Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Walker introduced.....NMSU hoops

DeWayne Walker will be introduced at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.

I am very excited to attend! We will get our first idea of what Walker is all about and what he could possibly bring to the table. My hunch: A very level person, someone who will not be overly flashy. Just a solid coach. Again, this is just his first press conference and much judgment will be reserved for the next nine months and into the season. We shall see. But it's as good a time as any to get things started.


Many thought the search went too long. Maybe an announcement would have been nice a week ago but lets think about the ramifications of rushing.

You pick a coach to aid in the recruiting process, as every day missed hurts. But the more you rush, the more the likelihood exists of making the wrong pick.

McKinley Boston took his time. He targeted who he wanted. And he landed the man he wanted. That wouldn't have been possibly without patience. The negotiation process took some time and ultimately convincing Walker may have taken some time. If he ends up being a good head coach, you won't remember how long the coaching search took three years from now. You'll just be happy.


I will not pile on the men's basketball team.

They lost a tough game to the Lobos, at home, and one that felt like it was their's in the final five minutes. But we move on.

Now, we look to WAC play. Folks, the WAC is unimpressive this year. If the Aggies don't finish top-4 in this conference, it will be considered a major disappointment. I feel like that is even being more lenient than what some others would say. Heck, some others might say top-3 or top-2. But I'm realistic.

This is a team that won a legitimate WAC title two years ago. A team that really, arguably, could have won the WAC last year - but didn't.

Just finish top-4. In a weak conference. I think they should.

Monday, December 29, 2008

DeWayne Walker

I just bumped into DeWayne Walker at Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces.

He gave me his cell phone number and told me to call him tomorrow. I asked if he was taking the NMSU coaching job and he just laughed, walked away, and said "I'll talk to you tomorrow."

They're supposed to announce the hire Tuesday morning. Nobody will go on the record with it. I thought I would try to hunt down DeWayne. I did, but he didn't have much to say. At this point, it seems like a foregone conclusion that he will be the next coach at NMSU. I think most of us have known that for some time.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

UNM hoops game

The Lobos are coming to town on Tuesday.

I do think, for Menzies and the Aggies, this could borderline on a must-win game.

I know, people are saying, 'how can it be a must win, it's only December/January, conference hasn't even started?' But you gotta hear it out.

First off, I don't think the fan base is crazy about Menzies right now. It's a fickle business, and people want a win. They want to see the Aggies take their rival by the throat, at home.

If the Aggies handle the Lobos the way they handled UTEP at the Pan Am earlier this year? Passing grade, with flying colors. If they win in a knock down, drag out affair? That's 2-2 against their rivals this year, and the natives are satisfied. A rebuilding year of sorts, in the coach's words and actions no less, and we'll take a 2-2 record. A loss? At home? To a UNM team that is beatable? Some more complaints start rolling in, some more questions are asked and some more confidence from the fan base erodes.


It would be nice to see some fans at the game. Anything less than 8,000 will be very disappointing. Anything at 10,000 or higher would qualify as a success.

I know the numbers might seem a little unrealistic, depending upon your viewpoint, but I think, for a rivalry game on a Tuesday night, a good crowd like this is a requirement in a college town.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Supporting Walker, or any other coach for that matter

It's been a mixed bag for DeWayne Walker, who is believed to be the next coach of the Aggie football team, if all things work out the next couple of days.

I would say that the skepticism over the move compared to the support for Walker is about 60/40, at least it seems that way on the blog.

All I know is that this is a huge hire for NMSU. The football program has been down for so long and many in the fan base do not think that it will ever turn around.

The job is a big challenge. And I feel like the first year will be a major transitional season, no matter who's patrolling the sidelines in 2009. The team wasn't that great to begin with, and many of the good players - Chris Williams, AJ Harris, Chase Holbrook - are gone. The team will have to rebuild a bit, and they would whether a new coach came on board or if it was still Hal Mumme.

But I believe that Walker is a good coach. And if he gets the job, I think he is as good as anyone NMSU could have picked up this offseason.

Whoever it may be - and again, all signs point to Walker at this point - just give him a chance. We know it's going to be tough. But its about inspiring athletes to play solid football and bringing in the talent that can compete with the WAC. It's a new era for NMSU football. Some fans will be skeptical no matter what. But lets try to put a positive spin on this situation. At least for now, you have to have hope.

Walker coming to campus on Monday

A report out of the L.A. Daily News on Friday night/Saturday morning stated that DeWayne Walker will be in Las Cruces on Monday and will take a tour of the NMSU campus. It's believed that Walker is the lead candidate to fill the Aggie football coaching position.

It seemed like Walker was the man for the job when this search got underway to begin with. The real unknown was if he was willing to coach the Aggies. But, it would seem, that he is. And that's a good thing.

The school will make an offer to Walker. If he likes it, the job is his. Take it or leave it. I think he will.....Take it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Walker, Schultz

On that football search.

Walker and Schultz are two finalists. Who's the third? Not sure. But we got two and it comes as no surprise. Maybe even too obvious. I have faith that Walker would be a fine hire. I'm not as confident in Schultz but I hear good things. But what else is out there?

There must be something. The third coach remains a mystery. My true and honest gut feeling today was that it's Walker's or Schultz's job, whoever accepts or whoever backs out. But these searches can change quickly. Walker seems to be the favorite. He almost got hired at San Diego State, could have been hired at UCLA and seems to be someone who will eventually be hired somewhere.

Schultz comes from a great program and has been in the business for some time. He's also familiar with the area. He has ties to New Mexico and El Paso. TCU is a very balanced team. But he has been around that winning culture for some time and hopefully could bring some of it to an Aggie program thirsting for it.

I just want this to come to the forefront soon. I'm tired of waiting for it. Lets see who the next coach is going to be.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A little concerned about this one

Lets look at some of the comments made by Marvin Menzies leading up to and following the Aggies' loss to the Lobos on Tuesday night.

Before the game:
On being 0-5 on the road
"I don't think it's a huge deal.....Wins are difficult on the road without a lot of experience and it takes time for kids to grow up and learn from those experiences."

On the UTEP loss
"We were distracted as young kids do and hopefully that lesson will lead us to be more in tune with what we need to do."

On the importance of the game. Note: UNM senior Chad Toppert called the game a must win.
"It's obviously a game you want to win because it means a lot more to the community than beating somebody like Prairie View or Sacramento State. You just hope through preparation and the game plan that you can go in and give a great effort."

Following the UNM game
"You don't want to make excuses but (UNM has) experienced kids that played their role and they did a very good job tonight."

"Seniors make shots and shooters make shots and that's what (UNM) did."

"It's one of those games where you wish you could have a few more possessions back where we really executed badly. We've got to get back to the comforts of home and hopefully we can put out a better product next time."

What are these?

Personally, I am tired of hearing about youth. I know, the team is young. We knew that the first day of practice when Menzies announced it to the world. Do I expect them to go out and win every game? No. Can we have some accountability? That would be nice, yes. Come out and say how important the Lobo game is for your team. Come out and call out a player or two for not hustling to grab a rebound.

When asked about the team being 0-5 on the road (now 0-6 by the way), say that you take the court every time to win the game. No, losing on the road is not acceptable.

Instead, it comes off like it's not a big deal. He said it wasn't a big deal! You say it, your team will play like it. Simple as that.

I feel like Marvin has recruited pretty well to this program. The team is young. We understand it. But it's like Mumme with the injuries. We understand the circumstances, but it isn't a crutch. Don't use it as a crutch. You play to win the game. And losing should not be acceptable.

Monday, December 22, 2008

3 candidates

Who do you think they are?

I would have to think that DeWayne Walker is in the mix. I brought up Walker's name on the phone to McKinley Boston....Silence on the other end. Who knows.

Walker would be a strong candidate, but is this job below him? I don't mean that in a negative way, but seriously. This guy will be a head coach one day. Does he want to start at NMSU with a mediocre salary? I'm not ruling it out, either. Some guys simply want to be head coaches very, very badly. And if he wants it bad enough, he'll take this job. Why not? It's D-I football in a solid mid-major conference. At the end of the day, it comes down to someone's priorities at a particular stage of their career.

Schultz could be in the mix. Luper. Norwood. Kibry Wilson. These names are ridiculous. What about the internal candidates? I got the impression that they are not being considered right now. Again, that's just my sense. Nothing's official with them.

I'm excited but I also want this hire to work out for the program. It will be depressing if the new coach falls on his face. He needs to be given a chance. In my opinion, this team's talent level will be gutted and a makeover will be necessary. But we will see signs early on if the program is moving in the right direction.

First things first though. The hire has to be made.

Hoops at UNM

The Aggie men's basketball team needs to win away from Las Cruces.

Enough of this talk about a young team looking to get better night in and night out. Those facts may be true, very easily so. Regardless, playing well away from your building is important. That's the next step for this team. I will continue to say that the team has been a pleasant surprise. I would give the NMSU hoops team a B grade at this point in the year. They need to keep going in the right direction. A solid road effort at UNM will play to that point.

Uphill battle

When I look at the NMSU football team, I wonder about the coaches that have come and gone, the new one coming in, and what holds the program back.

Do you really think all the coaches in the last 40 to 50 years to grace the Aggie sideline have been bad? Highly unlikely. Can the program win? I would think so, but it hasn't in some time and who knows when it will turn the corner.

Aggie Glare brought forth a good point a couple posts ago. In essence, even if Boston makes a great choice on a new head man, the odds will be stacked against the coach. History indicates this. It will be an uphill battle not only winning here but also turning around a losing culture and a losing tradition that engulfs the team.

NMSU football has some benefits for a new coach who's looking to take over a program. The facilities have been upgraded and there's more to come. The current administration has a vested interest in winning. The WAC is a solid football conference. But there are drawbacks to, possibly the biggest being the fact that the program has been a coaching graveyard for years. No one wants to go to a new situation where they feel like they can't succeed. And there is some of that going on here.

