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The big 2015 New Mexico football guide: Ready for a breakthrough season

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The 128-team countdown reaches a program that should finally see investments pay off.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. Climbing back

Bob Davie's career win percentage has fallen from .583 to .474 since taking the New Mexico job three seasons ago. He inherited a roster as demoralized as humanly possible. In three years, New Mexico has gone 4-9, 3-9, and 4-8, and the former Texas A&M and Notre Dame defensive coordinator has yet to craft anything resembling a decent defense.

Davie is likely to begin showing up on hot seat lists, if he hasn't already.

Whether anybody noticed, however, he has dragged the Lobos toward respectability.

In 2011, the year before his arrival, UNM's F/+ rating was minus-66.2 percent, which was both a) the worst rating of the F/+ era (2005-14) and b) 53.1 percent worse than the MWC average. The Lobos were 21.2 percent worse than the MWC average in 2012, 24.0 percent worse in 2013, and 11.1 percent worse in 2014.

They are moving up. Here's some proof:

New Mexico was last a league-average team in 2008, when Boise State's Kellen Moore was a freshman, Nevada's Colin Kaepernick was a sophomore, and neither Boise State nor Nevada were actually in the Mountain West.

Rocky Long left after falling from 9-4 and 4-8 and trashed the lack of program support on his way out of the door; then the Mike Locksley era left the the team looking like the New Mexico prairie after winds have blown a fire away. There was no quick road back, and Davie had to know that.

Davie has done the hard part -- building the foundation, creating depth, figuring out how to recruit solid athletes to Albuquerque -- and now here comes the hard part: winning. No matter what kind of wreckage the last guy left you, you're going to have to get back to .500 and beyond at some point.

New Mexico returns an exciting young quarterback, a loaded backfield, four players with starting experience on the offensive line, three of its top five tacklers on the defensive line, five of seven at linebacker, and five of seven at defensive back. This will be the deepest, most interesting New Mexico team to take the field since 2007, and the schedule features six teams that ranked 111th or worse in the F/+ rankings last year, not to mention big home win opportunities against teams like Utah State, Colorado State, and Air Force.

If the Lobos don't get over the hump in 2015, it might not happen under Davie. (Then again, a vast majority of this year's exciting returnees will be back in 2016.)

2014 Schedule & Results

Record: 4-8 | Adj. Record: 3-9 | Final F/+ Rk: 94
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Adj. Scoring
Margin
Win
Expectancy
30-Aug UTEP 90 24-31 L 22% -17.9 8%
6-Sep Arizona State 27 23-58 L 9% -30.8 0%
20-Sep at New Mexico State 124 38-35 W 50% 0.0 84%
26-Sep Fresno State 102 24-35 L 25% -16.1 21%
4-Oct at UTSA 109 21-9 W 79% 19.1 99%
10-Oct San Diego State 76 14-24 L 24% -16.7 3%
18-Oct at Air Force 48 31-35 L 37% -7.5 14%
1-Nov at UNLV 118 31-28 W 26% -15.4 34%
8-Nov Boise State 21 49-60 L 63% 7.6 39%
15-Nov at Utah State 52 21-28 L 38% -6.9 11%
22-Nov at Colorado State 49 20-58 L 10% -30.6 0%
29-Nov Wyoming 113 36-30 W 69% 11.8 97%

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 31.7 48 38.2 119
Points Per Game 27.7 74 35.9 112

2. A different team every week

Go ahead. Look at the percentiles data above and try to find a trend. I'll wait.

New Mexico's best games were the fifth, ninth, and 12th of the season. The worst were the second and 11th. They played poorly against good teams (Arizona State, Colorado State), except for when they didn't (Boise State). They played well against bad teams (UTSA, Wyoming), except for when they didn't (UNLV). All of my go-to tricks come up short when looking for trends.

The best explanations for a trendless season: youth and injury. New Mexico was putting its offense in the hands of a freshman quarterback and a sophomore running back, and almost nobody on the defensive front seven could avoid missing time.

