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2008 New Mexico State Preview - Offense
New Mexico State QB Chase Holbrook
New Mexico State QB Chase Holbrook
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 9, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - New Mexico State Aggie Offense

New Mexico State Aggies

Preview 2008 - Offense

- 2008 NMSU Preview | 2008 NMSU Offense
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2008 NMSU Defense | 2008 NMSU Depth Chart
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2007 NMSU Offense Preview | 2006 CFN New Mexico State Preview 

What you need to know
: The attack wasn't quite as devastating as originally expected, considering QB Chase Holbrook, WR Chris Williams, and a host of other starters were returning, but it still averaged 332 passing yards per game. The problem was scoring; there wasn't much of it, especially against the better teams. If the tackle situation can quickly be figured out, the offense should blow up with yards and points with most of the key players back, and Williams returning from a collarbone injury. The recruiting class should provide instant help at tackle as well as the backfield with four good running backs coming in. 

Returning Leaders
Passing: Chase Holbrook
381-543, 3,866 yds, 26 TD, 18 INT
Rushing: Tonny Glynn
81 carries, 456 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: A.J. Harris
81 catches, 611 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Chase Holbrook
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior OT Joe Suder
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB Marquell Colston
Best pro prospect: Holbrook
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Holbrook, 2) WR Chris Williams, 3) WR A.J. Harris
Strength of the offense: Passing, passing, passing, receivers
Weakness of the offense:
Running, backup offensive line

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
After doing a little bit of thinking about jumping ship to the NFL early, senior Chase Holbrook chose to return for his final year after realizing he'd likely have been a late second day pick. With a lousy overall quarterback class expected in 2009, and with the potential to have a huge statistical season, it was a good move. After starting out his career at SE Louisiana, recruited by Hal Mumme, he transferred over to NMSU and has been one of the nation's top passers with a whopping 8,485 yards and 60 touchdowns with 27 interceptions in two seasons. However, after an ultra-efficient sophomore season, he struggled with interceptions throughout last season throwing 18, with two or more tossed in six games. At 6-5 and 240 pounds, he has the size, he has the arm, and he has the knowledge of the offense. Now with his prime receivers returning, he should be in for a huge final season and should take over for Colt Brennan as the WAC's big passing star.

Projected Top Reserves: Being groomed for next year is sophomore J.J. McDermott, a 6-5, 220-pound power passer who fits the mold of the NMSU quarterback with a good deep arm and a little bit of experience. He filled in for Chase Holbrook for a stretch in the midseason and wasn't horrible completing 10 of 19 passes for 57 yards and two interceptions in the blowout loss to Boise State and he completed 29 of 40 passes for 319 yards and two scores in the loss to Louisiana Tech.

Watch Out For ... Holbrook to get back on track. He pressed a bit too often at times and forced too many throws that weren't there, but with two seasons under his belt and a loaded offense to work with, he should be able to cut his interception total (18) down to around ten. 
Strength: Arms. Mumme's offense isn't for the noodle-armed. While there isn't a whole bunch of downfield passing involved, the Aggie quarterbacks can't be afraid to sling it in tight spaces. Holbrook and McDermott can do that.
Weakness: Mobility. It's not like Holbrook is a total statue, he ran for two touchdowns, but Tim Tebow he's not. McDermott isn't going to ever leave the pocket.
Outlook: If Chase Holbrook can keep the interceptions to a minimum and do a better job of producing early in games, the Aggies will go from also-ran to a bowl team just on offense alone. Oh sure, he has thrown for a bazillion yards and is always a sure bet to hit the 350 mark, but now he has to win. J.J. McDermott is a strong No. 2 option who'll someday have a 3,500-yard passing season of his own.
Rating: 8.5

Running Backs

Projected Starter
:
It'll be a true running back by committee approach with four newcomers all playing key roles, but the one likely star of the bunch should be Marquell Colston, a 5-9, 205-pound JUCO transfer who ran for 951 yards for Modesto JC in California and also made 492 grabs. He'll get his share of carries, but his worth will be as a speedy check-down target for Chase Holbrook and the passing game.

Projected Top Reserves: Just when it seemed like Tonny Glynn was finding his niche in the offense, he broke his ankle and was out for the year, along with spring ball, after rushing for 456 yards and four touchdowns, including two scores against Idaho, while catching 24 passes for 171 yards. A tremendous speedster, he started out his Aggie career as a defensive back, making two stops in six games, before finding a home on offense.

