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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The 2009 campaign has been nothing more than a complete mess for the New Mexico Lobos.
After a disappointing 4-8 season in 2008, the Lobos let long-time Head Coach Rocky Long go and brought in first-time head coach Mike Locksley from Illinois and a renewed hope for success (the Lobos had gone 9-4 in 2007).
The 2008 season was supposed to be a hiccup, an aberration- instead it was the forward to an abysmal 2009.
The Lobos (0-9, 0-5 MWC) have yet to win a game, losing by an average of more than 21 points per contest.
In October, Locksley was suspended for 10 days without pay for hitting an assistant coach, creating an uncertainty about his control and leadership.
But Locksley and the Lobos carry on and despite having a chance of finishing the season winless the coach told KSL his players are upbeat.
"It is easy to lead when things are going well. I think what [our team is] seeing is a true test of leadership and character by our seniors by how they've come out and prepared," Locksley said proudly. "I don't think there's been one game where the effort wasn't there or the intensity. We just haven't played our best football for four quarters."
Now the Lobos must face a determined BYU team (7-2, 4-1). The No. 22 Cougars roughed up the Cowboys in Wyoming, 52-0 and are looking to fine tune against the Lobos in preparation for their matchups against Air Force and No. 14 Utah. BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall said he expects to see more improvements this week.
The Cougars rebounded nicely from their humiliating loss to TCU and expect to wrap up the season on a winning note. Mendenhall told Greg Wrubell on the "Bronco Mendenhall Coaches Show" that players and coaches all discussed how optimistic they are for the stretch run of the season, motivating everyone to "put pedal to the metal" in the same direction they have been going since Mendenhall became the head coach. UNM's Locksley hopes for the same progress the BYU program has seen since Mendenhall took over. He said you often see a step back "with new systems, new philosophies kicking in, but much like what I've seen in the past I hope we can rebound as quickly as we can."
Kickoff is schedule for noon from Albuquerque. You can hear more from Coach Locksley during the BYU pregame show beginning at 10 a.m. on KSL Newsradio 102.7FM/1160AM.