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ASU Football Opponent Primer: New Mexico Lobos

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Our third part of our opponent primer takes a preliminary look at the Sun Devils' first familiar foe of the season.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next five weeks we will begin to take a look at ASU's 2015 opponents. We will be going in order of the 2015 schedule, with two opponents per week beginning this week. Last week we took a look at the Cal Poly Mustangs, up next are the New Mexico Lobos.

Schedule:

July 8 - Texas A&M - Read

July 13 - Cal Poly - Read

July 15 - New Mexico

July 20 - USC

July 22 - UCLA

July 27 - Colorado

July 29 - Utah

August 3 - Oregon

August 5 - Washington State

in August 10 - Washington

August 12 - Arizona

August 17 - Cal

2014 season

Last season was a rough year for the 4-8 Lobos. After dropping its season opener to UTEP, New Mexico allowed a 53-28 blowout in University Stadium against Arizona State, the Lobos' lone ranked opponent on the schedule. Despite cutting the Sun Devils' lead to 29-21 with 4:49 left in the first half, the Sun Devils scored 22 unanswered points to pull away for good. The first meeting between these two teams saw a career day for then-running back D.J. Foster (now converted into a full-time wide receiver), who ran for 216 yards and a touchdown along with 54 receiving yards.

The Lobos had a twisted three-game stretch — which finally saw a close win over New Mexico State, a loss to Fresno State and a victory over UTSA — before losing five of their next six games. New Mexico picked up its only home win of the season in its season finale against Wyoming.

Key Losses

OL LaMar Bratton - Bratton, standing 6-0, 285 pounds, was the Lobo's lone All-Mountain West First-Team selection last season and recorded 147 knockdown blocks at center. He started in all 49 games of his career, but returns to the team this season as a graduate assistant.

OL Jamal Price - Price was the Lobos' other premier offensive lineman last season, earning an All-Mountain West Honorable Mention selection. Price didn't play against ASU, though, as he was serving a suspension for a domestic violence incident that occurred prior to the start of last season.

DB David Gunthrie - The Lobos lose another All-Mountain West Honorable Mention garner in Gunthrie, who recorded 87 tackles and recovered two fumbles.

Key Returners

RB Juhrell Pressley - An All-Mountain West Honorable Mention selection, Pressley ran for 53 yards and a touchdown in last year's meeting against the Sun Devils. He led the Lobos in rushing yards with 1,083 and rushing touchdowns with 12.

RB Teriyon Gibson - The other halfback in New Mexico's triple option, ran for 809 yards last season with eight touchdowns.

QB Lamar Jordan - The Lobos' signal-caller of their triple option returns for his redshirt sophomore season. He recorded 612 yards and three touchdowns on the ground last season while throwing for 895 passing yards and 6 touchdowns.

Reasons for optimism

ASU got the job done in the second week of last season at New Mexico with a very inexperienced defense, so a similar result should be expected in a rematch at Sun Devil Stadium this year. In Todd Graham's first three years coaching the Sun Devils, ASU has taken care of business in nonconference home games against non-B1G opponents and has won virtually all home games it was considered a clear favorite in. This game also follows ASU's home opener against Cal Poly, so the Sun Devils will likely have some good momentum behind them assuming they beat the Mustangs.

Reasons for pessimism

The Sun Devils are clear favorites to win this game, and this comes before a home showdown against USC, so by definition we must acknowledge this as, gulp, a TRAP GAME. In last year's meeting, it took some time for the Sun Devils to learn to contain the Lobos' triple-option offense. Despite the talent Graham has had over the last three years, ASU is still inconsistent in defending against big plays and long runs. If the Lobos can continue to keep the Sun Devils guessing and hurt them with long plays, New Mexico can certainly make this matchup in Tempe interesting.

And while we recognize this is a completely different ASU team with a different coach and culture, the last time the Sun Devils hosted a Mountain West foe, then-No.15 ASU suffered an embarrassing upset to UNLV in 2008.