Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Common now

Much has been made on the board about Aggie football and how some still care and how some just don't. Well, I'm here to give my thoughts.

The Buss made a comment on the last entry, "wake me up when basketball starts." OK. We'll do that. And you're more than welcome to have that opinion. But, what happens if the basketball team has a down year? When do we wake you up then? I really hope if the basketball team struggles this year, all these "lifetime" Aggie fans don't hide in a hole. Although, I think we all know the banwagon will have some - try many - jumpers.

I have been a Detroit Lions fan for years. For those who haven't checked, they've been arguably the worst team in football....Of all time. But I have remained very loyal. I don't go around wearing Lions gear everywhere and shove it in everyone's face like some cornball. But my knowledge of the team remains extremely strong and I have always remained interested. Sometimes mad, and yes, very critical, but always interested, and I have never not cared about the outcome of one of their games no matter the record, time or location. That doesn't mean I'm blind to the horrible personnel moves or just the plain incompetence of the organization. A good fan needs to look at his team with a critical eye. But I have never backed down from my loyalty to the Lions.

As for the Aggie football team, I understand the years of frustration can boil over and people become indifferent to how the program does. But, believe it or not, the game on Friday is the biggest the Aggies have had in November in years. I really have a hard time seeing them winning, but at the same time, it's a huge game, not just for them, but for Nevada also. The Aggies are actually in the WAC race believe it or not. At least numbers wise they are. NMSU is 4-5, 1-3 in conference. The Wolf Pack are 4-4, 2-2. This is a must win game for both teams! For the Aggies, if they lose, well, they're basically done, minus a minor miracle taking place. If Nevada loses, they get dragged closer to the WAC pack and will be in the same boat as NMSU - 2-3 in conference, fighting for their lives every week. And you can't argue with the significance of that. I actually think you're going to see a good game on Friday between one hungry team (Nevada) and another desperate team (NMSU).

Hopefully, there is a decent crowd and people will be pulling hard for the home team. It's a November game that actually means something. But oh, wait, basketball can always be your safety net, I forgot. Heck, I certainly hope so. If not, that means the banwagon will be real thin.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Holbrook will play

Chase was at the team's press conference today and interviewed with the media.

He said he's as close as he possibly could be to 100 percent.

McKines cleared

Bay Area product Wendell McKines participated in his first practice with the NMSU basketball team Tuesday morning.
As you know, Herb Pope and Jahmar Young are still awaiting clearance, and coach Marvin Menzies said last week that both could be cleared by the middle of the week.

"We got word lastnight from director of compliance Braun Cartwright that Wendell has been officially cleared by the NCAA for practice and games for the duration of the season," Menzies said.

McKines is listed at 6-5, but he could be the most explosive athlete on the team. His game right now is suited well for the Aggies, as he is dangerous in the open court and he can get to the basket on the drive. Ball handling and perimeter shooting should improve as his career goes on at NMSU. Menzies said he envisions McKines contributing at the 3 or 4 spots this season, and that he will play in Saturday's exhibition game against Cal-State L.A. at the Pan American Center.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Football follow

It's very hard for me to judge what happened in Hawaii to the football team. The only thing that is apparent is that they lost and by a lot, 50-13.

I took the over at 76, and lost. I hit the Hawaii score, as I predicted the Warriors score 54 and put up 50. I also said Brennan would throw 450-500 yards and was pretty close (he threw for 425). I also said he would have five, maybe six touchdowns. Bingo!

For NMSU, I shot an airball. I said the Aggies would move the ball and put up 35 points. They actually did move it (442 yards of total offense) but were kept off the board. Again, I wasn't there, making it hard to judge or evaluate. Obviously they had some turnovers and also went for it on fourth down four times, converting it just once. I was listening to the game on the radio and there was a fourth-and-1 on the Hawaii 33. NMSU was down 6-0 and went for it. I liked the call of going for it. The kicking game has not been good this year and punting it against Hawaii makes no sense. That's like giving another team the ball at their own 40. But the Aggies threw the ball. Why? Run it and get the yard or just do a sneak. The ball was incomplete and the Warriors got it back.

I understand the team's identity is to throw the ball, but on fourth-and-1, statement play, just cram it in there. I know you can always look back and criticize when something doesn't go right but either way, I run it there. But NMSU just won't do it because it's not their style. Oh well. Cut your losses and move on I guess.

Another early sequence that I thought hurt was actually right after the first play from scrimmage - a Davon House interception. NMSU went three-and-out and gave the ball right back. A good team capitalizes and makes something out of that, they don't just punt it right back. Gotta capitalize on opportunities if you want to be good, not punt it back and not missing out on fourth-and-1.

Anyway, I shot an airball with the NMSU score and stats. Chase seemed to play alright but according to Mumme, was hounded by pressure all night. He left the game late and is questionable for this week after getting hit in the head by a pass rusher. They need him badly.

Kenneth Buckley did nothing, A.J. Harris continued to fall short of expectations. Derek Dubois was the one receiver who showed up for big yardage, but only one TD for the Aggie offense is unheard of. Not much for Cleaver either.

The bottom line is that the team was not supposed to win in Hawaii anyway. Seeing a more competitive showing, at least on the scoreboard, certainly would have nice. But NMSU is just not on that level. It was proven loud and clear in Boise and once again in Hawaii, although not as loud.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Holbrook out again

New Mexico State quarterback Chase Holbrook suffered a blow to the head in the Aggie loss to Hawaii on Saturday and was forced out of the game.

Aggie coach Hal Mumme said that Holbrook's status was uncertain and that he was not guaranteed to play this week when the team hosts Nevada on Friday. Mumme said it was unknown if Holbrook had suffered a concussion.

If not, freshman J.J. McDermott will get the start. The Aggies will be working on a short week, with the game being played Friday evening on ESPN.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

NMSU Vball falls

Aggie volleyball fell at Hawaii 30-26, 30-28 and 30-22.

Over 7,000 fans were present in Honolulu for the contest.

Lindsey Yon had 15 kills, Krista Altermatt had 10.

