2008 New Mexico Preview - Offense
New Mexico QB Donovan Porterie
CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - New Mexico Lobo Offense
Preview 2008 - Offense
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What you need to know: The offense might not have put up
huge yards, and it struggled to get points on the board, but it
was effective enough to do what was needed to win nine games and
has just enough pieces in place to be a lot better. It starts in
the backfield with QB Donovan Porterie ready to have a huge
season now that he has two years of experience and with the same
offense in place. RB Rodney Ferguson is a big, pounding runner
who'll gain 1,000 yards for the third year in a row if he stays
healthy. The offensive line loses four starters, but it should
be fine if the JUCO transfers play as well as expected and if redshirt freshman Byron Bell is as good as advertised. The
biggest issue is a receiving corps with no real returning
production with Marcus Smith and Travis Brown gone.
Passing: Donovan Porterie
244-418, 3,006 yds, 15 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Rodney Ferguson
292 carries, 1,177 yds, 13 TD
Receiving: Roland Bruno
21 catches, 186 yds, 0 TD
Star of the offense: Senior RB Rodney Ferguson
Receiving corps, consistency
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior WR
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman OT Byron Bell
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Chris Mark
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Ferguson, 2) QB Donovan
C Erik Cook
Strength of the offense: Running backs, Donovan Porterie
Weakness of the offense:
Projected Starter: This is the year for junior Donovan Porterie to
go from being an exciting, emerging prospect to a Mountain West
all-star who can carry is team to big things. With good 6-3,
206-pound size and good passing skills, he threw for 3,006 yards
and 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. While the stats are
nice, they don't show how good he is in the clutch. Poised
beyond his years, he's able to play well under pressure and make
things happen when he absolutely has to. While he's not a
runner, he's mobile enough to take off from time to time and is
just quick enough to make defenses pay attention to him. As his
career has gone on, he's starting to take on a folk hero
quality, but he has to be consistent from one week to the next.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 225-pound redshirt
freshman Brad Gruner was the team's star recruit last
season after leading his Chandler High team to the Arizona state
championship after coming back from a torn up knee. He's an
accurate passer with a big arm, but he's not going to run too
often. When given a chance, he'll grow into a big-game passer
who can push the passing game deep.
Watch Out For ... Porterie to be special. Now that
he has had the same offense and the same coaches for two years
in a row, and with three years of experience, he's ready to
break out and be a major Mountain West star.
Strength: Passers. Porterie was great last year at
cranking out yards, and Gruner will be a great one after he
gets his feet wet. The passing game should be fine if some
decent receivers emerge.
Weakness: Proven backups. There aren't any. Porterie has been
the main man with the only other quarterback with playing
Outlook: As long as Porterie is consistent and if
he can get his completion percentage up to around 60%, he should
make everyone around him better. The problem is a receiving
corps without any stars or any real experience, so if Porterie
isn't on, there will be a huge drop from last year when the
offense cranked out 3,070 yards of passing offense.
Projected Starters: New Mexico always has a
productive back, and it has a star in senior Rodney Ferguson,
who's coming off his second straight 1,000-yard season rushing
for 1,177 yards and 13 touchdowns. The 6-0, 229-pounder isn't
going to tear off many big runs, and he only averages about four
yards per carry, but he's a workhorse who can catch the ball out
of the backfield and is a 100-yard machine hitting mark in 13 of
his last 16 games. His biggest issue is the classroom; he has to
find it. He'll be the star of the ground game again, but he was
academically ineligible for the New Mexico Bowl win over Nevada
and has to work his way back to being the No. 1 man on the depth
chart. That'll take about ten minutes.
6-0, 250-pound senior Matt Quillen returns to his
fullback slot for the third straight season. A devastating
blocker who opens up huge holes for the ground game, he's a big
hitter; that's it. He can be used in the offense, but he isn't
with just four carries for four yards last season along with
eight catches for 44 yards. He could grow into more of a
short-yardage running role.
Projected Top Reserves: Senior Paul Baker
it the speed to go along with Rodney Ferguson's power. With
Ferguson out of the New Mexico Bowl, Baker stepped up tearing
off 167 yards on just 22 carries to finish with 465 yards on the
year. He averaged only 4.3 yards per carry and didn't get in the
end zone, but he proved to be a good second back who offers a
different look to the offense. He hasn't busted off anything too
big over the last few years and needs to actually hit a home run
or two to get more playing time.
