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The big 2014 New Mexico State football preview: Playing the long game

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Martin isn't looking to take shortcuts in building a program at NMSU. He's recruiting high schoolers, building slowly, and accepting quite a bit of short-term pain to hopefully win in a few years.

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1. "I'm just going to hide out here for a while."

You go to New Mexico to either eat or hide. Santa Fe is beautiful, and Albuquerque is tasty, but when the water begins to run out, it's going to run out in New Mexico first. If you're an outsider coming in, you're either not planning to stay long or you're staying long because you don't have much of a choice.

Doug Martin wanted to be a head football coach again, but after a mostly unsuccessful stint at Kent State -- he went 29-53 from 2004-10, but he did basically set the table for Darrell Hazell's success -- his immediate post-resignation opportunities were of the offensive coordinator variety. He was DeWayne Walker's OC at NMSU in 2011 and Frank Spaziani's OC at Boston College in 2012. But when Walker quietly fled left NMSU a year ago to become a position coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Martin filled the position. If he wanted to lead a program again, this was basically his only FBS option.

Martin's first year at NSMU was ... familiar. NMSU went 2-10; it was the third time in four years that the Aggies won two or fewer games in a season and seventh in 11 that they won three or fewer. But that's fine. Results aren't going to matter for a while. With realignment almost relegating the Aggies to FCS -- they were left without a conference in 2013 after the WAC's disintegration and spent the year as an independent before catching a life raft from the Sun Belt -- the goal of the program was mostly about survival, and for now they have accomplished that goal.

Martin is playing a long game, which is both admirable and scary. When you're building a program almost from scratch (and to be sure, Martin didn't inherit much from Walker), you might be tempted to load up on transfers, JUCO and otherwise. But Martin isn't going that route. He claims to want to build from high school talent, and he backed that up by signing just two JUCOs in a 25-man recruiting class earlier this February. The upside is that he can develop and sculpt talent over the long-term; the downside is that his team is going to continue to stink for a while.

He enters Year 2 tasked with replacing most of last year's play-makers, relatively speaking, and trying to figure out what the hell to do about a defense that was thin and horrendous.

2. Where old coaches ride off into the sunset

When hiring assistants to help build the moribund program you just inherited, you can basically take one of two routes. Either you go super-young and aim for hungry, inexperienced coaches who will both give your program energy and leave as soon as a bigger job finds them, or you go old and find the experienced hands who are just about to the ends of their respective careers.

Martin is taking the latter route. His offensive coordinator is 57-year-old Gregg Brandon, former Bowling Green head coach and offensive coordinator at Virginia and Wyoming. An old spread architect, Brandon is a solid teacher, but it's been a while since he was put in charge of an offense with much legitimate talent.

Meanwhile, when Martin decided to replace defensive coordinator David Elson in January, he went about as far down the experienced-old-hand route as possible. Larry Coyer has served as the defensive coordinator for Iowa (1974-77), Oklahoma State (1978), Iowa State (1979-82), the USFL's Michigan Panthers and Memphis Showboats (1983-85), Memphis State (1986), East Carolina (1993), Iowa State again (1995-96), Pittsburgh (1997-99), and the NFL's Denver Broncos (2003-06) and Indianapolis Colts (2009-11). Coyer's career began when Marshall hired him as a graduate assistant in 1965; he's now 70. He has succeeded, failed, succeeded, and failed again. He worked with Martin on crazy old Steve Logan's ECU staff in the early-1990s (one that also featured ULM coach Todd Berry), and he has a history of being both aggressive and, at times, relatively unorthodox. We'll see what he can do with a unit that was terribly outmanned a year ago.

2013 Schedule & Results

Record: 2-10 | Adj. Record: 0-12 | Final F/+ Rk: 122
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L 5-gm Adj. Avg.
31-Aug at Texas 35 7-56 L 22.3 - 62.5 L
7-Sep Minnesota 55 21-44 L 21.2 - 49.9 L
14-Sep UTEP 119 21-42 L 30.1 - 38.8 L
21-Sep at UCLA 15 13-59 L 25.7 - 42.7 L
28-Sep San Diego State 89 16-26 L 19.7 - 30.0 L -21.0
5-Oct at New Mexico 110 17-66 L 19.0 - 46.9 L -18.5
19-Oct Rice 69 19-45 L 25.8 - 39.9 L -15.6
26-Oct Abilene Christian N/A 34-29 W 23.3 - 68.2 L -22.8
2-Nov at UL-Lafayette 86 35-49 L 28.0 - 45.7 L -23.0
9-Nov Boston College 65 34-48 L 30.7 - 45.9 L -24.0
23-Nov at Florida Atlantic 73 10-55 L 18.5 - 50.5 L -24.8
30-Nov Idaho 116 24-16 W 18.0 - 35.4 L -25.4
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk Spec. Tms. Rk
F/+ -12.8% 111 -15.6% 119 -6.4% 124
Points Per Game 20.9 104 44.6 122
Adj. Points Per Game 23.5 103 46.4 125
NMSU did not have the worst defense in the country. That is a sad disclaimer.

