Bob Davie calls his QB a 'poor man's Tim Tebow'
1. I know you still have some time left for practice. How do you feel the spring has gone thus far and what would you like to see accomplished before the 27th?
“I told our team yesterday that I have no idea how our spring is going to compared to other teams we play. I imagine that they are all having good springs and that every coach feels good about things. The point is that during this time of the year all you can control is the process and the way you go about things. Internally, we’re pleased about the direction everything is going, especially compared to a year ago. Hopefully that translates to being more competitive.
“The big thing for this program was getting everyone consistent on how we do things; it was a day-to-day process. The second thing was implementing schemes and consistency with that so that we could begin to build. We now have a consistent base to start from – a foundation.”
2. Last spring you were introducing the Pistol for the first time. What’s the difference between now and last year at this times in terms of player development?
“We never dreamed of running the option over 200 snaps, but you have to do what you have to do. The ball was never in the air throughout spring or fall last year. …we need to throw the ball more efficiently. I’m really anxious to see how many strides we’ve made just being able to complete some passes in practice.
“This time last year we had two scholarship quarterbacks. [B.R.] Holbrook wasn’t an option guy. Cole [Gautsche] was a true freshman. Cole had trouble throwing; Holbrook had trouble running. We kind of did the Steve Spurrier thing and rotated between guys so much.
“We had to do what we had to do to just win a game, but we’re still trying to be more efficient. I really like the option game out of the Pistol because you can be balanced throwing the ball. That’s what we’re trying to build toward.”
3. The offensive line was excellent and the option worked without a passing game. You return four of five starters along the front and your top three rushers, including Kasey Carrier. How have these units looked this spring?
“Much better. Last year during the spring we had eight scholarship linemen, and it’s truly remarkable how much they have improved. We’re better from a numbers and execution standpoint. The strength of our team is the running backs and then the o-line. A year ago at this time the o-line was considered a liability. They’ve really come on and it’s been impressive to watch them. …we have four running backs that are pretty darn talented, and it’s definitely an area of strength and quality.”
4. What’s it like to have a guy like Kasey back?
“Kasey was a guy that really hadn’t played much before last year. He has great vision and balance, and is a cutback kind of runner. He’s the typical story of a shorter running back that gets up in there and gets lost. What’s even more impressive with him (and his 1,400-yard season) is that everyone knew he was going to carry the ball. It’s been fun to watch Carrier emerge – he’s a tough little running back.
5. Cole Gautsche saw some sporadic playing time as a freshman last season. Is he the leading candidate to take over for Holbrook? What impact will JUCO transfer Clayton Mitchem make?
“Cole is a unique guy. He can take off and can fly when he gets going. He’s kind of a poor man’s Tim Tebow in a way. Urban Meyer worked for me when I was at Notre Dame. I’ve talked to Urban, and he’s talked to Cole. Our offensive coordinator went to Mississippi State to talk to Dan Mullen, who was Tebow’s offensive coordinator. Like Tebow, Cole is left-handed, big and strong, and played as a freshman just running the ball a lot like Tebow did. We’re really trying to develop him in the passing game. There’s a lot of correlation here. He’s a big, strong option-style quarterback who is developing as a passer. Right now he’s much better a year ago throwing it, and it’s currently his job to lose.
“Mitchem without a doubt is talented and has upped the competition. There’s a pretty good battle going on between the two. Cole is ahead with knowing the system and reads, but Mitchem is a strong-arm guy and is talented and athletic enough to run it – he just didn’t do it in JUCO.”
6. The defense struggled at times last year, but the players were still transitioning under a new scheme. I know you’re dealing with a lot of graduation, so how are the new guys looking in their second year?
“You kind of establish that when you put the scheme in that you’re a nameless, faceless group. Last year we could never settle in to what we were. This spring I feel better about commonality across the board on how we do things; we have a scheme now. Everybody kind of knows what they’re doing by position. We’re ridiculously young, but we’re further along than we were at this point last year.”
7. Can you tell me about some positional battles along the front seven and the secondary?
“Jacori Greer is a defensive lineman and is a really solid guy – not a big-play guy, but a consistent player. Dallas Bollema is a linebacker that was one of the most productive players last year in some ways. Both are seniors and they’re two really good ones to have back.
“The outside linebacker position can be one strength – Rashad Rainey started last year; Javarie Johnson was highly recruited but suffered an ACL injury two years ago and is just now completely healthy. We’re excited about Tevin Newman. We’ve got some more numbers and guys that we want on the field at this position.
“We started two walk-ons at corner last year: Matt Raymer and Tim Foley. We now feel like we have five corners that are all young but are all feisty and love to compete. I like to call them ‘youthfully exuberant.’ SaQuon Edwards would have been a starting wide receiver for us this year and we moved him to corner. Cranston Jones started as true freshman last year. Twins Rashad and Vershad Jackson are also in the mix. David Guthrie is a JUCO safety that is doing well, and we have Brandon Branch and Jamal Merritt back from ACL injuries.
“We have numbers, but no one has played that much. The roster is just very different – this is a freshman and sophomore team.”
8. What’s impressed you most about this group so far?
“I’ve really been impressed with the consistency in the way they’ve embraced what it take to build a program to win. They’ve bought in and done what we’ve asked them to do, and because of that I think we have a chance to improve. It’s like that old saying, ‘what are you willing to do without to help the team?’ I feel as if we’re starting to get that kind of identity. We’re an out-work, out-hit, out-discipline kind of deal and that’s what it takes to win at New Mexico.”
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