after improving from a nightmare 0-12 season in 2005 to 4-8 in 2006, the Aggies have the talent if not the depth to compete for their first bowl invitation since 1960. With seven home games, including two vs. Division I-AA foes, a winning record is possible despite road games at Auburn, Boise State, Hawaii and San Jose State.
Seventeen starters return, including nine on an electrifying offense that averaged 475 yards per game last fall. Junior quarterback Chase Holbrook ranked second nationally in total offense and junior wide receiver Chris Williams led the country in receiving yards per game and catches per game.
The Aggies should be able to pick up yards on the ground to keep opponents honest. A deep group of running backs includes junior Jeremiah Williams, sophomore Tonny Glynn and senior Justine Buries, who missed most of 2006 with a knee injury.
Scoring points won't be a problem. Preventing them is another story
The pass rush has to be better, and it has to start from the front three. 290-pound junior Brandon McKinney was an end, became a linebacker, and then started ten games on the end making 16 tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss. He has to be far more active again after making 33 stops as a sophomore.
The pressure is also on senior Maurice Murray, a promising 6-3, 290-pound defender who made 24 tackles. The problem is his pass rush ability; there isn't any. He's more like a natural tackle playing on the end, but the JUCO transfer worked on his moves this spring and should be a bit more effective at getting into the backfield.
On the nose will be 6-3, 310-pound Ray Manumaleuna, a true anchor who wasn't bad in the rotation with 11 tackles and two sacks. He slimmed down a bit and should grow into an effective interior pass rusher, but his main role will be to plug the middle against the run
Linebacker is very much set with Kramer Winningham & Mike Hernishin manning the middle with Outside LB' junior La'Auli Fonoti and senior Michael Brewer
The secondary has to generate more big plays and tho the Aggies are set at safety...CB still is a big ? mark.
PK is also anther area of major need as 4 diffent player are trying out...but punting is in good hands with senior Jared Kaufman, who average 41.8 yards per kick and put eight inside the 20 and only put it in the end zone one. The Aggies finished sixth in the nation, and first in the WAC, in net punting
CS.org Staff projets that NMSU will go 8-5 in 07