Preview 2009 - Offense
2009 CFN New Mexico Preview |
2009 New Mexico
2009 New Mexico
2009 New Mexico
2008 UNM Preview |
2007 UNM Preview |
What you need to know:
The offense wanted to go more to the spread late in the Rocky
Long era, and now it's diving in head first under new head coach
Mike Locksley, the former offensive coordinator at Illinois.
While the Lobos don't have a Juice Williams to do a little of
everything under center, Donovan Porterie, despite a disastrous
2008 with no production and a devastating knee injury, is a
veteran talent who should do a good job of directing traffic.
However, he's not the runner the offense needs meaning Tate
Smith and Brad Gruner will factor into the mix. The receiving
corps is experienced, but it's not very good, while the
backfield is good, but has little experience. Helping the cause
will be a strong line that has to make a big adjustment, but has
if full of mid-range NFL talent to keep the adjustment period
relatively painless. Erik Cook might be the Mountain West's best
center, while Byron Bell is on the verge of becoming a special
Passing: Brad Gruner
99-184, 1,037 yds, 3 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: James Wright
54 carries, 348 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: Bryant Williams
36 catches, 272 yds, 1 TD
Star of the offense:
Senior QB Donovan Porterie
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior OT
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman RB A.J. Butler
Best pro prospect: Sophomore OT Byron Bell
Top three all-star candidates: 1) C Erik Cook, 2) Bell,
3) OG Joshua Taufalele
Strength of the offense: Line talent, Receiver experience
Weakness of the offense:
Receiver talent, Donovan
Talk about your disastrous
seasons, senior Donovan Porterie was supposed
to have a breakout campaign and was supposed to emerge as one of
the Mountain West's biggest stars. Instead, he threw for 372
yards, no touchdowns, and five interceptions in four games,
obliterated his knee, and missed the rest of the year. He has
been able to recover quickly enough to be back in his starting
role, but he's still a question mark as he's trying to get back
to 100%. Not a runner before, now he's really not going to be
taking off and will be more of a pocket passers, but he has the
6-3, 208-pound size and the arm to regain his 2007 form when he
threw for 3,006 yards and 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
A folk hero of sorts because of his style and the way he was
able to play well under pressure, at least before last year,
he's a good veteran for the program to work around.
Projected Top Reserves: When Porterie went down,
sophomore Brad Gruner stepped in and struggled.
The 6-2, 217-pounder was the team's start recruit of 2007 after
leading his Chandler High team to the Arizona state
championship after coming back from a torn up knee, but when he
was thrown to the wolves, he completed 54% of his passes for
1,037 yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions (with
three of them coming against Tulsa). More of a runner than
Porterie, he gained 331 yards and three touchdowns. While he
might have sputtered in the passing game, he improved by the end
of the season finishing with 204 yards against Colorado State.
Junior Tate Smith walked on after playing
for Cisco JC. While he's only 6-1 and 190 yards, he has a huge
arm and can make all the throws even better than Porterie. He's
also mobile with the ability to scramble and get out of tough
situations. Good enough to work his way into the No. 2 job, he
could be counted on if Porterie's knee isn't right.
Watch Out For ... Porterie's knee. It's not like
he was having a big year before getting hurt, but he was still
missed. He had just enough time to heal up to get back on the
field, but he'll likely need a while before everything is
Strength: Passers. Gruner wasn't great, but he
got a little experience and should be ready to do more if
needed. Porterie is a smooth-as-silk passer, while Smith has a
live arm and can get the ball deep.
Weakness: Mobility. Porterie is the team's best quarterback, but
he doesn't fit what Mike Locksley would like to do with the
offense. Will the offense fit the players or vice versa?
Outlook: An utter disaster last season thanks to
the loss of Porterie, the quarterback situation was a problem
with the Lobos finishing 111th in the nation in passing
efficiency and 110th in passing. Mobility is a must for the new
coaching staff, but Porterie can't run and the passing game will
be sacrificed if he's not the starter.
