New Mexico State is coming off of two straight four win seasons and have not had a winning season since 2002. The Aggies have had success on the offensive side of the ball with QB Chase Holbrook and their offense, but wins are hard to come by for this team. New Mexico State finished 107th nationally in scoring defense, yielding a staggering 36.2 points per game. The pass defense came in at 105th and 114th in pass efficiency. The WAC does have teams that put up good passing numbers just look at Hawai'i, Boise State, and Fresno State do each year but that defense must improve to try to get to a winning season. They do return 15 starters with seven returning on defense which should help the Aggies improve upon that defense. Below is a photo taken from a website promoting QB Chase Holbrook for Heisman just wishful thinking for Aggie fans.
Offense: The high powered offense led by Holbrook who is considered a highly touted NFL prospect can not do it all. Holbrook had very good numbers last year despite missing two games and ended up with 3,866 yards, 26 touchdowns, but also threw 18 picks as well. Holbrook has a high risk high reward with his style of play that either pays off huge with big plays or the ill advised pass that leads to an interception. If he can limit those mistakes New Mexico should be much improved from last year.
With all of the passing that goes on New Mexico State gets the ball to many receivers and the Ags have three returning starters back. The receiving corp is lead by Chris Williams who despite missing the last five games with an injured shoulder still accumulated 56 catches, 772 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Williams also is an excellent kick returning with play making abilities and was chosen a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award which is for the best receiver in college despite missing those five games. A.J. Harris and Wes Newman are the other two returning starters and Harris in just three years has the school record for receptions at 191 and Newman as a redshirt Sophomore last year he caught 44 passes and three scores. The passing game is their strength, but a running game is very important to have some balance.
Tonny Glynn is their top returning runner who had 456 yards and a team-high four rushing touchdowns not that great. The rest of the running will come from junior college transfers and three freshman vying for crries. No specific person needs to step up but there needs to be consistency in the running game even if it is with two or three backs. The Ags just need a counter their pass game to keep teams honest.
Defense: Well this needs a lot of work and even with seven returning and multiple junior college transfers coming in but with the defense they run, the 3-5-3, it is tough to pick up. Being ranked lower then 100 in all major categories and being -1.15 in turnover margin never gave the team those extra possessions. If the defense can move up to the 70's in ranking then they have a decent shot of wining more games through the offense outscoring.
This is a rivalry game, but New Mexico is so much better then New Mexico State, so look for the Lobos to win by at least 10.