After a season where they had the worst offense in the nation and won a grand total of zero conference games, it’s genuinely only up from here for New Mexico Lobos football. And, with a new QB, a solid o-line, and some key transfers, there’s at least a little to be excited about in Albuquerque.
We’ll talk about the current state of New Mexico football and their prospects for the upcoming season, as well as look at the betting odds for a competitive early season game vs UMass and how the team stacks up against their conference. Hint: the odds are not in their favor against the rest of the Mountain West.
A Work in Progress
This New Mexico team is undoubtedly not going to be an overnight contender in the Mountain West, but they’ve made some key moves that should see them take at least some small positive steps in 2023.
New quarterback, Dylan Hopkins is transferring in from UAB, giving the Lobos their first real passing threat in years. Playing behind a solid veteran line and with a decent skill room, New Mexico should have enough talent to drag themselves out of the basement, at least offensively.
Their defense was surprisingly solid last season, but a rough time in the transfer portal and the loss of their defensive coordinator sees them starting over nearly from square one.
One of the Lobos’ first chances at an early season victory will be their September 23 matchup against UMass. The Minutemen went just 1-11 last season and it might be the only game all year where New Mexico are odds favorites (BetMGM has them listed at -300). Anyone who’s interested in wagering on this game should check out the states with legal sports betting at Overtime Heroics to ensure you can lawfully bet in your area.
The Return of a Passing Game
It’s hard to describe the New Mexico Lobos offense in 2022 as anything other than a disaster despite their relatively weak schedule. Last in the nation in total offense and second to last in points scored, they simply struggled to get anything going at all.
A lot of that was due to their passing game. New Mexico hasn’t had a QB throw for 2000 yards since Donovan Porterie in 2009, and last year was no exception. But, that might be all about to change next season.
New offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent isn’t the only new arrival from UAB. Joining him is quarterback Dylan Hopkins, who threw for over 4,000 yards and 28 TDs during his last two seasons in Birmingham. Hopkins is the type of talent who can turn an offense around, especially when playing behind a veteran offensive line led by Honorable Mention All-Mountain West left tackle J.C. Davis.
A Strong Backfield Duo
As UAB’s interim head coach last season, Vincent led one of the most potent rushing attacks in the nation behind the dynamic combo of DeWayne McBride and Jermaine Brown Jr. Now, he’ll have another duo of promising backs to work within New Mexico.
Nate Jones and Christian Washington combined for nearly 40% of New Mexico’s total offensive production last season. And, at a combined 4.5 yards per carry, they were one of the few areas where the Lobos displayed even average efficiency. With Jones choosing to retire from football this spring, Washington will most likely see a significant boost in carries this season.
Joining him in the backfield will be University of Louisiana-Monroe transfer Andrew Henry, who totalled nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage over the last two seasons to go along with 10 touchdowns for the Warhawks.
Defensive Question Marks
Good news, New Mexico finished with a top-50 defense in the nation last season. Bad news, almost all their major contributors have departed for greener pastures in the transfer portal.
The Lobos lost their seven leading tacklers from last year, including All-Mountain West Honorable Mention linebacker Cody Moon, who led the team with 105 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. Also departing is defensive coordinator Rocky Long, who is leaving for a power five position at Syracuse.
New Mexico still has the potential to have a good defense in 2023, but the guys will need to step up if they want to find success this season and secure their legacy for their post-college years.
Reliant on Transfers
Just like most of their most promising talent has left via transfers in recent seasons, the Lobos have done their best to replace the outgoing flow with a promising crop of new faces. We’ve already talked about big names including Dylan Hopkins and Andrew Henry, but they’re far from the only additions who can make an immediate impact.
Alongside returning top receiver Luke Wysong (34 rec, 291 yds, 1 td), the Lobos have a fresh crop of incoming transfers to bolster their skill positions including Ryan Davis (UAB), Jeremiah Hixon (Alabama State), and former top 100 recruit in Texas Caleb Medford (TCU).
On defense, names to watch include top 30 high school CB Marvin Covington (TCU), his teammate top 20 safety D’Arco Perkins-McAllister, and former No.12 recruit from Nevada Gabriel Lopez (Washington State).
The 2023 New Mexico Lobos is a team with plenty of holes, but they’ve certainly taken a step in the right direction from 2022. Their defense might not be quite at the level they were last season but expect their offense to improve by leaps and bounds behind the arm of Dylan Hopkins.
Sportsbooks like BetMGM still see the Lobos as a team near the bottom of the Mountain West. Currently, the betting site lists New Mexico at +2000 to take the division. Ouch. But they should be far more competitive with fellow basement dwellers such as Hawaii and UNLV.
Final Record Prediction: 4-8 (2-6 Mountain West)