New Mexico State Aggies
Preview 2009 - Offense
2009 CFN NMSU Preview
2009 NMSU Offense
2009 NMSU Defense
2009 NMSU Depth
2008 NMSU Preview
2007 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.
Rushing: Marquell Colston
82 carries, 384 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Marcus Anderson
50 catches, 617 yds, 9 TD
Star of the
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,
Weakness of the offense: Quarterback,
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.