3. A historically awful defense

For the season as a whole, NMSU did not have the worst defense in the country. That is a sad disclaimer, but I'll go ahead and throw it out there. The unit had just enough decent moments -- the Aggies allowed just 16 points to Idaho and 26 to San Diego State -- to rank 119th in Def. F/+, ahead of a few others: Troy, UAB, Air Force, Eastern Michigan, UTEP, and rival New Mexico.

That said, the stretch from October 5 to November 23, one that encompassed six games, five losses, 292 points, and 3,272 yards, might be among the worst half-season stretches of defense in college football's history. NMSU allowed 8.2 yards per play, gave up a combined 121 points to New Mexico and FAU, and very nearly lost (via Hail Mary) to an Abilene Christian team that was still in provisional FCS status (i.e. it was a Division II program very, very recently). As you'll see below, NMSU ranked in the 120s in most categories and saw just four defenders play in all 12 games, and while the Aggies rallied a bit in the season finale against Idaho ... yeah, you've got your work cut out for you, Coach Coyer.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.10 82 IsoPPP+ 88.9 114
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 40.7% 80 Succ. Rt. + 87.6 105
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 33.2 113 Def. FP+ 94.4 111
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.2 69 Redzone S&P+ 100.6 59
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 23.2 ACTUAL 26 +2.8
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 82 111 106 105
RUSHING 90 119 117 115
PASSING 57 90 70 67
Standard Downs 124 118 125
Passing Downs 61 57 73
Q1 Rk 113 1st Down Rk 123
Q2 Rk 92 2nd Down Rk 54
Q3 Rk 118 3rd Down Rk 107
Q4 Rk 89

4. The offense was almost interesting

The defense never had a chance, but Gregg Brandon's offense showed some late-season promise; the Aggies averaged better than 5.0 yards per play just seven times in 2013, but six of those instances came in the last seven games of the year. The Aggies were reasonably balanced and showed potential for both efficiency and explosiveness, particularly in the passing game.

We're using past tense here, not only because we're describing something that happened last year, but also because the hope has kind of vanished for now. Star receiver Austin Franklin was a big reason for the late-season improvement, but he's gone. So are starting quarterback Andrew McDonald, leading rusher Germi Morrison, and four-year starting tackle Davonte Wallace. There is still experience on the line, and Morrison was quite replaceable, but Franklin was a rare, explosive playmaker in Las Cruces, and the experience at the quarterback position is almost nil.

The defense could improve, if only because it couldn't get worse, but offensive regression might offset that growth.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2014 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp Rate Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Andrew McDonald


233 350 2511 15 11 66.6% 20 5.4% 6.4
King Davis III 6'1, 200 So. N/A 26 50 371 2 1 52.0% 3 5.7% 6.6
Tyler Rogers 6'3, 200 So. 2 stars (5.2)







Nick Jeanty 6'2, 186 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)







Nate Grimm 6'4, 195 Fr. 2 stars (5.3)







5. Six quarterbacks

Martin identified three specific needs for his 2014 recruiting class and absolutely loaded up. Of his 25 signees, 16 were either quarterbacks (six), linebackers (six) or defensive linemen (four). And there's a very good chance that the QB portion of the depth chart will consist completely of 2014 signees. Junior college transfer Tyler Rogers and five incoming freshmen (the most highly touted of which are Nick Jeanty and Nate Grimm) join King Davis III in the battle for the starting position, but Davis is more athlete than quarterback and could get work as a running back or receiver in spring ball.

Martin and Brandon want an athletic dual-threat behind center, and we'll see which of the signees (or Davis) can both play quarterback and meet the athletic standards. Davis is evidently more latter than former, but NMSU's current quarterback search certainly signifies the difficulty in attracting necessary talent for certain offensive systems. Having a quarterback who can run gives you a numbers advantage, one more thing the defense has to account for; this could be a desperate need for an offense that seeks every advantage it can find.

