Opponent Preview: New Mexico

Opponent Preview: New Mexico

Football

Opponent Preview: New Mexico

By William Hirschfeld

 

Week 1 is done, now onto the next opponent: the New Mexico Lobos.

New Mexico is coming off a 62-30 season-opening win against Incarnate Word.  New Mexico’s offense was on a roll in both the run and the pass, finishing the game with over 680 yards of total offense.  However, the Lobos’ defense gave up 566 yards of total offense.

Leading the charge on offense for New Mexico was sophomore quarterback Tevaka Tuioti. Though a young ball slinger, he was able to complete 13 of his 21 passes for 327 yards.  More importantly, Tevaka shared the ball to multiple receivers with 10 receivers having either one or two catches on the field, which, once received, turned the plays into big gains. The longest completion was a 69-yard touchdown by senior Patrick Reed, as Tuioti can throw the ball from the pocket or on the move.

The Lobos’ run game was led by multiple players, including Tevaka (11 carries, 54 yards 1 TD), but the two running backs led the front for the run game. Senior running backs Zahneer Shuler and Tyrone Owens ran for a combined total of 148 yards from 25 carries with Owens bringing in two touchdowns.

Though allowing over 560 yards of total offense, the Lobos’ defense – coordinated by former UW assistant Kevin Cosgrove – was able to keep the comeback win far from reach, getting the ball back to their offense and letting them do their thing. The defense, as a whole, finished the game with three sacks, five tackles for loss and an interception.  Helping hands from sophomore Rhashaun Epting and senior Jordan Flack (team-high five tackles), and senior Jalen Burrell helped with the stats.

Coming off a win over Western Kentucky Friday, Wisconsin trudged through a slow start until tailback Jonathan Taylor punched in the first touchdown to start the rolling.  Defensively, even with seven new starters, defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard and his defense delivered a solid performance against the Hilltoppers’ offense, only allowing 305 total yards.

Junior Alex Hornibrook had a great performance, going 17-for-29 for 257 yards and touchdown throws to sophomores Garrett Groshek and Kendric Pryor. Junior A.J. Taylor led the receiving core with five receptions and 85 yards and freshman tight end Jake Ferguson had a notable collegiate debut with four catches for 43 yards.

Jonathan Taylor is continuing his star-studded performance from last year, marching down the field for 145 yards and giving the Badgers two touchdowns. Senior Taiwan Deal also had an impact on the game, with eight carries going for 53 yards rushing.  The Badgers are expecting big things from their monster running backs and those extra inches on the field make big plays for the offense.

On the defensive side of the ball, Wisconsin had plenty of hats to the ball in order to keep Western Kentucky to only three points. The defense had registered a sack, an interception (freshman Faion Hicks in the red zone) and four tackles for loss, the majority of that production coming from the defense’s veterans, inside linebacker TJ Edwards, outside linebacker Ryan Connelly and strong safety D’Cota Dixon.

Expect Saturday to come down to which defense can win its position battles, especially after how both teams were clicking on offense during the first week of college football.  New Mexico will recollect itself and game plan against Wisconsin’s run game, while Wisconsin will try to figure out how to cool the hot hand of a young quarterback.

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