2012 New Mexico State Preview – Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 8, 2012


CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - New Mexico State Aggie Offense


New Mexico State Aggies

Preview 2012 - Offense

- 2012 New Mexico State Preview | 2012 New Mexico State Offense
- 2012 New Mexico State Defense | 2012 New Mexico State Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: The New Mexico State offense started to find something last year with the passing game. New offensive coordinator Jerry McManus will keep the bombing going, and while the offense had to throw to try to make up for problems on defense, it should be even more efficient and more consistent. QB Andrew Manley is back after getting knocked out early last year, and even though the top three pass catchers are gone, the deep passes should be there with a good-looking group ready to shine. The running game has a slew of quick backs who can all catch, but they need more room to run behind a line that struggled in pass protection. The attack should crank out around 400 yards per game again, but don’t expect much balance. It’ll be Manley or bust.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Andrew Manley
62-109, 892 yds, 6 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Robert Clay
42 carries, 133 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Austin Franklin
34 catches, 524 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Andrew Manley
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior RB Robert Clay
Unsung star on the rise: Senior WR Kevan Walker
Best pro prospect: Redshirt freshman OG/OT Andy Cunningham
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Manley, 2) WR Austin Franklin, 3) OT Davonte Wallace
Strength of the offense: Passing, Receiver Speed
Weakness of the offense: Pass Protection, Rushing

Quarterbacks

Sophomore Andrew Manley was being developed as the quarterback and the leader for the offense to work around, and then he suffered a knee injury and was lost for the season. A big, strong 6-3, 225-pound passer from Hawaii, he completed 57% of his passes for 892 yards and six scores with three picks in his limited action, and then he got hurt against UTEP and now he’s trying to pick up where he left off. While he’s not a runner, the 2009 Hawaii Gatorade Player of the Year is mobile enough in the pocket to get by and he has the arm to push the ball deep. He’s a field-stretcher, and now he’s going to have to be an even better decision-maker with the offense all his to fly. It’s his offense.

Matt Christian turned out to be a safety net, stepping in when Manley suffered his injury, and he bombed away throwing for 2,158 yards and 15 scores with eight picks. He’s gone, and there’s a fight for the No. 2 spot in the pecking order led by sophomore Travaugh Colwell, a 6-3, 185-pound accurate passer who can make things happen on the move. He burned his redshirt seeing a little bit of time last year, completing 65% of his passes for 419 yards and two scores with three picks, and while Christian was a better overall scrambler, Colwell showed he could run.

Watch Out For … a long battle for the backup job. The Aggies have several quarterback options including JUCO transfer Nick Carey, a 6-3, 210-pounder, 6-2, 210-pound Andrew McDonald from Santa Ana College, and true freshman King Davis III, a 6-1, 180-pound playmaker, who’ll push Crowell for time.
Strength: Passing. The Aggies had to throw to overcome the problems on defense, and the numbers weren’t bad averaging 273 yards per game. Manley is a better bomber than Christian.
Weakness: Interceptions. Christian struggled with them last year and Manley and Colwell each threw three. The Aggies will have to keep pushing the ball down the field, but they have to keep the mistakes to a minimum.
Outlook: If he can stay healthy, Manley is a 3,000-yard passer with the ability to win a few games by himself. He’ll grow into the role and start pushing the offense deeper, but he’s not going to run. Colwell will keep being developed as a second option, but he’ll be pushed hard with four other players looking for time.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Running Backs

Senior Robert Clay was expected to grow into the role as the main man for the running game, but Kenny Turner didn’t move to running back as expected and the workload was limited. The 5-10, 195-pound Clay has good quickness and nice hands, catching four passes for 57 yards as a key backup, and finished third on the team with 133 yards and a score averaging 3.2 yards per carry. He’s not built to be a workhorse and he’s not going to provide any power, but he showed off the quickness to put up big numbers – with 97 yards against Minnesota – as the main man for the ground attack. Expect him to be an occasional home run hitter and used more as a receiver out of the backfield.

Kenny Turner did a little of everything for the NMSU offense last year, including lead the team with 1,074 rushing yards and ten scores. Clay needs a second option to take the heat off, and the offense could use a bit more power. Junior Akeelie Mustafa might not have too much pop at 5-10 and 180 pounds, but the JUCO transfer runs hard. A good receiver out of the backfield, he’ll be used in a variety of ways and has home-run hitting ability in the open field. 5-10, 180-pound Brandon Betancourt saw a little action as a true freshman and on special teams, running for 24 yards in his limited action, and he can be used more as a receiver.

Coming in from the JUCO ranks, 5-11, 215-pound Lavoris Powell brings a little bit more thump, but he can also move in the open field. The Florida native can catch, while Germi Morrison will look to make an impact after getting knocked out last year hurt. The 6-0, 195-pounder out of Los Angeles Valley College is slippery enough to be used as a third down back if healthy.