NMSU fell to 19-4 overall, 10-2 in the WAC.

NMSU/Hawaii football predictions

Well, these are possibly my favorite entries just because it's fun to try and figure out how things will shake out on the football field.

Obviously, this will be a wild game. Both teams throw it so much and it doesn't look like much defense is emphasized on either side, quite frankly.

The over/under is somewhere around 76 for this game. I take the over, as I think Hawaii scores over 50 and NMSU tops 30. At the beginning of the week I said I thought the Warriors would put up 69 but I'll taper my expectations slightly. I think Hawaii wins 54-35.

Brennan will have a token performance, 450-500 yards and five, maybe six touchdowns. That's nothing out of the ordinary for him, as he can light it up. The Aggie secondary has been inconsistent at best this season and this matchup is less than ideal. This game will be dictated only by the Aggie D and if they can get some early stops. If not, it will be up and down and NMSU will not be able to keep up. The problem will be the Aggie secondary, which has been beaten on a regular basis this year. The Warriors will throw and throw often. The only time the Warriors will be stopped will be by their own doing. Brennan could miss some open men downfield here and there. Whatever, he'll still sling it all over.

NMSU will also put up offensive numbers, just not enough. Chase Holbrook will match Brennan by and large, at least statistically speaking. I think 450 yards and 3-4 touchdowns is completely realistic in this one, perhaps even modest. The loss of Chris Williams won't hurt as much here. Look for Kenneth Buckley to put up catches, yards and at least one score. Derek Dubois will build on his performance from last week and I think Nick Cleaver will find the endzone for the first time this year as well. If Williams were in the lineup, he'd run circles around the Hawaii defense but unfortunately we'll have to wait till next year to see that happen.

A.J. Harris hasn't scored yet this year. He's been hurt and in and out of the lineup but I expected more from him. I actually think A.J.'s performance is important in this one. They need his presence underneath. Not even for TD's but a 100-yard performance would be nice from him right now. We'll see if this is the week. Really, NMSU will need him and the RB's to move the chains. Getting big plays on Hawaii will happen regardless but the team needs to get first downs and chew up some clock. Just exchanging haymakers with the Warriors will not do it. They're just too good. The team has to win time of possession by at least 10 minutes to have any shot.

We'll see how it shakes out. Lets get some other predictions up here before kickoff.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

No more Clearinghouse

I had a few questions for NMSU Compliance Officer Braun Cartwright. Namely what the H does the Clearinghouse do? One minute into our conversation, he informed me that the NCAA Clearinghouse, the subject of a lot of student and fan frustration, no longer exists. Either physically or as an entity. The web site is currently under construction

Here is what it says on the web site:

This Web site will be under construction from October 23rd to October 31st during the transition from the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse which was located in Iowa City, Iowa to the new NCAA Eligibility Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The eligibility center will process academic and amateurism certifications for NCAA Divisions I and II college-bound student-athletes beginning November 1, 2007.
During the transition, our staff will be able to answer only those questions of a general nature and will not have access to student records. If you need assistance with the following issues, you may call us at 877/262-1492

The NCAA Clearinghouse was operated by the ACT testing facility, contracted by the NCAA, but now the NCAA oversees those eligibility responsibilities and Cartwright believes it will streamline the process in the future. But that still doesn't put Herb Pope on the court yet.

Cartwright told me that Pope apparently participated in a new class at Aliquippa High that no other student athlete had taken, so the class was on the NCAA's list of approved classes. So the NCAA apparently requested sylabus and other forms regarding that class. I'm new to collegiate athletics and covering them on a daily basis, but apparently a single class can cause this type of delay. If that's the case, is a new physical address really going to change things?

Cartwright said that the NCAA has complete files on Herb, Jahmar Young and Wendell McKines at the NCAA location in Indianapolis. Regarding Pope, Cartwright said that Aliquippa, NMSU and the NCAA have been working together effectively to get the NCAA the right documentation, but he also could not give a time frame where Pope might be allowed to not only practice, but play in a game with the season opener about two weeks away.At practice Wednesday, Menzies said he hopes Young and McKines can join the team next week, but we will see.

So I guess this doesn't really say anything new, just wanted to let you know if you didn't already, that the subject of your frustration is no longer the Clearinghouse, it's now squarely on the NCAA.


Big Volleyball Match

Lets not lose sight of Friday's volleyball match when New Mexico State goes to Hawaii.

The Aggies are currently ranked 13 in the nation while Hawaii sits at 11. These two have developed into fierce rivals. Their last match came in Las Cruces and came down to the wire. NMSU let six match points slip away in their five-game loss to Hawaii back in late September.

The Aggies struggled through a five-game win against Nevada their last time out. It seems like the team is somewhat bored with its success. Facing Hawaii is exactly the type of challenge this team needs. They are primed for a win and Friday's match should be hotly contested.

This is a Top-25 team in Las Cruces! Big match, on the road, for NMSU volleyball.

Link for Pope article

Here's a link to the Herb article in today's LCSN. It's short but for those who haven't read it or for those who want to continue to vent.

Venting was done on Groves' post yesterday.

Pope's absence

Obviously, much has been made about the absence of Herb Pope, who is still clearing hurdles in regards to his eligibility.

I was there yesterday when Menzies addressed the issue and it seemed like just a hiccup in the process. Herb will be playing basketball with the Aggies eventually.

Now obviously it's somewhat annoying. Fans would like to see him on the court now, particularly during Friday's scrimmage. So much has been made of Pope and the intrigue increases. Frankly, it gets even greater with each passing day of him not playing.

Again, a lot will be asked of Herb this season. If he is everything people say, he will play a key part to the team immediately and his role will continuously increase with each game. But I do expect things to work out. Lets just see this kid take the court already.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Football injury update

Hal Mumme said today that outside La'Auli Fonoti is expected to get limited action this weekend in Hawaii. Fonoti is recovering from a chest injury.

