Counting Down the 2019 Notre Dame Schedule: #10 New Mexico

The 2019 home opener on the Notre Dame football schedule brings an unfamiliar opponent in the New Mexico Lobos. However, the man serving as their head coach needs no introduction to the Irish faithful since it’s none other than former Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie, who’s starting his eighth season at the helm with New Mexico.

Davie has had a couple of winning seasons during his time in Albuquerque, but is coming off back-to-back 3-9 seasons. In 2018, the Lobos won three of their first five contests before then dropping their final seven matchups. Defensive woes served as the key reason for that slide, with New Mexico allowing more than 38 points per game during that collapse.

Note: This year we are going to be doing our opponent previews in order of difficulty – starting with the least difficult opponent of the year.  So as we roll these out, know that the order isn’t sequential but rather based on difficulty.  Follow along with our countdown!

New Mexico Offense: Guessing Games

A quartet of Lobo players will battle it out in training camp, with Tevaka Tuioti leading the parade after playing just three games before injuries ended his 2018 season. He was replaced by Sheriron Jones, who threw for over 1,400 yards and 13 touchdowns, but also tossed 12 picks.  Also competing are junior college transfer Brandt Highs and redshirt freshman Trae Hall.

The New Mexico running game offers a limited track record, with three returnees combining for just over 400 yards. Daevon Vigilant has the highest potential among the trio, while Bryson Davis offers veteran leadership. There’s also Bryson Carroll, but all three may end up being overshadowed by Kentrail Moran, who missed the 2018 season because of a knee injury.

There’s plenty of speed among New Mexico’s wideouts, but like the running game, there’s been little production in their backgrounds. Elijah Lilly and Anselem Umeh combined for just 37 grabs, with one of them possibly getting replaced by Q’ Drennan. who returns from a dislocated hip in the 2018 season opener. There’s also a stable of JUCO prospects arriving.

On the line, the Lobos have a pair of good-sized tackles in Javon Mosley and Teton Saltes, but the inside is a question mark. One of the chief goals in this area is to replace All- Conference guard Aaron Jenkins.

New Mexico Defense: Too Many Holes

Davie established his coaching reputation as a defensive tutor, but last season, the Lobos gave up over 36 points per game. Expecting to fix that in the early weeks of the 2019 campaign is unlikely.

The New Mexico defensive line is a veteran one and infused with some JUCO transfers, but the numbers likely won’t inspire a great deal of confidence against a team like Notre Dame. At one end, Nahje Flowers had 5.5 tackles-for-loss among his 26 stops, while nose tackle Aaron Blackwell contributed 29 tackles and four stops behind the line.

At linebacker, Alex Hart returns in the middle for what he and the Lobos hope will be the entire season. In 2018, he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, limiting him to just 19 tackles and no big plays on the year. He figures to be pushed by junior Brandon Shook, who took over and finished with 40 tackles, including a pair of sacks.

Manning one wing will be Alexander Vainkolo, who closed out his season last year with 33 tackles, including a pair of stops behind the line. On the other side, sophomore Dylan Horton hopes to deliver a bigger impact than his 13 tackles and one sack last season. He brings good size, but could get pushed for playing time by Devin Sanders.

On the corners, New Mexico has senior Willie Hobdy on one side, a player who saw action in only seven games last year. He ended the year with just 10 tackles, but he delivers speed and he did force a pair of fumbles. His partner at this position, fellow senior Blair Manly only had three stops in 2018 and might have to hold off junior Corey Hightower to keep his starting slot.

New Mexico Special Teams: Average All Around

Sophomore Andrew Shelley ended last year with five missed extra points, but connected on all but one of his eight field goal attempts. One Lobo who got plenty of action was punter Tyson Dyer, who launched 74 punts and averaged 44.3 yards on his boots.

The key player in the kick return area will be Elijah Lilly, who got plenty of practice last season, but only averaged 17.6 yards on his returns. When it comes to returning punts, Drennan is seen as the likely candidate to earn this spot.

The Last Time Notre Dame Played New Mexico

This first-time matchup on the Notre Dame football schedule serves as Davie’s homecoming after his five-year tenure ended following the 2001 season. Davie finished with a 35-25 record, with a pair of 9-3 campaigns followed by losing seasons. His departure led to the hiring debacle involving George O’Leary.

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10 comments

  1. duranko 3 months ago

    Well, sure, the previous article said “Xavier Watts was nobody’s consolation prize.” While true, it is far truer that Bob Davies (I elect to misspell his name
    and that of Charles WEisse as part of their punichment) was certainly a consolation prize.

