ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) There is no doubt that New Mexico has changed its dynamic after a 7-6 season and a close loss to Arizona in the New Mexico Bowl last season.
In his fourth season, Bob Davie's reconstruction of the Lobos program bore fruit and now the team is looking to build on the strides it made a year ago.
''It's all hands on deck trying to win right now,'' he said, adding that the team definitely has its sights set on another bowl appearance. ''We're trying to win right now.''
The Lobos, Davie said, are realizing a sweeping change in all aspects of the game, both athletically and mentally.
''It's an overall thing in the evolution of this program,'' he said. ''We've gotten better in all phases. Just the numbers of players we have, the way the players look. The way the players act. The culture that is good enough for us to win here.''
It really comes down to the mindset, Davie said.
''It's even more `out work, out hit, out discipline,''' he said of the Lobos' mantra. ''It's even more, the (grade-point average), going to class, doing the right things. Getting every ounce out of every kid we can get in this program. It's more of that. It's not like, `OK, maybe there's a little more ability. Maybe there's a little bit more talent. Let's deviate and do a little more.' It's just back to even more of just relentlessness on doing the things that can separate us from the teams we play.''
RUNNING GAME REDUX: Since Davie took over the program the running game has been a staple of the offense. But top back Jhurell Pressley has graduated, leaving Teryion Gipson (848 yards, six touchdowns) as the top back. Davie said he sees plenty of depth at the position, with Richard McQuarley and Daryl Chestnut both expected to see increased playing time and production.
WHO'S UNDER CENTER: Another of the constants under Davie has been a revolving door at quarterback, sparked by inconsistency and injury. Concussions drove Cole Gautsche from the position and he will now play as a tight end, while Lamar Jordan and Austin Apodaca will continue to see regular snaps. Jordan accounted for 807 rushing yards and nine TDs and is the presumptive starter, although both players will be utilized frequently.
KEY GAMES: At Rutgers, Sept. 17; vs. Boise State, Oct. 7; at Colorado State, Nov. 19. Against Rutgers, New Mexico will get a chance to see how it stacks up against a team from a power conference. The Lobos defeated Boise State a year ago on the famed blue turf to spark a bowl run, so the Broncos will be looking for some revenge. With a win over Colorado State last season, New Mexico would have been one home win away from an appearance in the Mountain West championship game. This time around, the Rams just may stand in the way of a bowl appearance.
PREDICTION: 6-6 to earn a second consecutive berth at home in the New Mexico Bowl.
SEASON OPENER: South Dakota, Sept. 1. Coming off a bowl game, New Mexico looks to start the season strong by making a loud statement versus the Coyotes and their first-year coach Bob Nielson that Davie's rebuilding program is ready to put away lesser teams.