2009 New Mexico Lobos Football Preview
2008 Record: (4-8, 2-6)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Mike Locksley (First year at New Mexico, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Dickey
Defensive Coordinator: George Barlow
Other Key Returnees: K James Aho, OT Byron Bell, WR Roland Bruno, C Erik Cook, P Adam Miller, QB Donovan Porterie, WR Michael Scarlett, G Joshua Taufalele
Key Losses: LB Zach Arnett, DE Kevin Balogun, DT Wesley Beck, LB Herbert Felder, RB Rodney Ferguson, OT Sylvester Hatten, S Blake Ligon, DE Jeremiah Lovato, TE Chris Mark, CB Glover Quin, G Matt Streid, CB DeAndre Wright
After a disappointing 4-8 season, New Mexico went out and got a new coach in Mike Locksley. Coach Locksley proceeded to bring in an experienced group of coaches and that should help turn the program around sooner or later. After such a promising 2007 campaign, the Lobos are not far away from getting back into the top half of the Mountain West Conference and that means a bowl game could come in the next year or two.
New Mexico's Strengths:
The offense lost running back Rodney Ferguson, who tallied 1,105 yards and 13 touchdowns, but the ground game should still be strong thanks to a bevy of talented offensive linemen. Tackle Sylvester Hatten and guard Matt Streid are gone, but Bryon Bell had a promising freshman campaign and can only get better and center Erik Cook is an experienced senior who will be the leader of the unit. Now New Mexico just has to find a capable runner to get through all the gaps created by the line. James Wright rushed for 348 yards as a freshman and could be the player who can actually fill the gap left behind by Ferguson. If the ground game, which ranked 16 th in the nation last year, can stay near that mark, the Lobos offense will be in good shape.
New Mexico's Weaknesses:
The offense will be in better shape if a quarterback can be found. Donovan Porterie is the preferred option, but he is still recovering for a knee injury. And in his limited action a year ago, Porterie threw absolutely no touchdowns and five interceptions. Brad Gruner filled in relatively well during Porterie’s absence, but he only completed 53.8 percent of his passes and threw for three touchdowns. If Poterie is not ready to learn the new offense in time, Tate Smith will get an opportunity to compete with Gruner for the starting gig. The defense could be in worse shape. Linebacker Clint McPeek is a great player who deserves more credit than he gets, but the defense as a whole only returns three starters. Luckily, two of those players, Ian Clark and Frankie Solomon are in the secondary and that should help out a team that gave up over 213 yards per game in the air, but the front line needs to be completely replaced.
The Bottom Line for the Lobos:
So far Coach Locksley is doing everything right, but that may not result in too many victories during the 2009 campaign. If the team can find a quarterback and the offensive line can make inexperienced running backs look a little like Ferguson, then the offense will be difficult to stop. However, the inexperienced defense has few playmakers and somebody has to step up and get into the backfield so the opposition does not have all day to pick apart the defense.
By Joel Welser
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