Mumme said the same goes for inside linebacker Chris Nwoko and cornerback Vincent Butler, who were both sidelined last week, Nwoko with an ankle injury and Butler with a concussion. Both are expected to participate but how much remains uncertain. Butler lined up as a slot corner in today's practice with freshman Davon House on the outside.

The team will need as much help as it can get heading into its weekend contest against pass-happy Hawaii.

More eligibility issues

I'm starting to feel for Marvin Menzies.
During media day on Wednesday, Menzies reported Herb Pope cannot practice, and as a result will not play in Friday's Crimson/White scrimmage.

Here's the quote

"The NCAA has requested additional information on his waiver and as of today, he won't be able to practice and won't be able to participate in the Crimson and White scrimmage on Friday."

Herb was granted an initial eligibility waiver last Friday by the NCAA, allowing him to practice, but still wasn't eligible to play in games. Menzies didn't give a time frame. There was some good news I guess. He stopped estimating in regards to freshmen Wendell McKines and Jahmar Young, but on Wednesday he said he expects them to be cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse sometime next week. But you've heard all that before.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Edgar Garibay

Just got off the phone with California big man Edgar Garibay, meaning he finally answered his phone. He said he will be on campus November 3 for an official visit, just in time for the Aggies' first exhibition game against Cal State L.A. on the same day.

Garibay is a 6-10, 240-pound senior at Compton High School, who has already been offered by the Aggies.
It will be his first official visit after unofficial visits to Louisville and UNLV in the last couple of months. He said he also plans to make official visits to San Francisco, UNLV, Memphis and either Boston College or Georgetown.

Marvin Menzies already has a verbal committment from another California big man, center Chris Gabriel.


Crimson/White Scrimmage

I know people like football, but we need to get some hoops talk out here. The season is on the horizon and the Crimson/White scrimmage is kicking off on Friday, which should get major interest from the Aggie fan base.

Why? Well, it's the first basketball action that will be seen on this campus in seven months. And what anticipation for the season. Fans are expecting big things from Aggie basketball this year. I expect a lot of excitement, at least early on as the dust settles and things fall into place. Lots of changes though.

Marvin Menzies takes over and there was some roster turnover too. It will be interesting to see how the new pieces fit together. Basketball, you just don't go out and play it. Chemistry is so important and how everyone meshes will determine how the season goes. Talent wise? The team's got that, no doubt.

Some things to watch for in Friday's scrimmage:

Point guard matchup: Elijah Ingram is gone. He would make you scratch your head sometimes with his shot selection, but he was a money player who wasn't afraid to fire away. Teams need someone like that. He had flair. Fred Peete, Johnathan Gibson, JayDee Luster and Chris Cole all appear to be in the running. My money's on Peete, he's a veteran. Gibson has potential. Luster is young, but he's a little fireball. Cole could be a darkhorse. This story will unfold throughout the year, but its one to keep an eye on, starting tonight.

Herb Pope: We've heard all about him. Now we can see him in action. Pope seems like the real deal and Jason Groves walked away from their interview together impressed with his maturity. Pope will have a lot on his shoulders this year though. Tyrone Nelson is gone. And although Nelson had a down season last year, he was still a productive player, one who could get 20 and 10 on any given night. You don't just pick someone like that up off the street. At the same time, Pope could be all that and more. Herb can play either the 3 or the 4 and it will be interesting to see where he fits in best. He will likely play a key role on the team from Day 1. It starts Friday.

All the newcommers: Lots was made of this recruiting class. Pope, Luster, DeAngelo Jones, Paris Carter and Jahmar Young. In all likelihood, they're the future of the program. We'll see what it's all about.

Comparing/contrasting styles: How will the team stack up from last season? What will be similar, what will be different? People who think the team will be identical, minus the coaching staff, are wrong. The staff will have a lot of influence on what this team is all about. And the roster also has some wrinkles. Justin Hawkins will continue to roll along, as will Peete. Those two have been in the trenches and understand what it takes. But how will things shake out outside of that?

A lot of anticipation for Aggie hoops in 2007-08.

Is a bowl game still possible?

As crazy as it sounds, NMSU is still in contention.

Really, one of two things needs to happen for the team to reach its goal. The first is to sweep the remaining home games on its schedule. The second - and in my opinion, the more likely of the two - is to win two out of three home games and, assuming they lose in Hawaii, steal one at San Jose on Nov. 10. That would mean that the team would have to beat Utah State at home on the second-to-last week of the season and then split between Nevada and Fresno St.

Both those teams are good. Nevada looks re-energized by its freshman quarterback Colin Kaepernich and Fresno is riding a strong rushing attack. Both of those programs are ahead of NMSU right now. But it is possible. Knocking off San Jose in northern California will not be easy either, but if the team goes there with something to play for, which it will any way you slice it, anything is possible.

The frustrating thing is that the team should be at 5-3. They should have beaten La. Tech and found a way to fumble it. Two wins down the stretch would have been much easier than three, against healthy competition no less.

The team deserves credit for battling through the problems its experienced. Injuries have been an issue and a lot of teams would have folded after the 58-0 loss. They have kept it together.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Williams' impact

On my Follow Up entry (Oct. 21), an anonymous blogger said that they disagreed with my evaluation that the Chris Williams' loss will have a big impact on the team. Lets break it down.

I agree, the Aggies have a ton of depth at receiver. It's probably the strongest position, top-to-bottom, on their depth chart. Derek Dubois, A.J. Harris, Kenneth Buckley stepped in, Wes Neimann, Nick Cleaver, Chris Buckner — all these guys can play. And that will ease the pain of the loss of Williams.

The one thing Williams brings to the offense is big-play ability. He can score from anywhere on the field and is a deep threat who stretches the field vertically. This gives them the ability to work the underneath routes with Dubois and especially Harris, who is physical and likes going over the middle. Chris is a constant double team to opposing teams and needs to be accounted for. I think it even helps in the run game, as the safeties need to play back in fear of his speed. Holbrook also loves going to him. All these things are big factors in the Aggie offense.

