2010 New Mexico State Preview – Offense

Posted Aug 10, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - New Mexico State Aggie Offense

New Mexico State Aggies

Preview 2010 - Offense

- 2010 New Mexico State Preview | 2010 New Mexico State Offense
- 2010 New Mexico State Defense | 2010 New Mexico State Depth Chart
- New Mexico State Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

What You Need To Know: After scoring just 53 points in the final seven games, and failing to get more than 20 points against any FBS team, offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach was canned and in steps veteran Mike Dunbar to try to generate some semblance of production. The line wasn't awful and Seth Smith was a 1,000-yard back, but the passing game was next-level bad finishing last in the nation in passing efficiency. Most of the key parts are back with nine returning starters, but the quarterback situation has to be settled with three decent options in veteran Jeff Fleming, promising redshirt freshman Tanner Rust, and JUCO transfer Matt Christian. The starting receivers have to be experienced, but they have to be a whole bunch better. Basically, the team has to find ways to score.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Jeff Fleming
87-172, 789 yds, 4 TD, 12 INT
Rushing: Seth Smith
246 carries, 1,016 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Todd Lee
28 catches, 280 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB Seth Smith
Player who has to step up and be a star: The three quarterback options
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OG Mike Yocius
Best pro prospect: Smith
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Smith, 2) OT Dwayne Barton, 3) C Mike Grady
Strength of the offense: Line, Smith
Weakness of the offense: Scoring, Passing Efficiency


Projected Starter: Junior Jeff Fleming tried to step into the impossible situation and produce, but he had a rough time throwing for just 789 yards and four touchdowns with 12 interceptions completing just 50% of his passes. The 6-4, 187-pounder has a good arm and the experience from the JUCO ranks, and he has good mobility running for 280 yards and three scores, but he only threw for over 100 yards once after putting up 230 yards on Idaho.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-3, 220-pound JUCO transfer Matt Christian is neck-and-neck with Jeff Fleming for the starting job. A great player for Palomar JC, throwing for 2,329 yards and 23 touchdowns, he would've done far more if he hadn't suffered a broken hand that kept him in check for most of the year. Even though he only played in four games, he still earned first-team all-conference honors. He originally signed with Fresno State in 2007 and spent a season on the bench before transferring, and now he'll get every shot to take over with good leadership skills and just enough mobility to make defenses worry.

While it'll be tough to take over the starting job without a strong fall camp, redshirt freshman Tanner Rust is the future of the offense. The 6-2, 195-pound playmaker was a second-team All-State player at El Capitan High in Lakewood, California and brings more mobility and options than the other two quarterback prospects. Tremendously athletic and very tough, there's a chance he becomes the main man the program decides to build around for the next four years.

Watch Out For … the battle for the starting job to go on into the season. Fleming might be the most experienced option, but Christian was brought in to add life to the offense now. Rust might be have too much upside to not get a shot if the offense starts to sputter again.
Strength: Three decent options. It wasn't necessarily Fleming's fault that the offense didn't work. He wasn't good, but he could make a big improvement with a little more help around him. However, Rust and Christian are good enough to step in and produce better than Fleming did last season.
Weakness: Proven production. The Aggies were awful. The line wasn't bad and provided good pass protection, but the NMSU passing attack was dead last in the nation in efficiency with the quarterbacks combining to complete fewer than half of their passes for 1,141 yards and six touchdowns with 18 interceptions. The passing game averaged 8.6 yards per completion.
Outlook: It'll be a three way fight as the Aggies try to find some semblance of passing production. There might be more deep plays and more consistency, and if that doesn't happen, then the running game will have to shoulder more of the load and Rust, the best runner of the lot, could see time. Fleming has to be good early on, and Christian has to be show he can keep the chains moving.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Senior Seth Smith went from walk-on to indispensible. The 5-8, 198-pound former JUCO transfer was one of the only positives out of the season finishing with 1,016 yards with five 100-yard games and closing out with 120 yards against San Jose State and 114 yards against Boise State. He only scored once and he only caught 11 passes for 48 yards, but he's the centerpiece of the attack with great quickness and surprising workhorse ability.

Opening holes for the running game, and catching a few passes, junior Ronald Opetaia came up with a good year at fullback. Mostly a blocker, the 5-9, 219-pounder also caught four passes for 29 yards but didn't get any carries. Able to run if needed, he got a little bit of work in 2008, the offense could use hi for more power.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Victor Johnson was a special teamer last year making three tackles, but he didn't get any carries and didn't do anything for the offense. At 5-11 and 214 pounds, he's more of a power back than Seth Smith and he showed this offseason that he's able to carry some of the workload at both tailback and as a backup fullback. With good hands, he can be used as a receiver as well as a between-the-tackles runner.

5-10, 193-pound junior Donavan Roberts will have the spotlight on as a No. 2 tailback to take some of the workload away from Seth Smith. A slashing runner who has spent most of his time on special teams, he has good deep speed and has the hands to get some work as a receiver. Potentially deadly when on the move, now he just needs to get some carries.

Watch Out For … more of a rotation. Smith is the franchise, but he's only 5-8 and 198 pounds and the coaching staff doesn't want to see what life is like with him on the bench. After carrying the ball 246 times, he might be used less to keep fresh.
Strength: Smith. A godsend from the JUCO ranks, Smith was the offense last year and showed workhorse ability. Because he's the franchise, he'll be used in a variety of ways, and everything will work around him.
Weakness: A veteran backup. The No. 2 returning running back production-wise is Opetaia, and he ran once for no gain. If Roberts, Opetaia and Johnson can't play and be a part of the show right away, there will be problems.
Outlook: The running game will get help from the quarterbacks, but it's all on Smith to carry the workload. After years of no ground attack whatsoever under Hal Mumme, Walker got things moving and will keep pounding away until one of his quarterbacks can successfully throw a forward pass. However, a second ball-carrier has to emerge right away to replace Tonny Glynn.
Unit Rating: 5.5


Projected Starters: Senior Marcus Allen didn't lead the team in receiving, but he led the way in yards with just 308 and two touchdowns on 26 catches. The 6-0, 187-pound former JUCO transfer was a big-time playmaker for Modesto JC in California, but he only averaged eight yards per catch and missed time banged up in the middle of the way. While he has the ability to make things happen from anywhere on the field, he didn't do it much last year.

