2011 New Mexico Preview – Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - New Mexico Lobo Offense
New Mexico Lobos
Preview 2011 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: The offense was supposed to start working last year with good young prospects and lots of athletes to work with, but instead of averaging 315 yards and 16.3 points per game like it did in 2009, the attack finished dead last in America in yards averaging 266 per game while averaging just 15.83 points per game. Once again, there's potential to be better with three decent quarterbacks who all saw time last year, nice backs who should produce if they get holes to run through, and tremendous athletes at receiver with TE Lucas Reed an all-star target and Ty Kirk a dangerous outside threat. Now the line has to be better. Far better. David Reaves will take over the offensive coordinator gig after working with the quarterbacks last season, and he has nowhere to go but up. There's too much experience and too many athletes to be so miserable, and if the line can start blocking someone, the O will be better.
Star of the offense: Junior TE Lucas Reed
Passing: B.R. Holbrook
63-119, 619 yds, 2 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Kasey Carrier
104 carries, 373 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Ty Kirk
38 catches, 477 yds, 2 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior OT Korian Chambers
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Lamaar Thomas
Best pro prospect: Junior WR Ty Kirk
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Reed, 2) Kirk, 3) C Dillon Farrell
Strength of the offense: Athletic Receivers, Running Back
Weakness of the offense: Scoring, Running
State of the Unit: The Lobo passing game didn't work. The entire offense was a disaster, but the passing game was a particular problem finishing 106th in the nation and 116th in passing efficiency with five players combining to complete 53% of their passes for 1,892 yards and 11 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Now it'll be a three-way battle for time.
Junior B.R. Holbrook started seven games before getting hurt, and he struggled completing 53% of his passes for a team-leading 619 yards and two scores and six picks. At 6-3 and 181 pounds he's a tall, thin passer with a good live arm, but he's not a runner. He struggled to stay healthy getting beaten up and battered, but as long as he's up and kicking he'll be the main man with the best knowledge of the attack.
Sophomore Tarean Austin came in from Tampa as the top dual-threat offense, and he got a little time on the field completing 49% of his passes for 398 yards and two scores and four picks, and he ran for 101 yards and a score. At 6-2 and 205 pounds he has good size and has the arm to be more than just a runner, but he needs to improve his decision making as a passer. He got offers from places like Michigan State and Purdue, but he chose to be a Lobo and he'll be used in a variety of ways.
Getting a shot again for the No. 2 job is Darian "Stump" Godfrey, a 6-0, 210-pound bowling ball of a playmaker with excellent speed and upside. One of the most productive quarterbacks in the history of Texas football, the Texas Player of the Year started four games and finished third on the team with 287 rushing yards with a team-leading four scores, and he completed 59% of his throws for 553 yards and five scores and three picks.
Watch Out For … Holbrook. He never had a chance behind a miserable line, but he showed a little life with 323 yards against Texas Tech. Never healthy, his stats were awful with too many mistakes, but he should shine if he gets more time to work.
Strength: Options. Holbrook is a strong passer, and Godfrey and Austin are excellent dual threat options who are still figuring out what they're doing. There's starting time among the top three players, and they'll all get a shot.
Weakness: Efficiency. With nothing working for the offense as a whole, it was hard to get anything going down the field. The New Mexico passing game struggled way too much to come up with big plays with the average yards per catch a pathetic 9.9.
Outlook: The quarterbacks should be a strength if they get more help. Holbrook will be needed to wing the ball around to try to keep up the pace thanks to a porous defense, Austin has excellent upside, and Godfrey is a fun playmaker.
Unit Rating: 5.5
State of the Unit: There was a time when the New Mexico running game was dominant. Dontrell Moore was pounding away behind a huge line, and the Lobos were able to work like an old school Big Ten team. Last year the ground game averaged just 108 yards per game averaging a pathetic 2.9 yards per try with just ten scores. The quarterbacks ran for five of them and WR Chris Hernandez ran for another.