    I wait for the next article, so the picture of El Lobo, in Albuquerque Red, will move down, hopefully into the dregs.

    O’Leary invoked the wrath of the Lady on the Dome by comparing Notre Dame to the New YOrk, we are owned by a convicted felon, Yankees.
    He got smote!.

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    1. Bruce Gregory Curme 3 months ago

      Purdue fired their head coach (who was completely inept) and Bob Davie hired him as an offensive coordinator. In doing so, Davie destroyed any chance he might have had to be successful at Notre Dame. What Bob Davie really needed was a top notch, energetic, and innovative OC…similar to Pete Carroll hiring Norm Chow.

      BGC ’77 ’82

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      1. duranko 3 months ago

        You may be correct, Bruce, but I generally am a skept on the mantra “having the correct coordinators will save this coach.”

        The essence of the head coach’s function is tone, mission and leadership. The latter is vastly more important than management
        or “xs and os.”

        I surmise, without evidence that the rise of fantasy football and video football games, among its many casualties, has elevated a false deity
        called “play calling.”

        It fooled a lot of Domers when the New Jersey loudmouth arrived. To paraphrase, what doth it profit a man to have a schematic advantage,
        if he is a complete hot, fat mess who knows nothing about leadership?..

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    2. southside 3 months ago

      Duranko , wasn’t sure I would reply — due to my difficulty with the spelling of Albuquerque. But my God , you bringing up Yankees and BGC bring up Pete Carroll /USC –the two teams I hate profoundly — Ya’ll almost ruined my 4th of July BBQ.

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      1. Bruce Gregory Curme 3 months ago

        Sorry Southside. I had a great Fourth…saw my 90 yo mother. Plus, the dialysis is working. It’s all good!

        BGC ’77 ’82

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      2. duranko 3 months ago

        Mea culpa, Southside, mea culpa!

        I am worried ever more about your identity crisis. What crisis, you say? Well, your “southside” implies “Chicagah”
        DaMahyer and 35th and Shields. And then the y’all. But be careful southside, we remember STUFF. You said
        Louisville was a local game for you, or words to that effect.

        And then “Y’all.” Y’all??????

        Southside of what? The Watterson.

        But just remember this, I bring up the Yankees only to mock. I grew up a New York Baseball giant fan in the midst of Yankee
        arrogance. Let me be pluperfectly clear: if the Yankees were playing a game against the Mujahadeen All Stars,
        I’d be rooting for the guys in the burkas.

        And don’t ever forget this. the four Horsemen were whelped in the Polo Grounds, the Giants ball park.

        Be well, southside. I’ll try to be more gentle, though I’ve said that before……

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      3. southside 3 months ago

        Duranko , I’ll reply on “Y’all. Although this is going back a few articles. Most of us don’t do bios about ourselves. But I’m a resident of Tennessee—retired and just a dried up road kill toss (think frisbee) below Kentucky state line. My family , kids , grandkids still up north in Chicago area. So , yes I’m about 2 hours from Louisville . I settled here to avoid sub zero temps in my elder years — and not bad of a drive 6 hours or a 2 hour flight to O’Hare. As far as my “Ya’ll”–get a lot of flak from family on this too ! Oh , I try to fit in with locals down here — but they can spot a “Northerner” a mile away — like at the barber shop or at Wal Mart. Nashville area and State of Tennessee are all huge University of TN fans. Which is a 2 hour drive east to Knoxville. Vanderbilt –SEC member is in Nashville—and has a following , but is nothing compared to U of T –a statewide fan favorite. The pro team Tennessee Titans with a nice stadium are also 2nd banana to U of T college football. I was hesitant to say Notre Dame was MY TEAM in these parts when conversing with locals — but , turns out , they hate Alabama with a passion. Hope I cleared up my “Identity Crisis” — I miss Chicago Pizza and White Castle hamburgers –and make sure a get these items on trek up north.

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  2. Greg Kelly 3 months ago

    Good time for a breather. Then the next week we’ll see what this team is all about.

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  3. Subway Alum 4 months ago

    Wake me up when we have an O line again. Haven’t had one since Davie fired Joe Moore.

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    1. duranko 3 months ago

      What was 2017 a mirage?
      What were Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey and Alex Bars? Cucumbers?.

      Your smarminess outweighs your due diligence.

      Do your homework. Have you ever heard that before???????????.

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