This week, the team will put up points. Hawaii isn't good defensively. Williams would have a good effort if he were healthy, but either way, the team will put up good offensive numbers. The real problem will come in November. At San Jose, hosting Nevada and playing Fresno State, people will see the hole left by his departure. Even against Utah State, you might see the impact of his absence pop up.

I still think the team will be dangerous offensively. In fact, there will be moments where they don't miss a beat. But I also believe there will be stretches where people will be able to tell Williams is not on the field and the offense will suffer. They are deep at wide receiver. But no one they can put on the field is similar to Williams. At least not right now.

House elevated to top of depth chart

That's the way it was today, with freshman Davon House penciled in above Vince Butler on the team's depth chart.

Mumme said that House's performance was strong on Saturday and that Vince Butler has not been cleared to play yet after suffering a concussion.

Fonoti is still up in the air. Nwoko played one snap last week and left the game. Cotton is definitely out. I wouldn't count on any of them to play on Saturday.

Backers still likely out

Hal Mumme said that the three linebackers who are hurt - La'Auli Fonoti, Chris Nwoko and Jamar Cotton - probably won't return this weekend.

Cotton was expected. Fonoti and Nwoko were apparently week-to-week. But the coach said that it didn't look good for this week.

"Three of the four are still out and I don’t think they’ll be back this week," Mumme said.

How many points will Hawaii put up??

This is a scary thought. I want to say 72. But I'm going to go with 69 and call it a day.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Don't be fooled by defense's performance

Like I said in my follow up, if Idaho can throw the ball in that game, the outcome is different.

The Aggie defense was not good at all last night. Idaho ran for a ton of yards and had guys open left and right downfield, only to miss the targets. The Vandals still scored 31 points, had an interception returned against them for 100-plus yards and stalled out deep in Aggie territory late when they were forced to go for it.

Again, special teams take blame as well for horrible kickoff and kickoff coverage units. But, to a degree, that falls into the same category as defense. Different coaches, different players, but still the same idea of discipline and tackling.

Again, NMSU is forced to score at least 35 points a game and pray that the defense can hang on from there. Tough to win, week in and week out with that approach.

Holbrook's pressence helps ground game

It's no secret that with Chase Holbrook in there, the Aggie running attack is more successful.

NMSU couldn't run with J.J. McDermott in at QB. I mean, they ran, but not well. Teams would stack the box on the Aggies and force them to throw it.

Chase changes the dynamics of the offense because the opposition needs to respect the pass. Idaho's defense is probably not as good as Boise's or La Tech's, but still, the team ran it much better and Holbrook's presence had a lot to do with it.

Heck, the entire offense played much better with him in there. An injury at QB, for most teams, is almost impossible to make up for.

Follow up

Crazy game at Aggie Memorial Stadium last night. NMSU beat Idaho 45-31, something that was anticipated. Lets look at the pregame predictions and if they came to fruition.

Originally, I said 42-20, NMSU. Alright here, as I was pretty much on point with the Aggie score. Really, if NMSU played half-decent in the kicking game/special teams, I'm closer to my original prediction. Did anyone see the kicking game? It was not good.

I figured the Aggies would break out on offense, the unknown was Kenneth Buckley. He came on in a major way. Chris Williams went down and Buckley filled in nicely. Big loss of Chris. Buckley won't produce like Williams, but for one night he did, at least from a scoring standpoint with two TDs, and they were big TDs too. Nice performance from Buckley.

Chase went to Derek Dubois a lot and he produced. Seven catches for 141 yards and a touch is big. He made an insane run where no one on Idaho could tackle him. There were some crazy plays in the game and some were gamechanging. Derek's run was big after the catch and what about Davon House? He returned a ball 100-plus yards for a TD. Idaho's quarterbacking was atrocious. If they throw the ball in that game, they win.

Truthfully, I was confused by the fact that the Vandals switched between Ashley and Nooy. I thought the offense moved much better with Ashley in the game. He could run. Nooy really couldn't. Neither QB hit guys downfield either. After Idaho recovered an onside kick with seven-minutes remaining, they had guys wide open downfield and Ashley just overthrew them. A good pass on one of them and they score a TD, cut the deficit to seven and the game is totally different. Aggie D has plenty of holes, Idaho just couldn't exploit them through the air.

Ground game was good when it had to be. Tonny Glynn ripped off some long runs. Justine Buries only got four carries. Justine's a hard hitter with the ball, he attacks people. You hope he hasn't taken too many big shots. He is one year removed from knee surgery.

Overall, many of the predictions from my entry on the 17th called for a closer game than expected. The most accurate one was Wesley and he went on to rip my fantasy football team. One called for a struggle on the ground, SM prayed for a win. One in particular said the O-line had to play well for a game in the 40s and I thought it was a good call. The O-line produced. Holbrook took one really big shot but that was about it and said after the game that he felt fine after the hit. He was blindsided though.

Overall, I thought the win was good. Any win is good for NMSU and they are better than Idaho. The Aggies are better than a few teams in the WAC and the Vandals are definitely one of them. The real downer is the loss of Williams, who is their most dynamic player on both sides of the ball. I think the offense really struggles without Chris. It will show down the road.

A win is a win in Aggie land.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Jackson hurt

Idaho running back Deonte Jackson suffered a high ankle sprain and has not been getting the same amount of carries he normally would the last few weeks.

Jacskon is second in the WAC in rushing - he's also played one more game than Ian Johnson of Boise who is ranked first. Still, he averages over 5-yards per carry and is clearly their best weapon. The loss of him makes the Vandal attack even worse.

NMSU needs to stop Idaho's offense. The Vandal attack hasn't been very good this year and NMSU is on its homefield. They shut down Idaho's ground game, they win in a laugher.

Something brief on Courtney Bryan in the Sun-Senitinal

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pope at practice

I caught up with Herb Pope after his first practice with the Aggies on Friday morning. The story will run on Sunday because we have to get some photos of the man in action at practice Saturday, but I took a couple things from our conversation that I thought were interesting.
As you know, Pope was cleared to practice earlier in the week with a waiver. NMSU believes he will be cleared entirely so he can play in games before the season starts. He just talked about the frustration shared with Jahmar Young and Wendell McKines, who have also yet to practice. The three were limited in their individual work as well, forcing them to get in the gym by themselves while their teammates prepare for the season without them.

