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New Mexico Preview 2006 - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 7, 2006


New Mexico Lobos Preview 2006 - Lobo Offense

What you need to know ... The New Mexico offense has always been effective, and now it could be explosive with the addition of former UCLA head coach Bob Toledo to run the attack. He has a veteran leader in Kole McKamey to run things, but he's missing New Mexico's all-time leading rusher, DonTrell Moore, and top receiver Hank Baskett. Martelius Epps and Rodney Ferguson are good backs who should keep the running game rolling behind a humongous line full of veterans. The receiving corps has potential if Marcus Smith plays up to his skills and Travis Brown develops into a number one target.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Kole McKamey
144-231, 1,682 yds, 13 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Kole McKamey
119 carries, 429 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Travis Brown
35catches, 245 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Kole McKamey
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior WR Travis Brown
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Marcus Smith
Best pro prospect: Senior OT Robert Turner
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Turner, 2) McKamey, 3) RB Martelius Epps
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, quarterback
Weakness of the offense:
Wide receiver depth, proven running backs

Quarterbacks
The situation is solid with the return of Kole McKamey for his third season at the helm. He's a good all-around quarterback who should shine in the new Bob Toledo offense as long as he gets help from his Hank Baskett-less receiving corps. It's his offense now with RB DonTrell Moore gone, and he should be more than fine as the leader of the attack. Chris Nelson is a tall, mobile and experienced backup.
The key to the unit: Keeping Kole McKamey healthy for a full season.
Quarterback Rating: 7

Projected Starter
- Kole McKamey, Sr. - 144-231, 1,682 yds, 62 %, 13 TD, 9 INT, 119 carries, 429 yds, 3.6 ypc 4 TD
McKamey made a huge improvement in his development from year one to two becoming more accurate, more efficient, and more than just a good runner and leader. His biggest problem is his running style which has led to concussion problems. a busted collarbone, and a bad back from the shots he takes. He's fast, very strong, and is good under pressure. With the loss of so many skill stars, he'll have to be even sharper this season and will have to take it easier on his body so he can last the entire year.

Top Backups
- Chris Nelson Sr. - 31-60, 319 yds, 52%, 1 TD, 3 INT
The former JUCO transfer is big and experienced getting two starts late last year when starter Kole McKamey went down. At 6-4 and 218 pounds, he's surprisingly mobile rushing 27 times in the final two games. He doesn't have a huge arm and is more of a midrange, precision passer. However, he wasn't all that precise when he got his chance last year. Even so, he's a good number two quarterback to have in the bullpen.

Running Backs
Don't be stunned if the New Mexico running game doesn't take a huge dip despite the loss of all-time leading rusher DonTrell Moore and his 1,298 yards and 14 touchdowns. Martelius Epps is a fantastic prospect with strength, surprising power, and lots and lots of speed. Rodney Ferguson is a good power back, and Paul Baker should provide a bit of needed quickness. The three should combine to do well behind the massive offensive line. Matt Quillen needs to grow into a steady blocking fullback in place of Adrian Byrd.
The key to the unit: Getting Martelius Epps and Rodney Ferguson rolling in a good rotation to replace DonTrell Moore.
Running Back Rating: 6

Projected Starters
- Martelius Epps, Jr. - 3 carries, 5 yds, 1 catch, 1 yard
Mostly a special teamer and defensive back so far, the 5-10, 182-pound Epps gets the honor of trying to take over for DonTrell Moore. He's a lightning fast runner with some of the best wheels on the team, and he won't be afraid to pound the ball between the tackles. Pound for pound, "Tay" is one of the team's strongest players.

- Fullback Matt Quillen, Soph.
It's Quillen's job to take over for Adrian Byrd as the team's lead blocker. While Byrd finished third on the team in rushing, it'll be a stunner if Quillen gets more than a few carries. The 249-pound sophomore if a blocker with decent enough hands to be used as a receiver.

Top Backups
- Rodney Ferguson, Soph.
Ferguson was the main back going into last season when there was a question whether or not DonTrell Moore's knee would be healthy. Moore's return allowed Ferguson to redshirt the season, and now he's back providing power and a far more physical running style than Martelius Epps.
- Paul Baker, Soph.
A scout teamer so far, the 5-8, 187-pound sophomore is a scatback who's at his best when he gets to the outside. While he isn't as fast as Martelius Epps, he provides a change of pace in the rotation.
- Fullback Andres Madueno, Soph.
The 222-pound walk-on linebacker will try to carve out a niche on offense as a blocking fullback behind Matt Quillen.

