Wednesday, September 21, 2011

lobos football is awful.

As I've mentioned a few times in the past, sometimes I write something that I feel is just too much beyond the pale. Our football team is atrocious and lots of people (especially in our town) know it. But when I write something like this, I feel bad that I'm picking on kids who are younger (albeit much stronger) than me, and I think, well, shit, if I was on that team, I'd already know it was a shitty team and I don't need some knucklehead writer taking me to task. So I'm hiding this writing behind a cut, hoping that it won't get indexed as easily, as well as to show some of the edits that I went through. At first, I just thought I was going to excise this from here, so what's called the first draft below is actually more like the third or fourth. I don't know if this is interesting or worthwhile for anyone else, but I figure this is a good place for me to keep track of things.

First draft can be found here

I try to be one of the staunchest defenders of all things Lobo. New Mexico is my home and I'm partial to UNM as I've seen many people I know and respect graduate from its halls. Usually, this isn't a problem. Even when we're down, it's not like we're expected to be crashing the gates of any Top 25 lists. So when we do, it's almost always a pleasant surprise. And when we don't, well, it's not so bad.

At this point, though, it is that bad. I watched the Texas Tech/UNM football game on Saturday (admittedly, mostly for the Ronnie Daniels homecoming show) and I was, for the first time, embarrassed. Ours is a football program that has won a grand total of two games over the course of more than two full seasons. Ours is a program that I've defended, despite the numerous complaints that many others have lodged. But what I watched on Saturday was intolerable and inexcusable.

Coming off a demoralizing loss to Arkansas – granted, a team ranked in the Top 25 – where the Lobos managed merely a field goal, the hope was that against a not-so-stacked opponent, maybe our offense would be able to step up to the plate. However, after suffering a 59-13 beating that proved that our offense could still score more than three points, the biggest takeaway, for me, was not that our offense needs help, but rather that our defense is atrocious.

Look, I try not to pile on. I know it's a hard thing to be on a losing team, especially one that's losing in such a significant way. And I'm certainly not saying that I could do any better. But the only thing left when we've been thrown around as casually and dismissively as our team has been this season is honesty. And the honest thing to say is that this game demonstrated that our current Lobo football team is lacking in all areas.

Our sophomore quarterback Tarean Austin was rushed, sacked, disoriented and otherwise maligned all game long. Some of this can be blamed on a poor offensive line, of course, but sometimes, he knew the hit was coming and still managed to lose the ball. He overthrew long bombs and he underthrew a few hard cuts. He completed a paltry 8 of 24 passes and was intercepted once. The offense, as mentioned though, was not the outstanding issue.

The defense, in this game, did nothing. It's nigh-impossible to find positives to accentuate. The only time they stopped a Texas Tech drive in the first half, on the Red Raiders' decision to go for the first down on 4th and 1, they were punished by an offense that almost immediately turned the ball over, forcing a tired group to go out and do what they'd only managed to do for the first time in almost half an hour. To say this is demoralizing is like to say the Entertainers is merely a joke.

On top of all of these issues our own team was having, of course, there were the numerous weather delays, which cumulatively totaled more than 90 minutes. The flow of the game was never there for the Lobos and I'm sure the constant back and forth with rain, lightning and delays didn't help.

Lastly, the Lobos played against a team that just plain outclassed us in every way. Seth Doege had a near-perfect game and recorded a national record in the process. His season stats, only three games so far, look almost as impressive.

However many excuses and reasons one trots forward, though, there is an underlying truth here: The Lobo football team does not look like it belongs. The start to the season, against Colorado State, with a drive that could have won in the game in the waning seconds, seems forgotten. The only hope at this point is that this week's game, against Sam Houston State can be a turning point in the season. I would delight in nothing more than being proven wrong.

And the second draft:

I try to be one of the staunchest defenders of all things Lobo. New Mexico is my home and I'm partial to UNM as I've seen many people I know and respect graduate from its halls. Usually, this isn't a problem. Even when we're down, it's not like we're expected to be crashing the gates of any Top 25 lists. So when we do, it's almost always a pleasant surprise. And when we don't, well, it's not so bad.

At this point, though, it is that bad. I watched the Texas Tech/UNM football game on Saturday (admittedly, mostly for the Ronnie Daniels homecoming show) and I was, for the first time, embarrassed. Ours is a football program that has won a grand total of two games over the course of more than two full seasons. Ours is a program that I've defended, despite the numerous complaints that many others have lodged. But what I watched on Saturday was intolerable and inexcusable.

Coming off a demoralizing loss to Arkansas – granted, a team ranked in the Top 25 – where the Lobos managed merely a field goal, the hope was that against a not-so-stacked opponent, maybe our offense would be able to step up to the plate. However, after suffering a 59-13 beating that proved that our offense could still score more than three points, the biggest takeaway, for me, was not that our offense needs help, but rather that our defense is atrocious.

It's a hard thing to be on a losing team, especially one that's losing in such a significant way. But the only thing left when we've been thrown around as casually and dismissively as our team has been this season is honesty. And the honest thing to say is that this game demonstrated that our current Lobo football team is lacking in all areas.

Our sophomore quarterback Tarean Austin was rushed, sacked, disoriented and otherwise maligned all game long. Some of this can be blamed on a poor offensive line, of course, but sometimes, he knew the hit was coming and still managed to lose the ball. He overthrew long bombs and he underthrew a few hard cuts. He completed a paltry 8 of 24 passes and was intercepted once. The offense, as mentioned though, was not the outstanding issue.

The defense, in this game, did nothing. It's nigh-impossible to find positives to accentuate. The only time they stopped a Texas Tech drive in the first half, on the Red Raiders' decision to go for the first down on 4th and 1, they were punished by an offense that almost immediately turned the ball over, forcing a tired group to go out and do what they'd only managed to do for the first time in almost half an hour. To say this is demoralizing is like to say the Entertainers is merely a joke.

On top of all of these issues our own team was having, of course, there were the numerous weather delays, which cumulatively totaled more than 90 minutes. The flow of the game was never there for the Lobos and I'm sure the constant back and forth with rain, lightning and delays didn't help.

Lastly, the Lobos played against a team that just plain outclassed us in every way. Seth Doege had a near-perfect game and recorded a national record in the process. His season stats, only three games so far, look almost as impressive.

However many excuses and reasons one trots forward, though, there is an underlying truth here: The Lobo football team does not look like it belongs. The start to the season, against Colorado State, with a drive that could have won in the game in the waning seconds, seems forgotten. The only hope at this point is that this week's game, against Sam Houston State can be a turning point in the season. I would delight in nothing more than being proven wrong.

While the published Alibi version can be found here.

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