4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW MEXICO STATE DEFENSE
– After a decent 2017 season against the run, the defense hammered for over 1,000 more yards on the ground. The D generated a strong pass rush and was great at getting behind the line, but overall it allowed 476 yards and 41 points per game, mostly because the front seven couldn’t hold up.
– Three of the top four and five of the top eight tacklers are gone, with the linebacking corps taking the biggest hit losing Terrill Hanks, Jonathan Hood and Leon McQuaker on the outside.
Leading tackler Javahn Fergurson is back, but the Aggies need more at the other two spots. Ferguson will likely move to the outside, and sophomore Devin Richardson is set to take over a much larger role.
– The line gets back the most talent back with everyone returning. There’s good size with the 315-pound Myles Vigne on the nose and the 313-pound Roy Lopez on the inside. There’s not a whole lot of bulk among the depth, though, and the pass rush has to emerge from someone up front other than Cedric Wilcots, who led the way with seven sacks.
– The secondary that struggled to come up with picks, but allowed an okay 208 yards per game, loses big-tackling safety Ron LaForce, but has decent parts returning, especially at corner. Shamad Lomax will be one of the leading tacklers at strong safety.