I've said it time and again, the Aggies need to find a special coach to turn things around. Even if they find a special one, there's no guarantee they will be able to do the job.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Spoke with Boston

I spoke with McKinley Boston tonight.

He said that he was encouraged by the interviews and that he felt NMSU had a "fantastic list of candidates."

It jumps out the number of minority candidates there are. Who am I intrigued by?

I've been a big fan of DeWayne Walker throughout the process. I think, though, that he could turn down the job if it's offered. It seems like he can get a coaching job at a bunch of places and might want to remain patient. I would think that he would have to be one of the favorites.

Schultz is getting some positive feedback as well. He's coached at a great program in TCU and understands the region. It seems like he could be ready to take over a team.

One sleeper to me is Curtis Luper. Oklahoma State's offense was high octane this past year and he was an offensive assistant. Just intriguing to me.

I don't really know what to expect from any of these candidates to be perfectly honest. It seems like we're going to get a first-year head coach here and see if he can grow with the program. But I do have a feeling in my gut that the right call is going to be made. That's just a feeling.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NMSU football opening

I spoke with McKinley Boston tonight.

He said that the neither Terry nor Tommy Bowden are candidates to fill the coaching vacancy at NMSU. Both names caused quite a stir and Terry's “no comment” remarks to questions further fueled speculation that he might be interested in the job. Not so, said Boston.

Mike Schultz will be interviewed for the head job. He is currently the offensive coordinator at Texas Christian. Here's the link to Felix's story....

Schultz coaches for a great program in TCU. I still like DeWayne Walker too. Walker still seems to be in the running. He didn't get the nod at San Diego State. I tried calling Walker today at UCLA and the secretary said that he “wasn't in.” In any event, it would be nice getting some comment on him regarding the job.

I still think the Aggies should go with a defensive mind. They're going to lose a lot of offensive players anyway with the departure of Mumme and will have to start from scratch in a lot of respects with a new coach coming in. I'm excited to see who it is but I also know that taking over the NMSU football program is no easy task. It will present its challenges for whoever comes in. They'll have to be the right man for the job.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Menzies, Theus

Reggie Theus was fired and Marvin Menzies' stock seems to be on the rise. Wow, things sure can change in a year.

First off, on the Theus firing. The Kings are awful. They will be no better without him. He did a good job getting them 30-something wins last season. I think his ego got in the way a little bit and rubbed some people the wrong way. But they are not a good NBA team. And he will get himself a new job in the near future, whether it be as an assistant in the NBA or a head gig in the college game. I cannot see him returning immediately as an NBA head coach and I don't know if he'll get a primetime college gig right now either. He might have to settle for another NMSU - a mid-major program looking to get a big name hire. We'll see.

As for Menzies, we have to give him some credit here. His team is improving. I don't want to go hog wild just because they beat an overrated UTEP team here on Saturday. If they didn't win that game after the display by the Miners, it would have been discouraging. They go down there this Saturday and that will be another huge test. As will the games vs. the Lobos and conference play. So far though, Menzies seems to be earning the admiration of the fans.

Lets go through some of the players he has brought in since he came on board. Wendell McKines is playing great basketball. The two centers, the jury is still out. They're both 7 feet and hopefully can develop there games in the coming years. Hernst Laroche has been steady. Gillenwater seems to have talent.

Jahmar Young and Jonathan Gibson, the team's two go-to scorers, are not Menzies guys. Still, he has guided Jahmar through up and down times in the young player's college career. I think he gets frustrated with Jonathan's play here and there. Jonathan is a tantalizing player, who can make you yell, shake your head and cheer, all in the same play. He's wild.

The bottom line is that Menzies' stock is on the rise. While it is positive thus far, I would guard against getting too ahead of ourselves. It was one win over a rival. Lets hold all reservations until after the Lobo games. We gotta see how things unravel over the long haul.

As for Theus, again, the Kings are terrible. He didn't do a poor job in Sacramento. One thing for certain is that NBA teams love firing coaches.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Win over UTEP

There were a few things that stood out to me in regard to the NMSU win over UTEP on Saturday.

For one, the Aggies hammered the Miners. UTEP jumped out to a 9-4 lead, and that was about all it got. NMSU took control, went on a 15-3 run and didn't look back.

The Miners never made a run. They fell behind and I kept waiting for them to make a push. With about 10 minutes remaining I began writing my story. The game was over. At that point it was apparent they wouldn't come back.

While I thought the Aggies played a good game, I also thought the Miners were awful. Their offense was unwatchable at times. Some of it was due to the zone the Aggies played but UTEP was sluggish. NMSU just ran by 'em.

It was a good win for the Aggies. They needed this one more than they led on. I didn't know what to expect as far as the outcome was concerned but I knew I would learn a lot about NMSU. I learned that they have some talent and that they can play a good game on their homecourt against their rival. Saturday is going to be another huge test. A sweep over the Miners would send a message to the region.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

NMSU men's hoops

Sunday will be a good test for the Aggie basketball team.

I felt like the team has had two legitimate tests all year. At Long Beach and at North Texas. Both games, they lost in the closing seconds.

Sunday's contest will be against their rivals and UTEP could have a slightly better team. Still, not by much, and NMSU gets them at the Pan American Center. I expect to see a competitive game and if the Aggies can win, it would be a nice feather in their cap.

What does NMSU need? Strong performances from its starting five, particularly Jonathan Gibson, Jahmar Young, Troy Gillenwater and Wendell McKines. These four consistently carry the team and they will have to be at it again.

We know what we're going to get out of Wendell. Probably a double-double and a workman-like performance no matter what. Jahmar too. He's been a money scorer for the Aggies and I expect him to rise to the occasion once again against the Miners. He seems to like the spotlight.

Troy has been solid. We will learn more about him on Sunday. As for Jonathan, he's the wild card. He can be a very effective player, but sometimes he gets carried away. He will take some crazy shots - early in the shot clock, no real regard for anything else on the court. When they go in, it's great. When they don't, it's incredibly frustrating. He needs to hit them Sunday.

I am looking forward to the game a lot. It will be a good test for the team and its a rivalry match. Doesn't get much better.

Friday, December 12, 2008

DeWayne Walker and the other candidates

The names of coaches out there that have an opportunity to be the next coach of the Aggies, I feel like their is more than what meets the eye.

What I'm saying is that there are other names that have not been brought to the forefront. I would not believe that the names you have heard are the only ones in the equation. There are more.

Some are certainly viable. I think Kirby Wilson and Jay Norvell are possibilities. DeWayne Walker? I like Walker a lot. In fact, I think he's more likely to land at a better program than NMSU. He could have been UCLA's coach before Neuheisel grabbed it. I don't see him ending up on the Aggie sidelines.

I also think McKinley Boston is farther along in the process than he is leading on. I believe they have narrowed a list down and are either close to second interviews or are already conducting them. Don't be shocked to see a surprise or two as this thing comes down the wire.

I believe Johnson is legitimately in the mix

So, I had a conversation last night with someone about the NMSU football search.

And we were talking about Charley Johnson. Prior to this conversation, I didn't think NMSU could conceivably hire Johnson as the next head coach. After the talk, it made perfect sense.

First off, I remain with the belief that the Aggies are going to go outside the program. It seems like that's McKinley Boston by nature. But what if they elect not to?

Johnson seems like someone who the program would consider turning too. First off, he's a figure that could generate money for the cause. People respect and admire Charley in the community.

Second, is that the team already has two coaches in place that they could plug in. That is, Joe Lee Dunn as defensive coordinator and Earnest Wilson as offensive coordinator. Bingo! This would be a major money saving move as well.

And lastly, Charley seems to be on the same page as just about everybody on the search committee. And that doesn't hurt either.

I, for one, would not want NMSU to go down this route. But it's not too far-fetched of an idea. One which I thought was not too long ago.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can the school ever be a winner?; Hoops at home for Saramento

Many ask the question: Can the NMSU football program ever become a winner?

I think it's difficult. The track record is not favorable. The years have been frustrating. I've heard some say that the ceiling is a six or seven win season once in a blue moon. Other than that, you'll tread water with three or four W's.

Judging from the last 40 to 50 years, history suggests that NMSU cannot compete. I actually disagree. The fan base is down, but Las Cruces is the type of town where people will show up if the team gets some wins. I think of the last home game against Louisiana Tech last year. There were promotions for ticket sales and the team needed a good showing to hit attendance bench marks. But still, people came. And the game meant nothing for the Aggies, with the exception of pride and the role of spoiler. If the community got a team that won football games, 20,000 fans would show up to a game, I have not doubt.

The other question is talent. Can you recruit to NMSU. Mumme recruited to his offense. Obviously, he didn't recruit to his defense. But the best tool for recruiting? It's winning. The team hasn't done a whole lot of that lately, but that's really what it comes down to. Kids will go to a winning team. It solves a lot of problems.

I don't know how talented this current team is. The new coach is going to have to come in with the cupboard somewhat bare. That's the key. Can you win in your first few years when the team has low talent level? If you can hover around .500, show some spunk, win 5, 6, 7 games in your first few years, you can get kids to come. I think facilities, scoreboards, super locker rooms, there nice luxuries but they can also be overrated. The best luxury is success in between the lines. That's what the program needs. A coach that gets the players to believe and wins football games. It doesn't have to be pretty. It doesn't have to make the highlight reels at first. It just needs to be successful. They need a special person in charge.


The NMSU basketball team hosts Sacramento State tonight. This is an awful game.

I don't like games where you go, watch a team and learn nothing. The only way we will learn something about the Aggies tonight is if they struggle against the Hornets. We will learn that they are in trouble.

They should pummel Sacramento with little or no trouble. But Sunday's game? That I'm excited for. Hosting UTEP. That should tell us a lot about the NMSU hoops team. I still can't get a reading on this team. But if they can beat the Miners, I will be feeling good about what's going on. I think most people would.....