Ready to make an impact is redshirt freshman James Wright
with a good combination of power and speed. He fits the offense
and is exactly what a New Mexico back looks like. While he's the
third man in the mix, plug him in and get 100 yards. He'll be a
major factor sooner than later.
6-2, 235-pound sophomore fullback Josh Fussell isn't
nearly the same blocker as Quillen, but he's a good
receiver catching four passes for 46 yards with a 36-yard
touchdown pass against New Mexico State. He also got six carries
as a short yardage runner.
Watch Out For ... Wright and Mike Love. The
two young runners have all the talent and all the skills to make
the Lobo running game even better. Ferguson is a
sure-thing and Baker is a nice change-of-pace back. The
more Wright and Love can provide, the fresher everyone else will
Strength: The system. Yeah, the Lobos finished 78th in
the nation and seventh in the Mountain West in rushing, but the
stats are misleading. Any back working behind the big line gains
Weakness: Big runs. The ground game is the definition of
plodding. Forgetting about all the sacks taking yards away, UNM
still struggled too much to bust off big gains averaging just
3.5 yards per carry with the longest run just 37 yards.
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 and academically eligible. There are other options
with Baker bringing the speed and new faces to the mix
Wright and Love each able to shine if given the
opportunity. The backs are better than the overall numbers will
Projected Starters: With Marcus Smith and Travis
Brown gone, there's a big opening for the No. 1 receiver; and a
No. 2. Looking to take over at the X is 6-3,185-pound sophomore
Chris Hernandez, a little-used spot starter who caught
two passes for 22 yards, both coming against UTEP. With good
hands and just good enough speed, he should be serviceable from
the start, but it's asking a lot to replace Smith's 91 catches
for 1,125 yards and four touchdowns.
6-2, 180-pound senior Jermaine McQueen might be the
team's fastest player, but he hasn't shown it yet on the field
making eight catches for 44 yards. He has one fundamental flaw:
he can't catch. He's a deep threat who has a hard time
hanging on to the deep passes, so he'll mostly be used on short
throws to get him into the open so he can try to break a big
At New Mexico's T position will be Roland Bruno, one of
the few players with any returning production finishing third on
the team with 21 catches for 186 yards last year. The junior,
who came to New Mexico to run track, is a smallish 5-10,
166-pound former walk-on who was a shocker as the season went on
becoming more and more productive before making five grabs for
86 yards against Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl. He's a quick
target who finds ways to get open, but he has to get healthy
after getting banged up in spring ball.
6-5, 257-pound senior Chris Mark is back after starting
11 games and catching 12 passes for 147 yards and three
touchdowns. He has a great combination of skills with good
athleticism and excellent hands, and he's strong around the goal
line. The key will be to get him the ball more; he was
underutilized last year as a short-to-midrange target. A good
blocker, he's a positive for the running game.
Projected Top Reserves: How quickly can sophomore
Bryant Williams be ready? The star of the recruiting
class, the JUCO transfer from Coffeyville CC in Kansas didn't do
too much at the lower level, being stuck on a running team,
making just 14 catches for 193 yards and a touchdown, but his
potential is limitless with great quickness and agility in a
5-11, 180-pound frame. He might need a year, but he'll
eventually be a game-breaker.
Trying to replace Brown at the inside Z will be junior Daryl
Jones, but he'll have a huge fight on his hands to get the
job. At 6-3 and 207 pounds he's a big, imposing target, but he
only has four career receptions. He has the size, the speed, and
the skills, but he's still unpolished and he needs to be a
better, crisper route runner.
Behind Chris Mark at tight end will once again be 6-3, 249-pound
junior Mitch Straub, a tough blocking transfer from
Kansas State who won't be involved in the passing game but will
be big for the ground attack. Originally a defensive player, he
brings that physical play to the offense.
Watch Out For ... Williams. It might not
happen right away, but at some point this year the top recruit
needs to break out and be the playmaker the passing game will
likely be missing.
