New Mexico State Preview 2006 - Offense
New Mexico State Aggies
Posted Aug 9, 2006

New Mexico State Aggies Preview 2006 - NMSU Offense

What you need to know ... The Hal Mumme attack didn't exactly work like it was supposed to only averaging 16.5 points and 344 yards per game, but square pegs were trying to be forced into round holes. The biggest problem was an offensive line that was originally recruited to run block and then had a nightmare of a time protecting the quarterback. Last year's starting quarterbacks are out of the mix, but most of the top receivers are returning along with leading rusher Justine Buries. The line can't be any worse, and at least it's experienced.

Returning Leaders
Passing: None
Rushing: Justine Buries
187 carries, 779 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: A.J. Harris
39 catches, 448 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Chase Holbrook
Player that has to step up and become a star: Holbrook
Unsung star on the rise: Holbrook
Best pro prospect: Sophomore C Mike Martinez
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Martinez, 2) WR A.J. Harris, 3) RB Justin Buries
Strength of the offense: Experience, receivers
Weakness of the offense:
Experienced quarterback

Royal Gill transferred and Joey Vincent moved to safety, so now the Aggies are starting over again with no quarterback with any Aggie experience. However, the situation should be better with Chase Holbrook coming over from Hal Mumme's old program, Southeastern Louisiana, where he saw a little bit of time as a backup. Scott Grantham spent last year learning the ropes and should grow into a decent backup. The stats will be better than the players.
The key to the unit: Keep the mistakes to a minimum. Last year's quarterbacks combined to throw 22 interceptions and complete only 57% of their passes.
Quarterback Rating: 4.5

Projected Starter
- Chase Holbrook, Soph.
Holbrook transferred from SE Louisiana and is ready to roll after sitting out all of last year. He's 6-6, 235 pounds, and knows the system after playing under Mumme for one year. He was a backup, but he should know what he's doing right off the bat. He's extremely mobile for a player of his size and has a great arm.

Top Backups
- Scott Grantham, RFr.
Grantham learned the system last year as a redshirt and should be able to hit the ground running as the number two man. At 6-1 and 175 pounds he's not nearly as big as Chase Holbrook, but he's an accurate passer who threw for 3,334 yards and 27 touchdowns his senior year in high school.

Running Backs
The running game can be an afterthought in the Aggie offense, so Justine Buries and Jeremiah Williams have to make the most of their opportunities. They're similar runners with power, size and good hands, and they'll have to be prepared to make up for any and all inconsistencies in the passing game by being the steadying force in the attack. Buries and Williams aren't home run hitters; Buries' biggest run last year was 27 yards.
The key to the unit: Break off more big runs and make bigger plays in the passing game.
Running Back Rating: 5

Projected Starters
- Justine Buries, Jr. - 187 carries, 779 yds, 4.2 ypc, 5 TD, 23 catches, 141 yds, 1 TD
Buries is a power runner who turned into the workhorse of the NMSU rushing attack. He carried the offense early on cranking out three straight 100-yard rushing games when the passing game was doing absolutely nothing, but he was stuffed by the better run defenses. He's a solid receiver who'll make plenty of short, move-the-chains catches.

Top Backups
- Jeremiah Williams, Soph. - 12 carries, 56 yds, 4.7 ypc, 1 TD, 9 catches, 47 yds, 1 TD
The 205-pound sophomore saw work in eight games last year finishing as the team's number two back. He's a power runner who'll work in between the tackles and occasionally come up with a big catch. He'll see far more work this year.

Paul Dombrowski and his 78 catches are gone, but there are plenty of decent options ready to do more with the passing game. A.J. Harris, Chris Williams and Jahmeel Hobson will go from learning-on-the-fly freshmen to more productive sophomores. Miami transfer Aikeem Jolla brings size and talent, and there's leadership and experience from Tim Tolbert and Brandon Allen. There will be enough passes to go around.
The key to the unit: Finding a number one, go-to target out of the pack of experienced receivers.
Receiver Rating: 5

Projected Starters
- A.J. Harris, Soph. - 39 catches, 448 yds, 11.5 ypc, 4 TD
Harris is a big target who'll have to become more of a big play threat starting at the X. He was the team's second best receiver last year growing into the job as the season went on finishing up with a nine-catch day against Utah State. 

