I just finished my story for tomorrow’s paper on Doug Mallory and Mike Ekeler. Much is discussed, including talk of scheme (likely a 4-3 defense similar to Bo Pelini’s scheme at Nebraska), Mallory’s return home and the coaches’ thoughts on co-coordinating.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the space to mention Mallory’s explanation for what went wrong in New Mexico, which is clearly something that needs to be discussed.
The Lobos went 1-11 this season, and it was thanks in large part to a porous defense. They allowed a Mountain West Conference worst 44.3 points per game and 469.0 yards per outing. The scoring number is the worst in the Football Bowl Subdivision and the yardage number is 119th out of 120 teams.
When asked, Mallory stressed that he didn’t want to make excuses and that the defense should’ve been better than it was, but pointed out that there were extenuating circumstances. The Lobos were on NCAA probation for academic fraud that occurred under former coach Rocky Long’s administration. New Mexico can only use 20 new scholarships per year as opposed to the typical NCAA limit of 25. According to Mallory, the Lobos only had 68 players on scholarship this year due to attrition.
That didn’t help them make the switch from the 3-3-5 scheme they used under Long to Mallory’s traditional 4-3.
“ We came into a tough situation out there.,” he said. “We changed systems. Coach Long had had some success in his 13 years, but what they ran defensively was a little different. They did a 3-3-5, and we were short on defensive lineman. We didn’t have a whole lot of size up front. We had to recruit to the system and we also lost two real good corners, so we were a little bit limited in the back end. But I think the direction is going in the right way. We were able to recruit well in our two years here. I just think any time you go through a transition some times it’s a little bit slower process. But I feel good about where they’re headed.”
Still, Mallory admitted this year’s numbers weren’t acceptable.
“We didn’t have success on defense like I wanted to,” he said. “But I feel good about the future here.”