New Mexico Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Posted Aug 7, 2006

New Mexico Lobos Preview 2006 - Lobo Further Analysis

1st and Ten – The Education of Kole McKamey Continues – Although Lobo QB Kole McKamey missed the last few games of the season with a back injury, it was another solid season for the Lobo QB.  Throughout his first two years as starter, McKamey’s growth was evident throughout each game.  In 2004, he was probably a much better runner than he was a passer, but in 2005, he started to show his acumen throwing the football, making the Lobo offense that much more diverse.  Alongside former star RB DonTrell Moore, McKamey wasn’t typically the focus of opposing defenses, but as the year progressed, opponents couldn’t sell out to stop Moore as McKamey hurt them with an option here or a throw to Hank Baskett there.  He progressed so far as a throwing quarterback that his completion percentage rose from 49% all the way to 62% and his touchdown to interception ratio went from being a ‘negative’ rating to being above 1 (6 to 9 in 2004 vs. 13 to 9 in 2005).  So, in 2006, McKamey is going to be a marked man, but he also gets some help from a former Pac-10 head coach.  Former UCLA head man Bob Toledo returns to the college game as the offensive coordinator to assist the Lobo QB in his pursuit of All-MWC honors and another bowl game.  Toledo may not want to run the option as much as the Lobos have in the past as a way to keep McKamey healthy, but also to maximize the progress that he’s made in the passing game over the past three years.  A running threat must emerge to replace DonTrell Moore and the offensive line must keep #12 upright in the pocket, but if they do that, the Lobos will benefit from the ‘schooling’ of K Mc.

2nd and Seven – Blackout – One definite that head coach Rocky Long has established in Albuquerque is that his defense will hit someone in the face for a full 60 minutes.  Outside linebacker Quincy Black epitomizes that trait, and then some.  The senior is everything you could ask for in an outside linebacker – fast, nasty and physical, as he has the physical gifts to be a dominant player in this conference.  He finished last year with 63 tackles, but with his speed and aggressiveness, he should be able to pile up nearly triple digits this season.  He can be a defensive game changer, and the Lobos will need more of that in 2006.

3rd and Three – Wright-handed – Safeties come in so many shapes and sizes nowadays.  Some are 6’3”, 225 pound Sean Taylor types.  Some are long and lanky like Pat Watkins of Florida State.  Some are stout, aggressive types who’ll knock you into next week, like Troy Polamalu or in the college game, LaRon Landry of LSU.  The Lobos have a corner sized safety DeAndre Wright who was a former running back in high school.  See, it takes all types.  As a third year sophomore, Wright only started the last half of the year, but he made an impact with his versatility.  He finished the year with 4 sacks, quite impressive for a safety, and is a perfect component for Long’s varied blitzing scheme.  This young man is definitely worth watching in 2006.

4th and One – Open Auditions – This will be a key year for the Lobos in the MWC.  Although the Lobos finished with 6 wins last year, they weren’t invited to a bowl game and lose some major players off of last year’s team.  Four time All-MWC RB and MWC offensive player of the year RB DonTrell Moore is out of eligibility.  And, so is All-MWC WR Hank Baskett.  All-MWC center Ryan Cook and offensive tackle Terrance Pennington have moved on as well.  Those are huge holes to fill, obviously, but made even more important by the fact that the MWC isn’t going to wait for the Lobos to get caught back up.  Utah and TCU were magnificent in 2004 and 2005, respectively, and the conference, as a whole, is getting better, so Long and his staff must find replacements for Moore and company quickly.

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