Coming in to see time right away will be 5-9, 200-pound JUCO transfer Seth Smith, who ran for 580 yards and 14 touchdowns last season for College of the Sequoias. He has the quick burst to rip off big plays in the running game with the holes he'll have to work with. Also in the mix will be 6-0, 193-pound Donavan Roberts, a high school recruit who saw time as a quarterback and running back. While he was recruited as a running back, with 10.58 speed in the 100 meters, he could move out to wideout. The final recruit who could make an immediate impact in the ground game is 6-1, 200-pound Ruben Martinez, a true freshman who's the most physical of the four new options. Of the newcomers, he's the most likely to redshirt as he works on his receiving skills. If nothing else, he'll turn into a fullback.

When the Aggies use a fullback, and it's not often, junior Brandon Perez will check in as a short yardage runner and pass protector. He caught four passes for 16 yards with a touchdown, and ran six times for 41 yards.

Watch Out For ... More from the running game. With four players brought in specifically to provide a little more pop to a ground attack that averaged a mere 91.5 yards per game, more attention will be paid to balancing things out ... a little bit.
Strength: Quickness. Blinding quickness. There isn't a 20-carry-a-game back on the roster, but there aren't usually 20 carries to be had on a normal basis. The four new recruits can all cut on a dime, and if Tonny Glynn is back at full strength, there will be more than enough weapons to do more.
Weakness: Experience. If Glynn is still out for any appreciable length of time, there's no one with any appreciable playing time to count on. That's not to say the new guys won't be able to produce from the start, but in this offense, being able to block and catch are more important than running, and that might take a little time.
Outlook: With Justine Buries transferring to Hofstra and leading-rusher Tonny Glynn suffering an ankle injury, the Aggies needed bodies, and quickly. In Marquell Colston, Seth Smith, Donavan Roberts and Ruben Martinez, this will be the most talented backfield yet in the Hal Mumme era. Now whether or not they get any carries will be another story.
Rating: 4


Receivers

Projected Starters
:
Chris Williams caught 56 passes for 772 yards and 11 touchdowns in just under eight games, but it was that eighth, a win over Idaho, that cost him his season suffering a broken collarbone. On the positive side, one of the nation's quickest, most productive receivers is back for a final year and, if he stay healthy, will be one of the nation's most productive receivers. a wisp at only 5-8 and 157 pounds, he can't take too many big shots, but he's uncoverable.  He didn't do much as a freshman, but he exploded with 92 catches for 1,415 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore, and was on his way to an even better junior year before the injury. A blur when he gets his hands on the ball, he's amazing when he gets the ball on the move from his Z position.


Returning to the outside X position is senior A.J. Harris, the team's leading receiver after Chris Williams went down finishing with 81 catches for 611 yards and two scores. When the offense needed him to step up, he did with 19 catches in the two games following Williams' injury, and a 12-catch, 68-yard day against Utah State. A consistent scorer as a sophomore, he has to start finding the end zone again and he has to break off more big plays. After averaging 11.1 yards per catch two years ago, he only averaged 7.54 yards per grab.

Returning to find a spot is senior Kenneth Buckley, who was an afterthought over the first half of the season before turning it on in place of Chris Williams at the Z with 29 catches, 28 of them over the final six games, for 413 yards and five touchdowns. He also returned seven kicks for 110 yards against San Jose State. While not the speedster Williams is, he's quick and consistent. To be used more, he has to make more of an impact once he gets the ball in his hands. 

With tight end Nick Cleaver gone, sophomore Kyle Nelson will get the first crack at the job after seeing time in every game last year. Mostly a long snapper and backup, he caught two passes for six yards and has the athleticism to be an immediate help replacing Cleaver's 33 catches.

Projected Top Reserves: 5-10, 185-pound sophomore Wes Neiman turned into one of the nice surprises of last season's offense with 51 catches for 42 yards and three touchdowns. Little used throughout the year, he turned it on at the inside H position when some rotating had to be done to replace Chris Williams. All he did was catch ten passes for 106 yards and a score against Utah State, and followed it up with 11 grabs for 128 yards in the season finale against Fresno State. He's also used a bit on kickoff returns.

The H position job is up in the air with Derek Dubois gone, but the team might have upgraded the position with one of the nation's fastest players, top recruit LaVorick Williams. Expected to go run track at Texas Tech, he changed his mind and chose to bring his 10.4 100-meter speed to the Aggies. While he's still raw, at 6-3 and 178 pounds, with his wheels, he'll be dangerous in some way.

