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2011 New Mexico State Preview – Offense
New Mexico State C Sioeli Fakalata
New Mexico State C Sioeli Fakalata
Posted Jul 20, 2011 2011 Preview - New Mexico State Aggie Offense

New Mexico State Aggies

Preview 2011 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: Offensive coordinator Doug Martin will try to generate production out of an attack that couldn’t come up with production on a consistent basis and couldn’t generate points. When the best day cranked out 29 points, and the attack came up with fewer than 20 points seven times, there’s a problem. There’s hope, though, for a bit of an improvement with nine starters returning led by a not-that-bad line. Enough big starters are back up front to get the ground game working, but the offense has GOT to get something out of a passing game that finished 117th in the nation in efficiency. Quarterbacks Andrew Manley and Matt Christian are decent, but the receiving corps has to unearth a few playmakers right away. The backfield tandem of Robert Clay and JUCO transfer Germi Morrison has good potential.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Matt Christian
114-237, 1,372 yds, 8 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Kenny Turner
115 carries, 461 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Kenny Turner
25 catches, 203 yds, 0 TD

Star of the offense: Sophmore QB Andrew Manley
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior WR Taveon Rogers
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Davonte Wallace
Best pro prospect: Junior RB/WR Kenny Turner
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Wallace, 2) Turner, 3) C/OG Sioeli Fakalata
Strength of the offense: Experience, Line
Weakness of the offense: Passing Efficiency, Scoring


State of the Unit: The Aggie passing game struggled, finishing last in the WAC and 117th in the nation in efficiency, but it had a few decent moments. There were only nine touchdown passes with nine interceptions, but the quarterbacks threw for 200 yards or more five times. Interceptions, though, were a problem with two in each of the last three games.

6-4, 223-pound sophomore Andrew Manley is a big, strong passer who got away from Hawaii, and now he has the experience to be the main man for the program for the next three years. He stepped in when injuries his and started the final three games of the year, finishing with 604 yards with a touchdown pass, but he also threw six picks. Not a runner, the 2009 Hawaii Gatorade Player of the Year is a pro-style bomber who can put the ball all over the field, but keeping mistakes to a minimum will be vital.

Senior Matt Christian came in from the JUCO ranks and started the first eight games of the year before getting knocked out for the year with a shoulder injury. The 6-3, 223-pounder took a beating all year long, and it showed as he only completed 48% of his throws for 1,372 yards and two scores. On the plus side, he kept the interceptions and the mistakes to a minimum throwing just two picks while also showing some mobility running for 218 yards and two scores. He has skills, but the one-time Fresno State Bulldog has had a broken hand to go along with his other problems.

Watch Out For … Manley to have a few blow up games. Christian is more of the dual-threat playmaker with the running ability to make things happen when the play breaks down. Manley is the chucker who has a 300-yard game in him if he gets a little bit of time.
Strength: Options. Manley might be the starter going into the season, but the situation could be fluid. Christian is a veteran who can step in and any time and produce, and while he’s not going to put up big numbers, he proved he can limit the errors.
Weakness: Passing efficiency. The quarterback failed to get too much going deep, and while the yards were there at times, the effectiveness wasn’t. Most of the production came in blowouts when the offense was throwing after being hopelessly down.
Outlook: If the rest of the offense is in place, NMSU has quarterbacks that can produce. Christian and Manley are big, decent passers who can make things happen, but they didn’t have any ground game to help the cause and they were always playing from behind. Either one can start without a problem, but the offense needs Manley to be great.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Running Backs

State of the Unit: The running game didn’t really get a chance to get going. The offense would struggle early, the defense would stink, and the passing attack would have to pick up the slack playing catch-up. The ground game needs to get more physical and needs more work to get to the tough style that the coaching staff would like, but the offense line has to open up more holes and the backs have to be effective.

With leading rusher Kenny Turner likely moving positions, junior Robert Clay will be the main man for the ground game after taking over late last year and surprising with 108 yards on 22 carries in the win over Louisiana Tech. While he only ran for 226 yards on the year, he showed good toughness for a 5-10, 192-pounder. Not built to be a workhorse, he has the ability to become one. He’ll split time with Germi Morrison, a 6-0, 191-pound junior out of Los Angeles Valley College. A decent runner with nice hands, he can be used as a third down back and has the slippery speed to break off a big run now and then.

