Monday, June 23, 2008

Joe Lee Dunn

I spoke with Joe Lee Dunn the other day. Very intriguing personality and someone who has a great deal of belief in his defense and what he wants the Aggies to do this year on that side of the football.

Dunn said that a few players have caught his eye. He likes Nick Paden at middle linebacker, thinks Derrick Richardson is a solid player and really likes Brennan Baiamonte. Baiamonte didn't play at all last season, but Dunn said that he believes the kid has major skills and will make an impact in the D-coordinator's secondary.

We talked pass rush as a problem last season and something that needs to be rectified. He said that he likes Justin Alford, who was playing nose guard this spring. Dunn said that he could line Alford up at nose guard as well as at linebacker. There's versatility there. Still, NMSU needs to find a way to get a push up front and get to the quarterback if they want to see the defense take the next step.

One hole on the Aggie defense heading into the season will be at cornerback. Davon House will get the starting nod and Chris Woods would if he were healthy, but he is not. Woods hurt his shoulder and is expected to be out until the conference schedule rolls around. The team will have to cut and paste at that position and hope that someone emerges to fill the void. Frankly, cornerback was a sore spot last season and nothing was really added here to make me feel much better about it.

Dunn really just talked about attitude. He is going to work these kids extremely hard when summer practice is here and going into the season. They will run, work and Dunn will find out who wants to be out on the field and who is just showing up and going through the motions. Dunn is not going to play a lot of kids this year if he feels that they aren't ready for action. He will roll with who he feels is ready for college football. And he will find that out by working them. He's old school.

This is clearly the area the Aggies need to improve in if they want to become a factor. I know some aren't in love with the "Air-Raid," and it has flaws that affect the team defensively as well. But guess what? The Aggies are going to score points this year. That's a fact. They need to play defense. And when I say that I mean get after the QB and get turnovers. They will give up points, I have no doubt. But you counteract that by being active and making big plays, momentum-changing plays. That's what NMSU is going to need to do in order to win.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rivalry games, '07

Last year, the two rivalry games were fantastic.

When the Aggies went to UNM, they really could have won. Chris Williams was, well, Chris Williams. I also remember the defense playing badly, Nick Cleaver getting crunched over the middle, ball popping up in the air and the Lobos getting a huge pick late in the game. Paul Young booted a field goal home with 12:39 remaining in the fourth quarter to tie things up at 27. NMSU went on to give up two straight TDs. Lost the game 34-44. Rodney Ferguson was a powerhouse and NMSU made Donovan Porterie look like a real-deal college QB. But it was a great game.

The next week, NMSU returned home to face UTEP and won 29-24. There was so much excitement after that game. Coach Mumme was very emotional afterwards and there was a feeling that the Aggies had gotten over the hump. They ran the ball well that night. I remember them just pounding the ball with Justine Buries early and the defense came up big down the stretch. There were crazy plays throughout. UTEP's Quintin Demps returned a pick 100-plus yards to the house, Williams was, well, Williams (221 yards, 2 TDs, big plays everywhere). The receiver also dropped a few passes too but who's counting.

I really just remember the optimism surrounding the team after that game. It went away shortly after though. The Aggies need to recapture that feeling again. People were genuinely excited after UTEP. NMSU won the game. And they could have beaten UNM too. It felt like they got over the hump and they fell back down again. What does 2008 have in store?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chase Holbrook

I think its important to write about NMSU quarterback Chase Holbrook.

A poster has been calling him soft. Again, I don't want to discourage people from putting their opinion on the board, but at the same time this needs to be addressed.

I've written about this before. Anyone who knows Chase knows that he is a good kid, first and foremost. He is quiet. He doesn't try to draw a lot of attention to himself - he often deflects praise to his teammates and accepts criticism when it is thrown his way. He is a good leader and has been a steady performer on the field and when speaking with the media.

The term "soft" can be interpreted a number of ways. A soft player, to me, is someone who is shaken easily in the face of pressure and performs poorly when the spotlight is thrust upon them. In that definition, Chase does not fall under that category.

He has played hard and has played hurt. Some think that it is easy for a quarterback to play in Hal Mumme's "Air-Raid" attack and to a point it is true. QB's put up huge numbers in the system. But Chase is also under a lot of pressure game-in and game-out. Teams know that NMSU is going to air it out and that Chase will drop back on just about every play. Lineman can pin their ears back and go after the quarterback without having to worry as much over the run. Try playing quarterback, and having big, fast and strong men crashing the pocket, just about every play, and knocking you around. It isn't easy. Chase has done it, under good times and bad. Again, without complaint. No bells and whistles. He just plays. I gotta respect that.