At the end of our conversation, I asked him where he was in his recovery from his incident last spring. He said he was 90-95 percent back and the only reason he wouldn't say 100 percent was because he hasn't played in a game yet.

Overall I was very impressed with the young fella. I had heard how articulate and smart he was, but he was quiet on the few occassions I spoke with him on the phone, but after talking with and seeing him in person, I can see why the rest of the country was after him. I look forward to seeing him on the court, as I know all Aggie fans do.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Game prediction

Alright folks, lets get some predictions going.

First off, I'm making this prediction assuming that A.J. Harris plays the majority of snaps, which I think he does.

Aggies win 42-20. Finally a breakout game for the offense. Honestly, has the offense really had a breakout performance in anyone's mind? Sure they've scored over 30, but that's not a ton for this team. 42 is well within reach, and I think they get it against the Vandals.

Offensive numbers. Chase puts up big stats, well over 400 yards with four TDs. The big three (Williams, Harris and Dubois) are all involved. Williams goes for 150 yards and two scores. That's a modest yardage total, he could easily top it but we're playing it close to the vest. A.J. has over 100 with a score too. Dubois gets in the endzone as well.

The ground game comes back to life. Justine Buries and Tonny Glynn each score TDs in the rout. They will also combine for well over 100 yards on the ground/air. Why does NMSU count handoffs as passes? I know, people say they're shovel passes, but they look like handoffs to me. It's funny.

Idaho will get some numbers too, strictly in garbage time though. They'll run well and get some yardage there, but will not be able to keep up. There QB position is a mess. Brian Nooy has looked subpar with their original starter, Enderle, out with a hurt hand. If Nooy breaks out against the Aggies, NMSU's secondary is in even deeper trouble than originally anticipated.

I just think the Aggie offense, assuming most are there, is in for a big day, take some frustration out on Idaho. Holbrook is back and I expect a big game, even with some rust present. The team will breakout at home.

Lets get some predictions up and running. Scores, numbers, whatever. Lets get some chatter.

Holbrook to play versus Idaho

Chase is playing this weekend. Mumme confirmed it today. Other health issues:

Mumme said that Harris, Cleaver and Nwoko are all 75 percent. Nwoko split time at practice in the middle with Kramer Winingham but he was out there none-the-less. Cleaver and Harris were also out there. Cleaver caught a TD from about 40-yards out down the middle of the field and ran into the endzone. A.J. was seen jogging up and down the sideline looking to get loose.

Outside linebackers La'Auli Fonoti and Jamar Cotton are both out. Cotton has a hurt ankle and Mumme said he wouldn't be back for a few weeks - hopefully Nevada. Fonoti appears week-to-week. They'll be replaced by Nick Ply and Michael Brewer, respectively.

Cornerback Vince Butler is also out, suffering a concussion last weekend against La. Tech. He's replaced by freshman Devon House. The staff likes House a great deal, but he's obviously very young. We make a big deal about a freshman coming in at quarterback, but how bout a freshman corner? That's as tough as it gets on the D-1 level. Cornerback is a tough position, maybe the toughest on the field. The one bright spot is that Idaho can't really throw anyway.

Offensively, if everyone is at full strength, NMSU should torch Idaho.


In my last entry, Abran talks about stability and how it can foster success. I would have to agree with him. Firing a head coach offers a "quick fix" solution, but it isn't always the way that works. I think fans would be wise to stick it out with Mumme for at least another season after this.

The loss at Boise was a disaster but other than that the team has had a decent year. Pine Bluff was bad as well but they still won. And they have been competitive in all their other games.

The one thing that has marked the Mumme era has been poor defense and a subpar kicking game. A reckless attitude towards these two crucial elements will get a coach burned every time. But NMSU plays an exciting brand of football and are improving each year. One week at a time. They have to beat Idaho this weekend. That will give them four wins, matching last season's total. And they beat UTEP, which means something. The team continues to play hard through injuries and could have folded after Boise. They played hard against La. Tech and should have won. Jumping off the deep end and replacing the people in charge is not the solution today, tomorrow or next week.

I would say give him two more years after this. It might raise some eyebrows for some, but that's my philosophy. If no progress is in place after that, then a change will be warranted.

Is a negative fan no fan at all?

This debate has come up following a blogger (SM) who had negative things to say about NMSU and then got piled on.

First off, I'd like to thank SM for at least posting his identity on the blog. So many anonymous posts, you don't know where the bullets are coming from and anyone can leapfrog at any point. And having differing opinions are what make this thing work, so I'm all for diversity and different trains of thought. Now, on to the topic at hand....

Just because you have negative things to say about your team does not make you a poor fan, not at all.

If your team is playing poorly - for a prolonged period of time I might add - and you stay super positive, then you're nothing but a cheeseball. I'm from NY. All people in the northeast do is look at their teams critically, and they have the most loyal fan basis in the country.

Now the weak fans are the one's who stop pulling for their clubs or stop following them when thing go poorly. You should always root for them, never not care about the outcome of a game. And I can't stand it when fans start showing up when things are good and proclaim they've been with the team since Day 1. I'm sure their are some basketball fans like that in Las Cruces, is there not?

It seems like SM has been an Aggie fan for some time. He's tired of the losing and, lets face it, the team has some frustrating flaws.

It's an interesting debate. I guess all I'm trying to say is that loyalty can be shown in many forms. In my eyes, people posting on this board when the team is struggling and still showing interest in the progress of the program, whether the comments are cheery or negative, shows a certain level of commitment any way you slice it. Just don't turn your back on the situation.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Williams is remarkable

Chris Williams has 11 touchdowns this year. Eleven!

That's a lot of TDs for anyone, let alone a wideout. Chris is the Aggies' best player. For some receivers, a change at quarterback could mean a dropoff in numbers. Not for him. He produced with McDermott in. He didn't miss a beat.