The Aggies would love to pound the rock a bit more, and that means the fullbacks have to start blasting away. Junior Victor Johnson isn’t huge, but the 5-11, 223-pounder is a decent blocker and a great special teamer. He hasn’t done much for the offense, carrying the ball just three times for nine yards over the last two years, but he’s smart, tough, fast, and will do what’s needed.

Watch Out For … Morrison. Turner has to prove he can come back healthy from his knee injury but he’s mostly going to be used as a wideout. Clay had the one big game to hang his hat on, Morrison has the ability to quickly rise up and become a factor.
Strength: Speed and quickness. The Aggies don’t necessarily have blazers, but they have quick backs who can get through a hole and potentially come up with a big play. The athleticism is there and the wheels are there, but for all the potential …
Weakness: Big plays. The production simply hasn’t been there for the ground attack. The longest run of last year was a mere 29 yards, and the team averaged just 3.4 yards per carry. There are nice backs in the rotation, but they need room to move and someone has to make something happen to bust out a big dash.
Outlook: The running backs aren’t bad and they have the potential to be productive if the rest of the offense is working. There isn’t a banger in the bunch and there isn’t a true 25-carry workhorse to rely on, but if Turner can come back, there’s enough talent to form a solid rotation.
Unit Rating: 5


State of the Unit: Leading receivers Marcus Allen and Kyle Nelson, a tight end, are gone after combining for 83 of the team’s 185 catches and three of the nine touchdowns. There’s enough experience returning to get by, but a gamebreaker has to emerge to take over for Allen’s 14.2 yards per catch, and a reliable target has to come through to make up for the loss of Nelson.

Stepping in at the X is senior Taveon Rogers after making 18 catches for 278 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-0, 188-pounder from Antelope Valley College has the wheels to be the deep ball playmaker the passing game sorely needs with California state high school track star speed. Also a kick returner, he’s the flash in the lineup, while 6-1, 185-pound junior Kemonte Bateman should also add some deep ball ability. The Pasadena Junior College transfer averaged 14.1 yards per catch at the lower level, and while he’s not the playmaker that Rogers is, he has decent upside for three and four wide sets.

Diminutive veteran Todd Lee will work at the inside Z position after starting every game and making a team-leading three touchdown catches on 24 grabs for 280 yards. He’s only 5-9 and 161 yards, but he’s extremely quick and has the potential to do big things when he gets the ball on the move. The key is to get him the ball in space as a receiver and well as a runner, carrying the ball five times for 53 yards.

The best running back of the bunch last year was 5-10, 192-pound junior Kenny Turner, who led the team with 461 yards with two touchdowns and finished third on the squad with 25 catches for 203 yards. His claim to fame is being great friends with Tennessee Titan star Chris Johnson, and while he doesn’t have the same wheels, he can move. The transfer from Fullerton College did everything he could to carry the offense before getting knocked out for the year with a knee injury, and now he’ll see time at the H position working both as a wide receiver and a runner. There weren’t any breakout performances, but he went over 70 yards three times before getting hurt.

6-2, 175-pound freshman Austin Franklin will be thrown into the equation right away as a key backup at both the H and the Z. A strong defensive back as well as a receiver in high school, he’s physical and quick, bringing much needed size to the receiving corps. He’ll be joined in the rotation by senior Marcus Williams, a 6-3, 197-pound veteran from the JUCO ranks who made seven catches for 56 yards. The big target will see time at the inside Z spot.

Junior Trevor Walls started out his career as a quarterback completing 46-of-94 passes for 352 yards and two scores in 2009, but he spent last year as a holder on special teams. Now he’ll be the team’s top tight end option with 6-5, 244-pound size and good route running ability. However, he has yet to catch a pass and he has to prove he can be a decent blocker. While Walls has the size, freshman Jackson Kaka has the receiving skills. The 6-4, 210-pound Hawai’i native was a defensive lineman and part-time receiver in high school, and he’ll get every chance to get on the field right away.

