Thursday, October 20, 2011

Players to Watch: New Mexico

When the Lobos have the ball, keep your eye out for tatted-up #20 Deon Long. The 6'0" redshirt freshman has taken quite a journey to being the Lobos' most dangerous offensive threat this season. Originally from DC, he spent a year at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia after high school and then originally enrolled at West Virginina before transferring out to New Mexico (you'll remember Mike Locksley had some DC ties) where he redshirted last year per NCAA transfer rules. Now that he's on the field, he's leading UNM with 580 receiving yards and 3 TDs on 31 catches. At 18.7 yards per catch, you could definitely say Long has big-play ability- and big-play ability against our secondary is not always a great thing (for us). While Long has been the Lobos' big-play threat, #84 Ty Kirk has been their most consistent offensive weapon. The 6'2" junior from the Chicago area (remember Locksley was replaced as Illinois' OC by none other than Mike Schultz) is second on the team with 353 yards, but has racked up a team-best 41 catches- including 30 in UNM's past three games.

On the other side of the ball, #58 Carmen Messina is the clear-cut leader of the New Mexico D. A fifth-year senior linebacker, the 6'2", 236lb Messina has led the Mountain West in tackles every year since he took over as a starter his sophomore season and led the nation in that category last year while earning All-MWC honors and Honorable Mention All-America honors. This year he's again leading UNM in tackles with 36.5, including 5.5 for a loss. He also has a sack, an interception and two pass break-ups. All together, he's easily the best defender on the team so if you see Casey Pachall or the TCU offensive line pointing before plays on Saturday- they're probably going to be pointing at Messina.

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