2023 CFB Preview: New Mexico Seeking First Win in 9 Games

The Lobos ended last season on a losing streak that is tied for the fourth-longest in the nation

Posted on June 17, 2023


  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

New Mexico ended the 2023 season on a nine-game losing streak, tied for the fourth longest in the nation.

It stands as the second-longest active streak in the Mountain West, trailing only the 10-game skid of Nevada, which we previewed last week.

I preview New Mexico’s 2023 season below with a look back at last season and an analysis of the Lobo offense, defense, and schedule.

New Mexico Lobos Fast Facts

2022 Record: 2-10
Head Coach: Danny Gonzales (7-24 at New Mexico)
Offensive Coordinator: Bryant Vincent
Defensive Coordinator: Troy Reffett
Home Stadium: University Stadium (29,224), Albuquerque, NM
Last Conference Title: 1964, WAC


2022 in Review
Last season the Lobos averaged just 3.94 yards per play, dead last in FBS, ranking 131st.

UNM failed to score more than 21 points in any of their Mountain West games in 2022, averaging just 10.0 points per game in conference play, and were outscored 86-13 in their final three games of the season.

This production, or lack thereof, precipitated changes.

Bryant Vincent was the offensive coordinator and then-interim head coach last season at UAB. Head Coach Danny Gonzalez has brought him in to be the new offensive coordinator for the Lobos this season.


Offense
Vincent has brought his QB Dylan Hopkins with him from Birmingham.

Hopkins threw for 1,913 yards for the Blazers in 2022 as he and Vincent led UAB to a 7-6 mark and a Bahamas Bowl win—giving the QB consecutive bowl victories under center.

Should Hopkins win the starting job he can extend plays with his legs, something that the Lobos may need to utilize as the offensive line may not be the strength of the team.

UAB transfer quarterback Dylan Hopkins | Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

In 2022, Lobo QBs were sacked 3.53 times per game, 127th in the nation while UNM allowed a whopping 8.58 tackles for loss per game, 129th in the nation.

The QB is one of many changes on the offensive side of the ball as recruiting and the transfer portal leaned heavily toward adding depth at the skill positions on the offensive side of the ball.

The big question of whether any of the fresh faces will produce early enough for it to matter for the current coaching regime.


Defense
On the defensive side of the ball, the Lobos’ strength will be in the secondary with Tavian Combs and Donte Martin returning.

Those two are the only starters remaining from the 2022 defense.

Adding to the secondary strength is Bryson Washington who transferred in from Oklahoma. Washington has the size and speed to fit into the CB/LB hybrid position the Lobos use in their 3-3-5 scheme.

Oklahoma transfer Bryson Washington | Oklahoma Athletics

The entire front seven will feature new faces.

The defense in 2022 was a bright spot as they were ranked 47th in the nation allowing just 360.5 yards per game.

Gonzalez is a defensive-minded coach and despite the lack of returnees, that side of the ball should again be the stronger unit.


Schedule
2023 New Mexico Football Schedule

Sept 2 at Texas A&M
Sept 9 vs Tennessee Tech
Sept 16 vs New Mexico State
Sept 23 at UMass
Sept 30 at Wyoming
Oct 14 vs San Jose State
Oct 21 vs Hawaii
Oct 28 at Nevada
Nov 4 vs UNLV
Nov 11 at Boise State
Nov 18 at Fresno State
Nov 25 vs Utah State

The schedule opens with a daunting trip to College Station to face Texas A&M at Kyle Field.

Following that, the nonconference schedule opens for them. Tennessee Tech will be the home opener should get the record to 1-1, a visit from New Mexico State and a trip to UMass follow and both of those could be winnable.

Then it is conference play, and we will see if the improvement, especially on the offensive side of things, will come to fruition.

Divisions are a thing of the past in the Mountain West. The nonconference could yield a 3-1 mark and should be a 2-2 mark at the minimum.

The conference schedule has a trip to Nevada and a visit from Hawaii, both games that could be there for the taking.

Year Four of the Danny Gonzalez regime will need to produce wins. The head man has produced a 7-24 mark in three years in Albuquerque and he is just 3-20 in conference play during his tenure.

This appears to be a make-or-break year for him, but as mentioned, the schedule is set up for more success.

The nonconference portion needs to see them at 3-1 and in addition to Nevada and Hawaii the Lobos also get a visit from Utah State.

All three of those teams are projected to be in the bottom section of the conference—along with New Mexico. If they can get those six wins it will be a huge season for Gonzalez and the Lobos.

The best case is the Lobos get all six of those wins and go bowling, perhaps even stealing another win at home against UNLV or at Wyoming.

Worst case, nothing clicks, and the nonconference results in a 1-3 start and the conference season is long and difficult.

The recruiting class from last spring was solid and should point to more success in the future. The question is whether success will come fast enough for it to matter for the current staff.




—More from Stephen Vilardo—