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1. Growth is slow
Bob Davie worked for Jackie Sherrill at Pittsburgh and Texas A&M. He was R.C. Slocum's Linebacker U defensive coordinator at Texas A&M. He was Lou Holtz's defensive coordinator at Notre Dame. His view of football starts on the defensive side.
Imagine, then, how much watching his own team has driven him crazy over the last two years. In 2012, his first year as New Mexico's head coach after a long tenure as a broadcaster, his Lobos gained 5.7 yards per play but allowed 6.8. In 2013, his offense improved to 6.5 yards per play and his defense allowed 7.4. Despite injuries at the quarterback position, New Mexico ranked a healthy 59th in Off. F/+ ... and 125th, dead last, in Def. F/+.
Meet the Bag Man
Meet the Bag Man
New Mexico allowed at least 6.3 yards per play in nine of its final 10 games last year; Pittsburgh gained 527 yards in just 52 plays; Fresno State gained 822 in 83. It didn't really matter the style of offense -- New Mexico was outmanned no matter what.
The Lobos' 3-9 season in 2013 proved that Davie still has a ways to go when it comes to restoring a program that went to five bowls in six years from 2002-07. Still, he's won seven games in two years after the Lobos won seven in the four before his arrival. New Mexico may have only ranked 114th and 110th in F/+ in his first two years, but that's still better than 119th (in 2010) and 120th (in 2011).
Thanks to sanctions incurred during the end of Rocky Long's tenure and massive attrition during and after Mike Locksley's horrendous tenure (UNM went 3-33 from 2009-11), New Mexico might actually have a full 85-man roster of scholarship players this fall for the first time since 2008. But still, there are only two fifth-year seniors on the squad; Davie inherited the thinnest roster in the country, and while he has made some improvements, especially on offense, he knew from the start that this was a long-term rebuild.
He'll still have a young roster, but it's older than what he had. He'll still have depth issues in certain units, but there's more depth than he's had.
Growth is slow, but there's reason to believe this team could be ready for a pretty solid step forward in 2014.
2013 Schedule & Results
|Record: 3-9 | Adj. Record: 2-10 | Final F/+ Rk: 110|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Adj. Score||Adj. W-L||5-gm Adj. Avg.|
|31-Aug||UTSA||67||13-21||L||22.2 - 28.8||L|
|7-Sep||at UTEP||119||42-35||W||35.3 - 45.7||L|
|14-Sep||at Pittsburgh||54||27-49||L||18.2 - 63.1||L|
|28-Sep||UNLV||96||42-56||L||46.0 - 43.9||W|
|5-Oct||New Mexico State||122||66-17||W||37.8 - 33.0||W||-11.0|
|12-Oct||at Wyoming||102||31-38||L||23.9 - 32.2||L||-11.3|
|19-Oct||Utah State||32||10-45||L||28.0 - 43.1||L||-12.3|
|2-Nov||at San Diego State||89||30-35||L||40.8 - 41.8||L||-3.5|
|8-Nov||Air Force||113||45-37||W||33.0 - 37.6||L||-4.8|
|16-Nov||Colorado State||66||42-66||L||46.0 - 48.0||L||-6.2|
|23-Nov||at Fresno State||49||28-69||L||28.5 - 48.1||L||-8.5|
|30-Nov||at Boise State||45||17-45||L||25.7 - 29.9||L||-6.3|
|Points Per Game||32.8||42||42.8||120|
|Adj. Points Per Game||32.1||40||41.3||121|
2. The offense was getting somewhere
Offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse has been around. He was a hot young coordinator two decades ago at TCU and Minnesota, and he became Southwest Texas State's head coach in 1997. He was on Joe Tiller's Purdue staff from 2003-05, and he was on Dennis Franchione's in 2006-07.
By the time he became Sam Houston State's offensive coordinator in 2010, he had experienced success and a decent amount of failure, and he had served as an offensive assistant on both run- and pass-heavy offenses. So naturally, he crafted a pistol-based, option-heavy offense at SHSU and ran roughshod on most of FCS. When Davie came to Albuquerque, he brought DeBesse along, and the same offense has had a lot of the same results.
The offense was especially getting somewhere when Cole Gautsche was healthy last fall. But he missed the final two games of the year, and while the defense certainly assured that UNM was not going to threaten to win at Fresno State or Boise State, the offense took a step backwards.
