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2009 New Mexico State Preview - Offense
Posted Jul 28, 2009 2009 Preview - New Mexico State Aggie Offense

New Mexico State Aggies

Preview 2009 - Offense

- 2009 CFN NMSU Preview | 2009 NMSU Offense
2009 NMSU Defense | 2009 NMSU Depth Chart
2008 NMSU Preview | 2007 NMSU Preview | 2006 NMSU Preview  

What you need to know
: New offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach is hardly going to play it conservative, but this will look like a far different team with a real, live running game to focus on. The big, veteran offensive line should do better now that it gets to hit someone, but it’s going to take a while to find the right combination. The same goes for a receiving corps that needs to hope for star recruit Marcus Allen to shine right away to help out Marcus Anderson. Marquell Colston is a good running back who’ll finally get a chance to show what he can do, and he might need to carry the offense for stretches. The quarterback situation is the biggest question mark with JUCO transfer Jeff Fleming option one and freshman Tanner Rust also getting his shot.

Returning Leaders
Passing: None
Rushing: Marquell Colston
82 carries, 384 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Marcus Anderson
50 catches, 617 yds, 9 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB Marquell Colston
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Jeff Fleming
Unsung star on the rise: Senior WR Marcus Anderson
Best pro prospect: Anderson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Colston, 2) Anderson, 3) OT Mike Grady
Strength of the offense: Veteran offensive linemen and running backs, quick receivers
Weakness of the offense: Quarterback, veteran receivers


Projected Starter
The new coaching staff had to go out and find a quarterback, and it might have to put its eggs in the basket of Jeff Fleming. The 6-4, 195-pound JUCO transfer is an accurate passer who threw for 1,900 yards and 24 touchdowns for Fullerton JC. He’s mobile, a good leader, and the type of ready-made veteran who can step in and know what he’s doing right away. While he can move a little bit, he’s not going to scare anyone with his running skills.

Projected Top Reserves: Will the Aggies turn the offense over to a true freshman? They might have to as Tanner Rust could be the most talented quarterback on the roster. The 6-2, 195-pound all-around playmaker was a second-team All-State player at El Capitan High in Lakewood, California. He’s a better runner than Jeff Fleming and he has the smarts to get on the field early on and produce. Tremendously athletic and very tough, he’s the type of player the program might build around.

Trevor Walls would’ve been an interesting prospect in the old system. The 6-5, 220-pound redshirt freshman has a big arm, good experience, starting three years at Waverly High in Ohio, and tremendous upside. He’s the type of bomber the coaching staff might be really interested in developing.

6-3, 212-pound sophomore Scott Garland spent last year as the third string quarterback and while he’ll have to deal with the new system, he’s a good passer and a decent all-around athlete who’ll get a long look.

Watch Out For ... Rust to appear to be the best option even if he’s not quite ready. This is going to be a tough transitional season, and playing Fleming might not do too much good for a program that needs to build for the future. 
Strength: Passers. While Rust and Fleming might have been more excited to have played in a pass-happy Hal Mumme attack, they’re good enough passing prospects to be able to produce in a more toned-down offense. Rushing skills will be at a premium, but pushing the ball deep will be a key, too.
Weakness: Experience. There’s less than none. Rust is coming straight out of high school, Fleming came to Las Cruses to start right away and could be ticked if he doesn’t, and there’s not much of a safety net behind those two.
Outlook: This is one of the tougher quarterback situations in the country because there’s nothing, nothing the coaching staff can be sure of early on. Who has to go out and recruit the starting quarterback for right now? NMSU did after J.J. McDermott took off for SMU. Rust and Fleming each have good upside and there will be plenty of patience around the entire situation, but it’s going to be a rough go until someone can show some consistency. On the plus side, offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach’s specialty is working with quarterbacks.
Rating: 4
Running Backs

Projected Starter
All of a sudden, New Mexico State needs a running back to produce as more than just a diversion. 5-9, 205-pound senior Marquell Colston was the team’s leading rusher last season with a mere 384 yards and four touchdowns, but he was banged up throughout the second half of the year. The highlight came in the win over Nevada with 118 yards and a touchdown on the ground to go along with three catches for 22 yards and a score. Even though he only caught 14 passes for 76 yards and a score, he has good hands and can be used in a variety of ways. The former JUCO transfer is a speedy back who’ll need to hit a home run or two from time to time.
Projected Top Reserves: Senior Tonny Glynn appeared to be ready to grow into the team’s main back two years ago before suffering an ankle injury, and he never got on track last year with just 214 yards on the ground and seven catches for 74 yards. The 5-8, 192-pounder has tremendous speed and can cut on a dime, he started out his career as a defensive back, and now he’ll get more chances to carry the ball.

