Come on you didn’t really expect me to preview 128 college football teams and not have at least one Miley Cyrus music video did you? Good news for New Mexico State fans though, it wasn’t “Wrecking Ball”! The Aggies are still rebuilding, and that’s ok.
New Mexico State’s offense probably won’t set any records this season, and it may not even be good. But, with a 1,000-yard rusher and one of the most dangerous receivers in the conference at their disposal we could see some explosive performances. Larry Rose III topped 1,100 yards last year and added in nine rushing touchdowns, and with four linemen returning he should be in line to improve those marks this year. Teldrick Morgan is one of the biggest home run threats in the Sun Belt, both at receiver and as a kick returner.
One thing that the Aggies, or more specifically one Aggie, have to get better at if they want to stay competitive in 2015 is turnovers. Tyler Rogers led the FBS with 23 interceptions last year. I mean he made Jeff Driskel look like Andrew Luck. Rogers did at least complete 60% of his passes, 2,700 yards, and 19 touchdowns though.
It was mentioned previously that four linemen return and that’s always a plus, but the loss may be a big one. Former center Valerian Ume-Ezeoke notched 43 career starts and made 1st team All-Sun Belt in his tenure in New Mexico State. RT Andy Cunningham and LG Isaiah Folasi-Lutui are the top returners with 29 and 24 career starts, respectively.
After finishing dead last in run defense last season, there is nowhere to go but up as it pertains to the front seven. Unfortunately, they may not go up that much because they are still undersized up front. If there is reason for optimism though, it’s promising that six of the last season’s front seven starters return. The best payer of the group is linebacker Rodney Butler. Butler did his part in 2014 notching 88.5 tackles and 7.5 for loss, plus an interception to boot.
The secondary was a relative strength last season. There is reason to be skeptical of that though. When you are losing frequently, the other team runs. When you have the worst run defense in the country and you are losing frequently, the other team runs and runs and runs. So, it’s hard to say if the pass defense was actually good last season or just untested. We may find out this year since every player on the two-deep has seen a fair amount of playing time.
On principle, I never pick anyone to go 0-12. It’s just too depressing, and as hard as it is to be perfect it is almost equally as hard to go perfectly winless. Unfortunately, having two SEC teams on your non-conference schedule isn’t really a recipe for improving win totals. The good news is that they have three very winnable home games against Georgia State, Troy, and Idaho. If they can sweep those three, and pick up an upset somewhere then we are looking at some real improvement in Las Cruces.
Cover Photo Courtesy of New Mexico State University
*Note: This post has been updated with the correct name of NMSU QB Tyler Rogers. Thanks to BIll Harty for catching the original mistake.