ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – When training camp started for the UNM football team, Head Coach Danny Gonzales said he was most looking forward to watching the position battles on the offensive line. There has been uncertainty for the Lobos up front in recent years, and with so many few faces this year, even people around the team didn’t know what the starting five would look like. That uncertainty, however, proved to be fuel for the guys to cement their spot.
“You know coming into the season, I’m seeing stories and hearing stories about the offensive line, that’s the big question mark,” said left guard Taurrian Stafford. “We came in, and it was just a different mentality. We beat on people, people not beating on us no more, people not touching us no more. We are the ones stepping up. We want to be big dogs, Lobos, we’re dogs now.”
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Now that camp is over, both Coach Gonzales and Coach Vincent said that the offensive line is the position group that excites them the most. Skill position players are also praising the guys up front for allowing them to be more dynamic this year, but the linemen would rather go under the radar than receive as much praise as they have been.
“We don’t want a pat on the back,” Stafford said. “You don’t pet a fish for swimming, you don’t pet a bird for flying. We’re happy everybody is seeing us do our job, but no matter what happens, if someone pats us on our backs, curses at us, whatever it is, we’re ready to do our job.”
The Lobos also have a new position coach on the line, Cam Blankenship. He came to the Lobos this off-season with Coach Vincent from UAB, and while adding bigger pieces up front is generating a lot of attention, returning center CJ James credits the line’s turnaround to Blankenship.
“Coach Cam is really the main part of it,” James said. “He really helped us develop our technique and develop our skills, and he just brought us a new work mindset.”
UNM opens the season on September 2 on the road against Texas A&M.