Strength: Mark. He's a prototype tight end who
should be a more featured playmaker in the offense now that new
targets are needed. He's a big, tough receiver with the skills
to catch 40 passes if used right.
Weakness: Returning production. Marcus Smith and Travis Brown
combined to catch 167 passes for 2,156 yards and ten touchdowns.
The rest of the team, not just the receiving corps, caught 86
passes for 814 yards and six scores.
Outlook: Can you say starting from scratch? If
you're on the roster as a receiver, you'll get a chance to see
meaningful playing time. The tight ends should be more
prominently featured, but a few deep receivers have to emerge.
Most importantly, there needs to be a good rotation of players
to make up for the loss of Smith and Brown.
Projected Starters: The line is undergoing an
overhaul losing four of the five starters. That means junior center
Eric Cook, who took over a starting spot at left tackles in the
third game of the year, needs to be a steadying force up front and a
nearly flawless quarterback on the line calls. At 6-6 and 312 pounds,
he's one of the line's biggest players and is versatile enough to slip
into any position in the front five.
Junior Ivan Hernandez will get the first look at replacing Devin
Clark at left tackle after seeing a little bit of playing time in three
games. The 6-6, 295-pound former JUCO transfer is still a bit raw, but
he's finally over the knee problems that limited him a few years ago.
He's not going to be a mauler, but he should be a decent pass protector
The new star should be 6-5, 296-pound redshirt freshman Byron Bell,
but he has to stay academically eligible. He got through his freshman
season, but this can't be an issue; he's too good. He's great on the
move and he should be the anchor of the line at right tackle as the year
goes on. A top prospect and a great get for the program, he's the one
everything will eventually revolve around.
Stepping in at left guard will be 6-3, 302-pound sophomore Mike
Cannon after seeing a little bit of action as a reserve. Able to
play either guard or tackle, he's better suited for the inside after
getting bigger and strong over the last few years. He's not a bad
athlete, but he'll be better in the smaller space.
Sophomore Derek Tallent is a versatile 6-4, 309-pound prospect
who needs as much playing time as possible. Well past the knee injury
that sidelined him late in high school, he has worked hard in the weight
room and has seen plenty of practice action over the past few seasons.
While he could play center, he's needed at right guard.
Projected Top Reserves: JUCO All-American Ben
Contreras was one of the team's top recruits and should figure into
the starting mix sooner than later. The 6-2, 300-pounder is a top center
who'll get every shot at winning the starting job in the middle. If he
can prove he can handle the work, that'll allow the versatile Erik Cook
to move to the weakest spot on the line.
6-2, 320-pound JUCO transfer Joshua Taufalele is one of the
line's biggest players and a possible instant starter at right guard. A
great high school player, he's big, tough, and should be a devastating
run blocker wherever he ends up.
Former JUCO transfer Sylvester Hatten started early on last year
at left tackle before getting banged up. At 6-3 and 308 pounds he's a
big blocker who was an all-star at guard in the JUCO ranks and can be
moved around where needed.
6-3, 321-pound Matt Streid was supposed to be a starter somewhere
on the line but was ineligible and missed the whole year. The senior is
versatile enough to step out and play tackle, but with his bulk he's far
better at guard where he'll combine with Mike Cannon on the left side.
Watch Out For ... the line to not be all that bad.
Normally losing four starters off a line would be devastating, but the
JUCO transfers and the expected emergence of a few young players should
keep things from falling apart.
Strength: Size. As always, New Mexico's offensive line
is massive. It's not the ridiculously girthy group of past seasons, but
it's a typical big Lobo front five that should do a better job of moving
earth than it did last year.
Weakness: Experience. There are plenty of options and a lot of
good prospects, but there are also plenty of ifs. There's only one sure
thing up front, and that's Erik Cook. He might not even stay at center.
Outlook: The line was awful two years ago and
struggled in the running game last year. Now the Lobos have to deal with
the loss of four starters, but there's a chance for a bit of an upgrade
if everything breaks right. There's a talent adjustment with some star
JUCO transfers coming in, and there are three extremely promising
underclassmen in Byron Bell, Derek Tallent and Mike Cannon to build
around. With no seniors among the projected starters, this group will
have this year to jell before rocking in 2009.