DeWayne Walker and SDSU

DeWayne Walker is in the running for the head coaching job at San Diego State. Walker interviewed for the NMSU job and seemed to be a strong candidate. Either way, it's not a matter of if, simply when for Walker in terms of being a head coach on the collegiate level. Here's the story from the L.A. Times.....,0,803585.story

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Minority candidate; Fanoga going to Wyoming

By looking at the list of possibilities for the head football coaching job at NMSU, it appears as if the school is leaning toward hiring a minority candidate.

This is something that I see as a major positive for the program. There are not enough black head coaches in college football, check that, in all of sports actually. The reality is that many are just as qualified, if not more so than there counterparts and are fabulous coaches/recruiters in the college game.

It will also differentiate NMSU from its competitors. If the Aggies do hire a minority, the UNM versus NMSU game next season would get some national pub. Two black head coaches on opposite sidelines? It hasn't happened very much.

We'll see what happens when it's all said and done but, as of now, my gut tells me the Aggies will go in this direction.


The loss of Mike Fanoga will be felt, to a degree.

Mike was a pipeline to Hawaii players, something that does have value in today's college game. One could argue that many of NMSU's Polynesian players didn't make much of an impact anyway. La'Auli Fonoti, Sioeli Fakalata and Raymond Manumaleuna all looked like real-deal football players, but were all inconsistent during their NMSU careers.

Regardless, grabbing players from the Central Pacific is a nice luxury and Fanoga did just that. He was always a Hal guy — he coached with Mumme throughout their coaching odyssey. But he will go to Wyoming and bring in some players to that program. The Polynesian players at NMSU always had great respect and admiration for Mike.

Mike Fanoga

NMSU defensive line coach Mike Fanoga is headed to Wyoming.

Felix wrote a column about the coaching search as well. Here's both of the stories....

A couple new names to consider

Felix got word that former Auburn coach Terry Bowden along with former Oklahoma State coach Bob Simmons are on NMSU's radar.

Neither have been contacted by NMSU for an interview but both are intriguing names with head coaching experience.

On a side note, apparently DeWayne Walker is getting serious consideration for the San Diego State coaching job. He looks to be a hot commodity.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mike Locksley

The University of New Mexico hired Mike Locksley as its new head football coach.

The school seems to have found an exiting, innovative coach. Locksley comes equipped as a great recruiter and a fine offensive mind. UNM needed both. The Lobos talked about wanting to find a new leader with a strong presence on the offensive side of the ball and it seems like Locksley fits the bill.

I just wonder about the expectations on UNM football. Will Locksley do more with the program than Rocky Long did? I know many would prefer to differ on this one, but I always thought that Long's Lobo teams played the game the right way and, for the most part, overachieved. He took the program to a number of bowl games and the team was always well prepared and solid defensively. Even this year, in a transitional season and with their starting quarterback hurt, the Lobos battled and competed more often than not.

Now Locksley comes in with the expectations that he can do more. One of the knocks on Long was that while he got average talent to over-perform, he struggled bringing elite talent in Albuquerque. Locksley comes with the reputation that he can in fact bring in some standout ball players into Lobo land. Will he be able to take the program to the next level? Easier said than done.

Will a good coach leave?

Something that's very tough to swallow is that a good coach that has any type of success at NMSU would probably leave in a matter of years anyway.

Someone mentioned this about DeWayne Walker - how if he were to be hired, he would probably leave after a couple solid seasons for greener pastures.

I'm not trying to single Walker out and say this to be true or not, it's just a fact of life in the world of sports. If Mumme took NMSU to a bowl game or two, I'm sure he would have entertained some offers.

The reality is that if NMSU hires an up-and-comer in the business, more likely than not, the Aggies are a stepping-stone program for them.

This is one of the hurdles, I'm sure, of hiring at a school like NMSU, i.e. a mid-major program, searching for an identity on the football field. If a coach is successful, chances are high he or she will leave. If a coach doesn't get wins, like Mumme, you're forced to get rid of them.

I don't want to put the cart before the horse on this one. Forget a good coach leaving, the Aggies need to find a good coach for one, and then two, have that good coach turn the team into a winner. But it would really be terrific if they could find that good coach and have him not only be a good coach here, but stay here to. Maybe it will happen. It just seems unlikely.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

LaVorick Williams

Someone on the blog posted that NMSU wide receiver LaVorick Williams was looking to possibly transfer. We did some digging today and here's what we came up with.....

Williams was just a freshman last year but saw a decent amount of snaps and showed flashes of being a difference maker. If he does leave, I think it would be a big loss. I was looking forward to seeing him play in the future.

Again, nothing is guaranteed at this point and it appears that he wants to see who the next coach is before he jumps to any conclusions. Still, something to keep an eye on as the coaching saga unfolds.

Friday, December 5, 2008

New football name to look out for; volleyball team; NMSU hoops

So Jay Norvell's name has surfaced as a candidate for the NMSU coaching position. Don't know how seriously to take this or not but it is someone to keep an eye on. Norvell is currently an offensive assistant coach at Oklahoma, a team which had a potent offense this past season.


The Aggie volleyball team advanced past the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night. This really is a great story. People talk about wanting successful Aggie teams. This is a successful Aggie team! I know, it doesn't have the luster of a football or a basketball. But we're talking about a top 25 program that is playing for something big. I'll be the first to admit it, I don't see the volleyball team winning an NCAA title but if they win on Saturday, they are in the Sweet 16. That is incredible to me.

Mike Jordan's club was 0-4 in the NCAA Tournament lifetime going into Friday's match. They got the monkey off their back though. The team's a winner.


Basketball team is in Denton Saturday night to face North Texas. I know it's early but I think this is a big game for Aggie hoops.

Hear me out on this one. They played well in Long Beach, but lost. They were beaten soundly by Kansas, although we won't say they played that bad in Lawrence. Kansas is Kansas and NMSU made it a game for about 30 minutes or so.

But they stand at 2-3. They're 0-2 on the road trip. A win over the Mean Green will get them back to .500 and give them a 1-2 mark on the trip. That is acceptable to me. 0-3 on the trip though? Not so much. They gotta win one away from their building. They were close against Long Beach, but they still fell short.

The Aggies have shown some spunk to me on the basketball court early in the season. If they win Saturday, I remain optimistic. If they lose, I'll be a little down. It's hard to get a reading on this team out of the gate. Every time they take the court, we learn a little bit more. A win on Saturday would be a positive.


Disappointing news

Tried calling the USC football office this morning for Norton without any luck. Here's an article from the L.A. Daily News saying that he's not interested in the position, according to sources.....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Does having a coordinator hurt a new coach?

My question is simple: Does having a defensive coordinator in place, in this case being Joe Lee Dunn, effect the hiring process in trying to bring in a new coach?

I suppose a new coach could just get rid of an assistant or two and bring in his own guy if he didn't want them there. But at the same time, Dunn is under contract and the NMSU brass would rather have him here than pay him for doing virtually nothing.

Dunn is going to be on the road this weekend recruiting so he is going about the situation business as usual. I think most coaches want their own staff in place and don't want to inherit anybody. Particularly if that coach is a Norton Jr. or a Walker, i.e. defensive guys who want to carve their own path. They would be more likely to bring in their own defensive coordinator than rely on Dunn.

Dunn did a good job last season without much help. Him and his staff coming on board was one of the few bright spots for the team. When NMSU brought him in last year I thought of this dilemma. ‘This guys is coming here because of Mumme. What if Mumme loses his job next year. That would suck for Dunn.’ Well, we're here. Joe Lee is in place for now. We'll see next month if he's still around or out.

As for Earnest Wilson, I think his standing is a bit more secure. For one, he was the recruiting coordinator and understands the kids in the program as well as the fabric of the community. He was also on the offensive side and I would think an offensive coach, in this case, would be easier to hold onto than a defensive one. McKinley Boston indicated that he wanted to keep some sort of continuity on offense, at least systematically speaking. Wilson is familiar with what the Aggies were doing. And, he was a good coach and a good man.

Lets hope it works out for both of these coaches, whatever might happen. They deserve it.

Here's the link...

Norton Jr., Walker, Ted Gilmore

A source close to the NMSU football program told Felix that Ken Norton Jr. and DeWayne Walker have interviewed for the head coaching position at NMSU.

The source also said that Nebraska receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Ted Gilmore was in the mix for the position as well. Kirby Wilson is still out there also.

I can't help but get excited about Norton's name. First off, he's not a retread and he also brings a certain "star" quality to the table that would create a buzz.

Walker seems like a very solid candidate. He was in the mix for the UCLA job last year.

Interesting enough, both guys are defensive coaches. McKinley Boston indicated that he would prefer an offensive mind to lead the team. For me, I already said that I could care less who's in charge. Just make sure he's a good coach that can inspire and get things moving forward.

There are other candidates out there too who's names haven't surfaced at this point. But I'm excited by this group. I know the fans want Norton in there. He brings the firepower and name recognition. I think Walker and Wilson are also solid coaches. Joe Lee Dunn and Earnest Wilson, I believe they could do the job. But I believe Boston is going to go outside the program. He's looking for fresh blood and to make a splash. Very interesting......

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wilson, Norton

Kirby Wilson was a finalist for the job when Mumme got hired in the first place. People can criticize NFL retreads but I think a coach can coach. Lets not compare the Widenhofer situation to this one, Woody was playing with half a deck when he was the D-coordinator at NMSU.

As for Ken Norton Jr., I called the USC football offices today and left a message on his voicemail. If Ken Norton Jr. is hired as the next coach of the Aggies, it would be awesome. I just think of him using the goal post as a punching bag after he scored a TD.

Either way, I think both of these coaches will be seriously considered. Which I find exciting.

What does NMSU need?

I do not think the Aggies need a coach with similar offensive philosophies as Hal Mumme, something that seems to be a priority for the search committee at NMSU.

The concern is that a change in system would lead to another rebuilding situation within the program, something the school or the team needs at this point. And I do not dispute that claim at all.