5-9, 152-pound Todd Lee might be a wisp and he might not be able to take much of a pop, but he led the team with 28 catches for 280 yards and a score. Quick enough to do far more when he gets the ball on the move, he needs a steady quarterback who can get him the ball and he has to be a stronger route runner. He can work as a running back at times if needed, carrying the ball four times for 12 yards two seasons ago.

At 6-5 and 250 pounds, senior tight end Kyle Hipp has good size with just enough ability to become a receiver, but he only caught four passes for 23 yards. He caught 27 passes for 483 yards and seven scores in three years at Grossmont JC, and now he's going to be a short to midrange target as well as a key blocker for the ground game.

Projected Top Reserves: More like a big wide receiver than a tight end, 6-4, 222-pound Kyle Nelson will be used in two tight end sets after spending most of his career as a long snapper. A good all-around athlete, he caught 12 passes for 112 yards and a score, but he didn't make any grabs over the final three games and he didn't make more than two catches in any one game. However, he can get down the field and should be one of the team's top four receivers.

Floridian Darrius Preston had a nice high school career, but he didn't blossom as a decent college prospect until late. He still needs some polish as a wide receiver, but he's a great athlete and is extremely quick in space. While he's only 6-1 and 169 pounds, and he only caught one pass for three yards, he has the wheels and the upside to become a major player on the outside and in three and four-wide sets.

Watch Out For … a lot more to be demanded of the receiving corps. The quarterback play wasn't stellar, but the receivers didn't help the cause. Considering many were supposed to be top-shelf targets for the Hal Mumme passing game, they were extremely disappointing.
Strength: Lee and Allen. There's experience among the top options with Lee and Allen the top receivers from last year, and they have the potential to do far more. They've been around long enough to make more big plays and carry the offense at times when the chains need to be moved.
Weakness: Depth. There's a stunning lack of experienced backup options and there will be huge problems if something happens to Lee and/or Allen. It might take little bit of time before a good rotation can be found.
Outlook: A total disaster last year after losing 164 catches of production from Chris Williams and A.J. Harris, the entire Aggie offense only managed 133 grabs. Lee and Allen have to be more dangerous and have to help out the quarterbacks, while depth needs to emerge in a hurry.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: Senior Dwayne Barton was exactly what the offensive line needed last year. The 6-4, 270-pounder came out of City College of San Francisco and started right away at left tackle where he became the team's best run blocker and steadiest linemen. Physical and a good technician, he has the ability to be the anchor up front and grow into a possible all-star.

Back in the middle of the line is Mike Grady , a 6-3, 302-pound junior who started every game last year after being moved over from tackle. He became a starter on the outside in 2008, but also saw time at center. With the emergence of Dwayne Barton, Grady was able to stick at center and became a fantastic interior pass blocker. He's a good, sound veteran who should be the leader of the line.

Benefitting from being next to Barton on the left side will be Mike Yocius , a 6-34, 296-pound sophomore who turned in a nice year on the special teams. A pure guard, Yocius isn't going to move too much but he'll be great in a phone booth. He's not going to be asked to dominate for the running game, but he'll be able to hold his own.

Working on the other side at right guard after starting every game last year is 6-3, 321-pound senior Seloli Fakalata . After missing all of 2008 with a shoulder problem, the former defensive lineman stepped into the role on the offensive line and was a blaster for the running game using his bulk and physical nature to push people around.

After not playing for two years since coming over from San Diego Mesa College, senior Matt Passwaters will get a long look at the starting right tackle job. At 6-3 and 270 pounds, he has decent size, but he has to show he can be a consistent pass blocker while

Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 274-pound Dejuan Yates came in from College of the Canyons where he was a star defensive lineman working on the inside. Now the junior will try to be physical in the middle of the line as a key option at center and possibly guard. If Mike Grady moves outside to tackle, Yates will step in.

Junior Ruben Escarsega could play a big factor working at either tackle spot. He'll start out behind Dwayne Barton on the left side, but he'll get his chance to work on the right with good pass blocking ability and toughness for the running game. The 6-4, 273-pounder will be one of the team's most versatile linemen.

Watch Out For … the newcomers. The Aggie line needs depth and it needs options, and 6-6, 305-pound Aundre McGaskey could be an answer at tackle and 6-3, 294-pound Dylan Lusk, a true freshman, could get a shot at a guard job.
Strength: Pass protection. The front five wasn't a brick wall, but it wasn't awful against most lines in pass protection allowing 23 sacks on the year. There were plenty of plays given up in the backfield, but for the most part the quarterbacks got time.
Weakness: Proven depth. There isn't any. The Aggies went from having a relatively rock-solid year injury-wise up front to now being in big trouble if any big hurts strike. Solidifying the starting five will be hard enough without problems.
Outlook: Considering how bad the offense was, the line wasn't the biggest part of the problem. It did a good job in pass protection and was solid for the ground game. Now with Barton and Grady back as two potential all-stars to work around, the line should be fine once again as long as there aren't any major injury problems early on.
Unit Rating: 5

- 2010 New Mexico State Preview | 2010 New Mexico State Offense
- 2010 New Mexico State Defense | 2010 New Mexico State Depth Chart
- New Mexico State Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006