Journal class

First team defense dominates at UNM football training

UNM wide receiver Michael Buckley (80) is tackled by Reco Hannah (44) during Lobo’s football practice Saturday at University Stadium. (Chancey Bush/Newspaper)

University of New Mexico coach Danny Gonzales calls sophomore Cody Moon “the quintessential New Mexico kid,” a type of player who comes to the Lobos as an extra.

Moon, a Volcano Vista grad, might as well be UNM’s defense MVP: attack the opportunity, never settle, and play with something to prove – or as the Lobos say, “with bad mood”.

The UNM defense made several highlights Saturday afternoon during an intrasquad scrimmage at College Stadium, but both Moon and Gonzales said, “We still have a long way to go.”

Moon had no offers outside of high school. He said he was considering joining the Marines, but after speaking with safety coach David Howes, the former Rio Rancho High School coach, he decided to join the Lobos as an extra.

“The Lobos, they bet on me so I can’t let them down,” Moon said. “I think I was under-recruited. But everything worked out for the best.”

Gonzales said he told Moon and freshmen like him, “come prove me wrong.”

“Cody Moon proved me wrong from day one,” Gonzales added. “He got his scholarship in his freshman year. I probably should have given him one after high school. … He weighs about 200 pounds. If we can ever get him to 225, he could be the best linebacker in the league. He has a great opportunity ahead of him. He needs to eat a little more. …

“It’s the New Mexico kids we’re talking about who have the opportunity to do that, and he’s shown that at a very high level.”

The Lobos first team defense was top notch on Saturday. Junior linebacker Ray Leutele recorded a safety as part of the hard-fought effort.

“Defense 1 came out and competed really well,” Gonzales said. “They didn’t give up a first down today, which is the norm here if we want to be good in defense is not giving up a first down in a game. Limit the opportunities the offense has.

FAB FRESHMEN: Christian Washington, a freshman from Helix High in San Diego, Calif., scored on a 10-yard run and had a handful of other impressive gains.

Gonzales said he has shown he will be able to contribute this season.

Washington wasn’t the only freshman making plays.

Safety Jer’Marius Lewis, of North Pike High in Summit, Mississippi, recorded an interception and cornerback Zach Morris, of Marcus High in Flower Mound, Texas, delivered a big hit on a running back.

Irvine High linebacker Tate Zimmerman had a Pick-Six late in the scrimmage.

OFFENSE, OH SO CLOSE: Redshirt freshman quarterback CJ Montes, who led the first-team offense, nearly connected for a 10-yard touchdown with freshman Jah’Mar Sanders, a wide receiver who was drafted as a quarterback from Port Arthur, Texas.

That game was among a handful early on that could have made it a different day for the offense, Gonzales said.

“At first it was a game of missed chances,” Gonzales said of the attack.

“They had a really nice blocked rocket screen for (second-year catcher Luke Wysong) that Luke let down. He took his eyes off to look at the field. The corner route to Jah’Mar was a great route. It’s a ball that Jah’Mar should catch.