NMSU certainly has weapons at wideout when all are available. A.J. compliments Chris very well and Derek is a dependable slot receiver. Definitely NMSU's deepest and most versatile unit. They're all fun to watch.

Both Williams and Harris will be there next year too, unless something crazy happens (NFL anyone?). Williams would be wise to return and put up big numbers again. Only can help his stock for 2009.

Injury update

Mumme spoke today about the team's injury status and when he expects some people back.

Mumme said that Chase will practice on Wednesday and that he could return. The bottom line is that he's week-to-week. I'd put my money on him returning this week. We'll see.

Nwoko and La'Auli are week-to-week too. Mumme said that without them the team could not blitz as much and we limited in their defensive gameplan. It makes sense.

Jamar Cotton is out a bit longer. Mumme said that he was hopeful that Cotton could make it back for Nevada (11/2). He has a lower-right leg injury.

Vince Butler is also hurt. He was shook up against La. Tech and will miss, in Mumme's words, "a few weeks." Butler will be replaced in starting lineup by Davon House.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

La Tech, from the ground up

Louisiana Tech actually seems to be building something. There defense and ground game is strong. The only thing that's missing is the passing attack. In fact, it sounds like the exact opposite from the Aggies.

It depends who you are and what you value in a football team. I think you have to be able to throw the ball in order to be successful. But you definitely won't be able to do anything without a defense.

La. Tech used their D to win the game. With a little under 10 minutes remaining in Saturday's contest, the Bulldogs sent out the punting unit on fourth-and-10 from the NMSU 45. The crowd booed. But the team knew they could get the ball back with virtually the same field position, maybe even better, with only a few minutes trimmed off the clock. They relied on their defense to get them the W. Now that's a refreshing concept.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tough threw injuries

I have to say, the team was so banged up and fought valiently through injuries that could have crippled any chance they had at winning.

Say whatever you want, but nothing kills a team more than injuries. And I know that all teams should have depth but common, it's really tough without your starters. McDermott was solid. And how about the linebackers? They were strong up and down the board. I've got to say, when I saw all of them were out, I thought the Aggies would give up a lot of rushing yards. Not so.

La Tech ran for just 98 yards and had to fight for them. It's funny, the one guy who killed NMSU the most on the ground was the quarterback Champion who was supposed to have no wheels. He ran for 54 yards, most of them coming late when Tech needed first downs and NMSU needed stops. He hurt them the most!

The team played well with a banged up roster this week but a better team will exploit them. Mumme was hush about the situation. I think Holbrook is week to week. Cotton looks like he could be out for a while. Cleaver and Harris, I don't know what's going on. A.J. is tough, he played hurt and gutted it out. He made a nice play at one point, catching one underneath and turning it into a big gain. He went right after people with the ball too, he does not shy away from contact.

Linebacker Nick Ply and Michael Brewer led the team in stops with 10 each. The backups held there own, for one night at least.

Special teams a problem

Really, this always seems to be the case.

In my last post I noted how NMSU held onto the ball for 12 more minutes but didn't have the stats to show for it. That could be because the team could not put the ball through the uprights.

The Aggies missed two field goals, one from deep and the other which was blocked and returned deep into NMSU territory. That play led to a La Tech FG.

OK, fine, lets say NMSU misses the first one. If they boot the second one home, that's a six point swing right there. La Tech doesn't even come close to kicking there's. And if they nail the first, that is nine points in the bag. Special teams is so important and so overlooked. Three phases of football - offense, defense, special teams. When was the last time NMSU played well in all three in the same game? They have a 3-4 record and have lost two straight, dropped three of four and the one win was an awful game against Pine Bluff. It's not a coincidence.


This one was even tougher than the game at Boise State because the Aggies should have won.

The game did not go as I saw it in my pregame prediction. I was on the money with the score hovering in the high teens, low 20s, but I called an NMSU win 20-17. It looked promising until things unraveled late.

I also said the team should get the ball to Williams, which it did. He had a big night - 11 catches, 170 yards, 2 TDs, four carries for 21 yards and handled the majority of kick and punt returns. He's a star player, no matter the QB or matchup.

NMSU held down the La Tech rushing attack, surrendering only 98 yards. I thought the Bulldogs would be much more successful rushing the football and I thought Michael Mosley would do damage on the ground. In the end, Mosley was replaced by Zac Champion, who got hot late and basically led the Bulldogs to the win.

I said the team who would win TOP (time of possession) would win the game. Nope. NMSU held the ball 12-minutes longer than the Bulldogs. Still, surprisingly, with such a slanted time with the ball, the Aggies ran just three more plays and outgained them by just 17 yards. Strange.

McDermott handled himself very well and hooked up with Williams often. He also found Dubois six times for 53 yards and didn't turn the ball over once. I said he would finish with 250 yards, one touch, two picks. He surpassed that no problem, finishing with 319 yards, two touchdowns, zero picks. Good job by the freshman. He was not the reason they lost the game.

Still, the team self-destructed late, a reacurring theme that is extremely frustrating for anyone closely associated with them. The defense played well for three-plus quarters. Then, they simply fell apart for no ryme or reason. Truthfully, La Tech had so many drops early on, it was hard to judge how the Aggie D was playing. If the Bulldogs held on to some passes, they could have scored 30 tonight. They seriously had at least 10 drops it seemed.

I felt poorly following this one. After Boise, I was just mad. But this was much tougher to swallow.

Good first

NMSU got on the board. McDermott to Williams. McDermott led them twice in La Tech territory in the first. Their first drive sputtered - 10-yard penalty, a busted run and a sack forced them to punt.

Second drive was much better. McDermott hit Dubois down the right sideline on 3-and-13 for a big gain inside the 15. Later, he hit Williams on a slant. Williams numbers so far - 2 catches, 63 yards and a TD to go with 19 yards rushing on two carries.

