Preview 2019: New Mexico. 5 Things You Need To Know, Season Prediction

Preview 2019: New Mexico. 5 Things You Need To Know, Season Prediction

New Mexico

Preview 2019: New Mexico. 5 Things You Need To Know, Season Prediction

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4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW MEXICO DEFENSE

Uh oh. The defense wasn’t exactly a brick wall last season – finishing 119th in the nation allowing 473 yards and 36 points per game – and now it loses its top eight tacklers and ten of the top 11.

S Marcus Hayes was an all-star return man and good playmaker, but he left for Kansas State. Top pass rusher Rhashaun Epting took off for Tennessee State. There’s a wee bit of rebuilding to be done, starting with …

The secondary that allowed 256 yards per game is all but starting from scratch. All five starters have to be replaced, and this is just a small part of where a ton of JUCO transfers are about to fit in.

Eric Cuffee is a blazer who was off to Texas, but he now has to be an instant factor, as does corner Antonio Hunt, a smallish ball-hawker who’ll push for a job right away. Jerrick Reed will be a part of the safety rotation early on, too. But there are some pieces already in place, like CB De’John Rogers and S Patrick Peek, but it’ll take a bit to get the right five guys on the field.

Three JUCO transfers will try fitting in right away at linebacker, too. 5-11, 237-pound Jacobi Hearn should be the best of the bunch early on, but former JUCOer Brandon Shook is one of the few remaining holdovers from last year’s D.

Shook will get a look in the middle, and 246-pound senior Alexander Vainikolo is a decent big hitter on the outside. Getting Alex Hart back – the team’s third leading tackler two years ago – from injury is a huge help.

The line is one of the areas that didn’t need an instant infusion of starting options, but they’re coming. Aaron Blackwell was a decent starter on the note, and Nahe Flowers is a veteran end. Former Georgia Tech trainer Trent Sellers and JUCO transfer Joey Noble will be part of the depth, and senior Adebayo Sormekun has to use his 298 pounds to gum up the works at one end.

NEXT: Top Players, Keys To the Season, What Will Happen

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