I just think that you win football games with a priority on the defensive side of the ball and being an effective rushing team. This isn't the prettiest football and it does not work in all cases. It's not as glamourous as the spread offense, either. But it seems to be a good formula.

Louisiana Tech and San Jose State rely on it and they're both good teams in the WAC. Fresno plays a run-first, muck-it-up style. Nevada keeps it on the ground. Even Boise, with all their bells and whistles, play off their ground game - and who wouldn't with Ian Johnson and Jeremy Avery?

One reason I liked the spread and Mumme's system is that it made the Aggies unique in a sense. It also didn't win many games. We'll see what the new coach believes in and where his priorities are. Lets just hope he has an eye on the defensive side of the ball, special teams and doesn't abandon the ground game. You need these elements to win.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How big of a hire is this for McKinley Boston

NMSU Athletics Director McKinley Boston has taken some heat in recent months for his handling of the Hal Mumme situation.

Granted, Mumme's status in his final weeks at NMSU was tenuous at best and it was obvious he was a lame duck coach for the stretch run of the team's schedule.

A good deal of the burden fell on Boston, as it should. He is the AD of the school and hired Mumme to be the face of the football program. This is a bottom line and pressure packed business and pressure is felt on everyone when the standards of the fan base and community are not met.

Lets look at some of the things Boston has done in his tenure at NMSU, which started four years ago:

- He hired Mumme
- He hired Reggie Theus
- He hired Marvin Menzies
- He oversaw massive expansion of facilities on the NMSU campus.
- He brought in a handful of WAC tournaments, including the basketball tournament the last two years. The Aggies went to the NCAA tourney one of those seasons and went to the tournament finals the other.
- He has been the guiding hand as the school has transitioned to the WAC

These are just some of his accomplishments and I'm sure I'm leaving out some as well. The bottom line is that the Mumme situation did not work out. Hal didn't win enough games and alienated the community in the process.

Theus was gold but then he bolted. I was very hard on Menzies upon the coach's arrival at the school last year but have been pleased with what I've seen/heard about regarding the hoops team this season. Still, I believe the jury is still out on Marvin as the year is young.

Can't fault Boston for the expansion of the facilities, nor the oversight of the WAC tournaments.

And while Mumme didn't work out, not everyone is perfect. Boston said today during the press conference announcing the coach's dismissal that hiring coaches, recruiting players and winning ballgames is not an exact science. Sometimes, these things don't work out.

I would have to say that Boston will need to hire a good football coach because Las Cruces needs a winner on the field. It's time for the bowl drought/laughing stock program talk comes to an end, or at least subsides. As for his job, of course he needs to find a good coach to relieve some of the pressure. He wouldn't be the AD at a Division-I school if that weren't the case. But the coach will get some years to pan out. Keep an eye on the hoops team under Menzies. He's truly Boston's guy and the program seems to be off on the right foot early on this year. If they do flounder and the football team does not turn it around, the complaints about the AD become increasingly legitimate. Until then, give it a chance and let things unfold in a timely manner.

Monday, December 1, 2008

It might as well be official

New Mexico State will hold a press conference on Tuesday morning announcing the dismissal of head coach Hal Mumme from the football program.

Anyone who sees this as a surprise needs to see a doctor. This has been speculated to the point of no return and really was just a question of not if, but when.

NMSU will now conduct a coaching search, where a replacement will be found. What does the program need in order to rebound?

A coach who will instill toughness is one thing. Honestly, a lot of games the Aggies played under Mumme, it seemed like the team was close to getting over the hump. Critical mistakes at crucial junctures of games often undid the Aggies. The team seemed to be mentally weak a lot of times and finding a coach who will make them a tough-nosed football team would be a good start.

Unfortunately, Mumme's system on offense was very specific and required certain players to fit his particular mold. It's tough to really know what the team had talent-wise and what was done with smoke and mirrors. The receiver position was horribly over recruited, for instance, while the defensive backfield was often a patchwork operation on a week to week basis. Same with offensive and defensive line. The offensive line shuffled people in and out of the lineup on a weekly basis while the D-line was forced to pick up the scraps left behind. There was talent on the team but how it was distributed left much to be debated. Who knows how a new coach would handle such a dilemma.

One thing I can confidently say is that a new coach means building a new program. It's not such an easy solution as, say, fire a coach, hire a new one, and watch the wins pile up. The reality is that NMSU has been trying to find the right formula for success for some time now. The hope is that a new coach is brought in with tremendous leadership skills, can inspire, motivate and, ultimately, change the losing culture surrounding the team. It is not an easy task what-so-ever. But it is not impossible either.

Utah State

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by the Aggies season finale at Utah State, but I was.

The team lost 47-2. I would almost them rather not have gotten the safety because that score is so ridiculous. I mean, it just looks like they packed it in. It's for reasons like this that coaches lose their jobs. I cannot believe NMSU lost at both Idaho and Utah State this year. For a team that was playing for their coach's future, that final score is all you need to know.

Mumme's postgame rant on the radio about nobody being on campus throughout the Thanksgiving week and his players hearing about all this stuff regarding his future as being distracting was just as bad. Where is the accountability? I would rather have a coach come out and say that the team was terrible and put the blame on his shoulders. There was none of that. Just excuses. He's not that kind of guy, I get it, but it doesn't look good when you get beat 47-2, immediately go on the radio, and don't shoulder responsibility. You gotta do that as the leader of the football team.

I don't think the situation at NMSU has been handled well this season. Everyone knew that Mumme was a lame duck coach and it played out for the second half of the season all the way until now. It was truly a soap opera surrounding the NMSU football team this year during conference play. I do feel for the players. They have absolutely no control over the Mumme situation but the team was effected by the events. How could they not be? Again, they lost to Utah State 47-2. Talk about a depressing way to go out.

So, where does the program go from here. I really believe Hal will be gone, but the events have dragged out for so long, I'm beginning to be skeptical. I think an announcement will be made sometime this week, as early as Monday. They will search for a new coach and eventually hire one. Will the change be better off? I do think it's time for Mumme to go, but a new coach won't miraculously turn the team around overnight. There is still a lot of building to be done.

Mumme was very loose, very laid back coach. I think the best fit will be someone who is tough, someone who will lay down ground rules and hold people accountable. The team has been soft in recent years, from the pass-happy offense to the flimsy defense. Toughness needs to be instilled. It's still hard to rap your arms around with NMSU under Mumme. They almost beat Louisiana Tech in LC, then they go out and lose to Utah State. Again, they lost 47-2. It's inconsistency like that that will drive you mad.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday's game

How many times have we seen the Aggies lose games like the one on Saturday versus Louisiana Tech? Chase Holbrook called it exhausting and I would have to agree.

Chase and Chris Williams both stood up at the end of Saturday's game and were upset over the loss. It was another tough one in their careers, one's which have seen many.

I think that's what's tough about this team under Mumme. They have had many games where they were right there in the fourth quarter and ended up losing. It makes it tough to quantify. Are they a team that is far away from any real success or are they on the doorstep and just waiting to get over the hump? It seems like it is something we have asked for the past two seasons.

I can think of two games off the top of my head where they made the key plays down the stretch to win. Hosting UTEP last season and at Nevada this year. There have been at least nine in the past three years where they were right there in the fourth quarter and things did not work out for them. Is that the sign of an unlucky team, a bad team or one that is simply mentally weak? I think they are a team with talent but that they have mental breakdowns late. So, in my opinion, they are mentally weak.

They went up three on Saturday with just under 11:00 left in the contest. How many people thought they would lose? I thought they could win, but I braced myself for a loss. And when La. Tech hit that big pass play down the sideline for the go-ahead TD, I wasn't surprised. We have all seen it before. The team remains a tease.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Mumme saga continues

I want to address this Hal Mumme coaching situation.

Numerous media outlets have reported a contract buyout. OK, great, fine. There has been false report after false report regarding his immediate future with the program for the last four weeks. The other day was that he was going to be fired on Thursday. Well, it's Thursday and he's still here so that was an apparent air ball.

I'm not saying there isn't a buyout in place. There very well could be. I just got off the phone with Mumme's lawyer and he said that he has had no deal with the university. Is he telling the truth? Maybe, maybe not, but he's a better source than some anonymous face who is shooting from the hip.

The bottom line and the only thing I am close to 100 percent certain about is that Mumme will not return next year. There has been too much chatter, too many rumblings, too many unhappy fans for him to come back and coach the team. This is taking a toll on the athletics department as well, believe me. He will coach against La. Tech and after that, he may coach the last game, he may not. The one thing that appears almost certain is that he will not be back next season.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

NMSU notes....Football, hoops, volleyball

At the outset of the year I expected the Aggie football team to have an explosive offense.

That has not been the case in recent weeks. Last Saturday against Fresno State was another example of how the team has failed to move the ball.

One touchdown came on a kick return by Chris Williams, the other stemmed from a bad Fresno State punt that gave NMSU the ball deep in FS territory.

What happened here? Above all else, there was a time NMSU could move the ball at ease. This season it just hasn't been the case. The offensive line has had health trouble but I don't want to put it all on that. It seems that Holbrook has regressed since the start of the year and hasn't had as much time to throw simply because the line has had some leaks. The team's rushing attack has been non-existent. Last week the Aggies rushed for -9 yards in the second half against the Bulldogs. That is atrocious. And the team seems to settle in the short passing game as opposed to going up top and trying for big gains through the air. In any case, NMSU just hasn't moved the ball.

This is particularly unfortunate because the defense is improved. Joe Lee Dunn has gotten the most out of his limited resources.


I went to the first half of the NMSU men's basketball game against UC Riverside the other day and a few things stood out.

First off was after the national anthem and the paltry number of fans in attendance. But I move on quickly from that one.

