2010 New Mexico Preview – Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - New Mexico Lobo Offense
New Mexico Lobos
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: The backfield is loaded with quick, talented running backs, the receiving corps is fast and potentially dangerous, and there are five quarterback options to choose from. None of it matters if the line isn't better. The no-huddle spread attack sputtered and coughed all of last year averaging a pitiful 16.3 points per game and 315 yards per outing. The passing attack was among the least efficient in America and the running game went nowhere, and now the hope has to be for more from the line to change all of that. Tackle Byron Bell leads a big group that got the quarterbacks beaten up, but if the front five can do one thing well, the offense might start to work. Offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey, the former North Texas head man, knows how to get a running game going, and if he can help the offense keep the mistakes to a minimum and can keep the chains moving, the chance will be there for a huge improvement.
Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Demond Dennis
Passing: B.R. Holbrook
19-34, 170 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Demond Dennis
78 carries, 427 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Ty Kirk
36 catches, 417 yds, 2 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior OT Maurice Mears
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RB Kasey Carrier
Best pro prospect: Junior OT Byron Bell
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Dennis, 2) RB James Wright, 3) WR Ty Kirk
Strength of the offense: Running Back, Receiver Speed
Weakness of the offense: Pass Protection, Proven Quarterback
Projected Starter: While the starting issue hasn't been settled, sophomore B.R. Holbrook should be the best option. The team's No. 2 option behind Donovan Porterie is a decent passer with 6-3, 181-pound size and a good, live arm. In a little bit of work he completed 19-of-34 throws for 170 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. He's not a runner and he's not going to do much of anything for the spread, but he'll push the ball down the field.
Projected Top Reserves: Junior Brad Gruner got his chance two years ago, but he struggled when thrown to the wolves completing 54% of his throws for 1,037 yards with three touchdowns and six picks. The star recruit for the program in 2007 after leading his high school team to the Arizona state championship, he would've been given a longer look by bigger schools if he hadn't injured his knee. After getting healthy again, he was in the mix for the No. 1 job before suffering an MCL injury. Needing his wheels to be a factor, he's more of a runner than B.R. Holbrook gaining 331 yards and three scores during his time two years ago and spent last year on special teams.
After walking on from Cisco Junior College, junior Tate Smith was going to get every shot at the starting job but he has a banged up shoulder and can't seem to get it healthy fast enough to be a factor. At 6-1 and 198 pounds he not all that big, but he has a huge arm and he can put the ball anywhere on the field to go along with the mobility to make things happen on the move when things break down.
True freshmen Tarean Austin and Darian "Stump" Godfrey will get every opportunity to win the starting job this fall. The 6-2, 200-pound Austin comes in from Tampa where he started four straight years and became a dangerous dual-threat option. He has the arm to become more than just a runner, while the 6-0, 204-pound Godfrey, the Texas Player of the Year, does a little of everything well. A fantastic athlete with a live arm, he would've gotten a longer look from some bigger schools if he was a bit bigger.
Watch Out For … the true freshmen. Holbrook has the inside track for the starting job, but Austin and Godfrey are the most talented quarterbacks on the roster. They're going to push and push hard to be a part of the attack.
Strength: Options. The Lobos have five quarterbacks to choose from and they can all throw and they can all move. The coaching staff has a ton of work to do to come up with the hard choice on which way to go as the program continues to rebuild.
Weakness: Experience. Holbrook saw a little bit of time and didn't do much, while Gruner was only used as a runner during his brief appearances. Considering that two true freshmen are going to be involved, consistency isn't going to be part of the equation.
Outlook: There are plenty of interesting prospects to choose from, but everyone needs to be healthy and in camp. Holbrook is the starter by default with Gruner's knee and Smith's shoulder a problem, and it's asking way too much for true freshmen to make any real impact right away. If the pass protection is as miserable as it was last year, the quarterbacks will have to be sharp and creative. With a lack of experience across the board, that could be a problem.
Unit Rating: 5
Projected Starters: Sophomore Demond Dennis couldn't figure out where he was going. First he was going to go to Georgia Tech, and then he chose Troy, and then chose New Mexico and stepped in as a true freshman and led the team with just 427 yards and three touchdowns. He missed time in the middle of the season, but he was healthy enough to be the team's most dangerous rushing option highlighted by a 133-yard, one score day against Colorado State. He's only 5-9 and 196 pounds, but he's lightning fast and has a tough, strong frame that makes him good through the inside.
