With the foundation now starting to take shape, Bob Davie enters his fourth season as coach at New Mexico.
Davie’s 11 wins in three seasons nearly quadruples the program’s total from the three seasons prior to his arrival, but it’s how he has been able to do it that is what has Lobo fans excited for the upcoming seasons.
Davie has completely flipped the roster, with over 90% of the players on the 2014 roster recruited by his staff, and all but two for the 2015 season. New Mexico’s three fifth-year seniors in 2014 were the fewest of any non-service academy in the nation, and 2015 will be more of the same with just two fifth-year seniors on the roster.
Davie has also done it with a New Mexico flavor, getting major contributions from local and state players, including 2014’s leading receiver Jeric Magnant, 2014’s second-leading scorer Zack Rogers, and starters such as quarterback Cole Gautsche and running back David Anaya and Reece White.
And the success and improvement isn’t just on the field ... it’s off it. In three seasons under Davie, the Lobos have picked up 50 Mountain West All-Academic selections, including a program record 20 in 2014, and 16 in 2013, the second-best total for football in school history. UNM also had five Mountain West Scholar-Athletes in 2013, the second-best total among the MW’s 12 football programs.
The Over the course of 2012-13 and 2013-14, the football team posted the highest back to back football team GPAs in school history.
The 2014 Lobos also featured three players on the Capital One/CoSIDA All-District team in Reece White, Garrett Adcock and Dakota Cox. The three players were exactly half of the honorees in the Mountain West as the rest of the league had three players combined.
The 2014 season was another huge stepping stone for the program, one that saw the Lobos improve their win total from a season ago, and one that saw the Lobos competitive in basically every game, no matter the stature of their opponent.
New Mexico went 4-8 in 2014, a one-game improvement from 2013, but the improvement was certainly bigger than the win column. The Lobos shaved a full touchdown off of their points allowed, and 14.5 points off their defensive average against unranked opponents from a year ago.
The 2013 Lobos continued to represent Davie’s hard-nosed mentality. Rushing the football again was the team’s calling card on offense. After Air Force’s led the Mountain West in rushing for every year of the league’s existence from 1999 (14 in all), UNM repeated as conference rushing champion in 2014. The Lobos’ 301.4-yard average per game ranked fourth nationally, and UNM is the only team in the last three years to average 300 yards per game on the ground and finish in the top five nationally. The Lobos were in the top five nationally in runs of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards as well.
The Lobos also saw some success through the air, with seven touchdowns on the season and an average of 89.1 yards per game.
Once again, UNM’s special teams lived up to billing, with UNM leading the Mountain West in average return with a 22.4-yard average. UNM was the only school to return a kickoff for a touchdown, and it accomplished that twice, with two different returners. The kickoff return for a touchdown has become a hallmark of the Bob Davie era, as UNM now has seven kickoff returns for touchdowns in his three years as the head coach.
Ridge Jones led the Mountain West in kickoff return average at 25.9 yards per kick, and that was only because his teammate Carlos Wiggins didn’t play enough games. Wiggins averaged 29.3 yards per return on 13 kicks.
Despite a rush of injuries that would have decimated most teams, Davie’s young defense was able to weather the storm and turn in some clutch performances. No bigger storm was weathered than that of his first team All-MW linebacker Dakota Cox, who despite missing the final three games of the season with a torn ACL, led the nation in tackles per game with 12.9 tackles per game. UNM’s defense vastly improved from 2013 to 2014, picking up 19 takeaways just a year after recording none through the second half of the season. The Lobos, while struggling against nationally-ranked foes, were on pretty even terms with the rest of the schedule, holding its nine unranked opponents to almost 15 points fewer in 2014.
Along with Cox, center LaMar Bratton earned First Team All-Mountain West honors, and three Lobos were honorable mention picks in safety David Guthrie, running back Jhurell Pressley and offensive lineman Jamal Price.
The 2013 Lobos continued to represent Davie's hard-nosed mentality. Rushing the football again was the team's calling card on offense. UNM ended Air Force's 14-year Mountain West reign -- since the league's inception in 1999 -- as conference rushing champion in 2013. The Lobos' 308.8-yard average per game ranked fourth nationally.
UNM also made considerable strides in the passing game, improving from 68.8 yards per game in 2012 to 113.0 in 2013. The Lobos' 32.8 points-per-game average was a touchdown more than its 2012 average of 25.8.
