Jeremy McNichols, tailback
Coaches benched McNichols for one series in the UNLV game after he lost a fumble inside the Broncos’ 10-yard line in the second quarter and the Rebels scooped the ball for an easy TD.
McNichols had nine carries for 13 yards at halftime; he responded with 13 carries for 109 yards in the second half — for his fourth straight 100-yard outing.
“Everybody’s got to value the football and there’s a value that’s placed on it and we all know it,” offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz said. “... If that’s not a high priority, then somebody else is going to get the opportunity to show how he prioritizes the football. He bounced back well.”
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The fumble was McNichols’ first since the season opener against Washington, and the first he has lost all year. He has handled the ball 189 times this season, including rushes, catches and kickoff returns.
“Fumbling ... it hurts, man,” McNichols said. “It’s like giving up everything. The team is determined for you to hold onto the ball. You’ve got the organization in your hands. I take that really personally if it goes on the ground. I wanted to show my team I could bounce back. I came back hungrier.”
Chanceller James, nickel
James, a junior, has played nickel primarily this year but has played some safety when the Broncos utilize three linebackers against rushing teams.
With safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner out, a bye last week and two option teams on the horizon, it would make sense for James to play safety against New Mexico.
Last year, James made a team-high 13 tackles in a spot start at Air Force and a critical tackle on fourth-and-2 in the fourth quarter against New Mexico to help the Broncos close out the game.
Archie Lewis, left tackle
The sophomore groomed to become the Broncos’ next left tackle slid into that spot full time against UNLV with senior Rees Odhiambo out indefinitely with a broken ankle.
Lewis started the first two games this season at right tackle but was removed from the lineup after he struggled against BYU.
Lewis returned to the lineup a week earlier against Wyoming at right tackle, subbing for injured starter Mario Yakoo. Lewis has started nine games in his career, but this is his first chance to truly settle into a role.
“It was tough to take, but with that I knew the things I needed to work on,” Lewis said of his early-season benching. “... My whole thing was just work on the fundamentals and get back to where I needed to be at. And I knew when I was called back upon I’d be ready for it because I’ve been working.”