Watch Out For … Turner as a receiver. Considering he was so strong running the ball, it’ll be interesting to see if he sticks at the H. He’s quick, has the hands, and he could be tremendous in the change.
Strength: Quickness. The idea behind the Aggie receivers is to have athletic, quick targets who can do big things with the ball in their hands. While that didn’t really work like it needed to last year, if these guys get into space, they’ll crank out the yards.
Weakness: Scoring. The Aggie passing game came up with a mere nine touchdown passes and only five came from returning targets. Losing the top two wide receivers, even from a mediocre passing game like NMSU’s, isn’t a plus.
Outlook: The parts are there to start to do more. Turner as a receiver will help the cause, and there’s enough speed and quickness to stretch the field, but the passing game has to go a long way before it’s considered dangerous.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Offensive Line

State of the Unit: The Aggie offensive front wasn’t great, but it wasn’t a disaster and it wasn’t always the reason the offense crashed. The pass protection was decent at times, and while there wasn’t a steady push for the running game in meaningful moments, there was enough production to hope for a stronger 2011.

Sophomore Davonte Wallace took over the left tackle job in the second game of the year and never let it go. A guard by nature, the 6-4, 272-pounder added the bulk but kept his feet, and now he should be the mainstay for the line for the next three years. Next to him will be 6-7, 300-pound freshman Faison McKinnis, one of the team’s top recruits with tremendous size and surprising athleticism. He’ll eventually be a starter somewhere on the outside, but for now he brings big, bulky depth.

Returning at right tackle after starting all 12 games is 6-6, 290-pound senior Andrew McGaskey, a JUCO transfer from Blinn JC in Texas who came readymade to be a starter. He has the frame and he has the ability to be even better as a pass protector with a little more time, but he’s a right tackle only; he’s not a great athlete. He’ll be backed up by 6-4, 275-pound true freshman Andy Cunningham, who doesn’t have the raw bulk but has the frame to add a few good pounds.

Fighting for his center job will be 6-3, 306-pound senior Mike Grady, a 12-game starter who moved over from tackle and did a decent job as the quarterback of the line. Strong, sound, and a good interior pass blocker, he should be back in the top spot again soon, but he was second on the depth chart coming out of spring ball as senior Seloli Fakalata proved he was ready to roll again after getting knocked out early last year hurt. A blaster of a run blocker either as a guard or a center, the 6-3, 340-pounder doesn’t move. However, the former defensive lineman has to prove he can stay healthy after having a shoulder problem throughout his career.

D Massive 6-4, 338-pound junior Maveu Heimuli was gone for a few years on a church mission, came back, and ended up starting the final six games at right guard. With his size and his strength, he’s a pounding blocker who flattens anyone he gets his hands on. However, he doesn’t move all that well, but he’ll still get the call at left guard. For more athleticism, 6-2, 272-pound senior Dejuan Yates will step in and could start at either guard spot after coming in from College of the Canyons as a defensive lineman. He was the main man at right guard, and while he’s not the most effective blocker, he’s experienced.

6-6, 305-pound junior Andrew Kersten will come in and start right away at right guard after spending the last two years at El Camino JC. The Minneapolis native is big, tough, and has the makeup to be an anchor, even at right guard. Freshman Valerian Ume-Ezeoke can step in produce as a more athletic option. At 6-2 and 267 pounds, he’s not all that big, but he’s quick.

Watch Out For … Wallace. He’s young and he’s still emerging, but he has the size and the talent to grow into a WAC all-star at left tackle. He might not be polished, but he has the skills to be terrific with a bit more time.
Strength: Experience. Four starters are back in the mix, getting Fakalata back and healthy, for now, is a big help for the combination, and there are enough JUCO transfer who can step in an produce right away.
Weakness: Consistency. It would be really, really nice to blast away for the ground game on a consistent basis to control the clock a bit more. The size and the experience are there to do far more.
Outlook: The offense has been abysmal for the last few years, but the line hasn’t always been a problem. Pass protection has been decent at times, and with so much experience returning and with good size, this might turn out to be a strength with a little bit of time and if the true freshman can help the rotation from Day One.
Unit Rating: 5

- 2011 New Mexico State Preview | 2011 New Mexico State Offense
- 2011 New Mexico State Defense | 2011 New Mexico State Depth Chart
- New Mexico State Previews 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006