New Mexico is coming off one of its best seasons in school history last year, finishing 9-4 and an impressive 23-0 shutout of Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl last December—the fifth bowl appearance in the last six years under head coach Rocky Long.
But things didn't start out so well last week for the Lobos. As frustrating as it was to watch the Aggies' offense on Saturday night against Arkansas State, you'll have a chance to see an even more frustrated offense on Saturday night in Albuquerque.
The Lobos managed just 186 yards of total offense against TCU, recording seven three-and-out possessions out of the 13 possessions that weren't ended at the conclusion of the first or second half. Each of those seven possessions mustered just four yards or less.
Lobos quarterback Donovan Porterie—a native of Port Arthur, Texas—threw for more than 3,000 yards last fall, but with a new cast of receivers and an inexperienced offensive line, he struggled to rekindle that kind of performance in week one.
Porterie completed just 4-of-10 pass attempts for 37 yards in the season opener, missing several open receivers—including one against a TCU defender that had fallen down—before being injured in the second half with a neck injury. Word out of Albuquerque is that he will play this weekend against the Aggies though.
One possible explanation for Porterie's poor performance in the opener could be the loss of NFL wide receivers Travis Brown and Marcus Smith. The two combined to haul in 167 passes last fall before entering the NFL this spring.
Chris Hernandez and Jermaine McQueen were the only two wide receivers to register a catch on Saturday against TCU (three apiece), combining for 128 receiving yards. 81 of those yards however came on one reception by Hernandez.
Running back Rodney Ferguson will join Porterie in the backfield after leading the Mountain West Conference in rushing yards in each of the last two seasons, rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore and junior, earning back-to-back first-team All-Mountain West honors.
Ferguson is a punishing tailback who likes to keep it between the tackles and enjoys hitting defenders—a style that A&M defenders have not practiced against with backs like Mike Goodson, Cyrus Gray and Bradley Stephens.
But like the Aggies, the entire Lobos' offense could get bogged down by a young offensive line that returns just one starter from a year ago. They gave up five sacks in the opener against TCU and paved the way for just 56 rushing yards from five different players.
The Lobos may be the one team with more question marks on offense than the Aggies heading into week two.
The Lobos were ranked No. 13 in the nation in total defense in 2007, but the two teams have a few similarities on offense as well.
Both the Aggies and Lobos boast a secondary that is made up of veterans, and both teams have questions surrounding their linebacker unit.
Fortunately for the Lobos though, they depend on their safeties more than the linebackers, blitzing from points all over the field and causing all sorts of problems for quarterbacks, especially the first time they face Long's aggressive style.
All-Mountain West cornerback DeAndrew Wright leads the way for the Lobos' 3-3-5 defense with eight career interceptions, and with constant pressure from the blitzes against McGee, he'll be looking for more.
KEY TO VICTORY:
The A&M offensive line struggled at times on Saturday against Arkansas State, but they'll have to forget about that quickly. They'll have to do an effective job of picking up the numerous blitz packages that New Mexico throws at them, and McGee will have to do a better job of picking up the hot route. If he can stay off the ground and make plays while rolling out of the pocket and hitting the open man, then the Aggies should win against a New Mexico team that failed to do much of anything offensively last week.
LOOKING AHEAD: New Mexico
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