Davie's former boss Lou Holtz famously says that you coach a different team every week of the season; that was more literal for New Mexico. But here's where I break out one of my own truisms: injuries hurt in the present tense but help in the future tense. New Mexico now boasts a wider base of experience than it has in a really long time.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.02 4 IsoPPP+ 114.6 39
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 40.7% 73 Succ. Rt. + 106.2 46
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 30.0 72 Def. FP+ 100.0 65
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.5 55 Redzone S&P+ 102.5 60
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 17.9 ACTUAL 18 +0.1
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 67 42 46 39
RUSHING 5 21 30 16
PASSING 126 101 119 79
Standard Downs 28 26 28
Passing Downs 87 98 77
Q1 Rk 45 1st Down Rk 42
Q2 Rk 19 2nd Down Rk 42
Q3 Rk 43 3rd Down Rk 25
Q4 Rk 119

3. Know yourself

There is power in identity, in knowing how you're going to move the ball and score points when you need to. It is something you can lean on in must-get-yards-now situations. When Davie came to Albuquerque, he took his run-first preferences in an extreme direction by bringing aboard offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse, who had previously served under modern option master Willie Fritz at Sam Houston State.

DeBesse's offense has identity in droves. New Mexico runs the ball as frequently as almost any non-service academy in the country -- more than five of every six standard downs feature a rush, as do nearly two-thirds of passing downs. The Lobos have crafted an awesome run-first identity in a pass-first conference, and it really works.

New Mexico's offense didn't actually improve in 2014, but it didn't regress either, which was impressive. The Lobos ranked 48th in Off. S&P+ in 2013, then did so again despite dealing with injuries to quarterback Cole Gautsche and a healthy dose of redshirt freshman Lamar Jordan. Jordan wasn't as explosive a rusher as the big Gautsche, but he's a better passer, and he was healthy. With Jordan running the option and the combination of Teriyon Gipson and Jhurell Pressley combining for 22 carries per game and 7.2 yards per carry (!), the offense continued to play at a high level. It was impressive enough that Davie moved Gautsche to tight end for his senior season.

The Lobos are going to do what they do, and if Jordan improves between his second and third seasons on campus, as is often the case for quarterbacks, this will be their best offense yet.

An interesting monkey wrench: New Mexico signed former Colorado Washington State quarterback Austin Apodaca, who threw for 2,534 yards at Mesa Community College last year. If he overtakes Jordan at some point, the run-pass rates could change a decent amount. He's athletic, but he wasn't signed to run the ball 80 percent of the time.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2015 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Lamar Jordan 5'10, 183 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7993 59 112 894 6 5 52.7% 6 5.1% 7.2
Cole Gautsche 6'4, 234 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8162 12 26 105 0 0 46.2% 3 10.3% 3.3
Clayton Mitchem
4 9 51 0 1 44.4% 2 18.2% 3.0
Jajuan Lawson 6'0, 198 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8177
Patrick Reed 6'1, 185 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7859
Austin Apodaca 6'2, 200 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8148

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Teriyon Gipson TB 5'8, 176 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8067 150 809 8 5.4 5.5 39.3% 2 1
Jhurell Pressley RB 5'10, 200 Sr. NR NR 114 1083 12 9.5 12.8 47.4% 1 1
Lamar Jordan QB 5'10, 183 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7993 114 653 3 5.7 5.7 48.2% 8 2
Crusoe Gongbay RB
64 354 3 5.5 5.7 39.1% 0 0
Cole Gautsche QB/TE 6'4, 234 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8162 39 332 2 8.5 15.3 35.9% 2 1
Romell Jordan TB 5'8, 175 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8183 34 223 3 6.6 7.2 44.1% 1 0
David Anaya RB 5'9, 193 Sr. NR NR 25 126 1 5.0 5.6 32.0% 1 1
Clayton Mitchem QB
13 51 0 3.9 9.1 30.8% 1 1
Carlos Wiggins WR-H 5'8, 162 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7900 9 71 0 7.9 14.5 33.3% 0 0
Tyrone Owens RB 5'8, 181 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7893
Daryl Chestnut RB 5'10, 190 So. 3 stars 0.7800
Richard McQuarley RB 5'11, 215 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7683






4. Another breakthrough coming?

Jordan, Gipson, and Pressley are all back. (Pressley is not yet enrolled, but he's still expected to play.) So is sophomore backup back Romell Jordan, who averaged 6.6 yards per carry in limited opportunities. Three-star sophomore Daryl Chestnut waits his turn.

Last year's top two receivers are gone, including big-play man Tyler Duncan, but that only hurts so much, considering the duo combined for 30 catches. Between 2014 backups Marquis Bundy and Dameon Gamblin, tight ends Reece White and Gautsche, three-star sophomores Chris Davis and Delane Hart-Johnson, redshirt freshman Matt Quarells, and a trio of exciting freshmen (Sa'von Rollison, Amu Somoye, and Q' Drennan), the odds of two good starting options emerging are high.

