New Mexico State Aggies: CFN College Football Preview 2021

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College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the New Mexico State football season with what you need to know.

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
New Mexico State Football Schedule
New Mexico State Aggies Previews
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2019 Record: 2-10 (went 1-1 in 2021 Spring)
Head Coach: Doug Martin, 9th year, 23-64
2020 CFN Final Ranking: Not Ranked
2020 CFN Preview Ranking: 128
2019 CFN Final Ranking: 127

New Mexico State Aggies College Football Preview 2021: Offense

New Mexico State got the luxury of a dry run. It might have been off in all of 2020, but it got two games of a preseason in 2021, getting shockingly roasted by Tarleton State 43-17 and beating Dixie State 36-29. The offense basically had a few live scrimmages, and now the coaching staff has a better handle on what it has to work with.

Former JUCO transfer Jonah Johnson is a 6-3, 235-pound passer who threw three picks with a touchdown pass in the two games of work, and he adds a little bit of mobility and power around the goal line. He struggled against Tarleton State, but was solid against Dixon State. Fellow big passer Weston Eget is an option, but Johnson should be the main man.

The top three wide receivers from 2019 are gone, but Terrell Warner is a big former JUCO transfer who led the way with eight catches in the early games, and he’s surrounded by more transfers who should help. Cole Harrity had his moments and Robert Downs is the leading returning receiver from 2019.

The offensive line has a few decent options, but the pass protection will be a work in progress. 6-7, 350-pound tackle Sage Doxtater is one of the only returning starters from 2019, there’s hope for JUCO transfer Stephawn Thompson to grow into a guard job, and former Ole Miss center Eli Johnson has the size and just enough experience to be okay.

Jason Huntley was one of the team’s bright spots in 2019, rushing for over 1,000 yards with nine touchdowns. He’s done, but NMSU is able to run a bit.

Juwaun Price is a quick back who averaged close to six yards per carry and Alex Escobar stepped up with 81 yards in his lone appearance against Dixie State. The real hope is for Michigan transfer O’Maury Samuels to step in and take over the gig right away – he wasn’t around for the spring games.

– What You Need To Know: Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
New Mexico State Football Schedule

NEXT: New Mexico State Aggies College Football Preview 2021: Defense

New Mexico State Aggies College Football Preview 2021: Defense

The defense that wasn’t even close back in 2019 – allowing 480 yards and 41 points per game – with the biggest problem happening on the defensive front. The run D was abysmal and the plays in the backfield were non-existent. The spring session didn’t exactly inspire a whole lot of confidence going forward, allowing 5.1 yards per carry and five scores in the two games against FCS teams.

LB Trevor Brohard was part of the mix back in 2019, but he played a starring role in the two games of Spring 2021 making a team high 15 tackles. The linebackers across the board are very, very young – losing veteran Devin Richardson to Texas really, really hurts – but there’s decent enough size to potentially hold up better than they did two years ago, but the defensive front has to bring some help.

Bulk isn’t too much of an issue on the inside of the line thanks to the arrival of 6-0, 330-pound Zach Stokes from the JUCO world to go along with hoping 6-3, 300-pound redshirt freshman Lama Lavea and end Donovan King can build off their experience from the two games.

The Aggies failed to come up with an interception in the two spring games and were roasted for 625 yards and four scores. New corner Daemahni Williams came up with one of the team’s two broken up passes and wasn’t a bad tackler, and Devlin Kirklin rose up and made 14 stops from his safety spot. The pass rush has to help this group out, but they also need to make a few big plays.

– What You Need To Know: Offense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
New Mexico State Football Schedule

NEXT: New Mexico State Aggies College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

New Mexico State Aggies College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Best New Mexico State Aggies Offensive Player

OT Sage Doxtater, Sr.
As long as he can stay in one piece, he’s got the upside to be in for a big final year. The 6-7, 33-pound left tackle missed too much time hurt in 2019 and didn’t get a chance to show what he could do last year. He’s the team’s top pass protector – and the only returning starter from 2019 – and he’s got anchor potential for a line that might turn into a plus as the season goes on.

2. RB O’Maury Samuels, Jr.
3. RB/KR Juwaun Price, RFr.
4. C Eli Johnson, Sr.
5. WR Terrell Warner, Jr.

Related

New Mexico State Football Schedule 2021, Analysis

Best New Mexico State Aggies Defensive Player

LB Trevor Brohard, Jr.
The expectation was that the 6-3, 225-pounder would grow into one of the team’s best defensive playmakers after seeing a little time as a sophomore, and he showed glimpses of what’s to come in the two early 2021 games.

One of the freshman bright spots, he led the way with 16 tackles with a sack and two tackles for loss. He’s got decent range, can get behind the line and bring pressure, and he appears to be ready to grow into the quarterback of the D.

