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?.....