The offense needs a quick back who can burst
through the hole, and redshirt freshman A.J. Butler
should be a good fit. While he's a lanky 6-1 and 195 pounds, he's a
tough inside runner with excellent hands and good cutting ability. While
he's not going to be a workhorse, and he might not be he go-to back in
the clutch, he's going to get the early look in the starting role
because of his hands and his quickness.
Projected Top Reserves: It was hard for
James Wright to see too much action with Rodney Ferguson and
Paul Baker the main backs, but he came through with a nice first season
rushing for 348 yards and two touchdowns averaging 6.4 yards per carry.
Used mostly in blowouts, the 5-11, 235-pound sophomore showed what he
could do with 120 yards and a score against Wyoming and 110 yards
against San Diego State. While he was a perfect fit for the old offense,
he has to prove he can handle the workload in the new attack.
While he didn't get a whole bunch of work last year, rushing for just 62
yards and a touchdown, junior Terence Brown made his
carries count. The 6-0, 186-pounder averaged 20.7 yards per carry
getting all his yards on three carries against San Diego State. One of
the fastest players on the team, he'll be used in a variety of ways
Watch Out For ... the streak to end. New Mexico is
the only team in the nation to have a 1,000-yard rusher in every year
since 2002. That's not to say that Wright or Jones can't hit the
mark in the running-friendly system, but they'll end up
Strength: The new system.
The attack is great at utilizing backs who can cut and find the
open hole. A speedy runner can tear off yards in chunks, and
Wright, for his size, and Butler can do that.
Weakness: Experience. The running attack focused on Rodney
Ferguson and Paul Baker last year, with the two combining for
over 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns. That's not to say the new
backs aren't ready, but they haven't had to shine in games that
Outlook: The Locksley spread attack is conducive
for big years for the back who is hottest at the moment.
Ideally, the quarterback is a big part of the ground game, but
if it's Donovan Porterie under center, more of the
responsibility will fall on the running backs. This group can
While junior Chris Hernandez
wasn't the team's leading receiver, the 6-3, 191-pounder
stepped up and became the team's most dangerous one averaging 13 yards
per catch with 33 grabs for 428 yards. he didn't score and he was dinged
up in the middle of the season, but he was steady throughout showing off
just enough speed and good hands. One of the team's strongest receivers,
he's also a solid blocker.
6-2, 182-pound sophomore Michael Scarlett got six
starts as a fourth wide receiver and showed flashes of great potential
catching 11 passes for 104 yards. He has the size and he has the
athleticism, but he needs to keep working on his route running ability
and his consistency. The former high school quarterback could be a
game-breaker if he can get the ball more in space.
Senior Roland Bruno was one of the few
receivers with any experience going into last year, and he came up with
a nice year finishing third on the team with 24 catches for 242 yards at
the old T position. The former walk-on came to New Mexico to run track,
and while he's a wisp at 5-10 and 166 pounds, he has proven to be more
than just a sprinter who plays football. He's a great route runner who'd
shine if there was steadier quarterback play.
The Lobo offense will use the tight end more than in the past,
meaning there's an opening for redshirt freshman Lucas Reed
to be a breakout target. The 6-6, 215-pounder from Tucson is a
good receiver with nice hands. While he'll be an average blocker, he
should shine as a route runner on third downs.
Projected Top Reserves:
Bryant Williams was the star of the 2008 recruiting
class as a transfer from Coffeyville CC in Kansas. Originally a
Michigan State Spartan, before having to go the JUCO route, he came up
with a good first season with team-leading 36 catches for 272 yards and
a touchdown, but he wasn't the gamebreaker he was expected to be early
on averaging a mere 7.6 yards per carry. The 5-11, 190-pounder has good
speed and will be a reliable target in three and four-wide sets.
Listed as a starter coming out of spring ball is senior
Daryl Jones, a big, imposing 6-4, 212-pound target who only
caught two passes for 22 yards in a disappointing season. The tools are
there with speed and hands to go along with his size, and he's a
tremendous blocker, too. But he'll have to produce early on to get the
full-time job with Chris Hernandez listed behind him.
Combining with Lucas Reed at tight end is Jonathan Mader,
a 6-4, 200-pound redshirt freshman who was a quarterback in high school
and has spend the last year learning how to be a tight end. He's a good
athlete with nice size, but he'll need a while before he can be a steady
Watch Out For ... more overall production.
