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Last Updated: 05 August 2014
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RUIDOSO – University of New Mexico football fans have read this one before, and they'll believe it when (and if) they see it happen against someone else's defense.

But, no kidding, the Lobos' passing game looked sharp – and dangerous – at times during Tuesday's controlled scrimmage at the White Mountain Recreation Complex.

Last season, New Mexico ranked 120th nationally in yards passing per game. Sure, the Lobos' offense is run-based. But neither head coach Bob Davie nor offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse was happy with the team's lack of success through the air.

Tuesday's practice might have been only a tiny step toward offensive balance. But, Davie said, it was an encouraging one.

Aug. 30 Online
Season opener: UTEP at New Mexico, 6 p.m.

“I really feel like our quarterbacks have made a lot of progress, starting with (incumbent starter Cole Gautsche), in the passing game,” Davie said. “I think that's pretty evident.

“I think about a couple of years ago when we came down here. I think about last year; just trying to get that ball thrown was a chore. We've made some progress throwing the football, to be able to throw it around the way we threw it around.”

No statistics were kept, and there were misses, as well as hits. But Gautsche and senior quarterback Clayton Mitchem both produced big plays with their arms.

After a halting start, Gautsche hit senior wide receiver Jeric Magnant in stride for a long touchdown (exact yardage unavailable). Mitchem connected with junior Marquis Bundy for a gain of about 20, then hooked up with senior Tyler Duncan for a long catch-and-run that took the ball inside the defense's 5-yard line.

Both quarterbacks had accurate passes dropped. Magnant dropped a long pass from Mitchem and a slant from Gautsche; sophomore Ridge Jones dropped a Gautsche throw.

Nonetheless, afterward, Gautsche said he's excited about the targets he has in the passing game.

“We have so many talented weapons out there on offense,” he said. “It's great just looking out there and knowing I can really trust this guy and really trust that guy, because they've all been out there and proved themselves.

“This is what fall camp is, where everything starts to come together and stuff starts to click.”

And did we mention New Mexico's offense is run-oriented?

On the second play of the scrimmage, junior slot receiver Carlos Wiggins – who's seeing considerable time in the backfield – broke a long touchdown run. Though Davie said Romell Jordan wasn't feeling well, the redshirt freshman from Cleveland High School had a run of 40 yards or so on an option pitch.

Gautsche and Mitchem gained yardage on scrambles and option keeps, though quarterbacks were off limits to contact. In fact, there was no tackling to the ground – just “thudding” – during the scrimmage.

Davie said he was concerned about the fatigue factor after five two-hour practices his players endured in Albuquerque before leaving for Ruidoso on Monday afternoon.

“We tried to make (the contact) as realistic as we could,” he said.

And what of the defense, the unit that gave up 42.8 points and 510 yards per game last season? The “D” had its moments.

Junior college transfer safety Daniel Henry made a diving interception; true freshman defensive end Garrett Hughes had a quarterback sack, in part thanks to good coverage downfield. Junior linebacker Richard Winston had a tackle for loss, good for some 6 yards.

“It's gonna happen for us this year (on defense),” said Winston, who has been the No. 1 outside rush linebacker since the spring. “I have no doubt about it.”

THE O-LINE: Sophomore offensive lineman Garrett Adcock underwent surgery for a detached tendon in his left thumb Tuesday morning, Davie said. He said Adcock, who apparently suffered the injury while doing nothing more strenuous then reaching around to scratch his back, will be out four weeks or so.

Without Adcock and without incumbent starting right guard Jamal Price, who is on suspension after his arrest last week on domestic violence charges, offensive line coach Jason Lenzmeier has had to improvise.

Senior LaMar Bratton, a preseason All-Mountain West pick, had been working at center. Tuesday, he was back at left guard, the position he played the past two seasons. Redshirt freshman Toye Adewon was at center, with junior college transfer Eden Mahina and true freshman Aaron Jenkins taking first-team snaps at right guard.

TALKIN' ABOUT PRACTICE: The players get a day off today (not so the coaches, who'll spend the day evaluating film). The Lobos will practice twice Thursday, once in the morning and once in the evening.

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