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New Mexico Preview 2006

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 7, 2006


So much for respect. The Lobos certainly didn't get any.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

New Mexico found out last year exactly where it stood on the national college football scene by not getting a bowl invite despite having a big name back to sell in DonTrell Moore, impressing with a road win over Missouri, which turned out to be the Mountain West's second best pre-bowl non-conference win behind TCU's upset over Oklahoma, and coming up with a fifth straight regular season winning record. 

Is New Mexico not sexy enough? Was it the three straight lousy bowl performances? Maybe it was the 42-24 regular season loss to Air Force that sealed the fate. Whatever it was, last year showed that the program isn't quite where it needs to be.

But 2005 was a transition season replacing several defensive starters and changing the identity a bit on offense after being a one-dimensional ground attack. Things will change again, only this time for the better with the addition of former UCLA head coach Bob Toledo to run the offense and make it more effective and more explosive. Add Toledo's talents with a solid system that's already in place, and New Mexico might finally break through the ceiling and push for the Mountain West title.

Head coach: Rocky Long
7th year: 46-50
Returning Lettermen
Off. 18,  Def. 11, ST 6
Lettermen Lost: 16
Ten Best Lobo Players
1.
OT Robert Turner, Sr.
2. LB Quincy Black, Sr.
3. QB Kole McKamey, Sr.
4. LB Cody Kase, Jr.
5. S DeAndre Wright, Soph.
6. PK Kenny Byrd, Sr.
7. S Blake Ligon, Soph.
8. WR Marcus Smith, Jr.
9  OT Anthony Kilby, Jr.
10. OG Bo Greer, Sr. 

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
6-6

9/2 Portland State
9/9 at New Mexico St
9/16 Missouri
9/23 UTEP
9/30 at Air Force
10/7 Wyoming
10/14 at UNLV
10/19 Utah
10/28 at Colorado State
11/11 TCU
11/18 at BYU
11/25 San Diego State

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
6-5
2005 Record: 6-5

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 UNLV W 24-22
9/10 at Missouri W 45-35
9/17 New Mexico St W 38-21
9/24 at UTEP  L 21-13
10/1 at TCU L 49-28
10/8 BYU L 27-24
10/15 at Wyoming W 27-24
10/22 at San Diego St W 47-24
10/28 Colorado St L 35-25
11/12 at Utah W 31-27
11/19 Air Force L 42-24

The first big step will be to replace superstars Moore and WR Hank Baskett. QB Kole McKamey is a veteran with good all-around skills, but he needs playmakers to work with. The defense took a step back last season and could have problems with its consistency early on with new faces up the middle up front and on the corners in the secondary. Even so, the building blocks are there for another winning season and be far more effective on both sides of the ball.

To be Mountain West champions, the Lobos have to take back Albuquerque after losing three Mountain West home games last year. Had they been able to hold serve and beat BYU, Colorado State and Air Force, they'd have been 9-2 and would've finished second in the league behind TCU.

This is a good enough team to put everything together by late September when the conference season starts and can go on a big run. The big boys don't come calling until late, so there's time to develop. If everything works out as planned, New Mexico will finally have earned more respect and should get to a post-season game without much of a problem.

The Schedule: It's as good as can be asked for even with a tough finishing kick with a late road game at BYU. The projected top teams in the league, Utah and TCU, have to come to University Stadium while last year's mediocre Mountain West teams, Air Force, Wyoming and UNLV, come right off the bat for a possible 3-0 conference start. The two big non-conference games, Missouri and UTEP, are at home, and there's time to prepare with a nice season-opening tune up against Portland State to get everyone's feet wet.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OT Robert Turner. Arguably the Mountain West's best lineman, the 6-4, 325-pound senior will make the move from guard to right tackle where he'll be the anchor of the line and the one the team runs behind.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Quincy Black. Watch him shoot up the draft lists of many NFL scouts. He's 6-3, 232 pounds, and tremendous in pass coverage on the outside. A big senior year should make him a first day pick as well as earn him All-Mountain West honors.

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman CB Ian Clark and junior CB Juamar Hall. The secondary had major problems last year even with all-star Gabrial Fulbright manning one corner. The two new corners have to prove they're up to the task right away with New Mexico State's air attack in game two and UTEP's Jordan Palmer coming to town in late September.

The season will be a success if ... the Lobos finish second in the Mountain West. They're not as good as TCU or Utah, but they get the two big games at home and have enough overall talent to be in the hunt for the title until the final day. Winning the title is asking a little too much out of a team with big question marks at the skill positions, cornerback and defensive tackle.

Key game: October 19th vs. Utah. It'll be a nationally televised home game five days after the road trip to UNLV. With at Colorado State, TCU, and at BYU over the following three games, a win over the Utes is a must to kickstart any Mountain West title dreams.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Fourth quarter scoring: Opponents 114 - New Mexico 58
- Penalties; New Mexico 81 for 618 yards - Opponents 60 for 547 yards
- Sacks: New Mexico 36 for 241 yards - Opponents 19 for 128 yards

The Last Time New Mexico…
…played in a bowl game…2004 (Emerald Bowl vs. Navy)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…2002 (Baylor)
…was shutout…2002 (Texas Tech)
…scored 50 points…2003 (Texas State)
…went undefeated…1927
…won a conference title…1964 (share, WAC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…1994 (Stoney Case)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (DonTrell Moore)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2005 (Hank Baskett)
…had a first-round draft choice…2000 (LB Brian Urlacher)

Related Stories
New Mexico Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006
New Mexico Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006
New Mexico Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006








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