The Lobos' special teams also enjoyed another strong season. Sophomore kick returner Carlos Wiggins led the nation with three returns for touchdowns and in total kick return yards with 1,303. Wiggins was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year and was the College Football Performance Awards' National Kick Returner of the Year
Senior punter Ben Skaer finished fifth in the nation in punting with an average of 45.8 yards per attempt and along with Wiggins earned first-team All-MW honors. A total of eight Lobos earned All-MW recognition in 2013, giving Davie 17 during his first two seasons -- nine more than the program had in 2010-11.
Davie's young defense also had some bright spots, despite having to play six true freshman and have 11 players make at least one start who weren't even on the Lobo defense in 2012.
True freshman Dakota Cox became the first freshman since Blake Irwin in 1994 to lead the team in tackles with 99, and Cox earned Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team honors.
Senior Dallas Bollema and junior Brett Bowers made honorable mention All-MW and junior cornerback SaQwan Edwards led the MW and ranked ninth nationally with three fumble recoveries.
In 2012, UNM went 4-9 and 1-7 in Mountain West play. The program’s four wins represented a 400 percent improvement from 2011 when the school won one game; UNM had the greatest improvement by percentage of any school in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Davie led UNM to one of the best statistical turnarounds in college football from 2011 to 2012. The Lobos showed the greatest improvement among the 120 FBS schools in scoring margin and rushing offense. The Lobos improved by 25.21 points in scoring margin and 188.14 rushing yards. The 2012 UNM team also ranked second nationally in time of possession improvement, fourth in net punting improvement and fifth in turnover margin improvement from the previous season.
Of the 32 statistical categories that the Mountain West tracks in its in-season weekly releases, UNM improved in 26 of them from the 2011 season to the 2012 season.
Davie’s imprint on changing the culture of the Lobo football program took shape through several other team accomplishments in 2012:
*UNM ended a six-year losing streak in season openers with a 66-21 win over Southern. In that game, the Lobos produced their first 100-yard rusher in 26 games when Demarcus Rogers ran for 103 yards.
*Against Southern, the Lobos also ended a string of 40 consecutive games without a 300-yard team rushing performance. UNM went on to set a school record with 10 300-yard rushing games, including nine in a row to tie the 1971 team for most consecutive 300-yard rushing games.
*The Lobos set a modern-day record for points in a quarter with 38 in the second quarter vs. Southern.
*Davie became the first head coach in 29 years to beat New Mexico State in his first try (the previous six head coaches failed in their attempt) when the Lobos went to Las Cruces and came away with a 27-14 victory.
*UNM ended a 24-game road losing streak with the win over the Aggies.
*The Lobos beat a team from Texas for the first time in 16 tries with a 35-14 win over Texas State.
*The Texas State win also marked the first Homecoming win for UNM since 2008.
*New Mexico ended a 26-game losing streak outside the state of New Mexico as well as an 18-game Mountain West road losing streak with a 35-23 victory at Hawai’i.
*The Lobos had 10 players earn All-Mountain West honors in 2012 (seven more than the 2011 team did), led by second-team running back Kasey Carrier, who set a school record with 1,469 rushing yards. Senior strong safety Matt Raymer was a candidate for the Burlsworth Award, which goes annually to the nation’s best player who started his career as a walk-on.
The most impressive part about Davie’s successful first campaign is that he did it with 72 scholarship players, 13 below the 85-scholarship mark that the NCAA allows.
The Lobos also had 14 Academic All-Mountain West selections in 2012, doubling their total from 2011.
Davie became New Mexico’s 31st football head coach on Nov. 17, 2011. Davie, 59, had been a college football analyst on television since 2002. He had served as the lead analyst on ABC Saturday Night Primetime college football telecasts, as well as ESPN and ESPN2 Saturday Night Primetime games.
Prior to that, Davie served as head football coach at the University of Notre Dame for five seasons (1997-2001). He was defensive coordinator for three years (1994-96) with the Fighting Irish under head coach Lou Holtz before taking over the program in 1997. Davie spent nine years as an assistant coach at Texas A&M University (1985-93) under head coaches Jackie Sherrill (1985-88) and R.C. Slocum (1989-93). Davie was linebackers coach for Sherrill and was promoted to defensive coordinator and assistant head coach under Slocum. He also served as assistant head coach/defensive coordinator at Tulane (1984-85) and linebackers coach at the University of Pittsburgh (1980-82) and the University of Arizona (1978-79).
Davie’s expertise also was on display when he wrote a weekly column for ESPN.com, “Football 101,” from 2002-05.
In 26 years of coaching, Davie has been a part of teams that have compiled a combined record of 206-102-4. He has coached in 18 bowl games, including the Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl.