Junior Kasey Carrier took off over the second half of his true freshman season finishing with 269 yards, and last year he led the team but only ran for 373 yards and two scores. At 5-9 and 175 pounds he's not all that big, but he's fast, speedy, and can dart in and out of traffic effortlessly. With good hands, he's a receiver, too, catching 21 passes for 121 yards and can also be used as a kick returner. He has all the tools to be a star, but he needs more room to move.
Senior James Wright is a better fit for the old Rocky Long style of attack with 6-0, 239-pound size to go along with 4.52 speed. He's a banger who can crank out tough yards when needed, but he struggled to take off with just 304 yards and two touchdowns averaging 3.4 yards per carry. He can run outside, but he's the inside presence to combine with Carrier's flash. Sophomore Demarcus Rogers started out his career as a defensive back but moved over to running back. He was supposed to be a big factor right away, but he got hurt and didn't do anything. Now he's right and has great speed to go along with 5-11, 185-pound size to be a key receiver as well as a runner.
When the offense uses a fullback, and it doesn't really use a fullback, junior Chris Biren will be a part of the ground game. The former walk-on linebacker spent his time as a special teamer, and he'll be a blocker. Not a runner in any way, he'll never handle the ball.
Watch Out For … Carrier to do far more. It took him most of the season before he became a major factor, he was the top runner over the final four games highlighted by a 97-yard day against Wyoming with a score. After two years of shining over the second half of the year, he needs to pick it up from the start.
Strength: Variety. Carrier is a flash who can rip off big runs when he gets a little room to roam. Wright has the combination of size and speed to add a little of everything, and Rogers will be dangerous now that he's healthy.
Weakness: O line. The line gets back a few starters, but it hasn't done the job over the last few seasons and hasn't opened up any holes. The backs need room to roam, and they might not get it.
Outlook: There are decent, talented backs in place, but they struggled to do much of anything. The ground game finished with just 1,296 yards and ten scores, and with the speed coming back there's no excuse to average just 2.9 yards per carry. There's experience and talent, and now it all has to shine through.
Unit Rating: 5.5
State of the Unit: The receiving corps has to come up with more big plays. The quarterback play was spotty and the offense couldn't get the chains moving, but the receivers have to do far more. Most of the key targets are gone, including Chris Hernandez and Bryant Williams, but two of the top four pass catchers are back and the running backs can catch.
Junior Ty Kirk has been one of the Mountain West's most athletic receivers for the last few years, staring on the track team as a triple jumper and long jumper, while also leading the football team last season with 38 catches for 477 yards and two scores. At 6-1 and 181 pounds he has good size and is a phenomenal athlete, but he hasn't been consistent with too many mediocre games for a No. 1 target. With his experience and tools he needs to be more of a dangerous deep threat. Backing up Kirk will be veteran Michael Scarlett, a 6-2, 191-pound senior who was supposed to be a big factor last year before getting hurt in the 2010 spring game. Big, fast, and with good upside, he could be a breakout player in the rotation.
6-0, 185-pound junior Lamaar Thomas started out his career at Ohio State where he was an all-star sprinter for the track team, running a 10.65 in the 100 in the 2009 Big Ten Championships, and a special teamer for Jim Tressel. He sat out last year as a transfer, but he was able to run on the UNM track team. Now he'll bring his 4.38 wheels to the Lobo passing game, while 5-10, 190-pound junior Emmanuel McPhearson was a key cornerback making 20 tackles. He'll get a shot on the offensive side where he'll bring his 5-10, 184-pound size and physical play in the rotation.
True freshman Deon Long is 6-0 and 190 pounds with outstanding ability. Fast, athletic and talented, the Washington D.C. native was one of the team's top recruits and is being thrown into the fire right away. He'll combine with 6-3, 185-pound junior Quintell Solomon, who followed up a 13-catch season with five catches for 44 yards and a score. The former walk-on doesn't have top skills, but he's big, can be used as a runner, and can work inside or out.
6-6, 215-pound junior tight end Lucas Reed was the team's top deep threat averaging 13.9 yards per catch with a team-leading five scores. He made 33 grabs for 459 yards as the offense started to use the tight end more than in the past. He's not going to block anyone, but he's a dangerous playmaker who came up with seven catches for 100 yards and two scores against Wyoming and scored twice against San Diego State. Even with all the problems with the quarterback play, he was a standout and should be in the mix for All-Mountain West honors. He'll be backed up by sophomore Andrew Aho, a 6-3, 225-pound receiver who can hit a little bit and has nice hands. He only caught one pass for nine yards, but he'll be used far more in two tight end sets.