Receivers
The loss of 67 catches, 1,071 yards and nine touchdowns of production from Hank Baskett will be next to impossible to replace unless Marcus Smith becomes the star he has the potential to be. The former running back is big, fast, and talented with the upside to be a major league playmaker once he learns the subtleties of the position. There isn't a a lot of reliable depth needing big Daryl Jones and quick Jonathan Brooks to prove that they deserve time in the rotation. Travis Brown is a reliable number one target who needs to become a dangerous deep threat, and Thomas Wilson is a good enough third receiver to start. The tight end situation is solid with the return of John Mulchrone.
The key to the unit: Finding a reliable deep threat and hope for Marcus Smith to turn into the main man.
Receiver Rating: 5.5

Projected Starters
- Travis Brown, Jr. - 35 catches, 245 yds, 7 ypc, 2 TD
The 6-3 junior became the team's second leading receiver coming on over the second half of the season. Now he'll the number one target with his size and 4.5 speed. He's a good blocker, but the offense needs him to be a deep threat and just a reliable possession receiver.

- Marcus Smith, Jr. - 6 catches, 56 yds, 9.3 ypc
A running back turned receiver, the 6-3, 209-pound Smith has the speed to replace Hank Baskett as the team's most dangerous receiver. Mostly known for being a top kick returner and a good runner on occasion, he has the potential to be special as he figures out what he's doing.

- Tight end John Mulchrone, Sr. - 12 catches, 132 yds, 11 ypc, 2 TD
Mulchrone had a fantastic year stepping in as a starter growing into one of the team's better route runners with the athleticism to make the big play down the middle. He's not small at 6-4 and 230 pounds, but he's not a dominant run blocker; he's in for his hands.

Top Backups
- Thomas Wilson, Sr. - 12 catches, 102 yds, 8.5 ypc
Wilson got the starting nod in ten games and did next to nothing outside of a three catch game against Wyoming. He's a speedy target who isn't afraid to go across the middle and make the tough catch.
- Daryl Jones, RFr.
At 6-4 and 200 pounds, Jones has plenty of upside combining with Jonathan Brooks to back up Marcus Smith. He's still a bit unpolished, but he's too big too keep out of the mix for long.
- Tight end Chris Mark, Soph.
Mark will be used for his bulk. The 6-5, 256-pound sophomore is a bigger option than starter John Mulchrone with tremendous strength and the potential to be a fantastic run blocker. He'll be a major factor in two tight end sets.

Offensive Linemen
One of the Mountain West's best and most massive lines should be strong again with three returning starters led by All-America candidate Robert Turner who'll make the move from guard to tackle. Center Vince Natali has big shoes to fill replacing Ryan Cook, but he appears ready to handle the job. The biggest concern is the coach with top line leader Bob Bostad leaving to join Bret Bielema's staff at Wisconsin. New coach Bob Stanley isn't going to let things slip from a group that allowed a mere 19 sacks and paved the way for 2,200 rushing yards.
The key to the unit: Solidify right guard with JUCO transfer Matt Streid or freshman Doug Crenshaw and hope for Robert Turner to be as good at tackle as he was at guard..
Offensive Line Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- OT Anthony Kilby, Jr.
The former JUCO all-star got even bigger bulking up to a massive 335 pounds. He's a massive, imposing run blocker with good strength and power. He's average in pass protection, and things aren't likely to improve at his weight. Even so, he should be a force at left tackle for the ground game.
- OG Bo Greer, Sr.
Greer had a fantastic season after coming over from the JUCO ranks looking like a natural D-I player at left guard. He took a redshirt year in 2004 and it paid off in a big way as he knew what he was doing from day one. He's a big run blocker at 318 pounds, but he could stand to get a bit stronger.
- C Vince Natali, Jr.
It hasn't been easy finding time at center with Ryan Cook holding down the job over the past three seasons, but the 298-pound Natali is ready after serving as the understudy. He can play anywhere on the line suited best for guard or center with tremendous strength on the inside.
- OG Matt Streid, Jr.
The 6-3, 320-pound JUCO transfer has been penciled in as the starter at right guard. From John Elway's old high school, Streid is a powerful run blocker who'll need to show he can be steady in pass protection early on.
- OT Robert Turner, Sr.
The star of the line and one of the Mountain West's best blockers, the 315-pound Tuner will move from guard to right tackle after his broken wrist he played through last year is fully healed. He's the leader bringing the attitude up front, and there's no questioning his toughness with 36 straight starts.

Top Backups
- OT Brian Ramsay, Jr. .
The 6-8, 304-pound former JUCO transfer will be the main backup behind Robert Turner on the right side. He saw time with the first team all spring and should have no problem stepping in and starting on either side.
- OG Doug Crawshaw, RFr.
While JUCO transfer Matt Streid has the inside line on the starting right guard job, the 302-pound Crawshaw will get plenty of chances to contribute and push for the gig. He looked good in practice as a true freshman and will eventually see time at one of the guard spots.

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