New Mexico-UTSA grades: Lobos squeak out bowl win
New Mexico Lobos 23, UTSA Roadrunners 20
Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from New Mexico’s 23-20 win over UTSA in the New Mexico Bowl:
New Mexico Lobos
Quarterback grade: Lamar Jordan, 67.5
Jordan shakes off injury and UTSA defenders to help offense pull away
Even though Lamar Jordan took a hard hit in the third quarter and had to leave the game, he was back to his usual self in the fourth quarter when his team needed it the most. On the Lobos’ last full drive of the fourth quarter, he completed his longest pass of the game, a 34-yard throw to Dameon Gamblin that brought the energy back into the New Mexico offense, and Jordan finished it off by powering the option game down the field for the late touchdown. The Roadrunners’ defense was forced to respect the threat from his legs, and Jordan did plenty to help open up just enough space for Richard McQuarley to hammer it home.
Top offensive grades:
RT Avery Jordan, 73.0
C Blaise Fountain, 72.6
LT Reno Henderson, 69.6
RB Teriyon Gipson, 68.9
QB Lamar Jordan, 67.5
Lobos’ offensive line once again paves the way for offensive success
The New Mexico offense often lives and dies by the big men up front, and their offensive tackles set the tone, especially in the red zone. The Lobos zone-rushing attack was really firing off the edge, particularly down the stretch when Lamar Jordan might not have been 100 percent following his injury. Both Avery Jordan and Reno Henderson did a good job of working down field to block linebackers and defensive backs to spring their running backs free for bigger gains, while Blaise Fountain deserves a lot of credit for some difficult reach blocks he was able to make against the UTSA defensive tackles.
Top defensive grades:
ED Maurice Daniels, 84.8
LB Kimmie Carson, 80.5
DL Garrett Hughes, 78.6
DL Nik D’Avanzo, 72.7
DL Taylor Timmons, 68.7
Lobos pass rush turns it on in fourth quarter to give Roadrunners trouble
After a hot start to the game, the Lobos pass rush really slowed down in the middle periods of the game before coming back strong in the fourth to make things difficult for the UTSA offense. Dalton Sturm was under pressure on 12 of his 32 dropbacks in the game, but six of those game in the fourth quarter as Maurice Daniels got to him for three hurries and met Garrett Hughes at the QB for a sack on the Roadrunners final two drives of the game. Sturm struggled to string together consecutive completions as the game wound down as the New Mexico pass rush kept him from getting too comfortable.
Quarterback grade: Dalton Sturm, 66.5
Sturm’s third-down failures leave points on the board for UTSA
The Roadrunners’ ground game was really firing on all cylinders, but when they needed Dalton Sturm to convert critical third downs, he came up short every time. UTSA were 0-6 on converting third downs through the air as Sturm was sacked twice and threw incomplete on three others, forcing the Roadrunners to punt or take field goals on stalled drives that gave New Mexico the ball back. He completed a season-low 38.5 percent of his passes, but ultimately he was still able to lead his team back late in the fourth quarter to bring it within three. More accuracy earlier in the game could have potentially kept things closer by the end.
Top offensive grades:
TE Trevor Stevens, 78.8
RB Jarveon Williams, 75.1
RT Gabriel Casillas, 74.2
LT Reed Darragh, 72.7
WR Brady Jones, 72.2
Ground game not enough to carry Roadrunner offense to victory
The Lobos had a lot of trouble bringing down both Jarveon Williams and Jalen Rhodes as UTSA broke off five runs that went for 18 or more yards. The Roadrunners’ draw plays were particularly effective as New Mexico played a lot of man coverage and UTSA sucked in their pass rushers with the fake. The Lobos still got bodies on ball-carriers, but they often failed to bring them down, as Williams and Rhodes combined to have 140 of their 198 yards come after contact. Their offensive line helped open things up, but the Roadrunners running backs did their share of the work to create explosive plays.
Top defensive grades:
DL King Newton, 80.2
DL Kevin Strong Jr., 79.9
CB Austin Jupe, 78.8
LB Josiah Tauaefa, 77.7
S Nate Gaines, 69.6
Second-level shortcomings overshadow Roadrunners defensive line effort
The UTSA defensive line did all of the dirty work, but the linebackers and defensive backs behind them were unable to take full advantage of all their hard work, missing eight tackles in the process. King Newton and Kevin Strong Jr. did plenty to tighten gaps and redirect New Mexico running backs, but the Roadrunners were still unable to keep the Lobos’ rushing attack under wraps. Josiah Tauaefa was able to come down the lane and blow up a few runs, but UTSA were unable to get consistency across the board, and New Mexico wore them down with their effective option game.