Watch Out For … Thomas. The blazer needs to have the ball in his hands on the move. He needs to show early on that he can be a steady playmaker, but a few home runs early on would do wonders for the attack.
Strength: Speed. At least the receivers can run. Thomas and Kirk are among the best athletes in the Mountain West, and few tight ends run better than Reed. The Lobos have speedsters who can do big things with the ball in their hands.
Weakness: Sure-thing wide receivers. Reed and Kirk are rocks, but Thomas needs to prove that he can actually play, and McPhearson and Long haven't done anything yet for the offense. There's potential, but it's prove-it time.
Outlook: The potential is there for this to be the team's breakout unit. Kirk and Reed are good ones to work around, and if Thomas, McPhearson, Long, and Solomon can be merely decent, the offense could be night-and-day better.
Unit Rating: 5
State of the Unit: The pass protection wasn't all that bad when athletic passers Tarean Austin and Stump Godfrey were under center, but there wasn't any production for the ground game with not enough holes opened for the backs. Only two starters are returning, and while there's potential and decent size, cohesion will be a must.
Back at right tackle after starting the final six games of the season is Darryl Johnson, a 6-4, 305-pounder who was thrown into the attack when injuries and problems hit the line, but he's strong, tough, and still emerging. He took up the game late and is still figuring out what he's doing, but he has the raw tools to be a key part of the blocking scheme. The combination of 6-5, 303-pound senior Jon Washington and athletic 6-4, 250-pound redshirt freshman Earl Johnson will combine for the backup role, who's banged up and needs a little time in the weight room.
Sophomore Dillon Farrell stepped up and started in every game at center replacing Eric Cook. At 6-5 and 272 pounds is quick, aggressive, and extremely talented, and now he has the potential to be a stalwart for the line. He struggled early on, but he's smart, tough, and will grow into the leadership role. Redshirt freshman LaMar Bratton isn't all that big at 6-2 and 275 pounds, but he's a smart blocker who can step in at either center or guard.
JUCO transfer Korian Chambers steps in from Arizona Western and will take over the starting left tackle job from the start. At 6-6 and 322 pounds he has excellent size and was considered one of the top prospects in the country coming from the junior college ranks, and he blew off Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and others to be a Lobo. 6-5, 299-pound sophomore J.V. Mason has been a part of the program for a few years, but he hasn't seen any time year. He has the frame and the practice time to be a part of the left tackle rotation.
6-3, 340-pound sophomore Calvin McDowney is a massive blocker from Maryland with excellent strength and phenomenal strength. He's too big, though, with too much bad weight, but he's a blaster of a run blocker who saw a little time last year. Now he'll be a wall on the left side.
Senior Mike Muniz has worked at center, and he has the 6-4, 284-pound frame to step in if needed, but he's a right guard, getting starts against Utah and Wyoming. Strong and physical for his size, he has the ability and the experience to be fine for the job. Sophomore Mat McBain is a former defensive lineman who's moving over to right guard where he'll likely take over the job next year.
Watch Out For … McDowney. He might not move all that well and he'd be better at around 325 than 340, but he's a huge blocker who should be a big influence for the running game.
Strength: Athletes. The coaching staff is starting to rid the line of the 300+ pound behemoths, McDowney aside, getting leaner, 275ish pound blockers who'll be good for the spread. This line should move better than recent Lobo front fives.
Weakness: Blocking. Considering the idea is to open up holes for the backs to fly though, this group didn't do it. Three new starters are in the mix and it might take a little while for everything to be working right for a line that revolves around timing.
Outlook: The line have struggled to average more than 100 yards per game on the ground over the last few years, but the pass protection improved a little bit. Everything revolves around the improvement of the line, and the adjustment period is still in place, but this group, even with just two starters returning, has to be night-and-day better.
Unit Rating: 4.5
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