Friday, February 8, 2013
Brandon’s hire, and what it means for Aggie football
I broke down what Gregg Brandon’s hire as New Mexico State’s offensive coordinator means for Aggie football in my Friday Sun-News story. To catch up on it, click here.
Alas, we can talk about it on the Cruces Sports Blog as well. I would fully anticipate the Aggies implementing an offense that takes advantage of a multi-faceted quarterback. I believe Doug Martin saw the following at NMSU as offensive coordinator in 2011: At this point in time, the Aggies aren’t going to have a dominant offensive line. The year Martin was here, the line was adequate, which for NMSU meant it was actually above average.
And the truth was — as stated plenty before — his offense worked much better when the mobile Matt Christian was brought in for the injured Andrew Manley. Kenny Turner went into the backfield, the Aggies were able to manufacture a ground game, and presto: Defensive coordinators suddenly had to account for the entire field of play.
What does this mean for the NMSU quarterback position in 2013? One would think, unless Andrew Manley has an outstanding spring and fall camp, he’ll have an uphill battle claiming the starting job. He can throw the football as your classic drop-back, pocket passer. But even he struggled last year when the Aggies implemented an offense built around his skill set, as the team couldn't protect him. Again, at this point, NMSU wants a dual-threat guy that can get out of the pocket and compensate for the team's lack of protection.
I felt for Andrew McDonald last year as a junior college transfer, and thought he should have gotten a chance under center when it was clear the offense stalled to a grinding halt. He could be close and has some mobility (more similar to Christian, as the two QBs came from the same junior college league) although I’m not sure his foot speed is exactly what the staff is looking for at the moment, either.
Clearly we shouldn’t discount Travaughn Colwell, a player who — despite being misused in the offense a season ago — showed improvement from his freshman to sophomore seasons. He’s an athlete and could get a look here.
King Davis is a freshman that Martin mentioned will have a shot as well.
And the coaching staff is also going to bring in another quarterback that Martin said, “can really move, run and give us the options to move around and do different things.” Obviously a key development going forward for this team.
But lets break it down to what we should expect the offense to look like going forward: Looking at the Aggie signing class (where the team signed four wide receivers, none weighing more than 175 pounds) indicates NMSU will spread the field with four and five receiver packages, implement a short-drop passing attack and utilize bootlegs for a mobile QB. That, and a spread-option offense with perhaps an extra blocker coming out of the backfield to try and get their ground attack going.
When considering Brandon’s hire, and the official confirmation that David Elson will return as defensive coordinator, now the pieces for the 2013 signing class begin to come together more clearly.
Offensively, we mentioned the wide receivers. Defensively, lets look at four linebackers signed, which points directly to Elson’s preference to run a 3-4 base defense. That, and the team didn’t recruit a single player in their class of 22 signees that’s listed as a defensive tackle. Expect the team to try and utilize a number of ’backers throughout the course of games during the upcoming season.
Undersized, fast and quick can typically work on offense and can be problematic on defense (think back to the Hal Mumme days at NMSU). So that’s worth monitoring for certain.
It should also be pointed out the Aggie defensive line looks to have three players with BCS backgrounds on the roster: 2013 recruit Kalei Auelua (University of Washington transfer); 2013 recruit Willie Mobley (fifth-year senior who comes on board from the University of Arizona); And 2012 transfer Matt Ramondo (who sat out last year after coming on board from Michigan State).
Can’t deny it: The Aggies signed just two offensive lineman and I’d like to see them add some more.
The team used 22 of their allotted 25 scholarships this offseason, and Martin said the team is hoping to corral a couple more guys up front going forward. They could need 'em.
A couple recruits to keep an eye on coming out of signing day:
Heard some members of the coaching staff talking about wide receiver Gregory Hogan, a true freshman out of Summer Creek High School in Houston. He might bring some juice to the unit.
One guy that’s caught my eye: Running back Marquette Washington out of Fontana, Calif. (Kaiser High School).
Germi Morrison was actually a bright spot for the Aggies last year (159 carries, 803 yards, 4.8 YPC, two TDs; 13 catches, 94 yards). Yet he's a grinder, a pounder between the tackles, and the Aggies were looking to add depth and perhaps more of a big-play element out of the backfield to complement Morrison.
As a senior at Kaiser, the 5-foot-11, 213-pound Washington rushed for 1,850 yards on 245 carries (over seven yards per attempt) and 19 touchdowns. Those are numbers that simply can’t be glossed over when looking at the incoming class.
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