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Kasey Carrier didn't get off the bench over the first half of his true freshman season and then he became the team's best runner over the second half finishing with 269 yards. While the 5-9, 175-pounder didn't get into the end zone, he was able to handle the ball 10+ times a game and he became a whale of a receiver with 21 catches for 92 yards in his limited time. While his speed and quickness, he needs to make more big plays when he gets into the open.
Junior James Wright fits the old Rocky Long era style of running back at 6-0 and 239 pounds. He found a role two years ago running for 348 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 6.4 yards per carry, but he didn't get much room to move gaining just 291 yards last year with 196 of them coming against Air Force. With good speed for his size, he's not just a thumper, but his job will be to bring a physical element to the ground game.
Senior Terence Brown didn't get on the field last year for the offense, but he saw a little bit of time two seasons ago running for 62 yards and averaging a whopping 20.7 yards per carry on his three runs. One of the team's fastest players, he could be used in a variety of ways and will be a part of the running back mix to get his speed on the field. At 6-0 and 193 pounds he's not a physical runner and needs to be in space.
When the team uses a fullback, veteran Josh Fussell will be the main man with 6-2, 255-pound size and great hands. He caught five passes for 34 yards and a touchdown, and while he didn't get any carries, the former tight end was strong for the ground game. He's not a fit for the offense, but he'll see time in a variety of ways to get his size and strength on the field.
Watch Out For … a steady rotation. The Lobos have four backs who can run well enough to be the main man, and after wo
Strength: A steady rotation. The Lobos have four backs who can run well enough to be the main man. Four backs got the ball 50 times or more last year as the offense looked for the right fit and the hot back at the right time. Staying fresh won't be an issue for these backs.
Weakness: The offensive line. Under Rocky Long, this quartet of backs would be terrific with the potential to combine for over 2,000 yards. Until the offense figures out what its doing, it could be tough to find room behind a line that didn't provide an opening.
Outlook: Offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey got huge seasons out of Patrick Cobbs and Jamario Thomas at North Texas, and he has the ability and the potential to get the ground game moving for the Lobos if the line is decent and the passing game takes some of the heat off. In other words, the running backs are great, but the supporting cast isn't.
Unit Rating: 5.5
Projected Starters: Sophomore Ty Kirk is one of the Mountain West's most athletic receivers serving as a star long and triple jumper for the UNM track team and the leading receiver and punt returner for the football team. He came up with a surprising season with 36 catches for 427 yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a seven-catch, 105-yard day against New Mexico State. At 6-1 and 181 pounds he has decent size to go along with his speed and athleticism.
Chris Hernandez was supposed to become the team's No. 1 target after leading the way in 2008 with 33 catches for 428 yards, but he had a limited role last season catching just 14 passes for 177 yards. While the 6-3, 191-pound senior is strong and willing to make the tough catch, he has yet to score on any of his 49 career catches.
Former JUCO transfer Bryant Williams started out his career at Michigan State before finally finding his way to the Lobos. The 5-11, 190-pound senior has been a decent target with 62 career catches with 26 grabs last year for 283 yards and a score, but he has the ability to do far more. Extremely quick, he needs to get the ball in his hands on the move and can be used as a running back as well as an inside receiver.
The Lobo offense started to use the tight end more than in the past and sophomore Lucas Reed took advantage. The 6-6, 217-pound athlete is more like a big wide receiver and showed excellent upside making 17 catches for 212 yards and a score. While he's not going to block anyone, he can stretch the field and could be a go-to playmaker with better, more consistent quarterback play.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-1, 170-pound sophomore Quintell Solomon got his feet wet as a true freshman making 13 catches for 122 yards with a key touchdown in the win over Colorado State. A fast, tough target, he'll be used in four-wide sets when he's not working spending time working behind Ty Kirk as a key outside receiver. He can be used as a runner as well.
Possibly the most talented receiver on the team, 6-0, 185-pound Lamaar Thomas is a lightning fast transfer from Ohio State who saw a little bit of work on offense but worked mostly on special teams and on the track team. He ripped off a 10.65 in the 100 at the 2009 Big Ten Track Championships and has been clocked at 4.38 in the 40. He'd immediately be the team's No. 1 receiver, but he'll have to wait until next year until he's eligible. Instead, he'll have to spend his time on the Lobo track team.
6-5, 223-pound sophomore Jonathan Mader is a bigger tight end option than Lucas Reed, but he's not the same receiving talent and has to get healthy after suffering a dislocated elbow. Like a big wide receiver, he could create matchup problems in two tight end sets and he has the potential to be dangerous around the goal line.