I don't know what Chase would do if he played in a different system. He might be great. He might be ordinary. But he's been just fine in Mumme's system. At times, he's been great. Ultimately, he will be judged by NMSU's record. And that's how it should be. But lets not start attacking his character. He's a fine kid and a good player. He will put up big numbers this season, count on it. Hopefully, he can lead the Aggies to a bowl game and quiet the critics.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Predictions for 2008

OK, lets predict the Aggies record for the 2008 football season.

A schedule is always impossible to accurately forecast. You will look at it and say to yourself that they will win this one, lose that one and that one and definitely win here. It never seems to work. Here are my predictions for the upcoming season. The only thing I can guarantee is that they won't be generic

vs Nicholls State - W
@ Nebraska - L
@ UTEP - L
vs UNM - W
@ Nevada - L
vs San Jose St. - L
@ Idaho - W
vs Boise St. - L
vs Hawaii - W
@ Fresno St. - L
vs La Tech - L
@ Utah St. - W

That makes for a 5-7 record. Will this be exactly how things shake out? No. But you gotta roll the dice here a little. San Jose will be a tough team as usual while La Tech is going to be the surprise team of the conference. The Aggies can certainly win at UTEP but I can't see them sweeping their rivals. If so, it will get things off to a rousing start. Hawaii loses everything that made them great last year, i.e. a strong passing attack with an offensive-minded coach. They lose in Las Cruces.

No doubt, the key games on the schedule are as followed: @ UTEP, Hosting UNM, vs San Jose State, vs Hawaii and vs La Tech. If you broke those contests into a 5-game season, the Aggies would have to go 3-2. I have them going 2-3. Four of the five are at home and the other is down the road in El Paso. Lots at stake here.

Also, I have them winning at Idaho and Utah St. These two teams are the dregs of the conference and the Aggies are farther along than both programs. Forget about the USU game last year at Aggie Memorial. NMSU needs to win both of those but I think they will. NMSU is the better team in both games. Still, the road can be tough. Certainly not guaranteed W's.

Lots on the line this season for Aggie football. I have them going 5-7. What do you got?

Ward's new deal

As I'm sure all of you are aware of, NMSU gave Rocky Ward a new, three-year contract to remain with the Aggie baseball program through 2011.

Personally, I'm happy for Ward. He loves Las Cruces and he loves the NMSU program. I know some people wanted him gone and his record as manager here isn't sterling by any stretch. But I think it will be good here eventually.

Ward puts his heart and soul into his job. Good things happen to people who are dedicated and sacrifice for the betterment of the program. Obviously, the team needs to make major improvements in the field and on the mound. You just don't win in baseball playing sloppy defense. And the team booted the ball around the diamond last year.

Ward wants to be in Las Cruces and wants to be an Aggie. Some could argue other coaches that have been here or that are here today don't necessarily feel that way. I could be eating my words in a year or two from now if the NMSU keeps playing mediocre baseball. But I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

NMSU shout out on ESPN named Charley Johnson as the “Face of the Program” at NMSU.

It gives a short breakdown on why Johnson was chosen to represent New Mexico State and allows the fans to vote on who they thing the face of the program should be. Here's the link.....

Bowl games

A poster on the last blog entry said that getting to the New Mexico Bowl was shooting too low for NMSU.

I'm not going to say that the NM Bowl is the slickest postseason opportunity around. But lets not belittle what it would mean for the program to get there. Any type of bowl berth would have significant meaning to the Aggies.

The fact we're even talking about football postseason play would seem foolish to a fan who has followed the program passively in years past. But some people, including myself, believe that NMSU could go bowling if things fall their way. The school will take it anyway they can get it. Is the NM Bowl the sexiest pick? No. But beggars can't be choosers. Right now, any chance at playing in a bowl game would mean a lot to a team that hasn't been there since 1960.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Donte Savage

People are saying good things about Savage and that is a good thing for the Aggies.

NMSU needs a pass rushing lineman. They didn't have one last year. Again, the 3-4 defense limits what lineman can do and most of the sacks end up going to the linebackers anyway. NMSU ran a 3-4 last season.

Joe Lee Dunn's scheme has three lineman in the picture once again. But it seems to be much different in dynamic than the typical 3-4 alignment. Last year, the team's ends were Rhyan Anderson, McKinney and Jarrod Naylor. Not much of a rush there. We'll see what Savage is all about early on. I'm sure the team will look to get him on the field right off the bat to see what he's all about. Prep school numbers? Fifteen sacks last year. At 230 pounds, he has to put on some weight to play at the D-1 level. Still, it could be a valuable pickup.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mike Martin

Say what you want about Mike Martin but the guy invested into the sports programs at NMSU.

