ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The UNM football team is set to open the 2022 season on Saturday against Maine. The game will begin the third season as head coach of the Lobos for Danny Gonzales, while Maine head coach Jordan Stevens will make his debut with the Black Bears.

The game is an unusual one for both teams. Not only do the teams play in different subdivisions of college football (UNM is FBS and Maine is FCS), but they have never even played each other before.

“It’s a great opportunity for them because if I’m coach Stevens I’m looking at that thing going, boys, they were 3-9 last year,” Danny Gonzales said. “They were 2-5 in 2020, and they were 2-10 before that, and we’re going to go across the country, and we’re going to compete, and why not us? I say it all the time why not us? So they’re going to come in here and give us their best opportunity, and they’ll come in here believing they should win.”

“They present challenges for us on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game,” said Stevens. “So, it gets our players attention right away. I think it’s going to be a good measuring point as a team to see where we’re at.”

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The Lobos come into the game with a plethora of new players on offense, including at the quarterback position. Kansas transfer Miles Kendrick will be under center and it will be his first game since breaking his leg last November.

“Obviously it’s the first game, you know, there will be some jitters,” Kendrick said. “Guys will have some jitters. I will have some jitters. At the end of the day, you know, you got to remain calm, remain flatlined, allow those guys to have confidence in you when you step on that field.”

Another position group that had a massive overhaul is the offensive line. The Lobos have new starters across the board, and they are much bigger in years past. To put their size in perspective, the average height and weight of a UNM offensive lineman is 6’3.5″ and 312 pounds. The group certainly has an advantage over Maine, whose defensive line starters average 260 pounds, for a difference of 52 pounds.

On defense, the Lobos return key pieces in the secondary, Jerrick Reed and Tavian Combs, as well as linebackers Reco Hannah and Dion Hunter. The defense finished top 50 in the nation in 2023, and with another year under coordinator Rocky Long, that number is likely to go up.

UNM and Maine have a 6:02 p.m. kickoff on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on MY50TV and the Mountain West Network.