper at linebacker than at D-line. He wants as tough and as physical a D as his personnel will allow him to put on the field. How much UNM blitzes will depend on how well the secondary can play man coverage. That was a problem last fall and was again in the spring.
CS: Special teams, especially kickoff return yards allowed, were an issue for the Longhorns in 2011. Do the Lobos have some guys to watch out for in the return game?
RW: There is some speed on the roster, in the form of senior WR Lamaar Thomas and a couple of incoming freshmen (Ridge Jones, Carlos Wiggins). Davie says no one is exempt from special-teams duty, but, as fragile as Thomas was last year, I'm not sure if we'll see him returning kicks.
CS: Texas is very strong on the edges on defense but a tad bit inexperienced up the middle; how do you see New Mexico exploiting this?
RW: Davie loves the idea of punching holes in the middle of an opposing defense, but does he have the personnel to do it? The O-line is unproven at best, and there's no big, punishing back.
CS: Who are the big-play guys Texas should watch out for?
RW: Thomas had an outstanding spring, and look for UNM to try and get him the ball often and in multiple ways. The entire receiving corps, led by Thomas and fellow seniors Ty Kirk and Quintell Solomon, looks pretty good. The running backs broke some long runs in the spring, but it's not clear whether they're that good or that the defense was still learning the new scheme.
Tight end Lucas Reed was first-team all-conference in 2010 but had a frustrating 2011, then missed virtually all of the spring with an ankle injury. If he can bounce back, that's a major plus. Quarterback B.R. Holbrook also had a good spring, but it's not clear whether the Lobos can keep him vertical against a team like Texas.
CS: Give us an educated prediction.
RW: I expect Davie's hard-nosed, no-nonsense approach will make a positive difference over time, but harsh personnel realities suggest it won't happen overnight. Conservatively, Longhorns minus-42. If the Lobos have mastered O-coordinator Bob DeBesse's creative scheme by then, maybe they can put up a few points. For the over-under, I'll go with 76.