2014 New Mex. Preview: What You Need To Know

New Mexico QB Cole Gautsche
Posted Jun 15, 2014

Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About New Mexico (Getty Images)

2014 New Mexico Preview

What You Need To Know...

- 2014 New Mexico Preview 
2014 Depth Chart & Unit Rankings To Come This Summer

What You Need To Know About The Offense: Don't expect a slew of new wrinkles. You know what you're going to get with the Lobo offense, but it's not bad to deal with when it has to come from behind – the passing game isn't there to do anything in comeback mode. Offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse has put together a killer running game that finished fourth in the nation averaging 308 yards per game with 3,706 yards and 40 scores averaging 6.1 yards per try. Even with leading rusher Kasey Carrier gone the production should keep on rolling with dangerous running quarterback Cole Gautsche healthy again and ready to roll. Can the passing attack take advantage of everyone cheating up to stop the ground game? That's been the problem, and while Gautsche has occasionally hit on a big play here and there, he's not accurate.

What You Need To Know About The Defense: A complete and utter disaster, the Lobos finished dead last in the nation in pass efficiency defense and couldn't do anything in any way. The 3-4 couldn't stop the run, couldn't stop the pass, and couldn't come up with a key stop at any time. Giving up points in bunches, the defense allowed 200 passing yards or more in nine games, and 200 rushing yards or more nine times as well. Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove knows what he's doing, but he needs his front three to hold up better and be more disruptive, and his secondary has to start coming up with big plays after picking off just four passes. Dakota Cox and the linebacking corps should be solid, but if the recruiting class and the influx of JUCO talent can't shine, it'll be another rough year. 

Players You Need To Know
Note: CB SaQwan Edwards and RB Crusoe Gongbay would be part of the top ten players, but they're currently suspended

1. QB Cole Gautsche, Jr.
Fine, so he can't consistently connect on his midrange passes, completing just 45% of his throws after hitting 42% in 2012, but he's a runner and he's a great one finishing second on the team with 777 yards and eight touchdowns after running for 760 yards and seven scores two years ago. At 6-4 and 234 pounds, the 2011 Gatorade New Mexico Player of the Year can throw a little bit, but the lefty will never bomb away – his worth is running the ball. He's a smart, tough talent, but he needs to avoid the big hit after getting knocked out and missing time late in the year. When he's on, he's one of the Mountain West's most dangerous rushing threat hitting the 100-yard mark five times with 140 yards and two scores against Air Force.

2. LB Dakota Cox, Soph.
The Lobos had to rebuild the linebacking corps in the 3-4 last season, and there was supposed to be lots of shuffling and lots of reworking. And then, from out of nowhere, Cox turned in a massive true freshman season, leading the team with 99 tackles getting better and better as the season went on closing with 13 stops against Boise State. He's not all that big at 6-0 and 229 pounds, but he's extremely smart, he can move, and he has excellent range. Getting into the backfield more is a must after coming with no sacks and just one tackle for loss.

3. DE Brett Bowers, Sr.
The Lobos needed help right away from the JUCO transfer, and while he was supposed to be used like a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end, he turned into the team's best pass rusher generating six sacks and nine tackles for loss along with 37 tackles. Beefed up, now he's up to 270 pounds on his 6-2 frame and he should be ready to handle more work up front. Very strong and smart, he's always working and he's always getting the motor going to get behind the line. By far the team's most disruptive defender last season, he'll be keyed on by most blocking schemes.

4. C LaMar Bratton, Sr.
The 6-0, 291-pound all-star guard will now likely step in at center and be the quarterback up front. Built for the position, and with three years of starting experience, he's the team's best run blocker with the ability to blast away inside and get on the move and make things happen down the field. He's used to the middle, starting out at center before moving to left guard, and then to the right side, he's not just versatile, he's technically sound.

5. KR/WR Carlos Wiggins, Jr.
Smallish at 5-8 and 157 pounds, he's not quite right as a No. 1 receiver, and he didn't do too much catching 13 passes for 163 yards and two scores, but he was more dangerous as a runner with 237 yards and two scores on just 13 carries, averaging 18.2 yards per pop. His real worth, though, was as an all0star kick returner averaging 29.6 yards per try with three scores, taking two back in the final three games and one to the house against New Mexico State. He's an elite speedster who's deadly in the open field – he's fast enough to compete on the Lobo track team.

6. RB Jhurell Pressley, Jr.
Crusoe Gongbay is the team's best running back, running for 592 yards and six touchdowns, but his off-the-field issues have opened the door for Pressley, an interior runner with good speed and enough experience to turn into the team's main option now with Kasey Carrier done. The 5-10, 195-pounder from Delaware ran for 462 yards and six scores in his first season, but last year he was lost in the shuffle a bit running for just 273 yards. However, he scored six times with two in the win over Air Force and four in the final four games, and he came up with some big dashes averaging 9.41 yards per pop.

7. OT Johnny Vizcaino, Jr.
The starting right tackle grew into the role as last season went on. He's not all that big at just 6-2 and 270 pounds, but he's extremely quick and he's decent in pass protection keeping Cole Gautsche's blindside clean. No, he's not the prototype, but he can get on the move and he's great for the ground game.

8. SS David Guthrie, Sr.
The former JUCO transfer came in and turned into one of the team's best defensive backs. While he didn't do enough against the pass, he still came up with five broken up passes while finishing third on the team with 65 tackles with two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. At 5-9 and 208 pounds he's a compact defender with good range and hitting ability – he's a big popper. There's enough speed and athleticism to get by, but he's at his best when used like an extra linebacker at strong safety.

9. QB Clayton Mitchem, Sr.
The former JUCO transfer was brought in to try to boost up the passing game right away. While he's not big at 6-1 and 180 pounds, he has a good and can run a bit, showing off his dual-threat capabilities at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. The 6-0, 180-pounder got his chances last season when Cole Gautsche got hurt, and he wasn't too bad completing 59% of his passes for 661 yards and a touchdown with a pick. He might not be Gautsche running the ball, but he came up with 133 yards and three scores on the ground.

10. DT Cole Juarez, Jr.
The line needs reinforcements right away, and the hope is for the 6-2, 310-pound tackle to be a part of the rotation right away, if not an anchor. He has the size, bulk and quickness to be used in a variety of ways on the front three, and he flashes a bit of a mean streak. Coming in from Riverside CC, he's ready right out of the box.

- 2014 New Mexico Preview