Adj. Points Per Game (first 3 games): Opponent 45.9, UNM 25.2 (minus-20.7)
Adj. Points Per Game (next 7 games): Opponent 39.9, UNM 36.5 (minus-3.4)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 2 games): Opponent 39.0, UNM 27.1 (minus-11.9)
No matter who is at quarterback, DeBesse's recent history suggests he'll lead a pretty good offense. But until that defense improves, the offense doesn't really matter.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||44.9%||49||Succ. Rt. +||98.5||68|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||29.5||58||Def. FP+||98.4||76|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||4.9||16||Redzone S&P+||115.9||17|
|Q1 Rk||68||1st Down Rk||62|
|Q2 Rk||70||2nd Down Rk||16|
|Q3 Rk||27||3rd Down Rk||103|
3. The big plays were really big
The offense really has come together in a short amount of time. Despite minimal passing threat and only two recruiting classes to make a pretty significant shift in offensive philosophy, the personnel Davie and DeBesse put on the field last year was well-equipped to both execute UNM's deceptive offense and take full advantage when the deception worked. New Mexico was one of five teams with at least 125 rushes of 10+ yards, one of four with 40 rushes of 20+ yards, and one of five with 21 rushes of 30+ yards. They gouged you with three different quarterbacks, five different running backs, and, again, no passing game whatsoever.
With a little more play-action effectiveness, this already dangerous running game could be devastating.
Kasey Carrier rushed for nearly 2,600 yards and 24 touchdowns in two years in DeBesse's system, and we probably shouldn't just gloss over his absence. But four other backs who rushed for at least 100 yards and at least 5.8 yards per carry do return. Crusoe Gongbay and Jhurell Pressley bring both fantastic names and solid explosiveness to the table, and junior David Anaya might do the same if small samples are worth anything. Plus, three-star sophomore Teriyon Gipson provided some lovely efficiency, even if his explosiveness wasn't quite as high.
Add in a line that returns four players with starting experience (68 total starts) and ranked 27th in Adj. Line Yards last year, and you're looking at pretty good odds that UNM can overcome Carrier's absence.
Note: players in bold below are 2014 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Clayton Mitchem||6'1, 180||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||48||81||670||1||1||59.3%||19||19.0%||5.5|
|Cole Gautsche||6'4, 227||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||35||78||639||7||4||44.9%||3||3.7%||6.7|
|David Vega||6'1, 193||Sr.||NR||6||13||63||1||0||46.2%||2||13.3%||2.7|
|Lamar Jordan||5'10, 177||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|JaJuan Lawson||6'0, 200||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Patrick Reed||6'1, 180||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)|
4. Gautsche is a keeper
Still limited as a passer, the big, mobile Cole Gautsche rushed for at least 100 yards five times in 2013; he rushed 32 times for 267 yards in wins over New Mexico State and Air Force, and while his completion rate was still subpar (45 percent), he showed decent play-action potential.
Gautsche also missed three games with concussion issues, including each of the last two, after missing one in 2012 as well. He is healthy this spring and has the full go-ahead, but last fall proved both that Gautsche has a load of potential, and that New Mexico better have some backup options.
It appears that UNM has just that. Davie has professed a desire to pass more (and more effectively), and while Gautsche very much improved his passing from 2012 to 2013, he still completed only 45 percent of his passes. Clayton Mitchem threw the ball better than Gautsche but took a ton of sacks in the process; still, he and David Vega both got decent on-field experience last year, and if they're not ready, any number of youngsters could take over. JaJuan Lawson is perhaps Davie's biggest get in recruiting so far, and redshirt freshman Lamar Jordan has athleticism to burn.
Gautsche has to be considered a far-and-away No. 1 option if healthy, but we'll see if that's possible. If not, the running game should be able to thrive anyway. The passing game will still be limited.
