NCAA Football

2011 College Football Season Preview: New Mexico Lobos

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2010 Record: (1-11, 1-7 in MWC)

Head Coach: Mike Locksley (2-22)

Last Bowl Game: 2007 New Mexico Bowl: beat Nevada 23-0

2010 Season Preview

Schedule

9/3: Colorado State (2010 result: lost 38-14)

9/10: at Arkansas

9/17: Texas Tech (2010 result: lost 52-17)

9/24: Sam Houston State

10/11: New Mexico St (2009 result: lost 16-14)

10/15: at Nevada

10/22: at TCU (2010 result: lost 66-17)

10/29: Air Force (2010 result: lost 48-23)

11/5: at San Diego St (2010 result: won 30-20)

11/12: UNLV (2010: result: lost 45-10)

11/19: at Wyoming (2010 result: won 34-31)

12/3: at Boise State (2010 result: lost 48-6)

2010 Offensive Statistics:

Scoring: 15.8 ppg (last in MWC, 116th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 108.42 yds/game (8th in MWC, 106th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 157.7 yds/game (8th in MWC, 106th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 266.1 yds/game (last in MWC, last in Nation)

2010 Defensive Statistics:

Scoring: 44.3 ppg (last in MWC, last in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 250.17 yds/game (last in MWC, last in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 218.8 yds/game (6th in MWC, 57th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 469.0 yds/game (last in MWC, 119th in Nation)

2010 Misc Stats:

Turnover Margin: -1.00 per game (last in MWC, 116th in Nation)

Penalties: 58.5 yds/game (8th in MWC, 91st in Nation)

Returning Starters:

Offense: 7

Defense: 9

Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders:

Passing: QB B.R. Holbrook, Jr (63 of 119 for 619 yds, 2 TD, 6 INT)

Rushing: RB Kasey Carrier, Jr (104 for 373, 2 TD)

Receiving: WR Ty Kirk, Jr (38 rec for 477 yds, 2 TD)

Tackles: LB Carmen Messina, Sr (115)

Sacks: DE Jaymar Latchison, Sr (2)

Interceptions: S Bubba Forrest, Sr (2)

Under Mike Locksley the Lobos of New Mexico have gone 2-22. There have been on field issues and off field issues during his reign. Last year the Lobos ranked last in the Nation in points allowed and total yards (offense). New Mexico was equally bad on both sides of the football. If you are looking for a positive sign it has to be that they return 7 starters on offense and 9 on defense and return all of their statistical leaders in passing, rushing, receiving, tackles, sacks and interceptions. The first five games this year represent opportunity for the Lobos.

Let's put the journeys to Texas Tech and Arkansas to the side for a minute. Three of the first five games are against Colorado State, New Mexico State and Sam Houston State. Despite getting blown out by Colorado State last year you have to think that winning any of those three games is possible. The question is if the Lobos can step up and accept the challenge. We caught up with Jeremy Mauss of SB Nation's Mountain West Connection to get his thoughts on the 2011 Lobos. Make sure you follow him on Twitter @JeremyMauss to keep up with the MWC this year.

Mike Locksley is 2-22 since taking over in 2009. What needs to happen in order for him to still be the coach in 2012?

His contract was renegotiated this spring to reduce the payout the school would owe him if fired. So, it seems that New Mexico will be looking for anything to fire him. Six wins would definitely be enough to keep him around, but I think four or five might be enough to keep him around. That would double his win total from the past two years, but I do not see New Mexico getting that many wins. I don't see Locksley returning in 2012. 

New Mexico finished dead last in the Nation last year in rushing defense. What has been done to address this issue during the off-season?

Carmen Messina is a stud linebacker who had 277 tackles in the past two seasons and is their best run stopper. The other is former four-star defensive tackle Calvin Smith who played in all 12 games last year, but was not an impact player as he ended up with eight tackles on the season. Out of high school he had offers from most of the SEC, Florida State, Notre Dame, Illinois and others. It is a shocker he picked New Mexico, but if his star rating lives up to the hype he should help the Lobo rush defense. Smith is expected to see an increased role this year and he is the hope that the Lobos rush defense improves. Plus they return nine defensive starters which should play a factor in having a better rush defense with that amount of experience returning.

For those that don't follow New Mexico that closely...tell us a little about the best players on this team.

This is a tough one, their only star player is who I mentioned above in linebacker Carmen Messina. He is going to be an all-MWC preseason selection and is probably the second best linebacker in the league behind TCU's Tank Carder. There is also defensive back Bubba Forrest (yes, that is his real name) who tallied 100 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and broke up two passes. All of those tackles came from the front seven not being able to slow down the opposing teams rushing attack. Forrest was able to make those plays, but it is not a good omen when a defensive back records 100 tackles.

As for offense, it is a jumbled mess. They had to play three different quarterbacks last year due to players keep getting injured and none showed any sign of being good. Same goes for the running game. The good thing about the running game is that the top three rushers, with the best being Kasey Carrier who had only 373 yards. They have options, but again none of them are any good.

The Lobos do have two promising receivers who had solid years last year despite having three different quarterbacks throwing them the ball. First is Ty Kirk who had 38 receptions, 477 yards, and two scores; the other is tight end Lucas Reed who had 33 receptions, 459 yards and five scores. If the Lobos can have a solid quarterback these two players will be the play makers for the Lobos and it could lead to a break out season for the two. 

What is the one game on the schedule that Lobos fans want to win more than any other?

New Mexico State. Besides this being a rivalry game, the winner will not be crowned as the worst team in FBS. Plus, this is typically one of the winnable games on their schedule each year. The players, coaches, and fans know this, so they all get up for this game.

Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games for New Mexico this year?

The New Mexico State game mentioned above. There are four other games that are important, because they are games that the Lobos could win.

  • Colorado State
  • Sam Houston State
  • UNLV
  • at Wyoming

Having four of these five games at home helps the Lobos chances in sneaking out some wins. They better defeat Sam Houston State since they are an FCS team, UNLV and Wyoming are breaking in new quarterbacks and Colorado State should be the best of the four. Colorado State is the toughest opponent since they return most of the offense which includes Pete Thomas who was highly regarded coming out of high school.

What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?

Their quarterback situation is a mess as they played three last year and none had any real success. Three wins is probably where the Lobos will be headed. They should beat Sam Houston State, UNLV and New Mexico State. If they get to four or five wins and are competitive against the top of the Mountain West that will be a successful year.

Next Preview: FIU

2011 Team Previews

C-USA- East Carolina, Houston , SMU, Southern Mississippi

MAC- Ball St, Bowling Green, Buffalo , Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Temple, Toledo

MWC- UNLV, Wyoming

Sun Belt- FAU, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Troy , ULM

WAC- Idaho