The Fridge has nothing on these guys. Call this the Meat Locker offense.
The Lobos have installed two behemoths in the backfield, 255 pound John Bell as a lead blocker and 282-pound Monte Cuba as the runner.Bell and Cuba normally play side-by-side in the defensive line, but they've adapted well to what coach Mike Sheppard calls his "Big Lead" offense. The Lobos unveiled the unusual lineup in short-yardage situations last week, and Cuba scored on 1-and 2-yard runs in a 25-22 loss to Wyoming.
The offense also features a one-ton line with an extra tackle (330-pound Mark Moores) and two tight ends. UNM's normal offense averages 231 pounds per player. The Big Lead averages 260.
"My God, it looked like a two-ton backfield," Wyoming coach Paul Roach said. "It's the first time I've seen two refrigerators in the same backfield, and they sure weren't those little portable types either."
Sheppard said the concept was formulated after the Lobos' top running backs were injured earlier this year.
"With the strong defenses we're facing in this part of the schedule, we'd better be able to pound it when we need a yard or two," Sheppard said. "We ended up popping the ball into the end zone twice against Wyoming, and now we have a little confidence in our short-yardage offense.
"Monte was recruited as a 261-pound fullback out of high school. He figured into the short-yardage offense in junior college before he gained weight and was switched to nose tackle. And John Bell has blocked in that scheme for us before. Bell and Cuba haven't been healthy enough to try it until last week."
Asked if the Lobos planned to use it on Saturday at Colorado State, Sheppard was evasive. "You might see it," he said.
CSU coach Earle Bruce is confident the Lobos will try it again. "They use it as a way to generate some offense down near the goal line," Bruce said. "I assume we'll see it."
Both teams are coming off frustrating losses that represented their first setbacks in Western Athletic Conference play. The Lobos (2-5 overall and 1-1 in the WAC) bowed to unbeaten Wyoming 25-22 after leading 22-14 in the fourth quarter. The Rams (4-3 and 3-1) had title hopes before being blown out by Brigham Young 52-9.
WAC teams play a reduced schedule this weekend. The only other conference game pits Texas-El Paso on the road against Utah. No. 21 Wyoming entertains Weber State, and Hawaii plays host to Fullerton State. No. 12 BYU, Air Force and San Diego State are idle.
Hawaii (2-3) looks to rebound from last week's 12-10 loss to UTEP. The Rainbow defense has not given up a touchdown in the last two games, but Hawaii has only a split to show for it. Hawaii misses place-kicker Jason Elam, who is out indefinitely with a pulled groin. Fullerton State (1-6) has lost six straight after a season-opening victory over Sonoma State.