He cared about sports and realized it was an easy way for New Mexico State to get its name out on a national scale. Sometimes the school was successful on the field or court and other times it wasn't. Still, Martin wanted to see the programs have success and to win.

Not all school presidents are necessarily like that. Was everything in the sports stratosphere at NMSU perfect during his tenure? No. Far from it. But he was involved and understood the significance of athletics in the college community. Hopefully that will continue when his replacement comes on board.

Weekly poll

Question about Mike Martin....Located along left column of page. Vote away!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Boston, Ward

McKinley Boston said that he will meet again with Rocky Ward on Monday as the two continue to figure out the future of NMSU baseball and if Ward will, in fact, be back with the program next season.

I don't see Boston letting go of Ward at this point. If he was not going to bring him back, don't you think he would have done it already? No need to string along this process if the inevitable awaits anyway.

At the same time, he didn't solidify anything on Friday, letting the coach twist in the wind. Again, I would suspect Ward to be back with the program. But we'll see what happens as the process moves into next week.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Parking prices

I got an email from NMSU today. It said that last year they rescinded the $2 parking and that it was free now. Just thought I'd throw that up here.

Cleaver, Murray

Recent weeks have two New Mexico State football players at NFL camps in hopes of making Week 1 rosters. Tight end Nick Cleaver with the Rams and defensive lineman Maurice Murray with the Chiefs.

They are both in good situations. The Rams like to throw the ball and have a solid quarterback in Marc Bulger. Their tight end position is fairly thin. Randy McMichael is the lone guy who should make the team from the group but he's good, not great. Anthony Becht, a former first rounder, hasn't done much on the pro level. It seems like Nick has a shot and that's all you can ask for. He can catch the ball and he might be a nice fit with their personnel and system.

Maurice, too, seems to be in a good spot. Kansas City is very young. They're moving Murray to defensive tackle where he's lining up next to first round pick Glenn Dorsey. Dorsey is going to be a starter from Day 1 and the Chiefs also have veteran Ron Edwards. Still, it seems that if Murray can make an impact he can stand out in a group that needs a jolt. After Dorsey and Edwards there are a bunch of players like Murray - young and uproven. At that point, the hungriest players win the battle.

Lets all pull for these guys to make their respective teams. They represent NMSU and it would be nice to see them make an impact. Best of luck fellas.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Attendance follow

There has been a lot of chatter on the last blog entry, particularly in regards to ticket and parking prices.

First off, I appreciate all the posts and don't discourage them. But I was shocked that people were complaining about $2 parking costs. $2!?!? Get some nickels and dimes together and park the automobile! I think that's a fair price. As for NMSU ticket prices compared to others, as recommended by another poster I think an analysis is a good idea. Still, on the surface to me, NMSU seems to stack up well with other schools in and around the area.

Lets face it folks, this really comes down to wins and losses. Doctor T said on the last post that Las Cruces consists of mostly fair weather fans. I don't necessarily disagree. There could be some truth to that, there also might not be some truth to it. The reality, though, is that a lot of places are like that. No one is going to come out the last week of the season against Fresno State in the pouring rain to watch another disappointing year go down the drain. Not here and not in too many other places either.

If the Aggies are playing for something in November, people will show up, guaranteed. Is that fair weather? Could be. Call it whatever you like. But that's the formula. And that's what needs to be done. Take it or leave it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Football attendance figures has been getting attention.

Personally, I think the Aggies will hit the 15,000 average at their home games this year. You know they'll draw well for New Mexico and early WAC games. The only concern is, what about later in the year? The weather gets less appealing and, generally, their record does to.

And that's what it's really about: wins and losses. People will come out and support the team if its competitive. No one came to the Utah State game last year because NMSU was so poor at the end of the season and what happened? The UtAgs won in front of a meager showing. The Fresno State game in the season finale drew next to nothing as well, in part because of lousy weather. Those two games were meaningless and it showed in the attendance figures, ultimately bringing down the season average as a whole.

The Nevada contest last year had a horrible crowd as well. The box score said over 10,000 but there is no way that many people showed up. That was embarrassing simply because it was on national TV.

Here are the attendance figures last year, game-by-game

Southeastern Louisiana: 12,682
UTEP: 30,343
Arkansas-Pine Bluff: 15,329
Idaho (Homecoming): 15,788
Nevada: 12,268
Utah State: 7,537
Fresno State: 6,937