New Mexico’s Porterie getting the job done | NevadaAppeal.com

New Mexico’s Porterie getting the job done

New Mexico’s Porterie getting the job done

BY DARRELL MOODY

Appeal Sports Writer

When a quarterback throws for 2,652 yards, completes 58 percent of his passes and throws for 13 touchdowns in his first full season as a starter like Donovan Porterie did this season, the last words you would expect to hear are inconsistent and average.

Yet those are the words New Mexico head coach Rocky Long and offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin have used when asked about Porterie’s performance in 2007.

During a recent Mountain West Conference teleconference, Long said that Porterie had been inconsistent – even during games.

Baldwin, the Lobos’ first-year offensive coordinator, called Porterie’s performance average, but with good reason.

“We grade everybody every day,” Baldwin said in a telephone interview over the weekend. “He knows he can play better. This is his third offense in three years that he’s had to learn. The learning curve is very difficult. He’s adjusted very well to the new (West Coast) system. He’s allowed the other 10 players to play.

“Hopefully next year he can take over and be the guy. The verbiage, the checks at the line depending on the rotation are different.”

Whether those are honest words coming from the coaches or they are trying to motivate Porterie is unclear.

“I’ve had a very productive season,” Porterie said after a recent practice in preparation for the upcoming New Mexico Bowl game against Nevada on Dec. 22 at University Stadium, in Albuquerque. “I have two 1,000-yard receivers (Travis Brown and Marcus Smith), a great offensive line and Rodney Ferguson (1,177 yards rushing) who have made a lot of big plays for me.

“There has been so much difference coming in as the starter. Last year when I started, I didn’t really know what to expect. We have senior leadership, and that has helped me grow up faster.”

Porterie had at least one touchdown pass in seven straight games during the course of the season, a testament to his accuracy and arm strength. Only three times was Porterie held without a touchdown pass – against UTEP, Utah and TCU.

“He can make all three crossfield throws, the deep post and the sideline to sideline,” Baldwin said. “He’s very good with accuracy. He had a couple of bad downs against UNLV that resulted in interceptions.

“He finds a way to make things happen. He has a little bit of cockiness. You have to have confidence to play this position. He’s very, very athletic. He’s better than Drew Stanton (a former Michigan State star).”

The only game Porterie really struggled was against TCU in 37-0 setback. On that day, the entire Lobo offense struggled and never got started. Porterie went 7-for-23 for 76 yards.

“We didn’t get off the bus against TCU,” Baldwin said. “We got dominated at the line. When we can’t run the ball, we have problems. We laid an egg that day.”

The rest of the time Porterie’s play has ranged from great to solid. He had back-to-back 300-yard efforts in wins over New Mexico State and Arizona.

Against NMSU, Porterie went 17-for-24 passing for 342 yards and two scores. In the 29-27 win over Arizona, he went 29-for-41 for 327 yards and three TDs.

And until the TCU debacle, Porterie had strung together several nice, steady games. Baldwin said that quarterbacks in the West Coast offense are asked to make plays with their arms and not their legs.

Porterie is 11-4 in games he has started and finished since coming to New Mexico. That’s a key stat because that is what quarterbacks at any level are judged by: their ability to win football games.

Coaches may talk about inconsistency and being average. One word both left out is being a winner.

• Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281