Secondly was that it appeared like NMSU had talent on the basketball court. Jahmar Young stood out to me the most simply because of his ability to score the basketball. Jahmar can hurt teams in a number of ways - his jumper was on and he has a quick release, he scored in transition and in the halfcourt, he created his own shot and he was able to draw contact and get to the line. He also hit his free throws - 4 of 4 from the stripe. Jahmar will be up and down this year, he is a streaky scorer. But he will not stop shooting the ball, even on nights where he might not necessarily be on his "A-game." I don't think that's a bad thing in his case, as he can heat up quickly and not look back.

Troy Gillenwater looked good. He did whatever he wanted against Riverside in the post and whenever the Aggies looked for him, good things happened for the team. I definitely want to see him do it against better competition though. Why do I have more faith in Young's performance than Gillenwater's at this point? Young did it last year in the WAC. This was Gillenwater's third game as an Aggie. Riverside couldn't control him.

I will not judge the big men Rahman and Gabriel. I need to see them more before I jump to conclusions. The point guard Laroche didn't do much but could have been limited because of a knee injury.

I think the key to this team is the play of Jonathan Gibson and their overall team defense. I like Jonathan but he needs to settle down sometimes out there. It seems like on certain possessions he just comes downcourt with his mind already made up - he's going to shoot the ball whether everyone in the gym knows it or not. The other day he took some shots with no more than seven seconds trimmed off the shot clock. Granted, they went in and everyone cheered. But that doesn't excuse bad shot selection. Not when Gillenwater was toying with everyone down low. Gotta run the offense there.

Defensively, I think the team could be strong. But there needs to be a commitment there. They have the athletes to be a top-notch defensive team. They need to get there hands dirty and work at that end of the floor. If this team commits itself on the defensive end, I mean really commit, I think they could be good. We'll see.


As for the volleyball team, hard to argue with the results.

I don't care if you love volleyball or not - it's actually a very underrated sport in my opinion. This is an Aggie team that is good folks. A team on the cusp of the top-25 in a legitimate game.

Mike Jordan has done a great job at NMSU and is a class act. You hope that he stays on board in Las Cruces. It would seem that he would be a hot commodity after the effort he has put forth.

The bottom line is that the Aggies have done everything that there is to accomplish in the regular season. This is where the hard part starts. A WAC Tournament championship would be impressive, especially with it coming in Hawaii where the Rainbow Wahine have been a constant thorn in the side. NMSU beat UH in Hawaii this past season and will look to do it again. It will be very tough though. Hawaii has, arguably, the best homecourt advantage in all of college volleyball and beating them there twice will be no small task. Luckily, NMSU has confidence that they won there once and the ladies are ready to make another statement.

Getting a berth into the NCAA Tournament would be the second step. The team has fallen in regionals in years past under Jordan. Last year it was the stated goal and they fell short. This year it's obviously the stated goal again. But if you want to be bigtime you gotta deliver. So, this is the year they gotta get it done.

It takes nothing away from what the team accomplished - co-champs in the WAC. And this wasn't some flash in the pan. The Aggies have been legitimate under Jordan for years. People always talk on here about how they want a winner at NMSU. You got one. The volleyball team has won. The time has come to get on the bandwagon. Actually, it seems to be long overdue.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mumme doesn't sign deal

My reaction to Hal Mumme not signing a contract extension last season was one of surprise.

What coach in Mumme's position wouldn't sign a deal like that on the table? I feel like there is more than what meets the eye on this one.

For one, maybe Hal felt like he would out-perform the extension and get a bigger payday down the line. Another possibility that came into my head was that the extension talk was just an illusion from NMSU to keep the recruiting process humming on all cylinders, when in reality, he needed a big year in 2008 to get a longer term on his deal. Really, anything could be true or false on this one, it's impossible to say.

One thing it does do is make him that much more expendable at the end of this season. The school only has to worry about one more year instead of the possible two he would have been granted with an extension to his deal.

When I first heard he didn't sign the extension, I thought I was being lied to. When Dr. Boston said that he didn't sign the extension, I was put back. It's just another weird chapter in Hal's legacy as coach of the Aggies.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Injury card

Who else is tired of hearing Hal Mumme talk about injuries as a viable excuse as to why his team is losing?

I'll be the first to admit that injuries can cripple a team. But quality depth and strong coaching can overcome them to a degree and at least keep a team competitive.

Mumme dished out the injury card last year and we went along with it for the season. At that time it seemed somewhat feasible. Chase missed some snaps, A.J. Harris and Nick Cleaver went down for periods of time and Chris Williams was also out of action for half the season. The linebacking corps was also banged up.

But the coach is at it again this year. Richie Bolin is a huge loss for the Aggies, a senior center and the leader of the offensive line. But all we heard this spring was about how the team built enough depth to overcome such tough losses. Chase has taken most of the snaps and the one's he's missed haven't been because of a serious injury. The receivers for the most part, namely Williams and Harris, are on the field.

The O-line has been shuffled around and worked with which hurts. Maquell Colston has been in and out of the lineup but what happened to Tonny Glynn? He doesn't really see the field anymore.

Have there been injuries? Yes. But we heard all about it last year too. I don't think it excuses some of the performances put forth this year. And the fans are tired of hearing about it. I think when a team hears the coach talk about injuries all the time, they can use it as a crutch. I would like to think the Aggies aren't doing that but based on their performances, it's hard to argue that they aren't.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Mumme's future

I know that McKinley Boston is taking heat for Hal Mumme's continued presence on the NMSU sideline.

I really believe that Mumme will be dismissed once the team is eliminated from bowl eligibility. Will a loss against Hawaii garner him losing his job? Quite possibly. Will two more losses grant him his walking papers? That would seem almost a certainty.

Unless the team makes a miraculous turnaround, expect the coach to be gone.

This weekend's game seems like a winnable one for the Aggies. Hawaii is road-weary and I think it will be a close contest. For most people on this board, that doesn't seem like the best of news right now, but that's where the program stands.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Things looking bleak

Saturday night's game was a depressing state of affairs for Aggie football.

I didn't think the team would go out and beat Boise State, but I certainly expected them to go out and at least battle. Instead, they got shut out and it was bad from the start. Running the football at will? You don't teach a team to be a smashmout outfit in a week's worth of time. Chase and Chris Williams, A.J. Harris? These are the team's best players and they weren't even utilized. And what happened to Tonny Glynn? Tonny was a good player for the Aggies last year and he is barely seeing the field anymore. You go out and run the ball with a freshman in Donavan Roberts who has seen very limited action this year. What was going on out there? After the Idaho loss it would have been nice to see some fight and spunk. There was none of that on Saturday.

Hearing Hal Mumme talk about injuries as an excuse is bothersome. He played that card last year. Sorry coach, you can't do it again. Injuries are tough but they are a fact of life in college football. Past years of recruiting should have helped to patch up those holes and even with the loss of players, using it as a crutch is not the answer. People just don't want to hear it.

Mumme could have lost his job after last season. He was given another year to try to turn things around but the last two weeks have been the low point of his tenure at the school. Is a midseason dismissal realistic? It appears like the administration is apprehensive to pull the plug. Is it warranted? Yes. Football is a week-to-week business though. I think he will be on board through this week when the team hosts Hawaii. We will see what happens after that. Another loss won't help his cause though. And, at this point, it's hard picturing the Aggies winning another game this season.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Saturday's game

Boise State is a great team, No. 11 in the country and the premier WAC football program in recent memory. They are also facing a reeling Aggie team that could be on the verge of imploding.

The Broncos have gotten very strong play from freshman quarterback Kellen Moore this year and have two excellent running backs — Ian Johnson and Jeremy Avery. They also have a very good defense which is playing with increased confidence this season.

NMSU is in a lot of trouble following last week's loss to Idaho. The team looked awful and now has to get up for the Broncos. NMSU's offense got shut down by one of the worst defenses in college football and now has to face BSU? It could get ugly. Here are a few things to look for as kickoff approaches:

NMSU played with absolutely no urgency last week. That is the most disheartening aspect of the game. It was, for all intents and purposes, a very winnable game, one which the team needed to capture with the understanding that they were returning to Las Cruces to face Boise. They just didn't show up. This Saturday, desperation needs to be on display. I don't know what to expect from the defense. The unit has played better in recent weeks but also has not played a team like the Broncos. Chances are they are going to get scored on often, as BSU can come after teams with their two-headed attack in the backfield. NMSU will have its hands full defending that tandem.

Offensively is really where things are going to need to get better and in a hurry. NMSU has been lackluster in back-to-back weeks moving the ball and will need to put up points in this one to make in competitive. The team needs to protect Holbrook and throw the ball downfield, challenge Boise's DBs to make plays defending NMSU's greatest weapons — the wide receivers.

If they get destroyed, Mumme's future will continue to look bleak. Again, I go back to the Nevada game. How can the team beat the Wolf Pack and then lose at Idaho? It's the inconsistency that's frustrating. I just don't see the school making a change at midseason. But another embarrassing loss, coming on homecoming weekend, and that possibility could become a reality.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Up next.....Boise

I know its hard for some to comprehend, but the Aggie football season moves on. They play a top-25 team this weekend in Boise State.

The Idaho loss was terrible but lets look at things real quick. Anything can happen in college football, particularly on the road. I really thought the team would have problems in Idaho. I didn't think they would lose but I did think they would be in for a battle. It was that and more.

Who's to say that Boise won't be in for a battle in Las Cruces? Playing on the road is tough and NMSU has been consistently inconsistent the last four seasons. I really think the team can battle the Broncos - heck I want them to. I would love to see a great game here next weekend. That's why I'm in this business to begin with.

I wrote at the beginning of the year on this blog, before the season started, that NMSU would split with their rivals. I wrote that they would split their two road games at Idaho and Utah State. I said that they would lose to San Jose State at home. I did not predict their win at Nevada. I said they would beat Hawaii at home. I said that they would lose at home to Boise State and Louisiana Tech. And I wrote that they would lose at Fresno.

