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2007 New Mexico Preview - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 1, 2007


Preview 2007 New Mexico Lobo Offense

New Mexico Lobos

Preview 2007 - Offense


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

What you need to know:
The offense is scrapping the Bob Toledo attack and going back to a more basic style that'll pound the ball more with a big line, but won't forget about balancing things out through the air. With one of the Mountain West's best receiving tandems in Travis Brown and Marcus Smith, and a rising superstar in quarterback Donovan Porterie, the passing game should shine, while Rodney Ferguson will be a 1,000-yard back. If injuries are a problem, there will be big troubles with no developed depth among the skills positions and even less to count on up front.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Donovan Porterie
71-133, 967 yds, 6 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Rodney Ferguson
252 carries, 1,234 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Travis Brown
64 catches, 867 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Rodney Ferguson
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior OT Matt Streid
Unsung star on the rise: Junior TE Chris Mark
Best pro prospect: Senior OT Devin Clark
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Ferguson, 2) QB Donovan Porterie, 3) WR Travis Brown
Strength of the offense: Starting skill players
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line depth, proven backup skill players

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: It took a little while for sophomore Donovan Porterie to become comfortable this spring, but he looked the part of a star for the next several seasons by the end of the session showing better command and more accuracy. One oft the league's brightest young stars, he's 6-3 and 206 pounds with a live arm and just enough mobility to move around well under pressure, but he's not a runner. His stats, completing 53% of pass passes for 967 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions, doesn't tell half of the story. Great at pulling out comeback wins, including three in a row against UNLV, Utah, and Colorado State, he started to take on a magical, folk-hero quality before he got dinged up and missed the final two games of the regular season. Now the job is all his, and he has to grow into it.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-5, 225-pound senior Bryan Clampitt is a big, strong emergency option who had a nice spring. The former walk-on hasn't cemented himself as the number two man, but he's close.

Freshman Blair Peterson got to school early and got his chance this spring, but he struggled. Ay 6-4 and 210 pounds, he's a tall, talented passer who's back after serving an LDS mission. In time, he'll be a good backup option if he gets enough reps. That'll be hard with star recruit Brad Gruner expected to make an impression when he joins the team this fall. He's a 6-2, 225-pound passer with good accuracy a winning pedigree having returned from a torn ACL to lead his team to the Arizona state title last year.

Watch Out For ... Porterie to make big mistakes here and there, but show something special by the end of the season. He's on a learning curve, but once he's comfortable, he'll be lights out.
Strength
:
Pure passers. There isn't the runner the team had with Kole McKamey over the last few seasons. Porterie, Clampitt, Peterson and Gruner are gunners.
Weakness
:
Proven backups. There aren't any. Clampitt's been in the system, but the second best option could turn out to be a true freshman.
Outlook: The offense will have to live through the inevitable Porterie mistakes to reap a huge reward. He played beyond his experience last year, and now he'll emerge as one of the best players in the league. Developing the reserves, especially the true freshmen, will be vital.
Rating: 6


Running Backs


Projected Starters: While he wasn't DonTrell Moore, junior Rodney Ferguson grew into an ultra-productive back rushing for 1,234 yards and seven touchdowns while finishing third with 28 catches for 291 yards and two scores. At 6-0 and 229 pounds, he's a power runner who isn't going to show much wiggle, but can burst through a hole when it opens up. A workhorse who had 20 or more carries in seven of the final eight games of the year, and 34 for 172 yards early on against UTEP, he can carry the offense at times. As one of the biggest hitting backs in the Mountain West, opposing defenses don't want to see him late in the game.

6-0, 250-pound junior Matt Quillen is back at fullback after running for 32 yards and catching eight passes for 53 yards. Mostly, he's a blocker for Ferguson who packs a major wallop for the running game. With decent quickness, he's good at getting on the move.

Projected Top Reserves: Ferguson will get the bulk of the workload, but 6-0, 221-pound redshirt freshman Mike Love will see plenty of carries. The New Mexico high school star with great speed for his size, he's a tough, smart runner who fits the profile of the typical big, strong Lobo back.

Third in the rotation will be junior Paul Baker, the team's second leading rusher with 121 yards on 30 carries. At 5-7 and 195 pounds, he's a speed back who provides the juke and quickness the other backs don't. The key is getting him on the move on the outside where he can make things happen. He wasn't able to bust off anything big last year, but he should provide a nice change of pace.

Watch Out For ... Love. He's the in-state star who has all the talent to become another great Lobo back. If he can provide a little relief so Ferguson doesn't have to do everything, he'll have earned all the hype.
Strength
:
Ferguson's dependability. With the offense focusing even more on overall balance and power, he should put up huge numbers behind an offensive line that'll pound away for the ground game on a more regular basis.
Weakness
:
Proven backups. Even though Love will be the real deal, he hasn't done it on the field yet. Baker can't handle the workload on a full time basis.
Outlook: Ferguson is one of the Mountain West's premier backs and will be a mortal lock for 1,000 yards if he stays healthy. 1,500 yards is possible unless Love and Baker prove to be so good that they demand 15 carries a game. No matter what happens, the running game will be back to New Mexico standards after finishing 94th in the nation.
Rating: 7.5


Receivers


Projected Starters: There are better receiving corps in the Mountain West, but it'll be hard to find a better 1-2 combination than seniors Marcus Smith and Travis Brown. The 6-3, 189-pound Brown led the team with 64 catches for 867 yards and four touchdowns, while the 6-2, 214-pound Smith was a tremendous deep threat averaging 16.2 yards per catch on 53 grabs with nine touchdowns.

