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.