The point is that I'm not terribly surprised that the Aggies are where they are right now. They will win at Utah State at the end of the year to solidify that prediction. They need to beat Louisiana Tech here. End of story. That game needs to see a positive result. And I think they'll beat Hawaii at home. That is just a tough trip for the Warriors.

That equals six wins. And if last weekend taught you anything, it's that college football is not an exact science. Teams get upset every week, everywhere. I know it is painful because it seems like the Aggies have been upended the last handful of years in games that are simply inexcusable. But its time to get off the mat. I know that if they beat Boise here that this blog will have a much different tone on it next week at this time. Lets move on and realize the season is not over yet. I know I can't wait for Saturday.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Idaho's defense shut down the Aggies

What about NMSU scoring just 14 points on Saturday? That's terrible considering the fact that Idaho had given up an average of 47 point per contest going into Saturday's game.

First off, the O-line is banged up. But that's just another excuse. Injuries aren't fun but they cannot be pinned on this loss too much. The Aggies should have won this game regardless.

I'm not very impressed by the offense. They're dinking and dunking teams to death. How could they not stretch the field against Idaho's defense? The Vandal defense won them the game. They had some guys make big plays up and down the board and put up huge numbers.

The Aggies continuously go for it and 4th-and-long instead of pinning teams deep. And Idaho ran the heck out of the ball. The defense is better for the Aggies this year but when you get ran on like that, it hurts. NMSU's only chance to win is by outscoring people. A game in the mid teens, low 20s does not bode well for the Aggies. They're just not going to win many of them. They don't play field position, don't kick particularly well and don't really try and run. The short passing game is their version of the run.

Lets not overlook Idaho's kicker. He nailed two FGs from over 50. NMSU hasn't had a kicker like that in the Mumme era.

The team won at Nevada and then loses to Idaho. Inconsistency has plagued the program since Mumme took over. How much longer is he going to be with the team? It's hard to picture NMSU making a move during the season but this loss was unacceptable. It's impossible to ignore how it happened or who it came to.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Big ups to the defense, tough loss to SJSU

People are going to be disappointed about the loss against San Jose State but I just want to point out the play of the defense.

I was at the game for the first quarter and a half and listened to the second half on the radio. Joe Lee Dunn's unit seemed to play inspired football. I said after last week's Nevada game that the group is bringing a fighter's mentality to the table. They don't have the most talent. They aren't the biggest group or the fastest. But they fight for every inch on the field. In my two years in Las Cruces, that seemed like the best defensive effort the team has put forth.

Lets look at the scenarios. The D gave up a touchdown on SJSU's first possession which saw the Spartans return a kick deep into Aggie territory. SJSU scored two defensive touchdowns off interceptions. And Chris Williams muffed a punt that led the a San Jose FG.

Those were the three key plays of the game, both of Chase's picks and Chris' fumble. Williams' play was a backbreaker after the team fought to get back into the game to begin with. Chase's first pick was awful, he threw it in the flat right to the defender. His second was a result of pressure. The Spartans defensive line battered the Aggies throughout.

It was a tough loss but the team needs to beat Idaho. I mean, it has too. There are no gimmes in college football and the Vandals cannot be overlooked.

Basketball scrimmage

I know this isn't at the forefront of everyone's mind but I wanted to discuss the absence of some key players from Friday night's basketball scrimmage at the Pan Am.

Jahmar Young, Terrance Joyner, Troy Gillenwater and Chris Gabriel all didn't suit up. Assistant coach John McMullen said that the players are out "until they show better progress in the classroom." What is this? It was a very sparse crowd at the Pan Am Friday and I'm sure the limited people that did show up came to see those four players in action. These guys need to get their academics in order. They're all central pieces to this team. I know, it's early, they have plenty of time to get things together, but why can't this team get out in front of these situations instead of always playing catchup. It was like this last year with a number of issues.

Coach Menzies wasn't there either. The sports information department told Jason Groves that he was attending a funeral. Did they announce it to the few hundred people that showed up to watch the scrimmage? If not, they should have. I hold absolutely no ill will if he was at a friends funeral. But they should keep the spectators informed. I guarantee everyone there noticed he wasn't there.

Lets be honest, this scrimmage wasn't about the team, the coaching staff, the media or the university. It's about the fans that want to come out and see the Aggies in action. Being a diehard basketball fan, it's exciting to see your team run up and down the court, even if it doesn't mean anything. It gives you a glimpse, an appetizer if you will. Well, those who went didn't get that on Friday night.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ticket update

17,500 tickets have been sold as of 4 p.m. on Friday. This number does not include students, which is about an additional 4,000 fans if they show in full force.

Judging from the walk up traffic, I would think that 23,500 is a very realistic number with 25,000 still within range. Very respectable for the Aggies' second conference game.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


A poster on the last entry asked if the Aggies are suffering from a lack of respect. According to the poster, the Aggies are 2 1/2 point underdogs to the Spartans.

Point blank, I don't think that's being disrespectful. Just look at the facts: San Jose State has been a perennial bowl team under coach Dick Tomey. The Aggies have not been in recent years. The Spartans have been a competitive WAC team the last handful of seasons. NMSU, in recent seasons, has not. Some will say, what about this year? Yes, they won at Nevada. But, outside of knowledgeable WAC fans and the dieheart Aggie faithful, the team still holds the same stereotypes it has in the past. For all we know, that could have been a fluke. I'm not saying it was, all I'm saying is that if the team trips up this weekend and bottoms out again and has another subpar year when it's all said and done, all these optimistic Aggie fans will be sour again. Don't believe me? Just check my blog periodically and you'll know what I mean.

How do you break down the barrier? It seems pretty simple to me. You gotta beat SJSU on Saturday. You don't have to beat them by 100. You just gotta win the game. This really has the potential to be a huge game for the Aggies. I don't even want to look ahead in the schedule, too much can happen on a week-to-week basis in football. Although it's hard not to. All I'll say is that if the Aggies can beat the Spartans, it sets up for an exciting second half of the season, including a home game against Boise State and a road affair at Fresno State. This is what college football is all about!

But yeah, I think the way you get respect is by winning. One road win against Nevada isn't going to change everything. A win at home this weekend will help a little more to the cause though. So will a win at Idaho. It all starts on the field.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My dream....

....Is to see a sellout at this weekend's Aggie football game.

Coach Mumme said it today. He desperately wants a sellout outside of a New Mexico or UTEP game in Las Cruces. And who can blame him? This is a monster game. The Aggies are 1-0 and are coming off a great win. They didn't beat Idaho or Utah State folks. Nevada is a proven WAC program.

On top of that, it's Tough Enough night. That should get some more people in the seats. I really don't think the game will sellout but is 25,000-plus fans too much to ask for?

I think it will be a great game. The teams match up well and, if the Aggies want to go to a bowl, they need to beat a team like San Jose. I respect the Spartan program. Dick Tomey is a veteran coach who has done very well up there during his tenure. And they play stout defense.

It will be a difficult game for the Aggies but after last week's contest and considering that this one's in Las Cruces, you just can't help but feel that it's one NMSU is primed to win. Maybe I'm getting caught up in the moment but I just can't help but get excited for this weekend. Hopefully, Aggie fans feel the same way and fill up the stadium.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Great win for Aggies

It was a great win for the Aggies over Nevada on Saturday afternoon.

For one, the Aggies showed a lot of resiliency. This game was back and forth and Nevada has been the stronger program the last bunch of years. A strong club that runs the ball well, in Reno, where the weather, frankly, favored a team that likes to pound the ball. It was cold here this weekend. But NMSU carved up the Wolf Pack on offense and made some plays on defense.

Nevada is bad at defending the pass. The Aggies threw on them all day and weren't afraid to go for it on fourth down. They played with a ton of confidence. They went for it on fourth-and-20 and converted.

I'll admit it, I haven't seen every game this year. The last two weeks, I have gone. This week, I watched the defense closely. Is it better, is it worse, is it the same? It's hard to really tell. But I will say this, the defense is filled with a bunch of fighters that are molded after Joe Lee Dunn. They played much better in the second half. And, outside of his first quarter scoring run, the unit contained Kaepernick. The Long fumble recovery for a touchdown was fairly lucky. The ball bounced off the turf and into his arms. One sequence that stood out was in the first quarter. Nevada went downfield but NMSU stuffed them on 3rd-and-2 and forced a FG. The team also stopped them on 4th-and-1 but were flagged for a horsecollar tackle. When it was all said and done, the unit still gave up 45 points and over 300 yards on the ground but played just well enough to win.

Chase played very well. The receivers were wide open and Colston battled. He's a pretty good player. Kyle Hughes missed a short FG in the second quarter.

The San Jose State game this weekend will be huge. The team needs to win this game. And I really hope people come out in full force and support the team.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Nevada's pass defense

This is one area NMSU should be able to exploit.

The Wolf Pack are a dreadful 118 out of 119 D-I teams in pass defense. And we all know NMSU likes to pass the football. The Aggies should be able to move the ball on Nevada in this one.

The over/under is 69 for this game. I think both teams will top that with relative ease. Again, it's going to be a track meet, with Nevada running up and down the field and the Aggies dropping back and gunning it.

For all those who criticize NMSU's pass-happy attack? Well, here's your chance to see what works better. Is it a ball-controlled offense, or a throw-happy system. Both will be squaring off on Saturday.

I for one, think that you need to be able to run the ball well and consistently. That doesn't mean the pass doesn't come in handy every now and again. But you need to be a physical team that can mix it up along both the offensive and defensive lines. Get the tough yards when it really means something. It seems like Nevada has a slight edge here.

We'll see what weakness is exposed more — NMSU's rush defense or Nevada's vulnerability to the pass. Whatever team masks its weakness the best stands the best chance to win.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Offensive fireworks

This should be a high-scoring affair between the Aggies and the Wolf Pack on Saturday.

Nevada can flat out run the football. Last year, the team rolled up yardage on NMSU and I don't really see that changing. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a remarkable player. He makes the Wolf Pack offense go.

