Davie sounds resigned to losing as Lobos pummeled 31-3 in season finale
ALBUQUERQUE — Bob Davie’s opening statement in the postgame news conference for New Mexico’s season-ending 31-3 blowout loss to Wyoming on Saturday afternoon told the story of a program heading in the wrong direction at warp speed.
“That’s what a beaten-down football team looks like,” he said.
That apparently included a synopsis of himself. Looking as defeated as he has at any point in his seven years as UNM’s head coach, Davie said at no point has the program struggled as badly as it is right now. He admitted it’s a bad football team, one where the offense hasn’t progressed the way he wanted and the defense was simply outmuscled at nearly every position.
“A disappointing loss, a disappointing season,” Davie said. “Everything looks negative right now because that’s the lens we’re looking through right now, and that’s why there’s no reason to say too much or talk too much.”
When prodded, Davie was noncommittal about his future with the team and didn’t want to discuss what lies ahead for a football program that followed back-to-back bowl berths with two 3-9 seasons punctuated by identical seven-game skids.
The Lobos were never really a threat in Saturday’s game, managing just
83 yards of offense on 51 plays. Their three quarterbacks combined to go 3-for-17 passing for 34 yards and an interception. The ground game, which was once the country’s best at explosive plays and total yards, averaged just
1.4 yards per carry.
The Lobos had just six first downs and got their only points late in the first half when Wyoming ran an unsuccessful fake punt deep in their own territory.
“You lose seven in a row, it takes more energy to lose than actually win,” said UNM offensive lineman Aaron Jenkins, one of 22 seniors suiting up for the final time.
Wyoming led 14-3 at halftime and steadily pulled away in the second half, getting touchdown runs from Austin Conway and Xazavian Valladay in the fourth quarter. Valladay rushed for 192 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Cowboys running back Nico Evans added 142 yards and a score.
“I’ve not been through a situation like this, but it isn’t about me,” Davie said. “It’s about the kids and the kids being in a fair position to compete week after week. You know, I think that’s the million-dollar topic at the roundtable. You know, are we being fair to everybody?”
Davie has repeatedly hinted that the cause of UNM’s struggles coincides with steep budget cuts within the athletic department in the last year. The football team is no longer allowed to stay in a hotel the night before home games, among other cuts that prevent a postseason awards banquet and offering support to the players behind the scenes.
“Certainly there’s a scoreboard on the team on Saturdays,” Davie said. “There probably needs to be a scoreboard put on some other things prior to the team going out there on Saturday.”
Asked if the Lobos were in a position to compete on the same level as other teams in the Mountain West Conference, Davie laid waste to any notion of a positive outlook.
“Right now, I say no. I say there’s no chance to do that,” he said. “But again, right now’s not the time. You know, I’m talking too much right now. I’m clouded right now because everything seems so negative.”
Empty feeling: Saturday’s announced crowd was 14,269, the smallest of the season. In six games, the Lobos drew 99,523 for an average of 16,587 — the lowest since 1991.
For some perspective, Saturday’s Ohio State-Michigan game drew 106,588.
Big returns: Lobo freshman Marcus Hayes was one of the lone bright spots this season. He entered Saturday’s finale leading the country in punt returns and, with a 39-yard return on his only try against Wyoming, finished the season with 15 returns and a 21.2-yard average.
The next-best figure was from Sean Riley of Syracuse at 16.8 yards on 14 returns.
Closed off: Saturday’s crowd was so small that UNM didn’t bother to open half of its concession stands on the west side of the stadium. The game was part of a rare tripleheader that ran concurrently with the Lobo women’s basketball team’s home game at the same time across the street in the Pit, followed by the men’s home game a few hours later.