Five games into his tenure, there's no way to know how this second go 'round running a program will turn out for Davie, but the early returns are very promising. At 2-3, New Mexico has already equaled the last two season's combined win total. UNM also ended a 24-game road losing streak when it beat rival New Mexico State, and followed that up with a near miss against powerful Boise State, a game that was not decided until the Lobo's final play.
Entering his first season in Albuquerque, Davie decided the best way to move his program forward was to look backwards and dust off an old playbook. He brought back the old fashioned triple option offense. Not exactly the new fangled "spread" version where they actually pass the ball a lot. No, this is much more like the old Oklahoma version (other than running out of the shotgun much of the time) where passing the ball is for cowards. Against Boise State, New Mexico completed seven passes in the first half for a paltry 44 yards. They trailed 25-0 at intermission. In the second half, they stuck exclusively to the ground game and outscored the Broncos 29-7. They didn't attempt a single forward pass in the second half until their final play, and it was knocked away, incomplete. Somewhere, Woody Hayes was smiling. Yes, Davie wants his team to throw it better and be more balanced. All coaches SAY they do. Then again, you know what Woody said: "When you pass the ball, three things can happen, and two of them are bad..."
Speaking of bad things that can happen, Broncos head coach Chris Petersen watched his team snag three New Mexico fumbles in the first half, before giving back a pair in the second.
"We slowed them down in the first half but we also had those turnovers," Petersen said. "We capitalized with offensive football and that was little nerve wracking because if they get you out of the gap and if you don't capitalize well, you're going to have issues and that's what happened."
Running the triple option offense has been just what the doctor ordered for numerous programs in situations similar to New Mexico's over the years. After taking over a floundering Colorado program from Chuck Fairbanks in 1982 and enduring three miserable seasons, Coach Bill McCartney shifted to the wishbone in 1985 and rode it all the way to a share of the national championship in 1990. Other programs that rarely compete for the very best recruits, like the service academies, have used it for decades, with the express intention of monopolizing the ball, resting their defense, shortening the game, and giving their team a chance to win games late. This formula very nearly resulted in one of the biggest upsets in New Mexico football history. It's already resulted in rebuilt sprits in Albuquerque.
"The second half shows you what this can be," Davie told reporters after the Boise State game. "The atmosphere in the stadium, to be quite honest, was electric. You could feel it. And when that atmosphere is electric and we play decent to good football, you can see the results of that. It looked like a different team."
While it might (or might not) be a stretch for Davie's team to reach six wins and go bowling this season, it won't be a shock if they pick up a couple more W's before his "rookie" year - Part II - is complete. As for the future, who knows? But for now, welcome Bob Davie.