Running early

Aggies are keeping it on the ground early. Haven't attempted a pass downfield yet....They stopped La. Tech on 4-and-1 on the Bulldogs first possession. La. tech has the ball at their own 28 with 9:56 remaining in first quarter. NMSU has punted twice and has gained, basically, nothing.

Harris out too

A.J. is not on the field. Chris Buckner is out there. Team is hurtin'

Banged up Backers

Three of the team's four starting linebackers are out. Jamar Cotton and Chris Nwoko are gone. Cotton was expected to be hurt and Nwoko was up in the air. La'Auli Finoti is not warming up with the team. Warming up are Dante Floyd, Kramer Winingham, Michael Hernishin, Derek Hinley and Ross Connor. This is a thin unit that needs to step up tonight against a solid La Tech rushing attack.


Sorry about the lack of blog activity the last day ladies and gents. I was on the road to Ruston and really couldn't muster it up. Loved the last week though. Lots of activity on the board with a lot of varying opinions. Lets try to keep this thing rolling.

I'm really looking forward to tonight's game. How will the team respond, will McDermott be able to move the troops and a look at the La. Tech running backs and secondary all give me multiple points of intrigue.

A few keys for tonight's game: McDermott will have to lead them on at least three scoring drives, two of which wind up in the endzone. The Aggies will have to score at least 20 here for the win. I think he can do it and I think the team really just has to get the ball in Chris Williams' hands. Reverses, screens, slants, whatever, just get him the ball. He can take it the distance at any moment and is the most explosive player on the field tonight.

Another key will be how the Aggie defense defends the run. And I mean that with both the backs and the backup quarterback Michael Mosley. Mosley brings a different dimension to the Tech offense just because he can move and I expect him to get a good deal of snaps tonight. The Bulldogs have not been able to pass much this year, so if the ground game is contained, the Aggies can win.

With that being said, I think a key player for the NMSU defense is Raymond Manumaleuna. Some don't really understand the importance of a nose tackle in the 3-4 defense. In reality, Manumaleuna could make one tackle the entire night and still have an enormous impact on the game. If he can wreak havoc in the middle and disrupt the La. Tech O-line, it will hamper their ground game. In fact, the Aggies need a big effort from their entire D-line tonight. Again, D-linemen do not get huge numbers in a 3-4 but their performance often allows the linebackers to put up stats. Holding blockers, clogging the middle and doing major grunt work are the jobs of the tackles and the ends and they'll have to do good work of that tonight.

Both teams actually have some explosiveness in the return game as well. A few big plays on special teams could be a deciding factor also.

Assuming the game goes as planned - high teens, low 20s in points, lots of field position battles - I see a dog fight. Again, the Aggies have to move the ball and win time of possession. If the Bulldogs run it well, that could be tough. Whoever wins time of possession wins this game. NMSU needs to stay patient with a young QB. Can Mumme adjust? We'll find out tonight.

I think NMSU wins 20-17. I predicted they'd win at Boise last week. That was a great call. But I want a bowl game too. McDermott throws for 250 and a TD. He also tosses two picks. Justine Buries gets the other touchdown on the ground. NMSU forces a few turnovers also (really, they have to). A couple 35-yarders from Young rounds out the scoring in a sloppy affair in Ruston. Looking forward to it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pope, McKines and Young can't practice

Jason Groves is reporting that Herb Pope, Wendell McKines and Jahmar Young have all not been granted eligibility by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Groves said that all three are expected to be cleared within the next week.

Basketball poll and WAC players of year

For those interested, you should check out Jason Groves' articles from Salt Lake City pertaining to the WAC basketball polls for Aggie men and women's hoops, as well as the All-WAC team article. Heck, we flew the guy all the way up there for the conference, lets get some hits on his articles.

While I'm at it, look at Felix's column too. Lots of prep action in today's section. Sun-News sports representing, lets get some support going for the department.

Hard to judge team without healthy Holbrook

Honestly, without Chase, this team will not look the same - unless McDermott plays out of his mind. The offense is so reliant on the passing game and Chase is the key piece to that. In football, the quarterback means so much. Again, they might not be a team's best player, but certainly, in most cases, the most valuable.

In the Aggies' case, the team is built around Chase, at least for now. He's the straw that stirs the drink. The other issues surrounding the Aggies have been beaten like a dead horse. But the reality is that most people knew that an injury at QB would be devastating. That is their system. It's hard to judge the team's performance without its most valuable player on the field.

Same goes for any other team. Take their most important piece off the table and things change. Win or lose, hopefully Chase comes back healthy within a matter of weeks. The team will be better with him back in there.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Must win?

I don't think there is a question that Saturday's game is a must-win for the Aggies.

The team needs to bounce back after last week's performance. Just get that taste out of their mouths.

I spoke with McDermott today and I was impressed by his demeanor. Very cool and calm. It seems like he's ready for this. The question is, is he ready for the speed of the game and does he have a grasp of the offense.

I think he knows the system. He and Chris Williams said that they have been working together for weeks now and that J.J. often practices with the first unit. Against Boise, it looked like he was thrown off by the tempo, specifally the rush. Chase does a great job of keeping his eyes downfield and finding the open man. Again, he has a lot of experience while J.J. is green.

The season is not over. The team needs to respond. This is a big week for Aggie football.

Can team win without Chase?

No. Absolutely not. This team needs to score roughly 30 points if they want to have a chance week-in and week-out. This week could be different because La Tech is not good offensively. But the Aggie defense is so bad, I could still see the Bulldogs hanging 20-25 on them. La Tech can run, they just can't pass the ball. But there is no better cure for a poor offense than the NMSU D.

Lets also not forget that a good offense makes a defense better. NMSU's D was on the field far too long the other night because the offense couldn't even get a first down. At least if the offense gets a lead they can make the opposition one dimensional. The offense needs to carry this team. When the defense has to, things come crashing down.

It will be interesting to see the team's philosophy without Chase. J.J. looked lost last week in Boise. And don't underestimate the La Tech defense. I would say run it more, but make no mistake - the running game benefits from the team's ability to pass. With full weaponry on offense, opposing teams need to guard against he air, leaving the ground game wide open. Well, that's not the case anymore.