|Cole Gautsche||QB||6'4, 227||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||115||872||8||7.6||6.4||54.8%|
|Crusoe Gongbay||RB||6'0, 205||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||97||592||6||6.1||8.8||35.1%|
|Clayton Mitchem||QB||6'1, 180||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||45||257||3||5.7||5.0||53.3%|
|Teriyon Gipson||RB||5'7, 167||So.||3 stars (5.5)||38||220||5||5.8||3.3||55.3%|
|Jhurell Pressley||RB||5'11, 198||Jr.||NR||29||273||6||9.4||13.6||44.8%|
|David Vega||QB||6'1, 193||Sr.||NR||18||140||0||7.8||7.0||55.6%|
|Carlos Wiggins||WR||5'8, 157||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||13||161||2||12.4||12.1||61.5%|
|David Anaya||RB||5'11, 192||Jr.||NR||11||103||0||9.4||14.0||45.5%|
|Romell Jordan||RB||5'8, 166||RSFr.||2 stars (5.2)||0||0||0||0.0||0.0||0.0%|
|Jakari Johnson||RB||5'10, 190||So.||2 stars (5.3)|
|Tyrone Owens||RB||5'9, 190||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Marquis Bundy||WR||6'4, 200||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||36||19||261||52.8%||21.4%||58.6%||7.3||5||7.1||32.1|
|Jeric Magnant||WR||6'0, 180||Sr.||NR||34||19||294||55.9%||20.2%||38.1%||8.6||46||9.9||36.2|
|Carlos Wiggins||WR||5'8, 157||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||21||13||163||61.9%||12.5%||88.9%||7.8||2||6.5||20.1|
|Reece White||TE||6'2, 202||Jr.||NR||12||4||100||33.3%||7.1%||75.0%||8.3||29||13.8||12.3|
|Dameon Gamblin||WR||5'9, 160||So.||2 stars (5.2)||10||1||-3||10.0%||6.0%||N/A||-0.3||-48||0.0||-0.4|
|Jhurell Pressley||RB||5'11, 198||Jr.||NR||8||6||68||75.0%||4.8%||50.0%||8.5||1||16.0||8.4|
|David Anaya||RB||5'11, 192||Jr.||NR||6||3||82||50.0%||3.6%||100.0%||13.7||40||6.7||10.1|
|Tyler Duncan||WR||6'2, 193||Sr.||NR||6||5||131||83.3%||3.6%||40.0%||21.8||77||24.9||16.1|
|Crusoe Gongbay||RB||6'0, 205||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||3||3||23||100.0%||1.8%||0.0%||7.7||-7||5.3||2.8|
|Ridge Jones||WR||5'10, 157||So.||2 stars (5.4)||3||3||23||100.0%||1.8%||33.3%||7.7||-7||10.1||2.8|
|Chris Edling||TE||6'3, 223||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)|
|Jalyn Judkins||WR||6'2, 212||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Emanuel Simpson||TE||6'1, 235||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Nick Lehman||TE||6'3, 240||So.||2 stars (5.3)|
|Chris Davis||WR||5'8, 180||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)|
4. Throw it to Jeric
In a run-first offense like this one, you're going to sacrifice a little bit of efficiency in the passing game for big gains downfield. When your running game is this good, the play-action potential is high. And sure enough, of the seven players to catch at least four passes last year, four averaged at least 15.5 yards per catch and six averaged at least 12.5.
But there was a little too much sacrificing when it came to efficiency. Four of the seven had a catch rate lower than 56 percent, and none of the top three were better than 62 percent. (And poor Dameon Gamblin caught just one of 10 passes for minus-3 yards.)
There were no high-efficiency options here -- even tight ends managed only a 45 percent catch rate -- but Jeric Magnant seemed to best combine decent efficiency with big-play ability. UNM is never going to ask a receiver to become a 1,000-yard threat, but if the Lobos get more out of the passing game in 2014, Magnant is probably why.
|LaMar Bratton||LG||6'2, 281||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||37|
|Jamal Price||RG||6'6, 330||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||13|
|Johnny Vizcaino||RT||6'3, 288||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||10|
|Garrett Adcock||C||6'2, 281||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||8|
|Dillon Romine||LT||6'7, 290||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0|
|Jack Lamm||C||6'3, 272||So.||NR||0|
|Toye Adewon||C||6'3, 327||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0|
|Josh Baggett||OL||6'2, 308||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0|
|Reno Henderson||OL||6'4, 268||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0|
|Draven Taylor||OL||6'2, 306||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)|
|Eden Mahina||OL||6'3, 300||Jr.||2 stars|
5. Why don't more underdogs run the option?
An up-tempo spread has become an Underdog Strategy of choice for a lot of FBS head coaches, but one has to wonder why there isn't more triple-option at the lower levels of this subdivision. It is great for finishing drives, and it allows you to move the ball efficiently without extreme athleticism. DeBesse has figured out ways to marry old-school triple option with new-school tactics (pistol, etc.), and it is working. I figure we're going to see more of this in the coming years, which is good -- this is a fun style of play.
(Kudos to Bob Davie, by the way, for figuring out a way to move the ball in an effective, semi-modern way after professing hatred for the spread offense on television for a number of years. He always complained that teams weren't running enough. Well ... New Mexico definitely runs enough.)
