New Mexico Wisconsin Football

New Mexico quarterback Sheriron Jones throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

NEW MEXICO LOBOS

COACH: Bob Davie, 33-54, eighth season at New Mexico

2018 RECORD: 3-9, 1-7 Mountain West

POSTSEASON: none

» A LOOK BACK

The Lobos’ season got off to a fast start with three victories in the opening five games. The offense scored 42 or more points in four of those games, and there was plenty of momentum heading into the conference schedule. But the offense failed to reach the 30-point mark the rest of the season, and the defense continued to surrender points as a seven-game skid soured what was a promising start to the campaign.

When opening week starter Tevaka Tuioti went down with an injury in the Lobos’ loss to Liberty in Week 4, Sheriron Jones nearly engineered a remarkable comeback by throwing for 312 yards and four touchdowns. But the interceptions — three of them — were a harbinger of what was to come for the offense. Jones threw 12 picks, in addition to 13 touchdowns, and the lack of production in the running game with Tyrone Owens being bottled up at the line of scrimmage made it challenging for the group.

The lack of offense made it difficult for a defense, though laden with upperclassmen, to constantly produce. Middle linebacker Alex Hart was lost three games into the season with a knee injury, and the defense just wasn’t the same the rest of the way. The group finished 113th in the nation in scoring defense (36.2 points per game) and 119th in total defense (473 yards per game).

» LOOKING AHEAD

The defense only returns two starters — linemen Nahje Flowers and Aaron Blakwell — but return Hart and defensive end Trent Sellers. The Georgia Tech transfer was on pace to be a starter last season when a knee injury late in training camp forced him to miss the entire campaign. Sellers’ ability to get off the edge, plus Hart’s heady play in the middle of the defense, should help with the growing pains the unit will endure in the season’s early stages.

When UNM makes the trip to Lynchburg, a familiar face will be on board. Offensive coordinator Joe Dailey returns after serving in the same role for three seasons on Turner Gill’s staff. Dailey helped mentor Josh Woodrum as the quarterback coach before taking on the role of offensive coordinator. Dailey’s task is marrying the spread offense he ran at Liberty with the triple option, which New Mexico enjoyed immense success with in 2017.

» WHO’S BACK?

• SKILL PLAYERS

QB Sheriron Jones (102-187 passing, 1,417 yards, 13 TD, 12 INT; 79 carries, 286 yards, 3.6 average)

QB Tevaka Tuioti (24-43 passing, 439 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT; 15 carries, 100 yards, 6.7 average, 1 TD)

RB Ahmari Davis (51 carries, 185 yards, 4.3 average, 4 TD)

WR Elijah Lilly (21 catches, 375 yards, 17.9 average, 5 TD)

WR Jay Griffin IV (21 catches, 168 yards, 8.0 average)

WR Anselem Umeh (16 catches, 316 yards, 19.8 average, 2 TD)

• OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

LT Jarred Sylvester

C Kyle Stapley

RG Chris Estrella

RT Teton Saltes

• DEFENSIVE LEADERS

NT Aaron Blackwell (29 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 PBU 2 QBH)

DE Nahje Flowers (26 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks)

• SPECIAL TEAMS

K Andrew Shelley (7-8 FG, 53 long, 0 blocked; 34-39 PAT)

P Tyson Dyer (74 punts, 44.3 average, 84 long, 6 TB, 12 FC, 19 I20, 19 50+, 0 blocked)

» WHO’S GONE?

• SKILL PLAYERS

RB Tyrone Owens (186 carries, 687 yards, 3.7 average, 6 TD)

WR Delane Hart-Johnson (33 catches, 507 yards, 15.4 average, 5 TD)

• OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

RG Aaron Jenkins

• DEFENSIVE LEADERS

FS Stanley Barnwell Jr. (76 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1 INT, 4 PBU, 1 blocked kick)

LB Sitivena Tamaivena (58 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 1 FR)

DB Michael Sewell Jr. (57 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FF)

DB D’Angelo Ross (57 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1 INT, 6 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FF)

SS Marcus Hayes (51 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 2 INT, 5 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF)

• SPECIAL TEAMS

None

» WHOM TO FOLLOW

Steve Virgen, Albuquerque Journal: @SteveVirgen

New Mexico Football: @UNMLoboFB

» SCHEDULE

Aug. 31: Sam Houston State, 6 p.m.

Sept. 14: at Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m.

Sept. 21: New Mexico State, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 28: at Liberty, 6 p.m.

Oct. 4: at San Jose State, 10 p.m.

Oct. 11: Colorado State, 8 p.m.

Oct. 19: at Wyoming, 4 p.m.

Oct. 26: Hawai’i, 4 p.m.

Nov. 2: at Nevada, TBD

Nov. 9: Air Force, 2 p.m.

Nov. 16: at Boise State, TBD

Nov. 30: Utah State, 4 p.m.

» THE SERIES (home team in CAPS)

Liberty leads 1-0

Sept. 29, 2018: Liberty 52, NEW MEXICO 43

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Damien Sordelett covers Liberty University athletics and local golf for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5550.

Damien Sordelett covers Liberty University athletics and local golf for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5550. Follow him on Twitter: @DamienSordelett

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