New Mexico State Preview: Offense

Taking a deeper look at New Mexico State's offense heading into Saturday's season opener.

There is no question that Aggie head coach Doug Martin stepped into a job requiring a pretty sizable build. New Mexico State was 1-11 last year, with the Aggies' lone win coming against Sacramento State. But Martin was a pretty interesting choice largely because he knew what he was getting into. The former Kent State head coach spent 2012 as the offensive coordinator at Boston College. But the year prior, Martin spent 2011 as the offensive coordinator for the Aggies.

To help with the offense, Martin brought in Gregg Brandon, who Longhorn fans may remember as the Wyoming offensive coordinator. Brandon's Wyoming offense consisted mostly of spread concepts, with pistol and read option thrown in. Pretty much anything would be better than what the Aggies had last year, as they averaged under 19 points per game and put up just 335.3 yards per game, including a paltry 3.0 yards per carry average.

Senior Andrew McDonald (6-2 205) won the starting job midway through fall camp. Saturday's Texas game will be his first FBS start, as he threw just three passes a year ago, completing one for three yards. But McDonald showed the ability to throw the ball in camp, backing up what he put on tape at Santa Ana College. The JUCO transfer completed 65.2 percent of his passes in two seasons as a starter at Santa Ana, throwing for 4,229 yards and 50 touchdowns in his career. And while he wasn't a devastating runner there, McDonald did show ability as a goal line runner, finding the end zone 15 times in two seasons.

He should have a nice duo of running backs to get the ball to. Tailback Germi Morrison (6-0 207) was about the only highlight to come out of last year's running game, rushing for 767 yards and two touchdowns, while averaging a strong 4.8 yards per carry. Junior Brandon Betancourt (5-10 187) is inexperienced, but should get plenty of carries as well after a strong fall camp.

What could have been a very good receiving corps was severely damaged when Biletnikoff Watch List candidate Austin Franklin was declared academically ineligible. Franklin had 74 catches for 1,245 yards and nine touchdowns last year. Instead, the Aggies don't have a single receiver who had 300 or more receiving yards last season. Jerrel Brown (6-0 190) is the leading returning receiver with 19 catches for 250 yards and a touchdown. He'll start at the flanker spot, while Joseph Matthews (6-2 203), who had eight catches for 133 yards, will start at split end. Slick Joshua Bowen (5-10 175) will get the start in the slot. Tight end Perris Scoggins (6-3 242) had 11 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.

The offensive line returns several players with experience and some All-WAC candidates, though NMSU didn't run the ball well, and the line allowed a whopping 42 sacks in 12 games. The best of the bunch is left tackle Davonte Wallace (6-4 315), who was a second-team All-WAC selection last year, and who has made 36 consecutive starts. Center Valerian Ume-Ezeoke (6-3 295) made the Rimington Watch List, while right guard Andy Cunningham (6-3 308) was a third-team preseason All-WAC, per Phil Steele. The line is rounded out by left guard Isaiah Folasa-Lutui (6-3 309) and right tackle Dada Richards (6-3 307). As a group, it's not especially big, with just one projected starter taller than 6-3 or weighing 310 or more (Wallace).

Matthews will get a shot as the primary kick returner, while starting cornerback Darien Johnson (5-9 185) will be the punt returner. Kicker Maxwell Johnson (5-10 185) made all 11 of his extra point attempts last year, but missed both field goal tries.

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