1) Aggie offensive line: NMSU will have to block well up front, create holes in the run game and also protect quarterback Jeff Fleming. UTEP has solid pass rusher in defensive end Aaron King, who has two sacks on the season and will be looking for more. The Aggie running game hummed on all cyclinders last week. It will be tougher on a UTEP defense that is, well, Division-I caliber. And, Fleming will need time in the pocket. If he rushes his throws, it could be trouble, as Miner playmakers Braxton Amy and Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith lurk in the UTEP secondary.
2) UTEP wide receivers: Idaho’s wide receivers were ordinary. Prairie View had some talent on the outside. Still, neither team compares to the one-two punch the Miners will throw NMSU’s way in Jeff Moturi and Kris Adams. Both can fly and make the big play look easy in the passing game. The Miner passing game has gotten off to a slow start in the 2009 season. Reagardless, the team is looking for a breakout performance. In other words, UTEP and it’s receiving corps believe that Saturday is the night the unit gets on track and the scoreboard lights up.
3) Aggie passing attack: Last week’s 8-for-20, 63-yard effort from the Aggies won’t cut it against against the team’s rivals from the south. The Aggie wide receivers need to get open downfield and, when they do, Jeff Fleming has to look their way and deliver the ball accurately. Even in Week 1, the Aggies used short, conservative throws to methodically move the ball downfield. Big plays in the passing game will be a necessary requirement for NMSU on Saturday. If it doesn’t happen, the Miners will stack the box looking to stop the run, and points will be hard to come by for the Aggies.
4) Miner penalties: Nothing will kill momentum faster than crucial penalties at critical times. All you have to do is ask UTEP, which has been flagged 25 times for 238 yards in just two games. Sure, the constant penalties are correctable. They’re also a bad habit to fall into and the Miners already seem to be knee deep in the mire. Just another subplot to watch out for, with the 87th Aggie-Miner battle on tap.