Watch Out For … Mustafa. Clay was supposed to be in the mix as the main man last year but was quickly pushed aside for the quicker more athletic Turner. Mustafa can move, and if he can show reliable hands, he could take over the No. 1 job.
Strength: Quickness and pass catchers. Aggie backs have to make things happen in the passing game, and almost all the top options have nice hands and are quick in the open field. With the right blocking, this group can produce.
Weakness: Proven production. 15 of the 16 rushing touchdowns last year came from Turner and former quarterback Matt Christian. The two accounted for almost 1,400 of the team’s 1,625 rushing yards.
Outlook: There’s no real power and there’s not a lot of experience, but there’s strength in numbers for a smallish quick group of backs. The potential is there to be productive in the passing game, and there’s enough speed to hope for a few big plays, but the running game that averaged just 125 yards per game last year will once again be along for the ride.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Receivers

The offense needs a No. 1 target to emerge with the top three receivers from last year gone. 6-2, 180-pound sophomore Austin Franklin is the leading returning receiver, making 34 catches for 524 yards and three scores averaging 15.4 yards per grab. A strong high school defensive back, as well as a receiver, he’s a physical target with excellent quickness and much-needed size. He’ll start out at the Z, but he could move to the outside X if needed.

Looking to take over for leading-receiver Taveon Rogers on the X is senior Kemonte Bateman, a transfer from Pasadena Junior College with excellent deep speed and upside. He made 28 catches for 414 yards and four scores, and now he appears ready to explode with a much bigger role.

6-0, 195-pound Kevan Walker sat out last year after transferring from Oregon State. Now the senior will take over at the H as he tries to use his tremendous deep speed to open up the attack. He wasn’t able to do much for the Beavers, used mostly as a special teamer, but he the head coach’s son can move.

Senior Trevor Walls started out his career as a quarterback, throwing for 352 yards and two scores in 2009, but he made the transition over to tight end and this year he should be used even more after catching 11 passes for 144 yards. The 6-5, 232-pounder has good athleticism and nice route-running ability, but he’s just an okay blocker. Also in the mix will be junior Perris Scoggins, a transfer from Mt. San Jacinto College. More of a blocker than Walls, he can also catch a bit and could grow in two tight end sets. He’ll stretch the field a bit. Seniors Marcus Williams and Darrius Preston will be the key backups rotating around a few spots. The 6-3, 200-pound Williams brings size to the H position, but he’s big and could see time at the inside Z position, while the 6-1, 170-pound Preston made a six-yard catch in a limited role and will work mostly at the outside X.

Watch Out For … Bateman. The passing game is going to get even more vertical and Bateman could be the big-play target on the outside. However, Franklin should grow into the role of a No. 1 target and should lead the team in receiving.
Strength: Speed. The coaching staff has transformed the receiving corps from a group of smallish, quick targets to longer gliders. Now there’s more speed and should be more big plays.
Weakness: Veteran top targets. There’s experience returning, but the three leading receivers from last year are gone. Franklin and Bateman have to show they’re ready.
Outlook: The receiving corps turned out to be one of the WAC’s bigger surprises last year. The Aggie targets started to produce on a consistent basis and they started to make the offense work for the first time in several years. Even with the loss of the top three pass catchers, the passing game should shine and this should be a strength, at least statistically.
Unit Rating: 5

Offensive Line

The line was a disaster once again last season, but this year it returns a bit more experienced. The leader of the front five will once again be Davonte Wallace, a 6-4, 272-pound junior who can work inside or out. He spent every game last year at left tackle, and while he’s light, he has to be quicker and more effective in pass coverage. Taking over on the other side will be junior Alfred Sharp, a 6-5, 285-pound JUCO transfer who’s ready out of the box after spending the last two years starting at Iowa Western.

Sophomore Valerian Ume-Ezeoke was moved around between both guard spots last year and started against Louisiana Tech at center. Now he’ll take over the center job full-time, but he could be moved back out to guard, preferably on the right side, if needed. He’s not big, but the 6-2, 275-pounder can move.

6-4, 300-pound redshirt freshman Andy Cunningham is built like a tackle, but he’s going to start out at left guard after missing all of last year hurt. Versatile, he can play anywhere on the line and has the athleticism to eventually be a tackle. 6-6, 305-pound Andrew Kersten spent a few years at El Camino JC and ended up moving around as the season went on. He started the first three games at right guard, moved over to the left side, and moved back to the right to finish season up. The senior will start out at right guard.

Adding more bulk is 6-4, 325-pound guard Maveu Heimuli, a big body at guard who started last year at left guard and will be moved around where needed. Mature, he spent a few years on a church mission and now he knows what he’s doing. He’ll be the top backup in the rotation in both guard spots, while 6-7, 300-pound redshirt freshman Faison McKinnis will be the top reserve at both tackle jobs. Tall and with a great frame, he’s going to be a starter sooner than later if he can become a consistent pass protector.

Watch Out For … Sharp. The line needs to be much, much better in all areas, and that starts with getting more out of the tackles. Sharp has the size and the experience, and now he has to be an upgrade on the right side.
Strength: Versatility. Ume-Ezeoke can play just about anywhere, and Heimuli can move around anywhere needed. The Aggies can play around with the combination in several ways depending on what works.
Weakness: Blocking. NMSU was a disaster up front in pass protection, giving up 36 sacks while not doing enough for the running game. Blasting away for the ground game has been an issue for years, but pass protection is the big key.
Outlook: The Aggie line was a stunning failure last year considering the blocking hadn’t been the biggest problem over the years, but now there’s the potential to be far better. It’s a more mature group that went through the growing pains, and with some decent backup options, the pass protection should be stronger.
Unit Rating: 4.5

- 2012 New Mexico State Preview | 2012 New Mexico State Offense
- 2012 New Mexico State Defense | 2012 New Mexico State Depth Chart