Aim­ing to end skid

Davie’s squad is a 1-point fa­vorite to­day in Fort Collins

Albuquerque Journal - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEVE VIR­GEN AS­SIS­TANT SPORTS ED­I­TOR

The Lo­bos will be out to break an 8-game foot­ball los­ing streak to Colo. State to­day

Dur­ing this sea­son, and es­pe­cially the past three weeks, New Mex­ico coach Bob Davie has used a sim­ple two-word mes­sage that re­veals the pri­mary goal for his Lo­bos. Get bet­ter. Davie sim­ply wants each player to im­prove ev­ery week. He also said the Lo­bos gained con­fi­dence from their 50-14 win at UNLV last week. But their suc­cess is not so much de­pen­dent on mind­set, but rather tech­nique and ex­e­cu­tion. He be­lieves the Lo­bos (3-2, 1-0 in Moun­tain West Con­fer­ence) showed they can ex­e­cute at a high level against the Rebels. Now he’s want­ing his team to do it again against Colorado State (2-4, 1-1), which plays host to UNM in its home­com­ing game at Can­vas Sta­dium to­day at 2 p.m.

While im­prove­ment is the top pri­or­ity for each week, Davie said the 1-point fa­vorite Lo­bos must stop the Rams from run­ning for big yardage.

“There’s no se­cret that we have had trou­ble against Colorado State and their phys­i­cal style of run game,” said Davie. He has not beaten CSU in his six years at UNM, which has lost

eight straight to the Rams.

“First and fore­most we can’t let (Izzy Matthews) and their other tail­backs run. We can’t let them man­han­dle us and run the ball on us.”

The Rams also have a strong pass­ing at­tack led by quar­ter­back K.J. Carta-Sa­muels and wide re­ceiver Pre­ston Wil­liams, who leads the team with 578 yards re­ceiv­ing and is tied for the team lead with six touch­downs.

Davie said the Rams have a bal­anced at­tack on of­fense. He ex­pects Carta-Sa­muels to launch deep passes to his “tall and tal­ented re­ceivers,” Davie said.

Olabisi John­son and War­ren Jack­son are also ca­pa­ble of mak­ing big plays in the pass­ing game for the Rams, Davie said.

The Lo­bos will need to make ex­plo­sive plays in the air, as well, with quar­ter­back Sher­iron Jones, who is com­ing off his best game as a Lobo.

The ju­nior trans­fer quar­ter­back threw for 250 yards and four touch­downs with no in­ter­cep­tions last week. He be­came the first UNM quar­ter­back to throw for four touch­downs in back-to-back games. But against the Rebels, Jones and the Lo­bos were not in catch-up mode.

“It’s fun to watch,” Davie said of Jones’ re­cent play. “As Sher­iron Jones gets more reps, as he gets more reads and he’s able to play fast, he can just re­act and let his ath­letic abil­ity carry him in­stead of think­ing so much ... He’s get­ting bet­ter. It’s en­cour­ag­ing.”

The Lo­bos showed they are ca­pa­ble of con­nect­ing on deep fade passes that have hurt them on de­fense in the past. Jones called it “child’s play,” the way he con­nected with se­nior wide re­ceiver De­lane Hart-John­son against UNLV.

“We wanted to put that on film that we can ex­e­cute,” Jones said of the Lo­bos’ win over the Rebels. “We want to go out there and be fast, phys­i­cal and dan­ger­ous. Stay dan­ger­ous.”

UNM’s de­fense had its best per­for­mance against UNLV, hold­ing the Rebels to 166 yards of to­tal of­fense, in­clud­ing 23 in the first half. The Rebels picked up their ini­tial first down with just un­der two min­utes left in the sec­ond quar­ter.

UNM out­side line­backer Rhashaun Ept­ing, who is tied for eighth in the na­tion in sacks with 5½, is one of the lead­ers on de­fense, as is in­side line­backer Eva­h­elotu Tohi, who leads the Lo­bos with 30 tack­les.

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