The Lobo rookie did good, but the rookie was a bit hard on himself, not happy with the 58-23 scoreboard that leaned heavily toward Arizona State.
“I grade myself as a C,” said quarterback Lamar Jordan, a redshirt freshman, who was thrown into his first collegiate game against No. 17 Arizona State.
“Because at the end of the day, no matter what happens, those two fumbles cost us. I’m a horrible critic on myself.”
The Lobos lost three fumbles Saturday on Branch Field, had twice as many penalties as the Sun Devils and were outgained 621 yards to 337. It was not the “Perfect Storm” that the Lobos (0-2) needed in order to stage an upset over the powerful Sun Devils of the Pac-12.
But the Lobos did manage to put a scare into the visitors from Tempe.
The Lobos charged out of a 29-7 hole to make it 29-21 and UNM was only down 32-21 at the half. When the Lobos ran into their locker room at intermission, Arizona Coach Todd Graham kept his Sun Devils huddled on Branch Field for a long and serious talk.
Obviously, the Sun Devils’ head man was not happy.
Graham must have said the right stuff. ASU came out of the half to score in 1:52 (four plays) and on the Sun Devils’ next possession scored in a single play – a 41-yard pass from Taylor Kelly to Cameron Smith – and ASU was up 45-21.
That simply was too big a hole for the Lobos to scratch out of and the big gap on the scoreboard allowed the ASU defense to play fearless with the game pretty much out of reach.
The Lobos’ offense did not score in the second half, but UNM got two points from Brandon Branch, who ran a blocked ASU point-after kick back into the Sun Devils’ end zone. That counted for two points.
“We still need to execute better as an offense to get it done,” said Jordan.
Jordan took over the Lobo huddle in the first quarter after a Clayton Mitchem fumble helped ASU go ahead 15-0. Mitchem did not attempt a pass and had minus 13 yards on five carries.
Davie said that Jordan earned a jump on the UNM two-deep and will be in the No. 2 spot when the Lobos resume action on Sept. 20 against the undefeated New Mexico State Aggies in Las Cruces. Of course, that’s assuming that Cole Gautsche’s pulled hamstring is healed. If not, Jordan might get the start.
“I saw a little playmaker ability, a little point-guard mentality,” said Davie of Jordan. “He makes things happen. He’s a confident football player. I like how he plays.
“He can throw. He’s a dual-threat kind of guy. He’s not a guy who is going to go in the tank. He is going to continue to compete.”
Jordan’s first D-I scoring pass was a 32-yard strike to Teriyon Gipson that made the score 29-14 in ASU’s favor. Crusoe Gongbay scored on a 5-yard run with 4:49 to play in the second quarter and UNM was down 29-21. ASU added a field goal with three ticks to carry a 32-21 lead into their locker room.
Well, after the chat with Graham.
The Sun Devils played better defense in the second half, but their offense appeared that it was not going to lose this game. ASU powered for 423 yards on the ground to help the Sun Devils reach that gaudy 621-yard total. UNM ran for 207 yards and added Jordan’s 130 passing yards. The Lobos had 112 yards of offense in the second half.
ASU’s D.J. Foster ran for 216 yards and Kelly added 84 yards on the ground and 192 passing yards going 11-of-20 for two aerial scores. Gipson paced UNM on the ground with 73 yards rushing. He also was Jordan’s main target with four grabs for 65 yards and a score.
UNM’s Dakota Cox again paced the Lobo defense with four solo tackles and six assists. ASU had three penalties in the first seven minutes of the game, but ended with four penalties for 30 yards. The Sun Devils averaged 8.8 yards per rush and 9.0 yards per play.
The Lobos have a bye week prior to their trip to Las Cruces. Davie said his young team will work on developing consistency and execution via repetitions.
“We need to do the same things over and over,” said Davie. “It’s executing on defense.”