5-10, 200-pound sophomore Donavan Roberts was a former high school quarterback who was recruited to run the ball. Lightning fast with 10.58 speed in the 100, he didn’t get a chance to show off his wheels with just 42 yards on 20 carries. He’ll also see time on special teams.

Former JUCO transfer Seth Smith was expected to step in and play right away, but he didn’t see any time. He has a quick burst and was going to be the type of player to fit the former system, but with 5-9, 200-pound size and good athleticism, he could be a part of the new offense early on.

This year, the Aggies might actually use a fullback meaning there will be more of a place for senior Brandon Perez. He didn’t get too many chances to see the field with a groin injury keeping him under wraps. He ran for 104 yards in his limited work, and at 5-8 and 236 pounds, he brings more power to the equation.

Watch Out For ... An actual running game. With the overall change in the team’s philosophy will come a major emphasis on the ground attack. NMSU was second-to-last in the nation in rushing, only SMU was worse, and while there won’t be a night-and-day difference right away, the new coaching staff will pound away more.
Strength: Quickness. Everyone is smallish, compact, and can dart in and out of situations. The Aggies can move and should be able to make things happen that aren’t there by their feet alone. All the backs were brought to the program to catch, too, so there’s plenty of versatility.
Weakness: Production. The backs were originally brought in to be a change-of-pace for the passing game. There isn’t a proven workhorse in the bunch, so it’ll have to be a case of running back-by-committee with several different backs auditioning for a shot at getting the bulk of the carries in a given game.
Outlook: Call this a strength-in-numbers position. There are plenty of bodies and plenty of prospects who have a little bit of experience and decent upside. It should be a fun change for the backs because now they’ll be used, and for all the concerns and all the lack of proven production, this should be one of the few areas that the team should find a gem or two to get excited about.
Rating: 4.5


Projected Starters
With all the major personnel losses, the offense needs new recruit Marcus Allen to be the star he’s expected to be right away. The 6-0, 190-pound JUCO transfer is a big-time playmaker catching 58 passes for 1,131 yards and 12 touchdowns last season for Modesto JC in California. He’s the type of player who can take the ball and make big things happen from anywhere on the field, and he’s the type of player who could be the No. 1 target right away.

The one returning starter is Marcus Anderson, a 5-8, 166-pound JUCO transfer who caught 84 passes for 846 yards and nine touchdowns in two seasons at Pasadena City College two years ago, he was third on the team with 50 catches for 617 yards and nine touchdowns. Consistent, he had a breakout game with 121 yards and two touchdowns on four catches against New Mexico and was steady the rest of the way.

5-8, 162-pound sophomore Julius Fleming caught 13 passes for 166 yards as a reserve on the X behind A.J. Harris. Used a bit more as a kick returner than a receiver, he’s one of the team’s most experienced returning targets and should be more of a part of the offense. While he’s small, he’s tough, and like all Aggie receivers he’s extremely quick.

Back at tight end, and almost certain to be used far more as a safety valve to keep the chains moving, is 64, 232-pound junior Kyle Nelson. Mostly a long snapper so far, he also caught 11 passes for 70 yards when he was part of the passing game. A good all-around athlete, he won’t be ignored in the offense.

Projected Top Reserves: There are smallish Aggie receivers, and then there’s 5-9, 155-pound sophomore Todd Lee. Used only in garbage time, he caught six passes for 35 yards and was occasionally used on kickoff returns. Also used a bit as a running back, he ran four times to 12 yards.

At 6-8 and 205 pounds, freshman Joe Cordova comes in with excellent athleticism to go along with his size. While he doesn’t have great speed, he poses a matchup nightmare with his physical style.

Ready to get a chance at a punt returner as well as a receiver is Ruben Martinez, a redshirt freshman with good toughness and quickness for a 6-0, 200-pound target. A touchdown machine in high-school, he could make some noise on the inside.

Darrius Preston emerged late in his high school career in Fort Myers, Florida, as a good prospect. He redshirted last year and still might need some work before he’s ready to make much of an impact, but that goes for everyone else in the corps. At 6-1 and 170 pounds, he’s one of the team’s biggest receivers.