They should run it more. I don't see any other way around it. But running it more only means so much to Mumme. I bet he still asks J.J. to drop back 30-40 times on Saturday. La Tech will put it up 20-30 times at the most. But that's just not the way NMSU rolls. McDermott will have to make 4-5 big plays in the passing game if the team is to win. Best of luck!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Was the program better before Mumme?

My gut tells me no. Was the program in the WAC before Mumme? No. That makes a big difference. The Sun Belt is not the same.

Now has the program improved at all? That's hard to say. But I think the overall body of talent has. Let's face it, without Holbrook, this team will struggle no matter what. Injuries are injuries, but when you lose the key cog in your offense, you're not going to rebound. I do think Mumme should take blame for not having a credible backup QB. That is a serious problem. And his excuses are tiresome. He said the reason the team couldn't defend play action the other night was because Chris Nwoko was playing hurt. Common man. Chris was not the reason you couldn't defend play action. You just couldn't do it.

But I think the team has legitimate pieces at certain areas. And I have to say, this message board was littered with jubilant fans following the UTEP game. The thing that is bothersome is that it's very hard to judge them without Chase. They just aren't going to win without him. I don't think he's the best player on the team - that honor goes to Chris Williams. But there is no denying that he great, and that he is the most important. And Mumme will play that card as long as his QB's on the pine.

Holbrook will not start this weekend

Mumme said so today. McDermott is getting the nod in his place.

This is horrible news to an already grim week in Aggie football. Not good.

On a side not, a poster put up Pat Forde column that rated NMSU as the biggest disappointment in the WAC. Here it is for those interested. It's not much, he just says they're bad and moves on

Monday, October 8, 2007

Should Mumme go?

I'm not saying that Mumme doesn't deserve heat. His record at NMSU is just plain horrible and the team doesn't look like they are showing major improvement under his watch. One would have thought so, but the last two weeks have been a downer for anyone who follows the team.

I just think that Boston will bring him back unless the team totally goes in the toilet the rest of the way. If that's the case, it will put the AD in a situation where he will have to get rid of him. He (Boston) seems to like Mumme and the direction of the team. Nothing will change that opinion more than a 58-0 thumping on a national stage.

As for Widenhofer, I would not say his coaching has been top notch. The results speak completely otherwise. But he has a track record that dates back. Great players make great coaches. And if you don't have talent, it's hard to look good. It's just a simple fact. He's going to battle with no firepower.

The loss was totally horrible and something everyone wants to forget. In reality, it's one terrible week in a long season. The team will be ultimately judged on how they bounce back. They have to, have to, beat La. Tech. They just have to win. The more losses pile up, the more the pressure will mount and heads will roll.

They weren't supposed to beat Boise, but the way they lost was the worst possible way. They are not even close to a top-tier team in the conference. But they have to beat La. Tech this weekend. If they don't, things will just keep getting worse and worse.


Last night's game was disgraceful. McDermott was in way over his head. How does this team not have a certifiable backup? Chase went down a few times last year. You need a backup QB. NMSU's offense struggled with Holbrook in but without him they were at a complete standstill.

The defense was miserable, but that's nothing new. We all know the D is miserable. That just comes with the territory. The only way this team has a chance is if they score at least 30 points. And they scored zero last night. You do the math.

I actually feel for Widenhofer. The D has limited talent and when they do bring in, say a good DB, he'll get moved to offense in a matter of time. I would be very frustrated if I was an assistant on this coaching staff. There's some good coaches there, but they get dragged down by a half-hazzard approach on and off the field.

I think that Mumme is going to come back next year unless the team absolutely folds the rest of the way. Judging from last night that's not completely out of the question but again, with Chase in, we've seen them play well at times. Mumme could very easily be asked to replace some members of his staff, mostly on the defensive side. But it won't matter who's coaching over there. The team's approach to defense as a whole breeds lackluster play. And offensively.....You need a backup QB who can run the team. Otherwise, you'll just get humiliated on both sides of the ball.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Big plays

Huge 10-yard penalty on NMSU right before Kaufman's punt at the 9:12 mark of the first quarter. The Aggies were forced to re-punt and it was blocked. Kaufman's original punt was very good, Boise got it at their own 30. After the block they got it at the NMSU 30. Four plays later, TD to make it 14-0.

The penalty was a hold on long snapper Dan White.

Friday, October 5, 2007

I think Holbrook is going to play

So I think Holbrook is going to play after all.

I spoke with someone who said that he knew players on the football team and they have told him that Chase will suit up. This person told me that Chase has been practicing this week and that he suffered a chest contusion versus APB. Not sure how asccurate this source was but he appeared to be alright.

I wouldn't be surprised in the least.


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Could Mumme be blowing smoke?

Me and veteran Sun-News writer Steve Ramirez discussed this last night and it makes sense.

Practice has been closed and the coach wants to keep Boise off balance. Why not throw some BS my way and have the Broncos guessing.

Now I'll say that I actually felt like coach Mumme was sincere when he told me the situation facing his team. But any coach wants a competitive advantage and having Boise guessing doesn't sound like a bad plan to me. Chase did look hurt the other night, but he's a warrior and the team wants this game badly. If they start McDermott, the chances of them winning are slim to none.

I just think it's something worth considering.

Reggie rules

This is hilarious. Theus is setting the tone in Sac-Town

Things not looking good for Holbrook

Spoke with Mumme today.

He made it sound like Chase will not be ready to go. He said it was more of a possibility that Chase wouldn't go than if he did. He said that they have spent a lot of time this week working with individual players - J.J. McDermott, Kyle Nelson and Chris Buckner. In other words, it looks like Cleaver, A.J. and Chase will all likely be out.

We already pretty much knew this anyway but it was just further confirmation of the fact.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Reno will be hosting the WAC basketball tournament in 2009-10.

Las Cruces was in the running but lost out. WAC commissioner Karl Benson made the announcement on Wednesday.