ASOR: How much did head coach Bob Davie’s off the field drama effect the team during 2017, especially during the season ending 7 game losing streak?
Cameron Goeldner: Bob Davie went through two internal investigations last year that found him guilty of enough that he was suspended for 30 days during spring practice. I think it certainly had an effect on the team. The news originally broke in September, around the time of the Air Force game which was the last win of the year. I don’t know if they win a whole lot more ball games without the investigation as the triple option fell apart on the field. It had an effect, but I certainly wouldn’t blame all of the issues on that.
ASOR: What is the status of Tevaka Tuioti after his concussion he sustained against Wisconsin? How important is he to the offense’s success?
CG: Tevaka Tuioti returned to practice on Monday and Davie said that he had a great day of practice Tuesday. He said that they would make a final decision between Tuioti and Sheriron Jones on Wednesday, but I’d expect Tuioti to start if he continues to play well in practice. The Lobos offense looked a lot different against New Mexico state with Jones in, UNM played almost the entire game inside the box but even if Jones does start, they should open it up a little more this week.
ASOR: In previous seasons, the Lobos utilized a triple-option attack. Under new offensive coordinator Calvin Magee, how much triple option should we expect to see Saturday? Is it fair to say Magee’s offense resembles what Rich Rodriguez team’s usually run since he was an assistant under Rodriguez for so long?
CG: They’ll run a fair amount of triple option this weekend, it’s still a big part of the offense. The way that Magee described the offense that they are running is a blend of the two styles. I wouldn’t say that the offense they run resembles the offense that Rich Rodriguez teams in the past have run for that reason. The triple option is still a huge part of what they do, Tuioti spent three years in that system and was very comfortable with it. I’d predict that the Lobos will run the ball at least twice as many times as they throw this weekend, especially if Jones starts. They’re working towards a more balanced offense, but it’s not there yet.
ASOR: How important was the bye week to the team’s overall health? It sounds like the Lobos have had their fair share of injuries so far this season.
CG: The bye week helped the Lobos a lot, it came at a great time for the team. Tuioti wouldn’t have played last week if there had been a game, and I’m not sure there’s another team in the country that they could have beaten playing the way they did against New Mexico State. The big loss from the NMSU game is senior linebacker Alex Hart, who is out for the year with a knee injury. Davie describes Hart as the coach on the field for the Lobos’ defense, and they aren’t sure yet who will step up in his role. Evahelotu Tohi, Sitiveni Tamaivena and Alexander “Moana” Vainikolo (Davie refers to him as Mo) are going to be the three guys to watch in his absence. UNM has had bad luck with injuries this year, but that was a problem last year as well. They went into the Tulsa game last season with then third-stringer Coltin Gerhart as the starting QB. Gerhart, who came into the year as the second string quarterback, sprained a foot in the Incarnate Word game and is out a couple more weeks with that.
ASOR: The defense has given up a lot of points and yards, particularly in the first 2 games, but then forced 5 turnovers last time out against New Mexico St. How much were those turnovers just plain luck, and how many were actually forced by the defense’s play?
CG: I think four of the interceptions were a direct result of the defense making plays and jumping routes, albeit they were mostly in situations where the quarterback was forcing a throw. Marcus Hayes had two where he made good reads off the quarterback and was able to jump the routes, including one on the one yard line where he evaded a pick and knew exactly what was coming. De’John Rogers and D’Angelo Ross jumped routes on passes forced into traffic. The fifth was a little more lucky, a case of being in the right place at the right time and a bad throw. The Aggies used three different quarterbacks in the game trying to find someone who could get something done. While the defensive backs made good plays, a quarterback who isn’t forcing it probably doesn’t make a lot of those throws. The defense is definitely vulnerable, and will run into trouble against more competent offenses than NMSU’s, but they believe in the bend but don’t break mentality and certainly play that way. The opportunity for the Flames to put up a ton of points is there, especially as they adjust to losing Hart.
Thank you Cameron for joining us. Liberty fans, be sure to give him a follow on twitter @Goeldfinger and the Daily Lobo @dailylobo and @dailylobosports for additional coverage this week!