The passing game was a nightmare throughout last season due to poor
quarterback play and inexperience in the receiving corps. This year's
group knows what it's doing, even in a new offense.
Strength: Experience. A
monster problem going into last year after losing Marcus Smith and
Travis Brown, this year the top three receivers are back and there are a
few options to look at across the board.
Weakness: Talent. The jury is out on
whether or not the receivers can actually play. Yes, the quarterback
play stunk last season, but it's not like the receivers did much to help
the cause. New Mexico receivers caught three touchdown passes, and QB
Donovan Porterie caught the fourth.
Outlook: The receiving corps
had to start from scratch going into last year, and it showed. There was
steady production, but little pop and no scoring threats whatsoever. If
the quarterbacking is better, the receivers will be stronger, but it's
not going to be the other way around. This is a limited corps that'll
will be fine, at best, but never special.
The anchor of the line and one of the Mountain
West's best blockers will once again be Eric Cook, a 6-6,
315-pound senior who will play at the next level for a long time
at either guard or center, but he could even get a look at
tackle if needed. He played four of the five spots on the line
in 2007, but this year he'll stick to his spot at center for the
second year in a row.
While he didn't earn
all-star honors last year, 6-2, 310-pound senior Joshua Taufalele is on the verge of big things after coming up with a
great season for the running game. Extremely strong for the
running game, he's a blaster with tremendous technique and the
drive to finish off blocks to spring extra yards. He started
every game at right guard and will be one of the anchors of the
6-5, 325-pound Byron Bell was expected to be a star
early on and he didn't disappoint. Extremely athletic for his
size, he was a rock at right tackle in every game and now will
move over to the left side where he should be dominant. The key
to his game is being able to stay academically eligible, but as
long as he can stay healthy and keep improving, he'll get paid a
lot of money to be someone's right tackle at the next level.
With Bell moving sides, senior Ivan Hernandez will take over
the fill-time job at right tackle. Expected to play a big role
going into last year, he only played in two games thanks to knee
and ankle problems. The 6-6, 295-pound former JUCO transfer is a
perfect fit for the new offense with good athleticism and
mobility, even with his leg issues.
Taking over for Matt
Stried at left guard will be Mike Cannon, a 6-3, 295-pound
junior who only played in one game last year and has to get
healthy after having knee problems starting in high school. Able
to play either guard or tackle, he's far better suited for a
spot on the inside where he should be a decent blocker on the
Projected Top Reserves: Former JUCO All-American Ben
Contreras was one of the team's top recruits of last year and was
supposed to figure into
the starting mix right away. The 6-2, 300-pound senior only say time in
one game, stepping in at center against San Diego State. In his
final year, he's not going to see much time at center with Cook
starring, so he might end up moving to guard.
Junior Derek Tallent is a versatile 6-4, 303-pound junior who
has the potential to be fantastic at either guard or tackle, but
he has had problems with a knee injury that sidelined him late
in his high school career. Able to move to center if absolutely
needed, he'll start out at right guard behind Joshua Taufalele.
Watch Out For ... Bell. the NFL scouts will
be coming to Albuquerque this year to mainly look at Cook, but
it's Bell who they're going to fall in love with. He'll be a
fourth round pick whenever he comes out, and several teams are
going to consider him a steal there.
Strength: Talent. New Mexico never had a problem getting
big, beefy lineman under Rocky Long, and this year's starting
five, after figuring out what it was doing last year, should be
good. Cook and Bell are NFL talents, while Taufalele isn't far
Weakness: Health. The fill-in parts and most of the top backups have
a major skeleton in the closet or two. The line was able to hold
up well last year with the same starting lineup for every game
but one, but it's asking a lot for the same luck again.
Outlook: After a disaster up front a few years ago, the
former coaching regime made a point to go upgrade the line in a
big way, and it should pay off this year. Can the talented
veterans handle the new attack that relies more on positioning
and athleticism than brute force? Yes, but there are questions
about the depth along with the left guard and right tackle jobs.
However, having Cook, Bell, and Taufalele to build around is a