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||51.8%||122||Succ. Rt. +||81.2||119|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||30.8||55||Off. FP+||101.5||44|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||5.7||124||Redzone S&P+||84.1||109|
|Q1 Rk||123||1st Down Rk||122|
|Q2 Rk||119||2nd Down Rk||124|
|Q3 Rk||118||3rd Down Rk||83|
6. Depth! Beautiful, glorious, completely unproven depth!
Only four defensive linemen and four linebackers recorded more than 15.0 tackles in 2013. The secondary (seven) was a little bit deeper, but only marginally so. It was hard to find an adequate second string (well, first string, too, if we're being mean), and that kind of thinness on the roster will catch up to you. New Mexico didn't really have a good quarter, but the fourth quarter was definitely the Lobos' worst.
It's understandable, then, to see that Davie both made some staff changes and loaded up on JUCOs. He added three JUCO defensive tackles to a line bereft of size, and he added one to the linebacking corps and two to the secondary.
JUCOs are not a fix-all. As we've discussed before, there's equal risk for the reward (you lose them after a short amount of time, and if some don't pan out, you're extending your depth issues over a longer period), and if they were a guaranteed success, more teams would be raiding JUCOs. Still, it made some sense here. UNM desperately needed an upgrade in terms of both talent and the number of warm bodies available; the Lobos got the latter with this recruiting class, but we'll have to wait to see about the former.
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Brett Bowers||DE||6'3, 260||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||11||30.0||4.5%||9.0||6.0||0||0||3||0|
|Nik D'Avanzo||NT||6'2, 307||So.||2 stars (5.3)||12||23.0||3.4%||3.0||1.0||0||0||1||0|
|Randy Williams||DE||6'2, 230||Jr.||NR||10||11.0||1.6%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|William Udeh||DE||6'0, 256||So.||3 stars (5.5)||10||5.5||0.8%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Dominic Twitty (2012)||NT||6'2, 288||So.||2 stars (5.4)||13||3.5||0.6%||0.0||0.0||0||3||0||0|
|Paytron Hightower||DE||6'4, 260||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Sam Mabany||DE||6'7, 252||RSFr.||2 stars (5.2)|
|Christopher Smalls||DL||6'1, 253||Jr.||NR|
|Taylor Timmons||NT||6'0, 295||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Jack Ziltz||NT||6'2, 315||So.||2 stars (5.3)|
|Cole Juarez||NT||6'2, 310||So.||2 stars (5.3)|
|Garrett Hughes||DE||6'2, 280||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Aaron Jenkins||NT||6'2, 310||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Desmond Branch||DE||6'2, 245||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)|
8. A heaping helping of beef
Brett Bowers was basically a one-man pass rush -- he had six sacks in 2013, and the rest of the team had 10 -- but because of Bowers, UNM was able to get respectable pressure on the quarterback. The problem came in standing up to run blocking. UNM couldn't do it, and opponents had no problem deciding to run as frequently as possible. With the loss of two starters up front and two more at linebacker, New Mexico will be forced to lean on either newcomers or untested backups to fill most of the two-deep in the front seven in 2014. That might not be a bad thing considering last season's results (new blood is only scary if the old blood was worth something), but there's no guarantee for improvement here.
What IS guaranteed is that UNM will come closer to passing the eyeball test. Thanks to some newcomers, UNM will have size it just didn't have a year ago. The three incoming JUCO tackles average 6'1, 307. Redshirt freshman end Sam Mabany is 6'7, 252. Three-star freshman steal Garrett Hughes is 6'2, 280. Some smaller linebackers (like three-star sophomore Donnie White) will still factor into the equation, but UNM has more size where you need it this fall. That's one of 10 hurdles cleared, but it's still a hurdle cleared.