The 6-0, 185-pound junior Christopher Buckner has grown into a reliable reserve making 21 catches for 208 yards. While has has decent wheels and can fill in on the outside, he's not a big-play threat and could see more time this season on the inside H of Z positions.

Ready-made for the Air Raid offense is 5-7, 170-pound Marcus Anderson, a JUCO transfer who caught 84 passes for 846 yards and nine touchdowns in two seasons at Pasadena City College. Yet another quick, undersized Aggie target, he could also see time as a kick and punt returner.

Looking to finally get on the field is 6-4, 238-pound sophomore Ryan Franzoy, one of the team's biggest tight end options who was ready to roll last year as a part of the rotation before suffering a knee injury. He missed the entire season and had to redshirt.

Watch Out For ... Chris Williams to be more dangerous than ever. He might not hit the 92-grab mark like he did in his sophomore season, but with Chase Holbrook back after starting for two years and knowing exactly what he's doing, Williams should be back to his pre-injury form.
Strength: Fast Williams. Chris Williams and new recruit LaVorick Williams are each 4.3 speedsters who'll blow past DBs time and again. These two would hold their own in a fastest-college-player competition.
Weakness: Size. The Aggies have a fleet of small, little targets who can get blasted when defenders have an open shot. This group isn't going to outmuscle anyone.
Outlook: Yes, the offense makes the receivers, but the Aggie corps is built to fit the attack. You won't find any Terrell Owens-type big guys who'll fight for the ball. Instead, there's a slew of jitterbugs and a ton of speed that drives opposing secondaries nuts. Chris Williams will be an All-American based on his production, but there's plenty of experience returning to spread the ball around. The rating based on the numbers this group will put up and not necessarily talent.
Rating: 9

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
:
The line has one big question: who's going to replace Mike Martinez? The 6-4, 350-pounder was a strong left tackle, and now it'll likely be up to 6-6, 330-pound JUCO transfer, Joe Suder, to protect Chase Holbrook's blind side. An all-star at Arizona Western College, he was a strong run blocker who has to quickly translate into a top pass protector.

The right tackles spot is also a question mark with James Farrelly gone. Sophomore Patrick Blount, Farrelly's backup last year, will get the first look, but he could end up moving inside to see time at guard. While not huge at 6-3 and 270 pounds, he versatile and can move.

The middle of the line is set with senior Richie Bolin at center and sophomore Chuck Taylor and senior Polo Gutierrez at the guards. The 291-pound Bolin started every game last year after taking over the job late in 2006, and with added bulk over the last year, should be even better.

Taylor is a 345-pound road grater who was thrown to the wolves as a true freshman. A load at left guard, he's a decent interior pass blocker who should do even more for the running game, like the 304-pound Gutierrez, who was one of the rocks of the line at right guard. He started his career on the offensive side, moved to the defensive line, and moved back to offense where he's been an everyday starter over the last few seasons.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Joseph Palmer was a key reserve at left guard, but he's versatile enough to play either spot. Originally he was slated for one of the open starting spots, but ended up giving way to Chuck Taylor before the season started. Even so, the 313-pounder could step in and start without missing a beat.

JUCO transfer David Norman is coming into to immediately challenge for a starting job after earning all-star honors at San Diego Mesa College. At 6-5 and 300 pounds, he'll push for one of the open tackle spots.

Ready to find a spot somewhere up front will be redshirt freshman Michael Grady, a 6-3, 320-pound prospect who'll get a little time at both guard and tackle. He'll be joined by Wallace Jennings, a 6-2, 278-pound tackle who'll see immediate time in the rotation.

Watch Out For ... good competition for the tackle spots. The Aggie O linemen needs to do one thing well, pass protect, and it'll be an open audition for the tackle job with the inside set.
Strength: Guards. Chuck Taylor and Polo Gutierrez are a little too big for an offense that needs quickness up front, more than anything else, but they're solid veterans who should do more for the running game.
Weakness: Backup tackles. The JUCO transfers had better be up-to-snuff, and the redshirt freshman had better be ready to roll right away, or the depth will be a big, big issue.
Outlook: A total disaster a few years ago, the coaching staff finally found the right combination at the end of 2006, and for the most part, it carried over into a strong 2007. Both tackles need to be replaced, but JUCO transfer Joe Suder should take one spot without a problem and there are options, albeit untested ones, to fill in the other gap. The interior returns three decent veterans for what should be one of the team's unheralded strengths. How much better has the line been? It gave up 28 sacks, but there were 623 pass attempts, or a sack ever 0.04% of the time.
Rating: 5