But finding a QB who can give you that numbers advantage and still throw effectively is tough. Martin played the odds and stocked up in the hopes that one is a keeper.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
Adj.
POE
Germi Morrison RB


109 451 4 4.1 4.2 33.0%
Brandon Betancourt RB 5'10, 187 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 93 415 2 4.5 3.7 35.5%
Andrew McDonald QB
84 382 4 4.5 4.0 41.7%
Xavier Hall RB 5'8, 182 So. N/A 48 247 2 5.1 3.9 39.6%
King Davis III QB 6'1, 200 So. N/A 40 193 0 4.8 6.6 32.5%
Travaughn Colwell WR 6'3, 202 Sr. N/A 22 77 0 3.5 4.6 31.8%
Austin Franklin WR


14 69 0 4.9 2.8 50.0%
Marquette Washington RB 5'10, 215 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4)
Larry Rose RB 5'11, 175 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)




Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target Rate %SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Austin Franklin WR-H


78 52 670 66.7% 20.1% 52.3% 8.6 51 9.2 78.1
Jordan Bergstrom WR 5'11, 180 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 52 30 206 57.7% 13.4% 69.0% 4.0 -179 3.5 24.0
Joshua Bowen WR-H 5'10, 175 Jr. N/A 51 39 333 76.5% 13.1% 67.6% 6.5 -102 6.4 38.8
Adam Shapiro WR-X 6'1, 192 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 48 35 434 72.9% 12.3% 44.4% 9.0 35 6.9 50.6
Jerrel Brown WR-Z 6'0, 190 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 45 33 484 73.3% 11.6% 40.6% 10.8 109 10.9 56.5
Joseph Matthews WR-X 6'2, 203 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 41 23 313 56.1% 10.5% 57.1% 7.6 14 7.9 36.5
Brandon Betancourt RB 5'10, 187 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 18 13 106 72.2% 4.6% 40.0% 5.9 -43 8.1 12.4
Perris Scoggins TE 18 12 94 66.7% 4.6% 53.3% 5.2 -49 6.3 11.0
Andrew Dean TE 6'3, 244 Sr. N/A 15 11 101 73.3% 3.9% 78.6% 6.7 -24 8.0 11.8
Germi Morrison RB 10 7 67 70.0% 2.6% 25.0% 6.7 -14 3.6 7.8
Xavier Hall RB 5'8, 182 So. N/A 7 7 47 100.0% 1.8% 16.7% 6.7 -23 3.7 5.5
Travaughn Colwell WR 6'3, 202 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 4 1 36 25.0% 1.0% 0.0% 9.0 14 4.0 4.2
Anthony Joyner TE 6'2, 250 Sr. 2 stars (5.3)
Prentavious Morehead WR 6'3, 165 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)








6. Hope in the receiving corps (for this year, anyway)

I'm not going to pretend the running game is a strength here, but -- with a line that does return 73 career starts and three players with at least one full year of starting experience and a couple of running backs in Brandon Betancourt and Xavier Hall who achieved at a level similar to Germi Morrison -- I don't see it getting worse.

The passing game, however, has some obvious question marks. The quarterback situation is blurry, but replacing Austin Franklin will also be quite the challenge. When the offense got hot late in the season, Franklin was the primary reason; he caught 34 passes for 407 yards and four scores against Abilene Christian, UL-Lafayette and Boston College. He provided a big-play threat that the next two leading targets (Jordan Bergstrom and Joshua Bowen) very much could not.

There is hope further down the list. Seniors Adam Shapiro, Jerrel Brown, and Joseph Matthews combined to average 13.5 yards per catch with a 68 percent catch rate. That's solid, and if they can maintain those averages while occupying some of Franklin's targets, the passing game might not be a lost cause. But they are indeed all seniors, so if a youngster like Prentavious Morehead wanted to break through in 2014, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 89.1 2.71 3.55 36.8% 53.3% 20.7% 103.0 5.8% 5.2%
Rank 103 94 36 93 117 82 65 93 43
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Career Starts Honors/Notes
Davonte Wallace LT 48
Valerian Ume-Ezeoke C 6'3, 295 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 31
Andy Cunningham RT 6'3, 308 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 23
Dada Richards RT 18
Isaiah Folasa-Lutui LG 6'3, 309 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 12
Abram Holland RG 6'2, 270 So. 2 stars (5.3) 6
Houston Clemente OL (now DT) 6'4, 303 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 1
Spence Ueli-Faatoalia LG 6'1, 308 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0
Alexander Trujillo C (now DT) 6'2, 285 Jr. N/A 0
Matt Ramondo OT 6'5, 310 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0 (on offense)

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.36 121 IsoPPP+ 83.7 120
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 49.6% 118 Succ. Rt. + 73.4 125
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 25.8 121 Def. FP+ 91.6 122
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.8 113 Redzone S&P+ 79.3 119
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 15.2 ACTUAL 20.0 +4.8
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 125 126 126 126
RUSHING 125 125 125 120
PASSING 93 125 126 126
Standard Downs 126 124 121
Passing Downs 126 126 112
Q1 Rk 118 1st Down Rk 126
Q2 Rk 125 2nd Down Rk 122
Q3 Rk 119 3rd Down Rk 125
Q4 Rk 126

7. New blood, and not by choice

As with the offense, most of the playmaking potential from last year's team is gone. Linebackers Trashaun Nixon and Bryan Bonilla combined for 19 tackles for loss and six passes defensed; they're gone. Safety Davis Cazares had three TFLs and five passes defensed; he's gone.

