New Mexico football prepares to host UIW for season opener

The University of New Mexico football team will open its 2018 season by hosting the University of Incarnate Word on Sept. 1. Isabel Gonzalez/The Lobo Lair

Isabel Gonzalez

For those who looked at the UNM football schedule and saw the season opener with disinterest, Bob Davie has one thing to say:
“It’s a whole new era in Incarnate Word. That’s why they’re dangerous.”
The Lobos host UIW on Sept. 1 for the game that the Reno Gazette Journal deemed as the Least Intriguing Game from the Mountain West non-conference schedules.The Lobos finished the 2017 season with a 3-9 record, while the Cardinals finished 1-11.
This might not be the game everyone in the nation tunes in to watch on Saturday, but Davie said he believes this was the right choice for the schedule because getting off to a good start in college football is very important.
However, this doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe UIW won’t provide a challenge.
When he said the Cardinals were entering a new era, he wasn’t wrong. Eric Morris, UIW’s new head coach, was an offensive coordinator at Texas Tech from 2013-2017. During this period, the Red Raiders were 5-0 in season openers. This could be promising for the Cardinals, who are in their 10th season of intercollegiate football and are 3-6 in season-opening games.
In the defense, UIW counts with Justin Deason who spent four seasons with the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions as the defensive coordinator helping the team reach a National Championship in 2017. The team had the 15th best scoring defense in Division II football.
The New Mexico coaching staff is well aware of the recent coaching adjustments at UIW so the team has been studying accordingly.
“Our defense is preparing for Texas Tech, our offense is preparing for Texas A&M-Commerce….There’s a lot of research that has been done,” Davie said. “We’ve sprinkled in watching Incarnate Word from last year. There are some of those players who are back. Schematically it’s Texas Tech and Texas A&M.”
But although hours of research have gone to getting to know their opponent, Davie said the Lobo coaching staff is more focused on their own team. He explained that it is impossible to duplicate the real experience of a game during practice. The first game will be more telling when it comes to leadership and how players handle pressure during certain situations.

The New Mexico coaching staff has also gone through some changes for the 2018 season. Calvin Magee has replaced Bob DeBesse as offensive coordinator, a position that hadn’t change since Davie’s seven years as a the UNM head coach. Magee will also coach running backs.
Archie McDaniel,who returns to UNM after spending some time at Southern Methodist University, will work with outside linebackers. Another new face is Perry Eliano, who will be the cornerbacks and special team coach, as Appollo Wright focuses more on quarterbacks and the passing game.
Speaking of quarterbacks, it’s only been a couple days since New Mexico announced that redshirt sophomore Tevaka Tuioti has received the starting job. Davie said Tuioti earned the job because of his ability to create plays and his patience.
As the first game of the season approaches, the head coach says the players and staff are getting more anxious to start and prove what their program can really do, as well as bring back some of the momentum the athletic department seems to have lost recently.
“In some ways you get more excited as you go,” Davie said. “I don’t know if it’s a combination of things that happened last season, having to fix things… there’s a tremendous sense of urgency. “