New Mexico at Wisconsin

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2018 at 7:46 pm.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SITE: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wis.
TV: FS1
SERIES: First meeting
RANKINGS: Wisconsin No. 5

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Lobos

–QB Tevaka Tuioti threw for 327 yards last week against Incarnate Word, giving him the first 300-yard game by a Lobo quarterback since Sept. 11, 2010, when B.R. Holbrook threw for 323 against Texas Tech. Tuioti’s 327 yards came on just 13 completions and 21 attempts. Tuioti’s 25.2 yards per completion is ranks fourth in the nation, behind only Justin Herbert of Oregon, Keyaton Thompson of Mississippi State and Eric Dungey of Syracuse.

–RB Tyrone Owens became the 17th Lobo with 2,000 career yards rushing when he scored on a 6-yard run late in the first quarter last week. He gained 58 yards on 20 carries. He is now 15th on the school’s career rushing list with 2,043 yards. Next up ahead of Owens on the list is former UNM head coach and current San Diego State head coach Rocky Long, who had 2,071 yards for the Lobos.

–OL Aaron Jenkins, a fifth-year senior, has started 39 career games, including the 2018 opener at right guard. He has played in 41 — counting two in 2014 before taking a medical redshirt — and needs 10 more games played to break the school record of 50. He has played every position but center at UNM.

Badgers

–WR Kendric Pryor is coming off a solid game in the opener. He had four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with cramps in the second half. With receivers Quintex Cephus and Danny Davis out due to suspensions, Pryor has a chance to shine in the nonconference slate.

–RB Jonathan Taylor lost a fumble in the win against Western Kentucky. It’s a minor concern that could be an issue when the weather turns cold, especially since Taylor showed a penchant for fumbling late in his freshman season. Still, Taylor managed to run for 145 yards and two touchdowns.

–QB Alex Hornibrook played like a seasoned veteran against Western Kentucky, especially given that his normally solid offensive line had a shaky debut. Hornibrook’s ability to extend drives with completions on third downs was a big factor in the blowout.

–CB Scott Nelson was a bright spot in the opener. The Badgers’ weakest spot on defense is the youth in the secondary, but Nelson looked great in coverage. The freshman had a team-high seven tackles, two pass breakups and one tackle for a loss.

KEYS
TO THE GAME

New Mexico coach Bob Davie said he liked the effort that redshirt sophomore quarterback Tevaka Tuioti gave the Lobos in a season-opening victory last week.

But a road game in a raucous atmosphere will pose significant challenges for New Mexico (1-0) when it plays No. 5 Wisconsin (1-0) at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday.

Tuioti was a threat on the ground and in the air during a 62-30 win against Incarnate Word, a Football Championship Subdivision team. Tuioti completed 13 of 21 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed 11 times for 54 yards and another touchdown.

“He has plenty of talent,” Davie told the Albuquerque Journal. “There is no question about that. Tevaka made a lot of plays, a lot of great plays.”

Senior running back Zahneer Schuler also found success in the Lobos’ spread-offense attack, as he rushed for 90 yards on five carries.

But the biggest area of concern for Davie and New Mexico, is the Lobos’ execution on defense. The team’s defensive coordinator is Kevin Cosgrove, who worked as a Wisconsin assistant coach from 1990 to 2003.

The Lobos gave up 566 overall yards, including 328 passing, against Incarnate Word.

Senior middle linebacker Alex Hart is the only player to return among the team’s top five tacklers from 2017. He racked up 58 tackles last season, which ranked third for New Mexico.

The home victory last weekend provided a boost for the Lobos, who lost seven straight games to close last season. Davie was blunt with his assessment of the Lobos’ progress.

“It wasn’t near good enough on defense,” Davie said. “We’ve got to take this personal. We’ve got to bounce back. We need to clean this up and move forward, because I know we can play better.”

The Lobos will face tough tasks in containing a pair of Wisconsin standouts in junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook and sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor.

Taylor posted eight carries for 145 yards, two touchdowns and one fumble lost in the Badgers’ 34-3 season-opening win over Western Kentucky. It was the 11th 100-plus yard effort in a single game for Taylor.

Wisconsin junior wide receiver A.J. Taylor led the air attack with five catches for 85 yards.

Hornibrook completed 17 of 29 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns.

Wisconsin allowed 305 yards of offense against Western Kentucky, with 100 of those yards coming in the final quarter.

The Badgers were stellar in the red zone as the Hilltoppers finish 1-for-4 with those chances and weren’t able to score a touchdown.

Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said gaining experience in those scenarios can be helpful going forward.

“What’s fun about the game is none of that carries over,” Chryst said. “What leads you to that is guys stepping up and making plays and continuing to play.

“I think experience of having been in those (situations) and having success helps, but you have to do it. So, it was good this game for this year’s defense to do it. It doesn’t guarantee you anything going forward, but it’s an experience, and it’s something you can build of off.”

Wisconsin senior inside linebacker T.J. Edwards, who collected seven tackles against Western Kentucky, said the offense and defense tend to do a good job of picking each other up.

“We tried to pick up the offense when we could and they did a great job of picking us up and just kind of keeping us off the field for as long as they could,” said Edwards, who registered seven tackles against Western Kentucky.

“I thought as a unit, as a team, we played together really well.”

The Badgers could get a boost on defense in the coming weeks as redshirt sophomore Isaiahh Loudermilk returns to action. Loudermilk, who had left knee surgery in May, was cleared to practice this week.

Loudermilk made 1.5 sacks in a reserve position during the 2017 season. Chryst said the way Loudermilk responds in drills this week will determine his availability against New Mexico.

“He’s been able to practice some,” Chryst said. “As the week progresses, our intentions are — let’s go see where he is at.”