Even after decades of being associated with college football, this has been a new experience for New Mexico coach Bob Davie.
The entire season, really, has been hard for the Lobos.
The latest and biggest blow was the death of defensive lineman Nahje Flowers last week. For Davie it was the first time he could remember having to deal with the death of a player on his roster during the season. And in the midst of grieving, the Lobos have been trying to find some level of normalcy, which means preparing for Saturday night’s game at No. 19 Boise State.
“It’s a process,” Davie said this week. “I’ve been involved with several others of these, but not in the middle of the season on a Tuesday morning right before you’re going to go out there and practice. This one is different. It’s taken all of us every ounce of whatever that is to get this football team ready to play.”
The struggles for Davie and the Lobos began right away, starting with the coach’s own health scare after the season opener that caused him to be hospitalized and miss a few weeks. Last week’s game against Air Force was rescheduled for Nov. 23 after Flowers’ death. New Mexico has lost six straight games since beating New Mexico State on Sept. 21.
“I told our team after practice, there’s no right or wrong way to feel right now,” Davie said. “It’s however you feel is how you feel. … There’s no exact formula. There’s no clever thing anybody is going to say. You’re dealing with so many people, with so many different emotions. But at the end of the day we have a nationally televised football game in Boise, Idaho, on the blue turf, followed by Air Force coming in here and followed by Utah State. The idea now is to move forward, be respectful, show our emotions in a way that’s respectful, but certainly moving forward.”
The game will be Boise State’s regular season home finale. The Broncos still have hopes of making a New Year’s Six bowl game as the highest ranked Group of Five team, but that means no more stumbles. They nearly had one last week after getting taken to overtime by Wyoming before escaping with a 20-17 win.
Boise State coach Bryan Harsin acknowledged the Broncos didn’t play great against Wyoming but he also praised what his team has accomplished to date.
“We’re an 8-1 football team making a run toward the end of the season and let’s not forget that,” Harsin said. “Let’s keep everything in perspective here about what opportunities that we have. If we’re sitting there and we’ve got one game under our belt as a win we can probably talk about that’s not good enough at this point.”
Harsin didn’t provide any injury updates this week, leaving in question who the quarterback will be for the Broncos. Freshman Hank Bachmeier returned from injury to lead Boise State past San Jose State two weeks ago, but he was back on the sideline while Chase Cord got the start against Wyoming. Cord was 19 of 30 for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the Cowboys. The New Mexico game could be another chance to get Bachmeier rest ahead of two road tests to close the regular season at Utah State and at Colorado State.
BANGED UP LOBOS
The Lobos have started 41 different players in the 22 positions on offense and defense this season. They are one of 14 teams in the country to have called on at least 40 different starters this year. The Lobos have used at least three starters at nine positions, including quarterback and two positions on the offensive line.
New Mexico hasn’t enjoyed many highlights this season, but one has been the performance of its punter. Tyson Dyer has put 23 of his past 29 punts inside opponents’ 20-yard line. For the season, Dyer has put 28 punts inside the 20. He leads the country in that category. Dyer is averaging 45.9 yards per punt, ranking 11th nationally.
Boise State will honor 17 seniors who need one more victory to reach 40 in their careers with the Broncos. They would become the 17th class in the past 18 years to win at least 40 games. The most notable of the group is defensive tackle David Moa, a sixth-year senior who was granted an extra year of eligibility after playing in only one game last season. Moa is a two-time All-Mountain West selection and is the leader of the Broncos defense.
“He will do anything for this program that you ask him to do and he’ll leave here when he’s done one of the finest Broncos we’ve ever had,” Harsin said.