As mentioned above, injuries and general absence of depth were huge issues, but the biggest problem might be that the depth really isn't any better this year. Those four players who actually played in all 12 games? All gone. Six players recorded at least 30 tackles. Five are gone. Yikes.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 79.3 3.83 3.56 47.2% 75.0% 13.8% 45.1 2.8% 4.8%
Rank 125 126 92 120 99 121 125 108 107
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Willie Mobley NT 12 24.0 3.4% 2.0 2.0 0 1 0 0
Jay Eakins DE 6'2, 275 Sr. N/A 11 18.5 2.7% 1.5 1.0 0 0 0 0
Stephen Meredith JACK 6'3, 240 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 8 15.0 2.2% 1.0 0.5 0 0 0 0
Kevin Laudermill NT 9 14.0 2.0% 1.5 1.0 1 1 0 0
Mason Russell DE 11 13.0 1.9% 3.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Kalei Auelua JACK 6'2, 240 So. 2 stars (5.4) 9 10.5 1.5% 3.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Nick Oliva DE 8 10.5 1.5% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Matt Ramondo NT (now OT) 6'5, 310 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 7 7.5 1.1% 0.5 0.5 0 0 0 0
Kalvin Cruz DE 7 6.5 0.9% 1.5 1.0 0 0 0 0
Houston Clemente DT 6'4, 303 Jr. 2 stars (5.3)








Alexander Trujillo DT 6'2, 285 Jr. NR








Josh Gibbs DE 6'5, 255 Jr. 2 stars (5.2)








8. No hope up front

It's difficult to isolate one weakness above (below?) the others, but the defensive line was really, really bad. NMSU ranked 125th in both Adj. Line Yards and Adj. Sack Rate. Defensive ends combined for 2.5 sacks for the season, but playmaking ability was only part of the problem. The line didn't do much of anything; in David Elson's 3-4(ish) system, the line was asked to occupy blockers more than playing the ball, but that excuse only goes so far.

Willie Mobley, the line's leading tackler, was 10th on the team in tackles. Even block-occupiers should be doing more than that. As Coyer attempts to implement his defensive system, the personnel is still getting shuffled around. Nose tackle Matt Ramondo is evidently moving to offense, while Houston Clemente and Alexander Trujillo go from offense to defense. JUCO transfer Josh Gibbs will need to make an immediate contribution, but if the line improves, it will come from players already on the roster ... whoever that may be.

If the line improves a bit (not a given), then at the very least some of the potential young playmakers in the back will have opportunities to shine. Sophomore linebacker Rodney Butler made two tackles for loss and broke up a pass in a backup role and junior corner Lewis Hill and sophomore safety Kawe Johnson each got their hands on some passes last year.

With the loss of the top two linebackers and the three leading tacklers in the secondary, these units are going to be all sorts of young and flawed, but again ... the record and the output don't really matter yet. NMSU is playing for 2016, basically. Potential trumps production.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Trashaun Nixon MIKE


12 71.0 10.2% 13.0 3.0 0 2 3 0
Bryan Bonilla WILL 12 52.5 7.5% 6.0 0.0 0 0 1 1
Clint Barnard LB 6'3, 240 Sr. N/A 9 44.5 6.4% 2.5 1.0 1 0 0 0
Rodney Butler SAM 6'1, 212 So. 2 stars (5.3) 8 25.5 3.7% 2.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Dylan Davis MIKE 8 14.5 2.1% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Dior Moore WILL 6'1, 222 Sr. N/A 6 13.0 1.9% 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Robert Wagner LB 6'1, 234 So. 3 stars (5.6) 4 8.5 1.2% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Josh Smith LB 6 7.0 1.0% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Derek Ibekwe LB 6'1, 222 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)








JB Copeland LB 6'2, 205 Fr. 2 stars (5.3)








Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Davis Cazares SS 10 81.0 11.6% 3 0 2 3 1 0
Darien Johnson CB 12 58.0 8.3% 2 0 1 4 2 0
George Callender NB 9 39.0 5.6% 1 0 1 0 0 0
Lewis Hill CB 5'10, 175 Jr. N/A 10 29.0 4.2% 0 0 1 3 0 0
Kawe Johnson SS 5'8, 177 So. 2 stars (5.2) 10 27.0 3.9% 0 0 2 2 0 0
Thomas Warren FS 5'11, 175 So. 2 stars (5.4) 7 18.5 2.7% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Justin Smith FS 8 16.0 2.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kedeem Thomas-Davis CB 5'9, 170 Jr. N/A 6 15.0 2.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Cameron Fuller CB 7 11.5 1.7% 0 0 1 1 0 0
Anthony Edwards CB 5 7.0 1.0% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Winston Rose CB 6'0, 174 Sr. N/A 2 6.0 0.9% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jacob Nwangwa DB 6'0, 175 Fr. 2 stars (5.3)








Dalton Herrington DB 6'2, 192 Fr. 2 stars (5.3)








Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Cayle Chapman-Brown

70 43.8 4 20 24 62.9%
Jake Capraro

8 34.1 0 0 0 0.0%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Brock Baca 5'10, 215 Jr. 31 56.4 11 1 35.5%
Maxwell Johnson 5'10, 185 Sr. 20 48.7 2 0 10.0%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Maxwell Johnson 5'10, 185 Sr. 29-32 8-8 100.0% 7-9 77.8%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Adam Shapiro KR 6'1, 192 Sr. 26 20.5 0
Austin Franklin KR

11 15.3 0
Joseph Matthews PR 6'2, 203 Sr. 10 6.9 0
Darien Johnson PR

4 7.5 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 124
Field Goal Efficiency 29
Punt Return Efficiency 122
Kick Return Efficiency 117
Punt Efficiency 73
Kickoff Efficiency 124
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 110

9. A lack of depth can bleed over to special teams

When you've got a defense that can't keep 11 healthy bodies on the field, the odds are pretty good that your punt and kick coverage units stink, too. You either have to use starters (and risk tiring them out further) or dip into your shallow pool of backups. And despite a punter who averaged nearly 44 yards per punt and a kicker who booted touchbacks on more than one-third of all kickoffs, NMSU's coverage units were lacking, especially on kickoffs.

Add that to a return game that had no real threats (or no blocking for those threats), and you had a pretty awful special teams unit. Maxwell Johnson appears to be a tremendous place-kicker, but that only matters so much if everything else about the unit is bad.

2014 Schedule & Projection Factors

2014 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
30-Aug Cal Poly N/A
13-Sep at UTEP 117
20-Sep New Mexico 116
27-Sep at LSU 5
TBA Georgia Southern N/A
TBA Texas State 114
TBA UL-Lafayette 79
TBA UL-Monroe 112
TBA at Arkansas State 84
TBA at Georgia State 125
TBA at Idaho 120
TBA at Troy 111
Five-Year F/+ Rk -32.3% (123)
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 0
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* -6 / -8.0
TO Luck/Game +0.9
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 9 (5, 4)

10. It's going to take a while

New Mexico State is going to be better in 2013. ... "Improvement" could mean making a run at bowl eligibility with wins over teams like UTEP, Abilene Christian, FAU, and Idaho (and hey, maybe an upset of visiting Minnesota or Boston College); or it could simply mean 2-10 and 120th.

I like the Doug Martin hire, and while it didn't make a lot of sense (geographically, anyway) for the Sun Belt to bring NMSU and Idaho aboard, my guilty liberal tendencies made me feel pretty happy about it. We don't know that the future will be any brighter than the past for this struggling football program, but we know that there is a future, and we know that the Aggies have a coach that wants to be their coach. That's something.

Technically, I was right in last year's preview. NMSU improved from 123rd to 122nd and from one win to two. I'm not going to predict improvement this time around, however. This team is going to be ridiculously young, and the shuffling at quarterback and on the lines shows that the coaches don't yet have all the pieces lined up how they want.

This really is a building-for-2016 situation, and the expectations should be set accordingly. If they win a couple of games, find their quarterback, and at least don't regress defensively (and yes, it is technically possible to regress), then that's probably enough for now. I admire Martin's refusal to take shortcuts, but that means the road's awfully long.

More from SB Nation college football:

Equanimeous St. Brown, Zach Morris, and the 2015 recruiting All-Name Team

Behind-the-scenes feature: How Michael Sam decided to come out

What if college football had promotion and relegation? Updated for 2014

Super-early 2014 advanced stats rankings, 1 through 125

College football news | The SEC is taking over the country

Long CFB reads | How Ryan Perrilloux completely disappeared

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