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2007 New Mexico Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 1, 2007


Preview 2007 New Mexico Lobos

New Mexico Lobos

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 New Mexico Offense Preview | 2007 New Mexico Defense Preview
-
2007 New Mexico Depth Chart
| 2006 CFN New Mexico Preview 

New Mexico has been successful under head coach Rocky Long going to four bowl games in the last five years and cranking out a winning season in the other. Now it’s at a crossroads. After nine years, the program needs to finally make the big jump and break through to be among the Mountain West’s elite, or else it might not ever happen under the current coaching staff.

Head coach: Rocky Long
8th year: 52-57
Returning Lettermen
Off. 18,  Def. 23, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best Lobo Players
1.
RB Rodney Ferguson, Jr.
2. QB Donovan Porterie, Soph.
3. WR Travis Brown, Sr.
4. CB DeAndre Wright, Jr.
5. LB Cody Kase, Sr.
6. DE Tyler Donaldson, Sr.
7. S O.J. Swift, Sr.
8. WR Marcus Smith, Sr.
9. OT Devin Clark, Sr.
10. CB Glover Quin, Jr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
6-6

Sept. 1

at UTEP

Sept. 8

New Mexico State

Sept. 15

at Arizona

Sept. 22

Sacramento State

Sept. 29

BYU

Oct. 13

at Wyoming

Oct. 20

at San Diego State

Oct. 25

Air Force

Nov. 3

at TCU

Nov. 11

Colorado State

Nov. 17

at Utah

Nov. 24

UNLV

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
6-6
2006 Record: 6-7

Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 Portland State L 17-6
9/9 at NMSU W 34-28
9/16 Missouri L 27-17
9/23 UTEP W 26-13
9/30 at Air Force L 24-7
10/7 Wyoming L 14-10
10/14 at UNLV W 39-36 OT
10/19 Utah W 34-31
10/28 at Colorado St W 20-19
11/11 TCU L 27-21
11/18 at BYU L 42-17
11/25 San Diego St W 41-14
12/23 New Mexico Bowl
San Jose State L 20-12

It’s not like there haven’t been good players in Albuquerque, but now, this might be the best team Long has put together. It’s certainly among the most experienced with eight starters back on offense and ten returning on defense. Will it be enough for New Mexico to finally be a true contender for the league title?     
 
It’s not going to be easy as all the young players from last year have to bond into a much tighter, much more consistent team. The pass defense has to be far better, the running game needs to be steadier, and Donovan Porterie has to live up to his promise.

With the retirement of former starting quarterback Kole McKamey, who could’ve come back for a sixth year but chose to skip it after injury problems, the offense is now almost all on Porterie’s shoulders and legs. While he has the potential to grow into a player of the year type of quarterback who can lead the Lobos to wins by himself, but he’s going to have plenty of help from a good receiving corps and solid running back Rodney Ferguson. Considering the Lobos won several close battles going 4-2 in games decided by eight points or fewer, the veteran offense should be able to do even more.

The coaching staff is solid, the team is loaded, and the schedule isn’t all that bad. In other words, it’s time. This is the year to finally break through and be in the race, or at least win the program’s first bowl game under Long.

What to watch for on offense: With Bob Toledo leaving to take over the Tulane head coaching job after serving one year as offensive coordinator, Dave Baldwin comes in from Michigan State to try to add even more of a spark. Toledo wanted to open up the attack more after years of New Mexico’s stodgy ground game, and now Baldwin will add more deep passes. There’ll be more balance and even more variety to get Porterie even more involved. 

What to watch for on defense: More pressure from the 3-3-5 scheme. The Lobo defense only works if the opposing quarterback is consistently getting popped. While the front six did a decent job of getting into the backfield, it didn’t do enough to keep the secondary from getting ripped apart. Lobo defenses always give up passing yards, but this one won’t be able to get away with that against the elite of the elite teams in the league.

The team will be far better if … it can figure out how to keep the quarterbacks upright. The Lobos allowed 43 sacks in just 390 pass attempts. Sure, part of that came from running plays from the quarterback gone wrong, but having one out of every ten pass plays stopped by a sack isn’t a good thing no matter how you spin it. Tackles Anthony Kilby, Devin Clark, Chris Mark and Brian Ramsey have to do a better job of giving Porterie time, and Porterie has to be better at making quicker decisions and getting rid of the ball when nothing is there.

The Schedule: The Lobos' hope for a Mountain West title might be dashed with two road games at TCU and UNLV late in the year, but BYU has to come to Albuquerque and back-to-back road dates against Wyoming and San Diego State gets two away games out of the way early. The non-conference schedule is tougher than it looks with road trips to UTEP and Arizona wrapped around an intriguing in-state rivalry battle with New Mexico State and its high-octane offense. The final three home games, Air Force, Colorado State and UNLV, are all winnable.

Best Offensive Player: Junior RB Rodney Ferguson. While he wasn’t exactly DonTrell Moore, Ferguson became a steady producer on his way to a 1,234-yard, seven touchdown season. After dominating over the final three games of the year, he’ll be the focal point of the attack early on until Porterie and the passing game become more reliable.

Best Defensive Player: Junior S DeAndre Wright. One of the Mountain West’s premier cover corners, Wright broke up ten passes and picked off four as the Lobo’s top pass defender. He has decent size and enough speed to be used on kickoff returns. Now he should break out and get a little bit of All-America recognition if anyone dares to throw his way.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Donovan Porterie. He showed tremendous potential by throwing for 350 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Utah, but got banged up against TCU and wasn’t right the rest of the way. Now this is his team, and while he’ll still make several young mistakes considering he only has a few games of experience, he needs to grow into the role. If he’s not fantastic, the season might be a wash.

The season will be a success if ... the Lobos are players in the Mountain West race and can win a bowl game. Getting to the post-season is a near-lock for a team with so much returning experience and a decent enough schedule to get to seven wins, but after going 0-4 in bowl games under Rocky Long, bottoming out by losing a “home” bowl to San Jose State last season, it’s time to end a season on a high note. While a Mountain West title might be just out of this team’s reach, finishing in the top three would be a nice step to a potentially huge 2008 when Long will have a loaded group of veterans.

Key game: Sept. 29 vs. BYU. The Lobos have lost three of the last four to the Cougars including a 42-17 pasting last season. In the Mountain West opener, they can make a huge statement in the title race by knocking off the defending champions before going off on a two-game road trip. With away games at TCU and Utah still ahead, a loss to BYU would likely end any championship hopes before October.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Second quarter scoring: Opponents 112 – New Mexico 55
- Sacks: Opponents 43 for 252 yards – New Mexico 29 for 202 yards
- Punt return average: Opponents 11.7 yards – New Mexico 6.4 yards

 

Related Stories
2007 New Mexico Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 1, 2007
2007 New Mexico Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 1, 2007
2007 New Mexico Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 1, 2007








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