Watch Out For … Reed. He wasn't bad last season averaging 12.5 yards per catch on 17 grabs, but there were way too many drops. He showed better concentration this offseason and should be a more reliable target to keep the chains moving.
Strength: Speed. Things will only get better next year when Thomas is involved, but for now, the Lobos will have no problems getting deep unless …
Weakness: The quarterbacks have no time to throw. The Lobo QBs got killed last season behind a porous line and won't have too much time to let plays develop deep. The receivers will have to do far more to come up with yards after the catch, but that was a problem last year as the passing game averaged a mere 9.6 yards per completion.
Outlook: While two of the top three receivers are gone, the experience, talent, and speed are all there to come up with a big season, but the quarterback play has to be far better and the receivers have to play up to their potential.
Unit Rating: 5
Projected Starters: Junior Byron Bell was one of the only bright spots on an abysmal line that couldn't adjust to the new offense. The 6-5, 330-pound veteran has started the last two years at left tackle and he had major problems in pass protection. With size, experience, and toughness, he's a great talent who needs to be more consistent and needs to keep improving his technique and his footwork. The skills are there to be a right tackle or a guard at the next level, but he needs to be an anchor who does more for the attack.
Along with Bell, the other returning starter up front is 6-3, 299-pound senior Karlin Givens, a main factor from the start after coming over from Holmes CC in Mississippi. Extremely strong, the left guard is a blaster for the ground game and should be one of the team's toughest all-around blockers as the year goes on.
Redshirt freshman Dillon Farrell will get a long look at replacing longtime stalwart Eric Cook in the middle. The 6-5, 272-pounder still needs to get bigger and stronger, but he's a quick, aggressive prospect with the potential to stick in the middle for the next four years.
Veteran Mike Cannon started five times last season at left guard and owned the position over the second half of the year. Now the 6-4, 299-pound senior will move over to the right side where he should be decent in place of 12 game starter Joshua Taufalele. Healthy after having knee problems earlier in his career, he's able to move around where needed able to play any spot on the line, even though he's far better in the interior.
6-3, 304-pound senior Maurice Mears came in from Rock Valley College and was a backup last year seeing starting time at right tackle against Tulsa and Air Force. A massive blocker who can't move, he'd be far better at guard but he's needed on the outside where he has to become a force in pass protection.
Projected Top Reserves: If it's not Dillon Farrell at center it'll be junior Mike Muniz, a 6-3, 290 pounder who has had to wait his turn behind Erik Cook and has been working to be ready over the last few years. Extremely strong and physical, he could end up seeing time at guard if he doesn't win the center gig.
Junior Jon Washington will be the key backup tackle at both spots, but he has to get on the field. He didn't see any time last year, but now, with his 6-5, 311-pound size and excellent strength, he has to be versatile enough and strong enough to be able to step in and produce on either side.
True freshman LaMar Bratton will be given every opportunity to take over a spot somewhere up front. Extremely physical and with good quickness, the 6-2, 275-pounder should be a defensive tackle but he's needed on the offensive side with the potential to be a perfect fit at guard for the spread attack.
Watch Out For … a ton of movement. The line was awful last season in pass protection and the coaching staff has to come up with a combination that won't get the quarterbacks killed. Bell and Mears are big, but they need to be more effective.
Strength: Size. The holdovers from the Rocky Long era still fit the type of gigantic, blot-out-the-sun blocker that paved the way for so many great rushing seasons. Along with the 330-pound Bell, the 304-pound Mears, and the 311-pound Washington are the 6-6, 326-pound Zayn Bin-Bilal and the 6-4, 340-pound Calvin McDowney at guard.
Weakness: Size. The no-huddle, zone-read attack that the coaching staff wants to run requires athletic, quick linemen and not road graters. The linemen being brought in are around 275 pounds and can move, but it's going to take a little while for the young players to be ready to produce.
Outlook: The Lobos only cranked out 100 yards per game on the ground and allowed whopping 41 sacks. It's not an overstatement to suggest that the team's fortunes all rest on the ability of the line to start to produce. There's going to be an adjustment period until the right fits for the offensive style are ready, but in the meantime the big bodies in place have to hit someone.
Unit Rating: 4.5
- 2010 New Mexico Preview |
New Mexico Offense
2010 New Mexico Defense |
New Mexico Depth Chart
- New Mexico Previews