This offense could be awesome, in other words. There's always the possibility for stunted growth at quarterback and/or QB controversies. The injury bug could always strike at an unfair rate. There are obstacles, but after two years at No. 48 in Off. S&P+, good fortune could produce New Mexico's best offensive efficiency ratings yet.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Jeric Magnant WR-Z
27 16 184 59.3% 18.9% 40.7% 6.8 -13 6.7 25.3
Tyler Duncan WR-X
26 14 285 53.8% 18.2% 73.1% 11.0 110 9.4 39.2
Teriyon Gipson RB 5'8, 176 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8067 18 15 123 83.3% 12.6% 22.2% 6.8 -50 6.0 16.9
Reece White TE 6'1, 220 Sr. NR NR 16 8 124 50.0% 11.2% 56.3% 7.8 22 7.8 17.1
Marquis Bundy WR-X 6'4, 200 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8000 12 5 24 41.7% 8.4% 33.3% 2.0 -43 1.6 3.3
David Anaya RB 5'9, 193 Sr. NR NR 11 4 91 36.4% 7.7% 54.5% 8.3 36 8.7 12.5
Jhurell Pressley RB 5'10, 200 Sr. NR NR 11 7 64 63.6% 7.7% 45.5% 5.8 -21 6.6 8.8
Dameon Gamblin WR-Z 5'10, 163 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7600 8 3 35 37.5% 5.6% 37.5% 4.4 -6 3.2 4.8
Carlos Wiggins WR-H 5'8, 162 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7900 6 2 71 33.3% 4.2% 66.7% 11.8 43 10.2 9.8
Ridge Jones WR-H 5'10, 166 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7893 6 2 10 33.3% 4.2% 33.3% 1.7 -18 1.1 1.4
Cole Gautsche TE 6'4, 234 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8162
Nick Lehman TE 6'2, 242 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7519
Chris Davis WR 5'6, 177 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7667
Matt Quarells WR 6'1, 185 RSFr. 2 stars 0.8268
Delane Hart-Johnson WR 6'4, 200 So. NR 0.8000
Sa'von Rollison WR 5'8, 181 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8093
Amu Somoye WR 6'2, 185 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7706
Q' Drennan WR 6'1, 186 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7893








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 103.9 3.18 2.78 42.4% 62.7% 18.5% 80.9 8.3% 7.7%
Rank 58 32 104 28 101 54 98 120 72
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Career Starts Honors/Notes
LaMar Bratton C 50 2014 1st All-MWC
Jamal Price RG
26
Garrett Adcock RT 6'2, 282 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7963 19
Reno Henderson LT 6'3, 260 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7683 13
Eden Mahina LG 6'3, 290 Sr. 2 stars 0.7000 13
Johnny Vizcaino RT 6'2, 275 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 12
Dillon Romine LT 6'5, 293 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7000 0
Toye Adewon LG 6'4, 323 So. 3 stars (5.6) NR 0
Draven Taylor RG 6'2, 302 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7619 0
Jack Lamm OL 6'3, 278 Jr. NR NR 0
Aaron Jenkins OL 6'1, 310 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8081
Tevita Fonua OL 6'2, 305 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7533
Beau Hott OL 6'2, 287 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8051
Charlie Grammel OL 6'2, 308 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7826

5. A skinny, strong line

A run-heavy offense is led by a giant, road-grading offensive line, right? Nope! New Mexico ranked 21st in Rushing S&P+ and 58th in Adj. Line Yards with a starting line that averaged just 6'3, 289.

Four-year starting center LaMar Bratton played a large role in the run game's success, and 315-pound Jamal Price did give the Lobos some extra heft, but four players with starting experience (57 career starts) return, as do all of last year's second-stringers. Throw in JUCO transfer Tevia Fonua and well-touted redshirt freshman Aaron Jenkins, and you've got a line that might not regress much.

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.96 114 IsoPPP+ 80.2 115
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 46.1% 111 Succ. Rt. + 85.5 119
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 28.0 112 Off. FP+ 99.0 78
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.7 98 Redzone S&P+ 86.3 118
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 19.6 ACTUAL 19.0 -0.6
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 127 118 120 116
RUSHING 125 118 113 120
PASSING 95 113 120 105
Standard Downs 112 108 111
Passing Downs 126 126 123
Q1 Rk 90 1st Down Rk 127
Q2 Rk 124 2nd Down Rk 122
Q3 Rk 128 3rd Down Rk 109
Q4 Rk 88

6. Progress in increments

New Mexico has had a top-50 offense for each of the last two years and has gone 7-17. That tells you everything you need to know about the Lobo defense. While Davie and his staff have made a significant difference on offense, there has been no defensive traction -- UNM ranked 120th in Def. S&P+ in Locksley's last year and has ranked 120th, 124th, and 119th since.

