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Pitt Football vs. New Mexico Preview

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Bob Davie

By Pat Bostick

New Mexico Quick Facts
Founded: 1889
Location: Albuquerque, N.M.
Nickname: Lobos
Mascot: Lobo Louie/Lobo Lucy

Series History
The Panthers and Lobos will meet for the first time in 2013.

2012-13 New Mexico Season Review
Head Coach: Bob Davie (1st season)
2012-13 Record: 4-9 (1-7 MWC)
Pitt Bullet Improvement from 1-11 campaign in 2011 
Pitt Bullet 10 players earned All-Mountain West honors in 2012 (only 4 did in 2011)
Notable Team Stats:
Pitt Bullet Greatest improvement of all 120 FBS schools in scoring margin and rushing offense.
Pitt Bullet Gold Arrow Improved scoring margin by 25.21 points in 2012
Pitt Bullet Gold Arrow Improved by 188.14 rushing yards per game last season
Pitt Bullet Finished 5th nationally in rushing offense in 2012 (301.3 yards per game)

The Davie File
A household name in college football circles, Bob Davie took over at New Mexico last season after nine years in the booth as a college football analyst for ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. Prior to his television stint, Davie served as the head football coach at Notre Dame, where he took over for the legendary Lou Holtz in 1997. Davie served as Holtz's defensive coordinator for three years before taking over as the Irish's head man. Yet another example of working one's way up the coaching ladder, Davie has quite the football pedigree. A native Western Pennsylvanian, Davie played ball at Moon Area High School in Coraopolis and earned a full scholarship to Youngstown State University, where he was three-year starter at tight end. Upon graduating from YSU in 1976, Davie began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Pitt under Jackie Sherrill. He would return to Oakland in 1980, serving for two of the three famed 11-1 seasons (1979, 80 and 81). In charge of the linebackers, Davie worked with the likes of Chris Doleman, Hugh Green and Rickey Jackson during his time at Pitt. His last year with the Panthers was 1982. His other career stops included Tulane and Texas A&M. Davie served as Defensive Coordinator for the Aggies in the 1989 Sun Bowl, when his team fell 31-28 to Pitt.

Taking a look at the Lobos
With his connections to the Steel City and the University of Pittsburgh being many, I'm sure Coach Davie is looking forward to bringing his team here in September. Let's take a look at what he has coming back:

Offense:
1. Trying to spark the passing game - Though New Mexico lost quarterback B.R. Holbrook to graduation, Davie and his staff are optimistic their passing game will improve in 2013. Largely ineffective through the air last season, the Lobos only attempted 154 passes to 688 rushing attempts in 2012. They are hoping to create some balance in their pistol offense, which relied heavily on the read-option to generate yards last season. Quarterback play, undoubtedly, will be a key part of that formula. The top candidates to replace Holbrook and spark New Mexico's passing game are sophomore Cole Gautsche and junior Quinton McCown. They will try to do so with an inexperienced receiving corps, having lost three receivers and two tight ends to graduation.

2. Run game will remain the strength - New Mexico ranked fifth in the nation last year in rushing offense, amassing 3,917 yards on 688 carries and averaging a whopping 301.3 yards per game. Despite their efforts to improve their passing game this spring and summer, all signs point to a continued emphasis on the ground attack for the Lobos in 2013. Probable starting quarterback Cole Gautsche was the team's second leading rusher last season, picking up 760 yards on 109 carries and scoring seven touchdowns as a reserve. New Mexico's leading rusher, running back Kasey Carrier, returns as well. Carrier gained 1,469 yards on 255 carries, scoring 15 touchdowns last season. In front of Gautsche and Carrier will be an offensive line that features four returning starters from last year.

Defense:
1. A change in attitude - 2012 was not a good year for the Lobos defensively, as they gave up 30.2 points per game and 442.2 yards per game last season. Bob Davie and his staff certainly have their work cut out for them in 2013 having lost 12 lettermen from last year's group, but they seem to think a change in attitude may overcome having to break in new personnel. With Davie's experience as a defensive coordinator, does this indicate that a more aggressive style of play will be imparted on the 3-4 scheme the Lobos introduced in his first season at the helm? That's my guess, but we'll find out September 14.

Keys to Victory
1. Discipline to defend the read-option - The Panthers must slow down the Lobos run game in order to secure a victory. This means stopping the ever popular read-option attack. In order to get this done, Pitt will have to remain sound in their assignments and tackle well. Gautsche is a runner at the quarterback position, so containing him will also be a key.

2. Balance on offense - Throughout the course of these previews, one common theme will remain - Pitt must strive to maintain balance offensively. The run game will be the foundation and the Panthers' reshuffled offensive line looks much improved heading into 2013. Getting Isaac Bennett and company touches will open up the passing game for Pitt to hit some home runs down the field. With the Lobos having lost four lettermen on the defensive line and four at the linebacker spot, it would seem to me that Pitt has the upper hand heading into this battle. But you still have to play the game.

3. Same intensity - Sometimes bye weeks come at good times, others not. But, nevertheless, they are what you make of them. The Panthers will be coming off a launch pad week one with a huge game against Florida State (hopefully a win!), so utilizing the off week following that contest and coming into their second game of the season with the same intensity will be vital. The lesson here? Treat every opponent and each game the same.

Check back next week for a preview of Pitt's week 3 Opponent, Duke.

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