Watch Out For ... Marcus Allen. He should be able to instantly come in and be the team’s most dangerous receiver, and he’ll get every shot to be the main man right away. He’s the playmaker the team will desperately need.
Strength: Receivers prepared to catch a lot of passes. Outside of Allen, the players on the roster came to NMSU looking to have plenty of work come their way. They won’t be shy about trying to make big things happen early on.
Weakness: Experience. Marcus Anderson should be ready to roll, but the rest of the receiving corps will need time before they can be counted on. There’s potential here, and there are plenty of prospects, but miracles won’t be expected considering the issues at quarterback.
Outlook: With 164 catches, 1,984 yards, and 12 touchdowns gone with the departure of Chris Williams and A.J. Harris, the Aggies will be looking to fill some major voids. While there isn’t much in the way of sure-thing quality, there’s quantity with several young receivers ready to fill a few spots. It won’t be the offense of the last few years, but the passes will be there and the opportunities will be plentiful to do big things.
Rating: 5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
Expected to be a key starter last year, senior Joe Suder ended up being a good backup at left tackle and a part-time starter on the right side. He’ll be expected to step in at right tackle this year as long as he can keep his weight in check. The 6-5, 346-pounder has the experience, but he has to show he can protect the passer. He could be more effective as a run blocking guard.

Returning at right guard is Joe Palmer, a 6-3, 308-pound senior was a top reserve at left guard a few years ago and turned into a starter late last season. While he’s not quick enough to handle quick and speedy inside pass rushers, he should be far better now that he gets to run block more.

6-3, 302-pound sophomore Mike Grady could be the key to the line. Along with getting a long look to take over for Richie Bolin at center, he’ll likely be needed more at left tackle where he grew into the starting role. He also got the call at center for a few games, but he made the biggest impact on the outside where he has the potential to become the anchor of the front five for the next few years. However, the team doesn’t have a better center option which means he could move around a bit.

Adding bulk to the inside running game is 6-3, 345-pound junior Chuck Taylor, the stalwart at left guard. While the rest of the line was in a constant state of reshuffling, Taylor was the steady starter for the full season. The new offense is far better suited to his talents and his strength. He’s also the dean of the line as the one starter who has been through it all over the last few years.

If Mike Grady ends up starting at center, that’ll mean Patrick Blount will get the start at one of the tackle spots. At 6-3 and 275 pounds, he’s one of the team’s lightest linemen, and he’s one of the most athletic. Strong enough to see time at guard, he’s one of the team’s most versatile blockers. Last year he got a start at right tackle for most of the season and saw a little time on the left side.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-3, 289-pound junior Joel Buschmann was beginning to make an impact at tackle early on last season before getting knocked out for the year with a shoulder injury. With good feet and pass blocking ability, he could see time at either tackle spot and will push hard for one of the starting jobs.

Along with seeing plenty of time at tackle, 6-4, 300-pound senior David Norman also got work as a big tight end in blocking situations. While he was a key reserve, he was a bit of a disappointment considering the former superstar JUCO transfer was expected to come in and start immediately.

6-3, 290-pound Derek Thompson got most of his work on special teams and played in five games on the offensive front. While he’s built like a tackle, he’ll most likely see the bulk of his time working as a backup guard.

Watch Out For ... more reshuffling. The line combination was never quite settled on last season thanks to a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness. A lot more work will be done this year to find the right fit for the new offense. It’s going to be a while before the right starting five is settled on.
Strength: Veterans. There’s no shortage of experience here with so many players getting work in various spots. While no one really stood out in the group, there are enough veterans to quickly make the transition into a more traditional attack.
Weakness: Production. The big line didn’t run block, and the pass protection was non-existent for stretches. Getting the right linemen to fit the old system was tough, and now the new coaching staff has to see if anyone can actually block. No one did much of that last year.
Outlook: Just when it seemed like the line was going to not just be competent, but be a major strength, it went into the tank. Injuries didn’t help, but for the most part, the front five just plain stunk. Now it’ll get to hit someone. There’s enough bulk, and enough veterans, to hope for this to be one of the team’s bigger instant improvements. However, it’s going to take time to get this group in the right mindset to blast away for the running game.
Rating: 4.5


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2009 New Mexico State Preview - Defense
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2009 CFN New Mexico State Preview
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2009 New Mexico State Preview – Depth Chart
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