Perhaps it was encouraging that UNM's numbers improved a bit despite ridiculous injury issues in the front seven. Veteran coordinator Kevin Cosgrove's first year wasn't good, but it could have been worse. The Lobos were able to generate more pressure than usual, thanks mostly to end Nik D'Avanzo (who returns) and linebacker Tevin Newman (who doesn't).

To further emphasize speed, Cosgrove is moving more to a 3-3-5 structure that worked well for New Mexico under Rocky Long. The defensive line has enough size to handle the pressures associated with speed-over-size defenses, and hey, you might as well go all-in on speed when you're already 126th in Power Success Rate.

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 90 3.15 3.82 41.2% 84.8% 16.7% 105.5 4.5% 9.0%
Rank 105 94 115 92 126 106 56 68 37
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Nik D'Avanzo DE 6'3, 285 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7894 11 35.5 5.0% 7.0 4.5 0 0 0 0
Brett Bowers DE
12 23.0 3.3% 9.5 3.0 0 1 0 0
William Udeh NT 6'0, 282 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8289 10 13.5 1.9% 2.5 1.5 0 1 0 0
Paytron Hightower DE
8 11.5 1.6% 3.0 1.0 0 1 0 0
Cole Juarez NT 6'2, 305 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7741 6 9.5 1.3% 2.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Dominic Twitty DE 6'2, 300 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8144 6 3.5 0.5% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jack Ziltz NT 6'2, 300 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7519 6 3.5 0.5% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Randy Williams DE 6'1, 265 Sr. NR NR 11 3.0 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Kene Okonkwo DE 6'2, 264 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7544 7 3.0 0.4% 1.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Garrett Hughes DE 6'1, 270 So. 3 stars 0.8241 11 2.0 0.3% 0.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Taylor Timmons DL 6'0, 295 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8200
Chris Lewis DL 6'3, 301 Jr. NR 0.8083
Ewing Simmons DL 6'2, 265 Jr. 2 stars 0.7900
Cody Baker DE 6'3, 246 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7826








7. Keep the first string on the field

Ten New Mexico linemen recorded at least two tackles last year, and only one played in all 12 games. Thirteen linebackers made at least two tackles, and four played in all 12.

In the absence of extreme talent, chemistry begins to matter more and more. And from week to week, one guy probably didn't recognize the guy lining up next to him. Plenty of guys got playing time, and a few flashed play-making potential -- two of junior tackle Cole Juarez's tackles were behind the line, as were 2.5 of rush end Donnie White's, and sophomore linbacker Kimmie Carson had five tackles for loss and three break-ups.

A batch of JUCO transfers are coming to Albuquerque, too. Good health and a couple of breakouts could lead to significant improvement here.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Dakota Cox MLB 6'0, 230 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8001 9 77.5 11.0% 2.0 0.0 1 2 0 0
Tevin Newman SLB
12 53.5 7.6% 7.5 4.0 2 3 1 0
Ryan Langford WLB 6'3, 232 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7585 11 45.5 6.5% 2.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Kimmie Carson MLB 6'0, 228 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8000 12 44.5 6.3% 5.0 1.0 0 3 1 0
Javarie Johnson SLB
12 16.5 2.3% 3.5 2.0 0 0 1 0
Donnie White RUSH 6'1, 227 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8141 11 14.0 2.0% 2.5 1.0 0 1 1 0
Richard Winston RUSH 6'3, 230 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8105 7 11.0 1.6% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Michael Arredondo MLB 6'0, 223 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) NR 12 7.5 1.1% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Tre'Von Roy LB
6 6.5 0.9% 2.0 1.0 0 0 1 0
Trajuan Briggs WLB
10 4.0 0.6% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Greg Wortman LB 6'1, 225 So. NR NR 6 2.5 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Chris Lee MLB 6'1, 250 Sr. 2 stars 0.7000 9 2.5 0.4% 1.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Geoff Smelser WLB 6'1, 223 Jr. NR NR 8 2.0 0.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Austin Ocasio LB 6'1, 233 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7533
Dyson Chmura LB 6'2, 230 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7826








Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
David Guthrie SS
12 68.0 9.7% 4.5 1 0 4 1 1
Markel Byrd FS 5'11, 190 So. NR 0.7800 12 40.5 5.7% 0 0 1 2 1 0
SaQwan Edwards CB
11 36.0 5.1% 2.5 0 2 9 0 0
Jadon Boatright CB 5'10, 172 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7600 12 29.5 4.2% 2.5 0 0 2 0 0
Ryan Santos SS 5'10, 186 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7800 11 28.5 4.0% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Cranston Jones CB 5'8, 167 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7300 11 22.0 3.1% 1.5 0 3 4 0 0
Ricky Bennett FS 6'0, 210 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7444 11 20.0 2.8% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Donnie Duncan CB
10 13.5 1.9% 0 0 1 0 1 0
Devonta Tabannah S
11 9.0 1.3% 1 1 0 1 0 0
Daniel Henry DB 6'0, 170 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7833 2 7.5 1.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Branch DB
4 5.5 0.8% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Isaiah Brown CB 5'11, 180 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8322 5 2.5 0.4% 0 0 1 1 0 0
Lee Crosby DB 5'11, 190 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7593
Juwan Jones DB 6'0, 196 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8166
Marquez Mackey DB 5'9, 164 So. NR 0.7600
Blair Manly DB 6'1, 176 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8064








8. Enough warm bodies?

A permanent nickel defense relies on you having plenty of able bodies in the back. The secondary dealt with plenty of its own personnel issues -- four players played in all 12 games, and seven potential regulars missed time -- and players like corners Jadon Boatright and Cranston Jones flashed some play-making abliity. (Jones had a strange stat line: only 22 tackles, but 1.5 TFLs and seven passes defensed.) The first string might be pretty decent, but the second string will be awfully green. If former three-star recruits like Isaiah Brown, Juwan Jones, and incoming freshman Blair Manly start living up to hype, then maybe there's necessary depth here, but that's not a given.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Zack Rogers 5'9, 190 Sr. 56 42.6 6 8 17 44.6%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Jason Sanders 5'10, 170 So. 62 62.1 37 1 59.7%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Zack Rogers 5'9, 190 Sr. 43-44 4-5 80.0% 1-3 33.3%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Ridge Jones KR 5'10, 166 Jr. 14 25.9 1
Carlos Wiggins KR 5'8, 162 Sr. 13 29.3 1
Chris Davis PR 5'6, 177 So. 7 5.0 0
Dameon Gamblin PR 5'10, 163 Jr. 5 5.0 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 83
Field Goal Efficiency 106
Punt Return Efficiency 106
Kick Return Efficiency 31
Punt Efficiency 65
Kickoff Efficiency 33
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 72

9. A dual-threat return game

New Mexico's special teams ratings were dragged down by iffy punt returns and mediocre place-kicking. But if you're going to be returning a lot of kickoffs (and to be kind, opponents indeed had plenty of kickoff opportunities), it's probably most important to be good at returning them. New Mexico had two tremendous kick returners, Ridge Jones and Carlos Wiggins, and returns both this year. For that matter, the Lobos had a booming kickoffs guy, too, in Jason Sanders. You could say they were more well-equipped for shootouts than defensive slogs.

2015 Schedule & Projection Factors

2015 Schedule
Date Opponent 2014 F/+ Rk
5-Sep MVSU NR
12-Sep Tulsa 117
18-Sep at Arizona State 27
26-Sep at Wyoming 113
3-Oct New Mexico State 124
10-Oct at Nevada 64
17-Oct Hawaii 111
24-Oct at San Jose State 116
7-Nov Utah State 52
14-Nov at Boise State 21
21-Nov Colorado State 49
28-Nov Air Force 48
Five-Year F/+ Rk -43.8% (124)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 113 / 101
2014 TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* 1 / 1.7
2014 TO Luck/Game -0.3
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 14 (7, 7)
2014 Second-order wins (difference) 4.1 (-0.1)

10. The schedule for a surge

It doesn't take many ifs to convince you that both New Mexico's good offense and wretched defense will improve. And if the Lobos already ranked 94th in F/+, improvement could take them into the 80s or, with some luck, 70s.

Well ... look at the schedule. The Lobos face six teams that ranked 111th or worse last year.

This isn't a make-or-break year. Or at least, it shouldn't be. If things don't come together as I think they might, most of UNM's best players will still be scheduled to return. Still, after methodically laying a solid foundation without the wins to show for it, some affirmation would be nice.

New Mexico should have a killer run game and a defense that is healthier and more successfully aggressive. There will be shootouts, but the Lobos should be well-equipped to survive them. Davie has done a nice job of rebuilding a broken program; now we'll see if he's the guy to continue the renovation.