It was time for a change at New Mexico after another down season, finishing 2-10 overall without a win in the conference.
New head coach Danny Gonzales has a big task on his hands in his first lead gig after serving as defensive coordinator at Arizona State and San Diego State the last few years.
It’s expected to be a year of learning for the Lobos with an over/under of 3.5 wins (at 5Dimes) and projections placing them bottom of the MWC.
New Coach – New Offensive Coordinator
New coordinator Derek Warehime should mix up what was an ineffective offense last season. Warehime comes from Texas and served under Tom Herman in various roles, among them tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.
In a spread run-pass option, quarterback Tevaka Tuioti is hoping to stay healthy and turn a corner after totaling seven touchdowns and six interceptions last season. In all, the offense managed 400.3 yards and 22.3 points per game.
While the offense will look different, it’s going to take time because only two starters return on the line. That’s not going to help since they have to learn a new offense in a limited offseason.
Bryson Carroll (536 yards) is expected to be the top running back, but there are plenty of other options that will likely steal carries. Helping Tuioti in the passing game are a couple returning seniors in Jordan Kress (530 yards, 6 TDs), Anselem Umeh (272 yards) and tight end Marcus Williams (428 yards).
UNM’s defense unfortunately has a longer way to go after a wretched campaign, allowing 485.7 yards and 37.2 points per game. Gonzales brings a defensive pedigree, but he also recruited Rocky Long, former SDSU and UNM head coach, to coordinate the defense. A lack of returning starters doesn’t mean much given what the output was last season.
There will be a lot of new faces in the 3-3-5 scheme even if a slew of them are seniors. Tackle Langston Murray is the key piece in the middle of the line, while outside linebacker Jacobi Hearn has the most upside in this group.
The good news is that the secondary returns a few starters and more seniors to provide depth. They got torched last year, but a new scheme should help guys like safety Letayveon Beaton.
Over 3.5 Wins is the Play
New Mexico has 13 games, which makes hitting the over 3.5 wins a tad easier. Out of the gates, they get Idaho State, NMSU and UMass, so an early 3-2 record wouldn’t be surprising.
Finding one or two MWC wins is the next task and there will be opportunities. While the Lobos didn’t win a conference game last year, they’ll have good chances with SJSU and Colorado State standing out.
This team may not make a bowl in the first year under Gonzales, but better things are expected given the new coaching staff. The defense can’t be much worse and the offense has some pieces that could lead to an upset or two with Tuioti at quarterback.
2020 New Mexico Lobos Schedule
Aug. 29 vs. Idaho State
Sept. 5 at Mississippi State
Sept. 12 at USC
Sept. 19 at New Mexico State
Oct. 3 vs. Massachusetts
Oct. 10 at Colorado State
Oct. 17 vs. Nevada
Oct. 24 at Utah State
Oct. 31 vs. San Jose State
Nov. 7 at Hawai’i
Nov. 14 vs. Boise State
Nov. 21 at Air Force
Nov. 28 vs. Wyoming