New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico 23, UTSA 20: 5 Things That Matter

New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico 23, UTSA 20: 5 Things That Matter


New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico 23, UTSA 20: 5 Things That Matter

New Mexico Bowl: 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017

New Mexico pounded away for a 23-20 New Mexico Bowl win over UTSA. 5 Things That Matter.

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For a defensive battle, that’s a fun way to start a bowl game

UTSA was going to come into the game fired up in its first ever bowl appearance, and New Mexico cared, too, having not won a bowl since 2007. Both teams played hard, there was plenty of energy, and considering it wasn’t a high-octane shootout, it was a fun, tight battle.

UTSA managed to fight its way back to make it close with a clutch fourth down play and Dalton Sturm touchdown pass, but in the end, the New Mexico running game came through when needed, grinding out the late fourth quarter 7:21 drive, and coming up with the vital …

Fourth down conversion

With just over three minutes to play, and up three, New Mexico had the key moment in the game, needing to convert on fourth down inside the five to try putting the Roadrunners away. A field goal would’ve given UTSA a chance to go on a fast touchdown drive to win the game, and considering the Lobos were the best rushing team in America, of course you go for it.

New Mexico did, Richard McQuarley pounded away through a strong block, and he got the first down.

McQuarley ran for his second touchdown of the game on the next play – ball game. However …

Even in a loss, this was a solid performance from UTSA

New Mexico made 300 rushing yards look common, and UTSA was able to hold down the attack to just 223 yards and three scores. The Lobos weren’t able to come up with any home runs, and the passing game was the New Mexico passing game – converting 3-of-6 passes for 77 yards. The Roadrunners couldn’t throw the ball a lick – Dalton Sturm kept fighting through a 10-of-26 game, but leading the way to two good scoring drives. He’ll never be Tom Brady, but he’s a battler who’s proven himself. Jarveon Williams ran well with a game-leading 125 yards as the team battled all the way to the finish.

Considering where the program was when Frank Wilson took over, to get to this game and to be this competitive is special. It’s been a season to build off of.

What’s next for UTSA in 2017?

This year was good, but next season should be even stronger with a senior-dominated team returning. Crank up the expectations with QB Dalton Sturm leading an offense that gets back eight starters – all will be seniors. Losing RB Jarveon Williams will sting, but Jalen Rhodes is good enough to take over the work. However, now it’s on Sturm and the passing game to start doing more.

The defense that was a work in progress throughout the season also returns loaded with experienced veterans, getting back eight starters but losing key safeties Michael Egwuagu and Jordan Moore. The defensive front six should be one of the biggest improvements.

What’s next for New Mexico in 2017?

Just a guess, but the Lobos will probably try running the ball again in 2017.

Teriyon Gipson is finished, and passing quarterback Austin Apodaca is done, but starting QB Lamar Jordan and touchdown-machine Richard McQuarley returns in the backfield. The line gets back three starters, but the left side needs some work, but expect more of the same from the Lobo attack.

The defense that’s made so many good strides under Bob Davie has to replace heart-and-soul LB Dakota Cox and three starters on the line – it’s going to take a little while to beef the front back up. Just four starters are coming back on the D.

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