Davie had a 35-25 career record at Notre Dame, leading the Irish to three bowl games and taking the program to its first-ever BCS postseason game, the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. He also was the first coach to lead Notre Dame to a bowl game in his first season. Year in and year out, Notre Dame plays one of the toughest schedules in the nation. During Davie’s tenure, 19 of those games were against Top-25 foes and 52 of the 60 were against BCS foes. Seven of the other eight were against service academies and one was against another non-BCS foe.
Davie also has been a two-time finalist for a National Coach of the Year award (by the Walter Camp Foundation and Football News).
Also while at Notre Dame, Davie earned an American Football Coaches Association Award for Academic Achievement in 2001 as his team had a 100 percent graduation rate.
Davie has been hailed as a defensive mastermind; many of the units with which he was involved among his coaching stops still hold school and conference records:
*In 1996, Davie oversaw a Notre Dame defense that held opponents to 270 yard of total offense per game. That figure remains the lowest output a Fighting Irish squad has allowed since 1980 and would rank No. 4 in the nation by 2011 standards. That unit also holds the school record for quarterback sacks with 41.
*During the 1991, 1992 and 1993 seasons, Davie’s “Wrecking Crew” defenses at Texas A&M led the Southwest Conference in all four major statistical categories - total defense, scoring defense, rush defense and pass defense. The Aggies were the only team in the history of the conference to accomplish that feat.
*The 1991 Texas A&M team led the nation in total defense.
*In 1993, the Aggies led the NCAA in passing efficiency defense, were second in scoring defense and finished third in total defense.
*The 1980 and 1981 University of Pittsburgh defensive units ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense.
Numerous players under Davie’s tutelage have gone on to distinguished careers in the NFL, including former standouts in defensive tackle Sam Adams (14 years, a first-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks and two Pro Bowl appearances), linebacker Quentin Coryatt (seven seasons and the No. 2 overall pick of the 1992 NFL draft for the Indianapolis Colts), defensive end Chris Doleman (15 years, a first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 1985 and eight Pro Bowl selections), defensive back Aaron Glenn (16 years, a first-round pick of the New York Jets and two Pro Bowl appearances), linebacker Hugh Green (11 years in the NFL, a first-round draft selection of the Tampa Buccaneers, two Pro Bowl appearances and the 1980 Heisman Trophy runner-up), linebacker Rickey Jackson (15 years, six Pro Bowl appearances and a member of the Hall of Fame), offensive guard Mike Rosenthal (seven seasons), offensive tackle Luke Petigout (nine seasons, first-round draft choice of the New York Giants), linebacker John Roper (five seasons), linebacker William Thomas (11 seasons and two Pro Bowl appearances) and linebacker Aaron Wallace (eight seasons, all with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders).
Other former and current NFL players Davie has coached includes San Francisco wide receiver Arnaz Battle, Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant, Miami Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano, Tampa Bay Buccaneers center Jeff Faine, New Orleans Saints running back Julius Jones, New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, San Francisco 49ers lineman Dillon Farrell, Buffalo Bills lineman Darryl Johnson and Oakland Raiders defensive back SaQwan Edwards.
At Notre Dame, Davie received a Football News National Coach of the Year finalist citation and finished sixth in The Associated Press Coach of the Year balloting in 2000, finishing with a 9-3 record and earning a berth in the Fiesta Bowl. That team tied an NCAA record for fewest turnovers in a season with eight, despite starting three different quarterbacks - Battle, Gary Godsey and Matt LoVecchio.
Davie earned a National Coach of the Year semifinalist nod in 1998 after producing another 9-3 record with the Irish. The team ranked 16th nationally in rushing that season behind career rushing leader Autry Denson. Quarterback Jarious Jackson ranked 13th in the country in passing efficiency.
During Davie’s first year as head coach in 1997, Notre Dame completed four fourth-quarter comebacks to finish with a 7-5 record and earn an Independence Bowl invitation.
As an Irish assistant, Davie’s defense finished 10th in passing efficiency defense and 11th in total defense in 1996, and it forced 30 turnovers and ranked 16th in pass defense in 1995.
Before he became coordinator at Texas A&M in 1989, Davie coached outside linebackers and was part of a staff that led the Aggies to finishes of eighth, fourth, seventh and 14th in the nation in total defense from 1985-88, respectively.
Davie was assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Tulane from 1983-84. Prior to that, he was linebackers coach at the University of Pittsburgh from 1980-82 and helped the unit rank first nationally in total defense in 1980 and 1981, and third in 1982.
He started his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1977 at Pittsburgh under Sherill and moved on to the University of Arizona as a part-time linebackers coach and strength coach from 1978-79.
Davie is a 1977 graduate of Youngstown State and was a three-year starter at tight end.
Davie and his wife, Joanne, have two children - daughter Audra and son Clay.