Whether or not the Aggies pull off the upset on the road is going to come down to Chase's play. It's going to be a track meet and Holbrook will have to air it out and put up big numbers in this one. The Wolf Pack defense is vulnerable to the pass and last year, Chase exposed them without some of the Aggies' top targets even suiting up. This one's different though, simply because it's in Reno.

Another key to the game is going to be the play of the Aggie defensive line. Joe Lee Dunn continues to mix and match along this unit, trying to find the right fit up front. If the line gets blown off the ball, the Wolf Pack will run all day. If the line controls play up front, it will help. Nevada is going to get its yardage on the ground in this one regardless, but NMSU needs to make it tough on them. The Aggies need to be physical.

The good news is that it appears as if Derrick Richardson will be back in the NMSU lineup. He's been a tackling machine early on in the season.

I really think both teams can score over 40 in this one. You just hope there isn't too much pressure on the NMSU passing game. It's a lot for an offense to have to constantly air it out in hopes of staying close.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Thoughts on Alcorn State game

A few thoughts from Saturday's Aggie vs. Alcorn State game....

First off, it was obviously encouraging that they got the win in such dominant fashion. I know, some will say that it was one they should have won and that is absolutely correct. But nothing should be taken for granted on a week-to-week basis, particularly with this team. Last year's Pine Bluff game was a classic example of this. So kudos to them for taking care of business.

One thing that crossed my mind during the game was, where is Tonny Glynn? I understand that Marquell Colston is running the ball well and is the clear-cut No. 1 guy in the backfield. It just surprises me that Tonny is so forgotten. He was a pretty productive player for the team last year when he was healthy. He saw the field on Saturday, but it was in worthless action in the fourth.

Marcus Anderson with another touchdown. Chris Williams broke out. Coach Mumme cited LaVorick Williams' performance. On the surface it doesn't seem like Williams did much but when really looking back on it, he did. He made a nice third-down grab over the middle to keep a drive alive in the first half and made another catch over the middle from J.J. McDermott late that went for a big gain. Williams is a natural, gifted with long strides. Good hands. He could be a good player. As a freshman, Mumme said Williams will continue to get snaps in the offense.

I thought the defense was alright. Sure, they held Alcorn to 10 and pressured the backfield more. But it's Alcorn. And at the end of the day, a lot of the Braves' receivers were open downfield, it's just that the team couldn't complete a pass. Nevada will be a much tougher test for the Aggies - a real test. We'll see how the defense performs in that one.

A win is a win. If they struggled and won or even lost, people would be shredding them right now. While some will shrug their shoulders at knocking off Alcorn, it's better than the alternative. Now, it's on to conference play, and Nevada-Reno.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


While last week's loss was particularly disappointing, the Aggies need to rebound this week against Alcorn State.

While some fans will think that NMSU's game against the Braves is a gimme, I can't help but harken back to last season. NMSU, hosting Arkansas Pine Bluff, and narrowly escaped 20-17. That game actually hurt the Aggies in the long run. Chase Holbrook got hurt and it seemed like at that point of the year, NMSU sort of unraveled.

NMSU's loss to UNM was disheartning. It was a winnable game for the Aggies, that's what hurts the most. But it's over. Time to look forward. You just hope the team is prepared for Alcorn and takes care of business. The last thing they need is a dog fight with the Braves, right before heading into WAC play. It's a bigger game than some people may think.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another frustrating loss

It was another frustrating loss for the New Mexico State Aggies, who fell to New Mexico 35-24 on Saturday night.

A few things stood out immediately when looking at the box score. The first one was obvious and that was the 63 rushing attempts by the Lobos. And then the fact that they piled up 297 yards on the ground. It's not like they posed a threat to throw the ball downfield at all. NMSU just had to concern itself with defending the run. And the Aggies simply couldn't stop it.Usually when an offense is one-dimensional, it becomes easy prey. Not the case Saturday and really, it wasn't the case two weeks ago against UTEP either. The Miner backs just weren't as good as the Lobos' were.

Then I looked at NMSU's rushing numbers. I know, the team likes to throw the ball. But UNM rushes it 63 times and NMSU just 18? Common. Usually, the Aggie backs are at least involved in the passing game too. That makes the stats deceptive, simply because they are catching quick screens and dump off that are just as good as carries but are counted as receptions. Again, not Saturday. No receptions for the NMSU runners. I don't know if this is a case of them being ignored or just not playing well but something needs to change. Your backs need to be involved in the offense in some capacity. Those lopsided totals on the ground led to a lopsided total in time of possession. UNM held the ball for more than 17 minutes longer than the Aggies. The defense must have been exhausted.

The Lobos outscored the Aggies 25-7 in the second half. Halftime adjustments, or a lack there of, are critical.

A winnable game? Yes. Is the season over? Absolutely not. The Aggies will rebound and beat Alcorn State. The team needs to avoid an Arkansas Pine Bluff-like performance and take it too Alcorn from start to finish. The WAC schedule starts out tough - at Nevada-Reno. But the team returns home for San Jose State - a team the Aggies can beat in Las Cruces - and then to Idaho - a team that ranks as one of the worst, if not the worst, in the country. Lots of football left to be played in a very young season. NMSU tends to live dangerously and plays in tight games, particularly in Las Cruces. Count on at least three more this season. The team needs to find a way to win them.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Look ahead

Alright folks. It's that time of week again. Lets get some predictions.

I go with the Aggies this week, 38-27. I just don't know about the Lobos, backup QB is in, second-straight game away from Albuquerque and coming off a thrashing at the hands of Tulsa. The reality is that UNM is 1-3 on the year and is desperate for a win. I just don't know if they get one in Las Cruces.

Holbrook is Holbrook. Lots of yards, somewhere around 400, four TDs and a pick or two. The receivers do damage. A.J. Harris scores here. I think Marcus Anderson continues to play well as does Wes Neiman. Williams goes for over 100 yards again. Not really going out on the limb there.

I think the Lobos are hurt as much over the loss of their standout receivers this year — Marcus Smith and Travis Brown — than anything else. Those guys torched the Aggies in the past and their absence is being felt throughout the UNM lineup. Brad Gruner is in at QB and it will be interesting to see how the NMSU D tries to shake him up. This will be a fun game to see Joe Lee Dunn's defense and if it will go to work against an inexperienced signal caller.

The one guarantee for the Lobos is that Rodney Ferguson has a strong game on the ground. Paul Baker also could play a factor. UNM will run often, but that won't be enough to combat an explosive Aggie attack. NMSU likes to get in track meets and this feels like a game where they can distance themselves from the Lobos. Hopefully NMSU can avoid turning the ball over and can capitalize in the redzone.

Lots to look forward too. Big game for the two NM teams.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Five things we learned about the Aggies

Here are five things we have learned about the NMSU Aggie football team after two games so far this year

1. Marcus Anderson can play: A very good JC acquisition here for NMSU. In his second game he scored three TDs and played well on special teams, returning punts and doing it effectively. Anderson will continue to get looks, as long as the receiving corps stays healthy. He not only benefits from his own personal skill set, but also from the constant attention opposing defenses pay to Chris Williams and A.J. Harris. Anderson will continue to play, and play well, in the Air-Raid attack.

2. Special teams, as a whole, seem better: Kyle Hughes and Jordan Davenport combined for six kickoffs against UTEP, while Hughes put two out of the endzone. This is huge, as last year it was painful watching the team consistently give the opposition outstanding field position. Hughes also banged home all of his XP's. He had his one field goal this year blocked against Nebraska but a better kicking game is a weapon the team has been sorely lacking since Hal took over the program. This is one of the most overlooked aspects in all of football and one of the most important in the grand scheme of things. Strong special teams play this year is a must if NMSU wants to get to the six/seven wins mark.

3. The jury is still out on the defense: I know people are fired up over the performance of the defense and there certainly were some bright spots last week. Holding the Miners down on the final three possessions of the game was a positive for sure. But lets be honest here — UTEP was missing weapons and still moved the ball well against the Aggies on the ground. This week against the Lobos? Again, the backup QB is in place but the team will have to deal with Rodney Ferguson, who is a load. If UNM can pass the ball with any success, it will be interesting to see how the Aggies combat the attack. I will say this though — the defense did get after the quarterback last week. Pressure in the backfield can be a defense's best friend and, as expected, it looks like the unit will bring the heat more often than not. Still, one good game against the Miners doesn't have me convinced just yet that the defense is a force to be reckoned with. Frankly, I won't be ready to confidently make that call until early November. This week will be another test.

4. Derrick Richardson is impressive: 21 tackles? That's a lot of takedowns for the free safety. I spoke with Joe Lee Dunn this week about Derrick and he said that he was as good of a safety as he has coached in the college game. The truth is that 21 tackles by a safety is too many. You want that number down a bit, simply because it implies that the opponent broke too many plays into the secondary. Still, give D-Rich credit for making the stops when they came his way. He made over 100 tackles last year and is going to hit that mark again in 2008. He's already over 1/3 there in two games! And Nick Paden made 15 stops at middle linebacker. Last year, the Aggies were pretty strong up the middle as well, with Ray Manumaleuna at tackle, Dante Floyd at middle linebacker and Richardson at safety. Still, the results weren't there. In this defense though, Paden and Richardson are going to continue to pile up numbers as the season moves on.

5. Another huge game this week: Again, we have a monster game for NMSU in Week 3 of their season. UNM beat the Aggies in Albuquerque last season, although it was a close one under much different circumstances. For one, Donovan Porterie destroyed NMSU last season at QB. He ran and he threw. The throwing is where he made the difference. He got hot and the Aggies didn't cover UNM's talented receivers. They were running around downfield and getting chunks of yardage in the passing game. What about this weekend? Porterie is out for the year due to injury and those receivers are long gone. I think this game stacks up well for the Aggies, particularly in Las Cruces. There's pressure on the Lobos to perform well and it will not be an easy contest by an means. UNM needs this game badly. The Aggies do as well, but they are confident following their performance at UTEP and are looking to take the next step. Make no mistake, this is a huge game for both teams. I think the Aggies are primed to get the W.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Game recap

NMSU gutted out a 34-33 win over UTEP on Saturday night at the Sun Bowl. The defense held late in an exciting contest. I think we all knew that the game would go down to the wire and it didn't disappoint. Lets go over how things played out as well as compare and contrast my pre-game predictions written on my blog post yesterday.