2. S Devlin Kirklin, Jr.
3. DT Zach Stokes, Soph.
4. CB Daemahni Williams, Jr.
5. DT Lama Lavea, RFr.

Top Incoming New Mexico State Aggies Transfer

C Eli Johnson, Sr.
Technically he’s already on board, but this is his first real regular season playing for the program.

New Mexico State has a starting SEC center in the middle of its line. The 6-3, 300-pound Johnson was out all of last year as a grad transfer from Ole Miss, but two years ago under the old Matt Luke regime – before Lane Kiffin arrived – Johnson was a decent all-around blocker who was good on the move. He should grow into a job in the Aggie interior.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
New Mexico State Football Schedule

NEXT: New Mexico State Aggies College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

New Mexico State Aggies College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

New Mexico State Aggies Biggest Key: Offense

Score when there’s a chance. It’s going to be a struggle in so many ways with so many new parts still trying to find their way, but when the offense has a shot at putting points on the board, they need to do it.

The Aggies came away empty on 12 of their 40 trips inside the 20 back in 2019. Okay, so it wouldn’t have mattered that much considering how many times NMSU was blown out, but there’s going to be no margin for error in any potential close game.

By the way, for all the issues in the Spring opener against Tarleton State and with the win over Dixie State, the Aggies scored on all eight of its trips inside the 20.

New Mexico State Aggies Biggest Key: Defense

The run defense has GOT to find ways to hold up. It’s been a rough run for a long, long time, allowing fewer than five yards per carry just one year in the last ten.

Take a guess when that was – the bowl-winning 2017 season.

The Aggies are going to get gouged at times. They’ve got the bulk, and they have some decent linebackers, but the pressure into the backfield won’t be consistent. They just have to avoid getting totally destroyed.

In 2019, the D allowed over 400 rushing yards twice, over 300 three other times, and over 200 in three other games – let’s not count the 199 allowed to UTEP.

Against the two FCS teams it dealt with early in 2021 … 5.1 yards per carry, five touchdowns, 180 yards per game.

New Mexico State Aggies Key Player To A Successful Season

QB Jonah Johnson, Jr.
The former JUCO transfer has 6-3, 235-pound size and a live arm to get the passing attack rolling. The Aggie passing attack was good with the midrange plays under now-UTSA QB Josh Adkins, but he averaged under six yards per throw and gave away 15 picks.

Johnson only threw one touchdown pass in the two early games, but he bounced back from a bad opener and showed a glimpse of his upside. He needs to be steady, and he has to stretch the field.

New Mexico State Aggies Key Game To The 2021 Season

UTEP, August 28
There’s always a shot at a big upset somewhere, but the Aggies will almost certainly be big underdogs against everyone but Dixie State and UMass. There are a whole lot of paychecks to cash by going to Alabama, Kentucky, and to a slew of Mountain West sites, but they get UTEP at home in one of just five home games.

It was one of the two wins in 2019 – and the only one over an FBS team – taking out the Miners 44-35 late in the year. On a three game winning streak in the series, opening up 1-0 would be a big, big deal after the struggles in early 2021 and without a 2020 season.

New Mexico State Football Schedule

2019 New Mexico State Aggies Fun Stats

– 2nd Quarter Scoring: Opponents 168 – NMSU 58
– Fumbles: NMSU 22 (lost 12) – Opponents 14 (lost 7)
– TDs Scored: Opponents 61 – NMSU 33

NEXT: New Mexico State Aggies College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

New Mexico State Aggies College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

As always, it’s tough to be New Mexico State.

Head coach Doug Martin is still around despite going just 22-64 since taking over the job since 2013 because of two key things – this is an impossible gig, and he fights the good fight.

Being an independent might be a good thing for the bottom line, and that’s sort of the point here. Will New Mexico State beat Alabama? Of course not. Will it beat Kentucky? Of course not. Will it push for a bowl game even with a few winnable home dates in Dixie State, UMass, UTEP and Utah State built in? That’s a heavy lift, so almost certainly not.

But the Aggies take on the paycheck games, they battle, and they try, but even with a good coaching staff and a few live games early in 2021 to see what’s in place, it’s going to be another rough run.

Set The New Mexico State Aggies Regular Season Win Total At … 2.5

In this year of the super-senior, and with team after team after team getting back 20-something starters, New Mexico State is getting back one true starter from the 2019 team.

There wasn’t much happening through the transfer portal – preferring to go the JUCO route for most of the new parts – and there aren’t a ton of sure-thing playmakers.

However, Martin has put together some good running games. He’s got a few nice backs, the starting 11 on the offensive side isn’t totally miserable, and there’s even a wee bit of depth on the defensive front to hope for a bit more production against the run.

It might not seem like much, but be competitive, win a few games, show some improvement as the season goes on, and cash those road game paychecks. Anything more than that is gravy.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
New Mexico State Football Schedule