New Mexico State
2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR
Mexico has never been in better shape. Over
the last three seasons, the Lobos have won
22 games and gone to three bowl games. This
is the most wins in a three-year span since
1962-1964, and this is the first time they've
ever gone to three straight bowl games.
As a reward, attendance hit an all-time
high last season, and coach Rocky Long has
job security through 2009.
does this mean for 2005? Well, it means
that, despite losing some key players on
both sides of the ball, they'll keep winning.
New Mexico is headed for a fourth-straight
bowl game, and, hopefully, to finally win
one (last post-season victory was 28-12
vs. W. Michigan in the Aviation Bowl 12/9/61).
With Utah falling back to earth, New Mexico
becomes a MWC front-runner. The Lobos have
finished as conference runner-up three straight
years, and have gone 15-6 since '02 against
MWC foes (after going 32-93 while in the
WAC for 15 years). Now, if they could just
play every-other week, they would be golden
(NM is 11-0 since 1996 after a bye-week).
is what makes New Mexico such an attractive
team. Aside from New Mexico, only two other
teams have finished in the top 30 in the
nation in total defense every year from
2000-2004. The other two? Oklahoma and Texas
good company. So, even if the Mountain West
isn't a BCS conference, the Lobos' ability
to stop the opposition makes them a threat
to win every time. Tilts at Mizzu, TCU,
UTEP and Wyoming will define this campaign.
Last year's huge win over Texas Tech, though,
joins one other victory in 2000 (vs. Air
Force) as the only upsets in alum Rocky
Long's résumé here, so expect
more of the same. In case you didn't know,
Lobo football is an American classic: at
University Stadium in Albuquerque, get your
kicks right off Route 66
2005 record: 8-3
Kole McKamey, 210-103-9, 1272 yds., 6 TD
Rushing: DonTrell Moore, 232 att.,
1091 yds., 5 TD
Receiving: Hank Baskett, 54 rec.,
908 yds., 3 TD
Scoring: DonTrell Moore, 6 TD, 36
pts.; Kole McKamey, 6 TD, 36 pts.
Punting: Tyler Gaus, 74 punts, 40.3
Kicking: Kenny Byrd, 0-1 FG, 0 pts.
Tackles: Mike Mohoric, 83 tot., 44
Sacks: Mike Mohoric, Marcus Parker
- 7 each
Interceptions: Gabriel Fulbright,
5 for 4 yds.
Kickoff returns: Marcus Smith, 15
ret., 15.5 avg., 0 TD
Punt returns: DonTrell Moore, 9 ret.,
3.9 avg., 0 TD
Landrick Brody-FB, D.D. Cox-TB, Mike Augustyniak-TE,
Claude Terrell-OT, Fred Tucker-OG, Wes Zunker-K
Coulter-DE, Fola Fashola-LOLB, Chrishone Harris-MLB,
Nick Speegle-ROLB, Brandon Payne-CB, Josh
Although Kole McKamey started 11 of 12 games last
year as a sophomore, his job is far from safe.
Their 119.1 passing yards per game ranked 114th
out of 117 Division I teams. While that's not
purely McKamey's fault, he completed just 49%
of his tries and passed the Lobos to a measly
59 first downs by air. Most important, NM's efficiency
ranking didn't surpass its overall passing ranking,
showing how Kole genuinely needs help himself
- it's not really the system. What the bulky McKamey
does bring to the offense is great athleticism
in this run-first offense, so his speed (4.45-sec
40) is a dimension needed. McKamey was shaky enough;
however, that JUCO-experienced Chris Nelson was
recruited, as was Donovan Porterie. Both have
been promised a chance at the starting job. Although
bigger than McKamey, Nelson is the same type of
dual threat. But super strong-AND-quick (455lb.
squat and 4.6 speed) sophomore Tye Butler has
the inside track, listed second on the two-deep.
His potential to command the offense is much greater
than McKamey's, and Butler's work with the scout
team will assure him real-game reps. This can
be a deep unit if shuffled, but McKamey cannot
be allowed to again make poor decisions that cost
The running game is New Mexico's strength (ranked
30th). It's a major question mark this year, though.
Senior DonTrell Moore, the young MWC's all-time
leading rusher, needs only 188 to also become
the same for the Lobo's. He also is constantly
catching the rock, coming in second on the team
in snarls. But he tore his ACL (Emerald Bowl).