I said that UTEP would win 42-35. I was wrong, as NMSU found a way to hold them under that number. The 34 points scored by the Aggies was just about on the mark.

I had Holbrook completing 35 passes for over 350 yards, three TDs and two picks. He ended 29-of-39, 329 yards and five TDs. He threw two picks and had a backward pass recovered by UTEP, which will be ruled as a fumble. He threw his two picks early and made big tosses when he had to. Good game for Chase. He needed it and he performed when called upon.

I thought Chris Williams would go for over 100 yards and two TDs. I had the running backs having a big evening, with Colston grabbing 80 and a score, Glynn going for 60 and Brandon Perez scoring from short range.

Chris ended up with seven grabs for 119 yards while the RBs didn't do much, although Marquell made a few big plays when he had to. He recorded three grabs for 39 yards to go along with his 21 yards rushing. He will be a contributor throughout the year.

UTEP's star players ended up being a wash, as quarterback Trevor Vittatoe left the game early and running back Terrell Jackson didn't play, as he was hurt as well. Those two leaving changes the entire complexion of the game. Would the Miners win if they both played? Hard to tell. The game would certainly have played out differently though, as UTEP was forced to run the ball throughout with QB James Thomas at the controls. In the end, does it matter? No. Football is a game of injuries and the Aggies have suffered their fair share the last couple of years. A win is a win, and no one on the NMSU sideline will apologize for it.

Keys to the game? Marcus Anderson caught three TDs. Good player! What about NMSU scoring on that 4th-and-21? Big play, the Miner defense should be ashamed of itself for giving that up.

With UTEP driving late, the Aggies forced a fumble and fell on the ball. Huge play, the Miners were in FG range and could have taken the lead right there....Miner kicker Jose Martinez missed a FG on the team's opening drive of the third quarter. He's a good kicker but in a game where every point counts, that's a big miss. Usually the Aggies are the one's missing that field goal and it was nice to be on the other end of it. This team deserves some breaks down the stretch.

With so many Miners banged up, it's hard to gouge the defense's performance. We will say this though, they played well when they had to. One thing the team did was get to the QB. NMSU generated a good deal of sacks and pressure, which caused some problems for UTEP. Derrick Richardson had 21 tackles. That's huge! Derrick has 38 on the year in two games! If he keeps this up, he is going to lead the WAC in that category. I think he likes the new defense, no? Nick Paden added 15. Overall, the D was more active than in the past. We can say that.

I said at the beginning of the year that NMSU would split with their rivals, with the team losing to the Miners and beating the Lobos at home. Now what? Time to get greedy. I really do think NMSU can beat UNM at home. The Aggies had the Lobos on the ropes last year in Albuquerque and lost. UNM will be mad after getting torched by Tulsa on Saturday. It's going to be a hard fought game next weekend at Aggie Memorial. Get your tickets while they're hot.....

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pregame predictions

Alright folks. Prediction time. Lets do it.

I think the Aggies lose to the Miners 42-35 in a shootout. I actually think NMSU will outplay UTEP — they'll hold onto the ball longer and outgain the Miners in total yardage. In the end though, I think the El Paso team finds a way to win.

Expect a big game, numbers wise, for Holbrook. I'm thinking at least 50 attempts and at least 35 completions. Over 350 yards and three touchdowns. I also expect a couple picks, particularly if UTEP brings the heat. I think that will be the key to the game, the Miners' ability to get after the quarterback and knock him around.

Chris Williams will have a big game too. Double digit catches, well over 100 yards and two TDs. Chris is a money player and comes out when it's time to shine. He'll put on a show under the lights of the Sun Bowl.

NMSU's runners will do well but will be under-utilized. Marquell Colston goes for 80 yards and a TD and Tonny Glynn goes for 60. Brandon Perez scores from short range in this one. Marquell will catch some balls in the passing game as well.

Another key to the game is going to be UTEP QB Trevor Vittatoe. I think he'll pass for over 275 yards and two TDs. He could also create something with his legs.

He'll find receiver Jeff Moturi for over 100 yards and at least one score. Tight end Jamar Hunt will also be in the mix and could be active in the redzone. Running back Terrell Jackson will be involved running and catching the football. NMSU will need to put the clamps down on him, but it could be tough if he gets the ball in space.

Turnover battle will be key. Whoever wins that should win the game. Lots of points and no shortage of excitement in this one. I think the Aggies fall, but bounce back next week to beat UNM at home. Signing off....


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A look back at last year

Lets take a look back at last season's game between the Miners and Aggies.

It was a wild one. The final score was 29-24 but it might as well have been 45-41. It sure felt that way. I think the thing that stood out to me was the performance by receiver Chris Williams. He caught nine passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns on the evening, with most of his production coming in the second half. Both of his scores came on big plays. He really made the difference.

I also remember NMSU being fairly mistake prone throughout. Former Miner safety Quinten Demps returned an interception 104 yards for a score and Aggie kicker Paul Young missed two chip shot field goals from 34 and 22-yards out. Williams also dropped a few balls, including a sure touchdown. Still, the team persevered and got a gutsy win, culminated by a defensive stand with under three minutes remaining. It really was refreshing.

I seem to recall UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe being up-and-down throughout the game. He missed some open guys downfield. That could be the biggest difference this year — besides the game being in the Sun Bowl. How will Vittatoe play and will he capitalize when there are windows open in the secondary? He's a pretty good player. That game was literally one of his first starts — it may have been his first actually. He was a freshman last year. He should be more comfortable this time around, no doubt about it.

The lasting memory from the game was one of relief and the feeling that this was the “signature win” that the team had coveted under Hal. The atmosphere was great, the press conference afterwards was euphoric. I know it sounds cheesy, but there really was a lot of optimism after that game. Everyone was hugging each other. Frankly, it was a little weird. But the fans, players, coaches and, yes, the beat writers, really thought it was the “hump” game the team needed to win. Then, the season went, well you know, downhill. It was strange and disappointing. But here we are again. Fresh season again. And yes, I really think Saturday night will tell us a lot about this ballclub. A win will go a long way. Didn't we say that last year too?.....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Must win?

I stated on my last post that NMSU's game this weekend was a borderline must win. Is the term "must win" thrown around too much? It's a good question.

Some could look at a team's schedule — particularly in football — and say that every game is a must win. I agree, to an extent. And I don't like throwing around the phrase "must win" at every turn of the page. But I do believe this week's game against UTEP is bigger than last week's at Nebraska. Why? Because the Miners are a team that NMSU can legitimately beat. Some asked on my last post if I really thought the Aggies could beat Nebraska. No! Of course I didn't. But I didn't think they would lay an egg either. I thought they would be pretty competitive and put up some points in the process. They did neither. With that being said, when looking at the team's road record the last four years, when understanding the gravity of this season compared to others in recent memory, I think this game against UTEP is huge. A "must win?" It's hard to quantify. I do think the team must play well, and lets face it, playing well but losing in the last five minutes of a game does nothing for this program anymore. A win on the road, against your biggest rival, who play right down the road? Now that does something.

Either way, I think their game against UNM is going to be big next week to, no matter how the Aggies do in El Paso. And I said at the beginning of the year that I thought the Aggies would split with their rivals. But 2-1 with a tough road win sounds a lot better than 1-2 with many questions still unanswered, does it not? The writing is on the wall. Time to step it up and get the signature win that the program has been searching for.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Nebraska game

Just wanted to make a few comments about the Nebraska-NMSU football game played last night.

First off, I would like to say that I listened to the game on the radio. OK, now that we got that out of the way, here were my interpretations.

I was not impressed by what I heard from the game and how I interpreted it from afar. Seven points? Folks, we know that the defense is not going to be good. We have said it before: Hold the opposition under 30, and we like this team's chances at winning. So I repeat: Seven points? This is a group that hangs its hat on scoring. To be so unimpressive on offense hurts. The team's best drive was its first one. And it ended with the Aggies unable to run inside the 5-yard line and having a chip-shot field goal blocked. Chase was 15-of-30 with two interceptions, none of the receivers got going. Seven points, to me, was pretty surprising considering what we have become accustom to. Whatever the case has been in the past with the Aggies under Mumme, the team has always, for the most part, been able to score. Not Saturday.

I know it was just one small sequence, but another disturbing tid-bit from the contest was the Aggies' first drive. Again, unable or unwilling - take your pick - to run it close to the Nebraska goal line, the team settles for a field goal. 'Alright,' I thought. 'Seven would be nice but we'll take three.' Wrong. Kick blocked. Lets see. They don't run it and then the kick is stuffed. We've seen this movie before.

Didn't understand the logic of using J.J. McDermott down 14-0 and the Aggies in desperate need of a score early. You're trying to wither Nebraska's momentum at that point. Using your backup sophomore quarterback seemed to do the exact opposite.

Some bright spots? I thought Marquell Colston played well...I liked when the team stopped Nebraska on the Cornhuskers first drive of the game. Nebraska brought on the field goal unit which went on to miss...Julius Fleming caught a long pass, but it was at a completely meaningless juncture of the game. Still, I like Julius' ability and I still like the receiving corps.

Some will say it was the first game against Nebraska. I would agree. Another way to look at it is that it's all the more reason to come out fired up. Defense may have been a smidge better. Maybe. Hard to tell. And the offense did nothing. I know it's early, but I think this week's game at UTEP is bordering on a must-win for Mumme and the Aggies.