One positive for the Aggies this season has been the play on both lines of scrimmage, particularly the offensive line.
This is a unit that has been steady. Nothing flashy, but when one considers the following: The group is blocking for two quarterbacks and three different running backs; The group is transitioning from a pass-heavy scheme to a run-oriented attack; the group has lost proven veterans the last two years; And the group is relatively undersized for the position.
This was an area of concern for me going into the season but it has been reliable. Starters from last year, Kyle Smith and Patrick Blount, haven't seen the field yet this year, both nursing injuries. Blount returned two weeks ago from plantar fasciitis and Smith is trying to get his asthma issues under control.
"For the most part, they've been consistent," coach DeWayne Walker said. "They've had injuries, they've shuffled some pieces. (Offensive line coach Jason Lenzmeier) has done a good job there. They're playing solid football."
I'll have a story on the offensive line online Wednesday and in Thursday's edition of the Sun-News.
Players recalled last season's loss to Utah State, one which was a season-ending defeat, a 47-2 drubbing which officially stamped to end of the Hal Mumme era at NMSU.
"I mean, it was pretty much a blowout," cornerback Chris Buckner said. "We gotta be more prepared this time around. We've got to take this game to the next level.
"We're really starting WAC conference play now," Buckner continued. "We can't play now like we ended last season."
Both teams are different this season. Both experienced head coaching changes, Gary Anderson at USU and Walker at NMSU. While Anderson was brought in as a defensive coach, the UtAgs have actually had problems stopping people.
Offensively, Utah State has been strong, led by quaterback Diondre Borel and running back Robert Turbin.
"They're explosive," Buckner said. "They have multiple receivers and their quarterback, he's elusive. He can get downfield and he's accurate. We've got to be sound and do our job."
Memories from 2008 still linger.
"They beat us 47-2 last year," running back Marquell Colston said. "We haven't forgotten about that."
Walker spoke about the importance of getting other backs besides Seth Smith involved in the offensive attack.
Smith has been a workhorse early on but, when considering how often the Aggies run the ball, and his physical style, getting Smith on the sideline and getting Colston and Tonny Glynn more opportunities to run the ball seems like a logical train of thought.
"If we're called upon, we'll be ready," Colston said of him and Glynn. "Seth's playing ball right now. If they call us, we'll be ready to roll."
The quarterback situation remains a committee approach, at least according to Walker at Tuesday's press conference.
"It's no biggie," Colston said when asked about playing with both QBs during the course of a game. "Jeff and Trevor are both great QBs. Both are smart young men who play ball."
Pierre Fils has four sacks this year, a team high.
"I've been all right," Fils said. "I've made a couple of plays. I'm out there just trying to do what the defense needs me to do."
The Aggie defense in general has played better, although they will face a tough test on Saturday. The UtAgs can score points, quickly. They will also come in equipped with a dangerous running game.
"I think once you know you can stop someone, it definitely helps," middle linebacker Jason Scott said of the team gaining confidence and playing with a swagger. "I think we've shown we can play. It's about being consistent out there. That's the big key for us."