He's progressing faster than expected and should
be ready by the fall, but ACL injuries offer no
guarantees, so his ability to again shoulder half
the team's carries is doubtful. Moore ranks second
for all top returners in the country. Freshman
Rodney Ferguson goes north-south more, bursting
strongly through teeny holes. No matter who runs
the ball, they'll do it behind third-year starting
FB Adrian Byrd. Byrd is a knockdown specialist
who sees about a carry per game, though fewer
throws. Depth at both backfield slots is strong,
so this dimension will again thrive as it gets
the ball two-thirds of the time.
Will somebody other than Hank Baskett catch the
ball? The answer to that question could very well
determine how the offense produces this season.
Other than Baskett (54 catches for 908 yards),
none of the other receivers had played Division
I football before last year, and it showed, as
only Baskett had more than seven passes. Everybody
is back, and the potential will be reached with
the right QB in place. Baskett, a senior, has
great size and is a tremendous athlete (he's a
conference champion in the high jump). Seniors
Anthony Carter and Chris Brawley should emerge,
as both were state track champions (Carter in
the 3A 100 meters (AZ), and Brawley at 200 and
400 meters down in 'bama). Both offer a huge target,
so it seems criminal if they both fail to register
at least 20 catches each. Converted-TB Marcus
Smith, also well-sized and speedy, represents
the decent depth that is here, though the full
potential of this unit is rarely tapped.
New Mexico doesn't throw to its tight ends often,
but the QBs have a great target when they do.
Logan Hall started three games with his great
hands, makes big plays after the catch, and holds
his ground when going deep over the middle. Hall
is also a solid (run) blocker. Behind Hall, there
is very little experience, although sure-handed
former walk-on Curtis Pino (also a deep snapper)
will assure LBs cannot ignore his potential, too.
Ryan Cook originally came to New Mexico as a walk-on.
Now, he's one of the country's best centers, a
three-year starter, and two-time first-team all-conference
selection. Few centers possess his combination
of size, strength (benches 425+ pounds), and agility.
Even better, Cook has some pretty good talent
around him. Hulkish Robert Turner returns to guard,
where he proves he is the Lobo's most physical
lineman after starting his entire career here
(22 games). Terrance Pennington started at left
tackle, but will move to the right "quick"
side since coaches feel he needs more time until
being that trusted again. That means the entire
left side of the line has to be replaced. Junior
Patrick Hodges has experience at all line positions
(including deep snapper), and will be given the
chance to win the left tackle spot. JUCO-transfer
Bo Greer is expected to man the left guard spot.
Behind the starting five, there is very little
The Lobo offense ranked as one of the worst in
the country last year. Only eight teams gained
fewer yards per game (298.0) and only 16 scored
fewer points (20.3). The Lobos can't depend on
the defense again to guarantee wins. If McKamey
retains his starting spot, he must improve his
decision-making, which he can by putting confidence
in someone other than Baskett. With McKamey and
the receivers all having a year of experience
behind them, the passing game will make tremendous
strides. A move to backup QB Tye Butler should
not be delayed if/when McKamey struggles. The
real question is whether RB Moore can return to
full strength. His injury has helped DC Dunn examine
the depth's potential as Moore sits out spring
practice, but New Mexico needs him in the fall
for this offense to get out of the conference
cellar. Suspect is their 34% third-down conversion
rate, but optimistic is their redzone conversion
rate (87.5%) over the past 33 games, 78% of which
have been TDs. The key word is 'balance' - NM
just needs to rank in the upper half somewhere
in passing efficiency for this offense to really
MEXICO 2005 DEPTH CHART
Brown-So / Marcus Smith-So
This is the unquestioned strength of the defense.
NT Marcus Parker is all-Mountain West. In addition
to occupying two hats on most plays and still
making/affecting the play (35% of his career tackles
have been for loss), Parker has a nose for quarterbacks
(seven sacks). His improved strength and added
weight will make this three-man front even more
formidable. Sophomore converted-LB Mike Tuohy
will supply what is lost as Coulter is gone. His
huge spring means he bumps back and now starts
here, on the outside. Tuohy (pronounced TWO-ee)
switches with Evroy Thompson, who will still be
a floating line presence, able to drop back as
he is being tainted a LB after spring. Adam Garday
returns the left side. He began last year as the
right side starter, but lost his job to Thompson
in midseason. Garday floored while a Scottsdale
C.C. Artichoke (10 sacks), so his upside has to
or else, guys like 275-pound state
wrestling champ Billy Brittain, who can roam the
line (though listed as a NT), will take over.