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Dakota Cox||MLB||6'0, 235||So.||3 stars (5.5)||12||74.5||11.1%||1.0||0.0||0||1||0||0|
|Javarie Johnson||RUSH||6'3, 240||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||12||31.0||4.6%||3.5||1.0||0||0||2||0|
|Toby Ball||MLB||5'11, 233||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||7||14.0||2.1%||1.0||0.0||0||0||1||0|
|Tevin Newman||LB||6'0, 202||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||10||12.0||1.8%||1.0||0.0||1||1||0||0|
|Donnie White||RUSH||6'1, 218||So.||3 stars (5.5)||10||11.5||1.7%||0.0||0.0||0||1||0||0|
|Richard Winston||OLB||6'4, 220||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||11||5.5||0.8%||0.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Michael Arredondo||MLB||6'2, 223||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||10||2.5||0.4%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Trajuan Briggs||LB||5'11, 224||Sr.||3 stars (5.7)||6||2.0||0.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Ryan Langford||LB||6'3, 225||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||1||1.5||0.2%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Kimmie Carson||LB||6'0, 230||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Trevon Roy||LB||6'0, 196||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Chris Lee||LB||6'1, 255||Jr.||2 stars|
|Juwan Jones||DB||6'2, 190||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|David Guthrie||SS||5'10, 198||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||12||53.5||8.0%||4.5||2||0||5||0||0|
|Cranston Jones||CB||5'9, 167||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||12||37.0||5.5%||2.5||0||0||5||0||0|
|SaQwan Edwards||CB||6'1, 188||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||11||34.0||5.1%||2||2||1||4||0||1|
|Brandon Branch||FS||5'11, 187||Jr.||NR||12||22.5||3.4%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Devonta Tabannah||S||5'10, 170||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||12||19.0||2.8%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Ryan Santos||FS||5'9, 179||So.||3 stars (5.5)||11||17.0||2.5%||1||0||0||0||1||0|
|Jamal Merritt (2012)||S||6'0, 188||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||6||12.5||2.0%||0||0||0||2||0||0|
|Donnie Duncan||CB||5'11, 190||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||12||10.5||1.6%||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Jadon Boatright||CB||5'10, 172||So.||2 stars (5.3)||12||6.5||1.0%||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Isaiah Brown||CB||5'10, 180||So.||3 stars (5.5)||10||5.5||0.8%||0.5||0||0||1||0||1|
|Darien Brunson||SS||6'1, 180||Jr.||NR|
|Ricky Bennett||DB||6'0, 208||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)|
|Lee Crosby||DB||5'11, 190||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Daniel Henry||DB||6'0, 175||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)|
8. With help, the secondary could thrive
It all comes down to the front seven, and not only are newcomers going to be prevalent on the field, but they're also going to be found on the sideline. Kevin Cosgrove is the new defensive coordinator (he spent the last two years coaching inside linebackers for Davie), and Barry Sacks, a longtime Chris Ault assistant at Nevada, comes in to coach the defensive line. There might be a little more diversity in terms of alignment up front, but the defense's success will be determined by whether these new pieces can instill improvement.
With better run support and pass rushing, the secondary might have enough depth and experience to succeed. Six of last year's top seven return, including safety David Guthrie, who proved to be a threat both close to and far from the line of scrimmage. Both returning corners recorded a pair of tackles of loss and at least five passes defensed, and there are some former three-star recruits lingering on the second string.
The secondary is probably the most proven unit on the defense. Now give it some help.
|Carlos Wiggins||KR||5'8, 157||Jr.||44||29.9||3|
|David Anaya||KR||5'11, 192||Jr.||11||15.5||0|
|Dameon Gamblin||PR||5'9, 160||So.||7||4.9||0|
|Special Teams F/+||32|
|Field Goal Efficiency||97|
|Punt Return Efficiency||105|
|Kick Return Efficiency||2|
|Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency||119|
9. Goodbye, field position
Carlos Wiggins was perhaps the best kick return man in the country, and lord knows he got plenty of opportunities to return kicks. Thanks to Wiggins alone, UNM's field position game won't be completely awful. But with the loss of punter Ben Skaer and his 46-yard average, plus a decent kickoffs guy in Justus Adams (also an automatic place-kicker under 40 yards), the losses here outnumber the gains. Skaer was almost certainly the defense's biggest asset in 2013, so his loss is scary. (Or Skaery. Sorry.)
2014 Schedule & Projection Factors
|20-Sep||at New Mexico State||124|
|11-Oct||San Diego State||83|
|18-Oct||at Air Force||105|
|15-Nov||at Utah State||69|
|22-Nov||at Colorado State||85|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-29.8% (122)|
|Two-Year Recruiting Rk||97|
|TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin*||-4 / 0.8|
|Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.)||12 (6, 6)|
10. New Mexico will improve in 2014
New Mexico will have a stout run game. No matter who is in the backfield at any given time, we know the Lobos will be just fine on the ground. And that's pretty much all we know. I am willing to bet that improved experience and depth result in decent improvement for Davie's Lobos as a whole, but there are so many question marks that it's hard to say how much improvement is in store.
Can Gautsche improve more as a passer? Can he stay healthy? Will the newcomers on the line fix the sieve up front? Will the new defensive assistants bring a clearer plan of attack to the table? Does punting become a problem without Ben Skaer?
The schedule is not particularly conducive to a major increase in wins; of the five opponents projected 100th or worse, UNM must visit three of them. The Lobos probably aren't ready to beat an Arizona State or Boise State at home (then again, they almost did just that to Boise two years ago), which means the path to bowl eligibility doesn't have much margin for error.
We'll say that UNM improves back to the 4-5 win range in 2014. With significant gains in the front seven, six is a possibility, but the MWC is pretty deep and exciting, and the Lobos probably aren't ready to pass too many bigger names just yet.