2013 New Mexico Preview – Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - New Mexico Lobo Offense
New Mexico Lobos
Preview 2013 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: The offense desperately needed an identity, and it found one with a dangerous ground game that averaged over 300 yards per game and finished with close to 4,000 yards. Offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse is looking to make a committed effort to create some semblance of a passing game, but that could be a major problem with a mediocre receiving corps – to be kind – and with Cole Gautsche a running quarterback. There could be a rotation of quarterbacks to get the most production out of the spot, but no matter who's under center, the offense will revolve around running back Kasey Carrier and a terrific line that should be among the best in the Mountain West.
Star of the offense: Senior RB Kasey Carrier
Passing: Cole Gautsche
13-31, 222 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Kasey Carrier
255 carries, 1,469 yds, 15 TD
Receiving: Kasey Carrier
10 catches, 75 yds, 0 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore WR Carlos Wiggins
Unsung star on the rise: Junior OG LaMar Bratton
Best pro prospect: Carrier
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Carrier, 2) OT Darryl Johnson, 3) OG LaMar Bratton
Strength of the offense: Running Game, Line
Weakness of the offense: Wide Receiver, Passing Game
Will the Lobos actually start throwing the ball? The nation's second-worst passing attack wasn't just ignored, it was wildly inefficient. With B.R. Holbrook gone, sophomore Cole Gautsche gets the gig after being thrown to the wolves as a true freshman completing just 42% of his passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns and two picks, but the 6-4, 227-pounder is a runner finishing second on the team with 760 yards and seven touchdowns with speed and home-run hitting ability when he gets into the clear. The 2011 Gatorade New Mexico Player of the Year can throw a little bit, but he's never going to bomb away. He's a smart, tough talent who's expected to be the one to take New Mexico football out of the doldrums.
This is going to be Gautsche's offense, but 6-4, 208-pound junior Quinton McCown could rotate in as more of a passer. While he's a good runner who can take off, he's not Gautsche in the open field. However, with the hits Gautsche takes, McCown has to be ready. He stepped in at times last year completing just 4-of-11 passes for 26 yards with a touchdown and a pick.
Watch Out For … Clayton Mitchem. The 6-1, 180-pound JUCO transfer is being brought in to boost up the passing game right away. While he's a good runner, he was a passer for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and he's going to get every shot possible to show he can push the ball down the field and add a new dimension to the attack.
Strength: Running. Gautsche is a talented quarterback with the ability to take the ground game and make it something special when he gets into the open field. He ran for 149 yards and threw for 155 against Wyoming, but that was the only time he showed much of anything for the …
Weakness: Passing game. It was mostly by design with the offense revolving almost exclusively around the running attack, but there was absolutely nothing happening through the air with just 895 yards – and 205 of them in the final against Colorado State – and just five touchdowns on the season. It's one thing to not have a passing game, but it didn't bomb away deep and scare anyone – ever.
Outlook: The coaching staff isn't going to live through another season with no passing game whatsoever. The Lobos did what they had to do in Bob Davie's first season, but enough is enough. There's a focus now on coming up with some semblance of a passing attack, and if that means rotating quarterbacks, so be it. There's enough talent in place to do more, but the bread will still be buttered with the ground game.
Unit Rating: 5
The Lobos went all in on the running game, and senior Kasey Carrier blossomed into a statistical superstar. The 5-9, 185-pounder isn't built to handle a huge workload, but he managed to carry the ball 39 times against Air Force for 338 yards and three touchdowns a week after running 35 times against Hawaii. Despite missing the opener against Southern and being held in check by Texas and Texas Tech, he ripped off 1,469 yards and 15 touchdowns averaging 5.8 yards per carry as the main man for the attack. While there wasn't much of a passing game, he still finished third on the team with ten grabs. Extremely fast and quick through the hole, he darts in an out of traffic without a problem and is great at finding the hole, making one cut, and boom.
While Carrier is the unquestioned No. 1 back and workhorse, he needs more help. 5-11, 198-pound sophomore Jhurell Pressley is a bigger option and more of an interior runner, but he has good speed. He finished third on the team with 462 yards and six touchdowns, doing most of his work early on when Carrier was hurt, but he ran for 78 yards against Texas State and took a pass 55 yards for a touchdown against Colorado State. Also in the rotation is junior Crusoe Gongbay, a key part of the 2011 rushing attack with 500 yards and five scores, but he didn't do much until late last year with 159 yards. At 6-0 and 205 pounds, he brings more size to the mix.
Watch Out For … even more of rotation. As long as Carrier is alive and kicking, he's getting the ball, but the coaching staff has other options with Pressley, Gongbay and Chase Clayton to power up a bit more. The 6-3, 202-pound Clayton can be used in a variety of ways.
Strength: The offense. While there's more of a commitment now to the passing game, everything will still work around Carrier and the ground attack. The coaching staff is fantastic at being able to crank out big rushing production, and this experienced group will put up the numbers.