- Aikeem Jolla, Sr
The transfer from Miami is expected to shine right away at the H position. He's big, fast and experienced with the 6-3, 200-pound size to outmuscle defenders across the middle and the speed to make big plays with the ball in his hands. It'll be a shock if he's not one of the team's top two receivers.

- Derek Dubois, Jr. - 28 catches, 373 yds, 13.3 ypc, 4 TD
The 6-1 junior was one of the team's most consistent targets finishing third on the team in catches and tied for the team lead in touchdowns. He's a speedster who should once again be a top target at the inside Y position.

- Tim Tolbert, Sr. - 31 catches, 358 yds, 11.5 ypc, 1 TD
Tolbert would've likely finished as the team's second best receiver if he didn't miss four games with a shoulder injury. He started the season hot and ended even hotter highlighted by a seven-catch, 120-yard, one touchdown day against Idaho. He's the team's most experienced target. He'll start at the Z position.

Top Backups
- Brandon Allen, Jr. - 33 catches, 362 yds, 11 ypc, 1 TD
One of the team's most consistent receivers catching a pass in all 12 games. the 6-1 junior is an experienced, reliable target who's able to step into the starting role at either inside position.
- Chris Williams, Soph. - 12 catches, 97 yards, 8.1 ypc
Williams is the team's speed receiver and the top backup at both outside positions. He's one one of the team's smallest receivers at 5-9 and 155 pounds, but he makes up for it with his wheels.
- Jahmeel Hobson, Soph. - 8 catches, 66 yds, 8.2 ypc
Hobson grew into a decent reserve as his freshman season wore on catching eight passes over the final four games. He's not big or physical, but he's quick in the slot.

Offensive Linemen
If you're looking for NMSU's offensive problems last year, look to the line that allowed a whopping 45 sacks and paved the way for a mere 2.7 yards per carry. There's hope for improvement with more experience and the influx of JUCO transfers James Farrelly at guard and Brett Leeds at tackle. There's enough depth to create some decent battles for spots, and there should be several changes to the depth chart and lineup throughout the summer.
The key to the unit: The pass protection has to be better. If the line doesn't keep the quarterback clean, NMSU's offense doesn't work.
Offensive Line Rating: 4

Projected Starters
- OT Kyle Smith, Sr.
Smith hasn't been able to see much action over the last two years having major problems with an injured shoulder. Now he's back to be one of the team's strongest linemen taking over the starting job on the left side.
- OG Matthew Schoonover, Soph.
More of a run blocker than a pass protector, the 290-pound sophomore will look to star right away at left guard and as the reserve center.
- C Mike Martinez, Jr.
Martinez started 23 games over the past two seasons growing into the best player on the line. He's surprisingly quick and athletic for a 315-pound blocker, and now he should grow into the anchor and star of the front five at either center or tackle.
- OG James Farrelly, Jr.
The 285-pound JUCO transfer is expected to step in right away and battle Roberto Davis for the starting right guard job. He's a good-sized option with enough experience to play tackle if needed.
- OT Adam Honaker, Jr.
Honaker bulked up over the last year growing into a 295-pound physical tackle. He's the team's most versatile lineman able to play tackle or guard.

Top Backups
- OG Roberto Davis, Soph.
Davis will likely end up starting at one of the guard spots after taking his lumps as a freshman over nine starts. He's a quick 265 pounds and is a tougher run blocker than his size might indicate. He'll push for the job on the right side early on.
- OT Alex Gottlieb, Sr.
A spot starter last year, the 280-pound senior is experienced enough to push for the starting right tackle job. He's athletic enough to eventually be a strong pass blocker after struggling last year.

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