Brown has excellent hands and is a consistent route runner. While he's not a possession receiver, he's good at making the key plays and was great at exploding against the top teams catching 15 passes for 270 yards and two scores against Utah and BYU. While he's a proven producer in all areas, he's also a tough blocker.

Smith is a former running back who got the hang of the receiver job right away. With tremendous speed, he exploded at times throughout last year with five catches for 179 yards and three scores against New Mexico State and four grabs for 101 yards against UNLV. Now he has to become more consistent and far more polished. He disappeared in too many games and isn't nearly the route runner Brown is.

Stepping into the starting tight end job will be 6-5, 257-pound junior Chris Mark, who made his only catch count for a touchdown against San Diego State. He has it all with good size, nice speed and excellent hands. He's also a willing blocker. Now he has to show he can do it all when the lights go on.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-3, 207-pound sophomore Daryl Jones will play behind Brown and will be groomed for next year's starting job after catching just one pass for 25 yards. He has the combination of size, speed and skills, but he needs plenty of work on the finer points of being a top receiver.

5-11, 198-pound junior Jason Caprioli caught two passes for 11 yards and now will play behind Smith. The walk-on isn't going to wow anyone, but he has the potential to become a strong possession receiver in three-wide sets and always runs the right routes. He won't remotely push Smith for starting time.

Behind Mark is sophomore Luke Walters, a 6-4, 238-pound pure receiver who caught one pass for 14 yards. He's working on his blocking, but he's not anywhere near Mark's level. In time, he'll become a matchup problem for slower linebackers.

Watch Out For ... Mark to grow into his role as a top pass catching tight end. He has all the tools, and now in the new scheme with fewer wide receivers, he'll be a bigger part of the passing game.
Strength
:
Brown and Smith. Mr. Consistency and Mr. Deep Ball form a dangerous combination that'll scare the heck out of most secondaries.
Weakness
:
Proven backups. Jones has a ton of potential, but he hasn't done anything yet. Caprioli is strictly a backup. Someone has to emerge or else the corps will start from scratch going into 2008.
Outlook: The two stars are back, and there's an emerging top target at tight end. Between the three, the passing game will shine, but any injuries would be disastrous considering there's no developed depth whatsoever.
Rating: 7

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: The Lobo line struggled last year, and it had a hard time getting back on track this spring with several key players banged up. 6-2, 308-pound senior center Vince Natali is a versatile blocker who missed spring ball with a shoulder problem. While he wasn't an anchor and struggled in the running game, he got better as the season went on. As the main man in the middle, he has to be more consistent and grow into the leadership role.

Also banged up is 6-4, 312 senior tackle Devin Clark, who hurt his ankle this spring and missed time. The former JUCO transfer has the talent to become an all-star at right tackle with a sensational combination of strength, size and athleticism. It took a while, but he became one of the rocks of the line as the season went on.

Back at left guard is 6-5, 332-pound senior Anthony Kilby after starting on the line for the last two seasons. With his size, he's one of the team's best run blockers and the one the offense will work behind when it needs a hard yard. Not the best athlete, he's good when he doesn't have to get on the move.

The other two spots are open for battles, with junior Matt Streid likely to take over the starting left tackle job and senior Bart Miller working at right guard. Miller has the bigger shoes to fill replacing all-star Robert Turner, but the 6-4, 295-pound senior has seen plenty of time on the line at both guard and tackle. Can he stay healthy? Knee and leg injuries cost him earlier in his career, but he was able to play throughout last year. Streid can play either tackle or guard, and while his 6-3, 321-pound size and physical nature makes him a more natural guard, he should be fine in the rotation at tackle.

Projected Top Reserves: Looking for the starting left tackle job will be 6-3, 308-pound JUCO transfer Sylvester Hatten, a massive blocker who could end up moving inside to play guard. He was a JUCO All-American at guard, but will be tried out behind Streid, if he doesn't win the starting job.

Also up for a starting gig s 6-6, 312-pound sophomore Erik Cook after seeing a little bit of action last year. More of a center than a guard, he played well enough this spring to get a strong look behind Miller with Natali entrenched in the middle.

Watch Out For ... Clark to be special. He has NFL written all over him if he can prove he can protect the passer on a regular basis. He has all the measurables the next level scouts love, but to be considered a serious prospect, he has to be the star of the line.
Strength
:
Size. As always, New Mexico's offensive line is massive. It's not the ridiculously girthy group of past seasons, but it averages 314 pounds per starter.
Weakness
:
Depth. One of the plusses of the spring ball injuries was the time it allowed several young backups to get, but there are still three redshirt freshman needing to play big roles along with a relatively untested sophomore (Cook) and a JUCO transfer (Hatten).
Outlook: The line was awful last season. It did nothing to keep the quarterbacks clean, and it struggled in the running game. Blame the scheme. With a bunch of road graders playing in a finesse offense, it wasn't the right fit. Now the big, bulky line should be able to do what it does best and slam its way into defenses to pave the way for the backs. Expect a better year.
Rating: 6

 

  

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