Weakness: Receiving. This is an underutilized area for an offense that needs to get the ball to the backs in space. The running backs can catch, but they need to be incorporated in the attack a bit more.
Outlook: Helped by the quarterbacks, the ground game finished fifth in the nation in rushing averaging over 300 yards per game. It's not going to be quite the same production with a little more coming from the passing game, but Carrier and Pressley should combine for over 2,000 yards and there are other talented quick options ready to show more.
Unit Rating: 8
The Lobo passing game was non-existent, but it's still not a plus to lose tight end Lucas Reed, speedster Lamaar Thomas and outside X receiver Ty Kirk. 5-8, 157-pound junior Carlos Wiggins is the leading returning target, but he only made nine catches for 83 yards and was used more as a running back getting 18 carries for 151 yards and two scores. He might not be big and might not seem like a No. 1 target, but he's an elite speedster who also competes on the Lobo track team. Now he needs to come up with more big plays and use his speed to make something big happen.
6-4, 200-pound sophomore Marquis Bundy has all the tools, but now he has to get the ball in his hands after not catching a pass last season. With speed and size, he has the look of a key part of the passing attack, but he has to be targeted. Looking to potentially replace Kirk at the X is 6-0, 180-pound junior Jeric Magnant, a former walk-on who saw plenty of playing time getting five starts finishing with three catches for 23 yards. Sophomore Cameron DeBesse is another try-hard walk-on who has mostly been a special teamer, but will be used more as a receiver in the rotation inside.
Several players will be used to try taking over for Lucas reed and Chris Biren at tight end. 6-3, 221-pound senior Andrew Aho has the most experience, catching two passes for 55 yards with a score as a big receiver playing tight end. 6-3, 223-pound sophomore Chris Edling made a 13-yard catch and 6-4, 247-pound senior Mat McBain will be more of a blocker when he gets on the field.
Watch Out For … the freshmen. The receiving corps is a potential nightmare unless the new guys can play right away. It was an easy recruiting pitch; sign here, play right away. Lamar Jordan is the best prospect of the lot with 5-11, 180-pound size and playmaking ability with the ball in his hands as a high school quarterback. 5-10, 160-pound Dameon Gamblin is a sub-4.5 blazer who does a nice job in the open field, and 6-3, 210-pound Jalyn Judkins brings some size and athleticism.
Strength: The new guys. Receiver was a target this recruiting season, and in come five new prospects to instantly beef up an area in desperate needs of playmakers.
Weakness: Talent. It's Carlos Wiggins, a few walk-ons and several true freshmen. Uh oh.
Outlook: The call has gone out to improve the passing game, but it's not like the receivers are in place to kick things up a few notches. This is by far the team's biggest concern with no proven production and a woeful lack of skill. If the freshmen don't contribute, it's going to be back to running the ball and running the ball some more out of necessity.
Unit Rating: 3.5
The line welcomes back four starters led by senior center Dillon Farrell, a 6-5, 292-pound veteran who started off his career at tackle before starting every game last season at center. A great quarterback up front, he's good at the line calls and is excellent at walling off his man. He's not going to blow anyone away, but he'll get the job done for the running game. Next to him is junior LaMar Bratton, a 6-2, 281-pound left guard who started at center a few years ago, moved to right guard and ended up at left guard. While he's not big, he's consistent and tough for the running game, earning all-star honors last season as one of the team's most technically sound blockers.
Bringing bulk is 6-6, 300-pound junior Jamal Price, who got a start late in the season at right guard but could move over to tackle without a problem. He's the biggest blaster up front with the ability to crush his man on brute strength, but he still needs lots of seasoning. 6-2, 281-pound sophomore Garrett Adcock spent most of last season starting at right guard as a true freshman and held his own. One of the team's most talented prospects, he was a terrific recruit who can start at either guard or right tackle on the other side of 6-4, 308-pound senior Darryl Johnson, the anchor at left tackle who came up with an honorable mention All-Mountain West season as the team's best overall blocker. Very strong and experienced, he'll be the one the offense works behind on key plays.
Watch Out For … Calvin McDowney. The 6-3, 346-pound veteran guard is massive, but he's slim for him dropping over 80 pounds since he first started. The senior can start at either guard spot and has turned into a key reserve and spot starter.
Strength: Experience. This is a fantastic-looking line helped by all the veterans. Four starters are back with the open right tackle job not a big concern with options to fill in and give it a try. There's young depth, good size, and the potential to be dominant for the running attack.
Weakness: Pass protection. The offense only threw the ball 154 times but the line gave up 12 sacks. If the attack is looking to start throwing more, the line has to do more than start hitting for the ground game.
Outlook: A massive, glaring weakness a few years ago, this was the most immediate area of improvement under the new coaching staff. Johnson and Bratton are all-stars on the left side, and Farrell is a strong center who runs it all. There's depth, potential and lots and lots of good run blockers. It'll be one of the team's biggest positives.
Unit Rating: 5.5
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