Wisconsin (1–0) will face a New Mexico (1–0) team coached under Bob Davie, who is now in his seventh year at New Mexico but was suspended earlier this year for 30 days without pay after a couple of outside investigations by the university.
Last Saturday, the Lobos took care of FCS opponent Incarnate Word at home in a 62–30 win, gaining 680 yards off of 91 plays. It was a balanced effort on offense, with New Mexico accumulating 361 yards through the air and 319 on the ground. The offense is now under the direction of coordinator Calvin Magee, who helped run spread-option schemes for Rich Rodriguez most recently at Arizona from 2012–17. Previously, the Lobos ran a triple-option offense under previous offensive coordinator Bob DeBeese.
“I’d definitely say it’s more of the spread scheme offense,” nose tackle Olive Sagapolu said about New Mexico. “I mean, we’re still practicing just for option, because, I mean, we know that’s who they were, but just basing everything off of the first game, you definitely see a lot of spread. You kind of see a little bit of the same runs that we did last week, but it’s good to see and we’re excited to get out them.”
Quarterback Tevaka Tuioti threw for 327 yards on 13-of-21 with four touchdowns and an interception. The redshirt sophomore also rushed for 54 yards on 11 carries and a score.
“They got a guy from Arizona who’s come over and kind of brought some of the scheme from Arizona, but like you said, they like to spread it out,” inside linebacker Ryan Connelly said on Wednesday. “They like to use their quarterback as a runner, which he’s definitely capable of doing, so that’s just, whenever you have a quarterback that can run and is part of a run game, it always adds another element.”
During their win on Saturday, New Mexico completed passes of 69, 51, 37, 34, 33, and 32 yards, but not one player caught more than two passes. Senior running backs Zahneer Shuler and Tyrone Owens combined for 148 yards, with the latter adding two touchdowns to start the season.
“They’re a big running offense,” outside linebacker Zack Baun said on Wednesday. “They’re a big gadget team. They try to throw your eyes different places and we just need to be fundamentally sound and stick to our responsibilities.”
When facing an offense with a new coordinator and system, especially one that could marry the old and new schemes, Connelly mentioned the coaches “definitely mingle in a little bit of everything” in preparing for their current opponent.
“Obviously, we have one game to go off which really isn’t that much, so it’s definitely harder earlier in the year,” Connelly said. “Later in the year, you get a good feeling of what they’re going to be doing. We definitely watch some old stuff, some new stuff, some old stuff from the OC, and some old stuff from the team last year and just kind of figure out what we think they’ll do against us.”
Defensively, a familiar face with Wisconsin ties returns in coordinator Kevin Cosgrove.
Cosgrove has been at New Mexico since 2012 but has been the Lobos’ defensive coordinator under Davie since 2014. He has also filled that position at Wisconsin (1995–2003), Nebraska (2004–07), Minnesota (co-coordinator from 2009–10), and Akron (2011).
Based on New Mexico’s game notes, Cosgrove’s scheme appears to be a 3-3-5 look, with three defensive linemen, a designated “RUSH,” two linebackers, and five defensive backs.
Looking at the depth chart, what also stands out is that 10 seniors occupy spots as starters or co-starters. Against Incarnate Word, senior RUSH Jordan Flack tied for the team lead with five tackles and a sack. Fellow seniors D’Angelo Ross and Alex Hart each tallied four tackles.
“They play with a lot of funky fronts and stuff,” redshirt sophomore left tackle Cole Van Lanen said on Tuesday. “We’re just trying to figure everything out but, I mean, that’s what’s practice is for, and we’ll be good.”
In terms of experience on defense, only four Lobos have 12 or more starts under their belt. Defensive lineman Cody Baker currently leads the unit with 20 career starts, with Hart (14), cornerback Jalin Burrell (13), and Ross (12) behind him.
Last week, the Lobos gave up only 16 points in the first three quarters of their win, but also allowed 566 total yards (322 passing, 244 rushing). Incarnate Word scored on its first possession, along with adding a score on a 90-yard run in the second quarter and completing receptions of 44, 43, and 35 yards in the loss.