The 2018 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the New Mexico State Aggies.
No. 122: New Mexico State Aggies
New Mexico State Prespring Status
It was a magical way to end life in the Sun Belt. The Aggies won their last two regular season games, took down Utah State in thrilling fashion for the first bowl win – and appearance – since 1960, and ended with a winning season for the first time since 2002.
And now it’s time for life as an independent. That means games against anyone it wants – including two against Liberty – and just one battle with an FBSer, facing Minnesota early on.
It’ll be tough, though, to recreate 2017’s success without most of the star parts on offense. and with a defense that was okay, but has always been shaky – to be kind.
New Mexico State Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Quarterback. Tyler Rogers only seemed like he was at NMSU for nine years. He accounted for seven of the team’s 18 rushing touchdowns, and Larry Rose III – he’s gone, too – took care of ten of the other ones. More than that. Rogers was the veteran bomber who led the offense to the special year.
Nick Jeanty will get the first look after serving as the backup last year – throwing for 189 yards with a score and four picks. He’s a pro-style passer, but JUCO transfer Matt Romero is being brought in to provide a push, with the talent to do a little of everything.
New Mexico State Biggest Issue
Turnovers. The Aggies have to stop giving the ball away, and they’re going to have to do it without Rogers and Rose. Last year, they gave up the ball 29 times – only three teams turned it over more – with two or more giveaways in every game but two. This year’s offense likely won’t be good enough to make the same mistakes.
New Mexico State Biggest Positive
The defensive stars are back. Leading tackler Dalton Herrington is done – he was among the top playmakers in the backfield, too – but but the next ten top tacklers return. In all, 14 of the top 16 tacklers return to a D that allowed 401 yards per game – that’s really, really not bad for this program – and more options are on the way from the JUCO ranks.
Really, Why Are The New Mexico State Aggies Ranked Here?
It’s a big assumption that after everything went right late last year in the run to a bowl game, there’s going to be a step back now in the independent world. After all, the defense is loaded with experience, three starters are back up front, and head coach Doug Martin appears to have found his footing.
Overall, though, the talent is still light and there’s going to be little margin for error – that 7-6 season could easily dip back to the 3-9 level of 2016 if there’s any regression in any way on either side of the ball.