Brittain, a junior, gives the Lobos size that
can be added when needed. Thompson will still
be employed here, as there is little experience
behind the starters. NM was one of 11 teams that
held foes all season to under three per carry,
so we will just see if this 17th-ranked run-stopping
unit can come close to these numbers. These stats
will likely rise a bit, and inversely, this unit
has its work cut out to even get close to 2004's
42 sacks and 92 QB-hurries.
Mike Mohoric is the only return. Combining great
speed, strength and intensity, the former walk-on
has great pass-rushing ability (seven sacks, 17
hurries) and was third in tackles. Aside from
Mohoric, New Mexico's corps is younger and more
inexperienced than they've been in several years.
Within the 3-4 they employ, this unit's developments
will be accelerated by the solid line that won't
need much help. Every one of the projected starters
has played, but none has ever started, so the
potential (and/or) talent is known, just unfulfilled.
Cody Kase is an excellent coverage LB, and his
size issues are offset by Kase's progress in the
weight room, as was proven through his eye-opening
efforts this spring. Quincy Black gives the Lobos
more size on the outside. After excelling on special
teams, senior Joe Selander - a former WR/SS to
further attest to his speed - finally gets the
starting nod inside. Evroy Thompson is mentioned
above, so there is some other experience to build
upon here. The prowess of this corps is why the
Lobos usually have a strong overall defense -
they provide the balance needed so no weaknesses
show/surface for long. But with only two true
LBs coming in the last two classes, this position
has to stay healthy.
This was the weak spot. NM was 61st in pass defense,
but they were 34th in the more important efficiency
category. Third-team NC.net all-American CB Gabriel
Fulbright is a lock-down corner. Unbeknownst to
holder Lucy, safety Charles Brown can plug the
run as well as he roams the secondary. These two
senior DBs call the shots now. Jerrell Malone
takes over the other CB spot, and has the experience
to make us believe he will step up well. He's
sure to get picked on early, but Malone makes
plays when given the chance. Tyson Ditmore gets
the chance to start after a solid freshman campaign.
Ditmore uses his vision and smarts well, making
up for his average DB speed. Again, not to overstate,
but this unit, too, has little experience in its
depth. Under the guise of playing together as
a true 'team', the revampings here can be seamless.
Injuries to Fulbright and/or Brown would impact
all of the DB's effectiveness.
In switching to a 3-4 set for the first time in
'04, the Lobos made a rather smooth transition.
Defense is still what gets the Lobos anywhere.
They led the Mountain West in scoring defense
(18th nationally), against the run (while 9th
for I-A) and in total defense (24th). Several
key playmakers from that unit are gone. With the
offense expected to improve, that should take
(some) pressure off the defense. The back-eight
will still struggle early, though the CBs should
do their jobs well from the start. This allows
NM to force plays into the middle, where Mohoric
can clean up. The Lobos need to stem their foes'
scoring trends - the difference between first-half
scoring (138) and second half scoring (86) shows
that adjustments work, but take too long. With
a run-oriented attack themselves, falling behind
will again be a recipe that guarantees losses.
A more positive sign is the redzone numbers -
NM allowed just a 46% TD conversion rate and had
13 TOs in 105 total tries over a span of their
last 31 games.
MEXICO 2005 DEPTH CHART
Kenny Byrd is a former soccer player who had never played
football before walking on with the Lobos in 2002. That
year, he started eight games in place of an injured
Wes Zunker, and showed why he has the potential to be
solid, but not spectacular. His efforts could range
anywhere from respectable to non-existent, so watch
this variable to see if close games can be won. Coverage
was solid, but a new kicker means changed hang- times
and a different flow.
Tyler Gaus enters his fourth year as the starting punter
and has averaged about 40 yards on his 224 punts. More
importantly, he nailed 25 of his 74 attempts inside
the 20, with fewer than 50% of his kicks even returned.
Net results pretty much paralleled Gaus' efforts - they
There are about seven or eight guys who will compete
to return kicks. Marcus Smith stays the primary returner
on kickoffs, but managed just 15.5 yards per touch.
The Lobos will try former-high & long jumper Daniel
Ramirez, who was tops for NM in his handful of tries.
Fulbright and Juamar Hall will be among the top replacement
candidates. NM did block two punts, taking both in for