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.