The Utah State Aggies are coming to town on Saturday. This is a team that has notoriously given NMSU fits through the years.
The UtAgs seem to be better than in the past under first-year coach Gary Anderson. This is a team that has competed against three big programs - Utah, Texas A&M and BYU. Alas, USU lost all three games, but they weren't in blowout fashion. The UtAgs one win came against Southern Utah.
This game will feature a heavy dosage of the running game. USU comes in with versatile quarterback Diondre Borel and running back Robert Turbin, who both can make the big play with their feet.
"I'm impressed with their skill," NMSU linebackers coach Dale Lindsey said. "Their quarterback, he's supposed to be a passer, now he's taking off and running with the football. That can be tough to defend. We'll have our work cut out for us, that's for sure."
Because of Borel, the UtAgs can run out of various formations and have fiddled with the option this year - although it has been, for the most part, an unsuccessful venture.
"They have a lot of different groups, different personnel," Lindsey said. "They do a lot of things well. That's the challenge."
NMSU will run the ball as well - big surprise there. Utah State has not been good stopping the ground game this season, giving up 200-rushing-yards-per game. That's 120th in Division-I. Really, USU's defense has struggled this season in just about every category.
Still, the team has pieces on that side of the ball. USU has two good safeties in playmaker James Brindley and the consistent Rajric Coleman. Linebackers Paul Igboeli and Bobby Wagner are always around the ball.
This game will come down to which team can run the ball more effectively and who can win the time of possession battle. Both squads will have to stay on guard however. Get caught napping, and their could be a big play or two in the passing game as well.
I think this is going to be a very intriguing game to watch. I really can't wait anymore.
Tanner Rust: When asked if the team was tempted to bring in Tanner Rust for some action in the near future, offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach said that the freshman quarterback will remain out, at least for now.
"Not now," Rosenbach said. "There's always a chance, but we would like to see him redshirt this year."
Rosenbach said that he would like to see some consistency from his quarterbacks as the season moves forward. Jeff Fleming and Trevor Walls have split action the past two weeks.
Rosenbach said he was unsure who would start on Saturday.
Special teams: I spoke to special teams coordinator Keith Murphy on Wednesday.
Murphy said that he's been happy with Kyle Hughes as the team's primary kicker.
"His emergence has helped," Murphy said. "Punting, kickoffs, he's done a better job on field goals. When you have a kicker with a strong leg, it's kind of like having that ace pitcher. He can do a lot for you and, sometimes, carry you at certain points."
On kick and punt returns, Murphy said that Tonny Glynn has been a nice addition, while Marcus Anderson continues to make strides on punt returns. NMSU averages 9.8-yards-per return on punts, close to Murphy's goal of 10.
Glynn has shown a knack for bursting through traffic and getting into the open field.
Ross Conner: The linebacker leads the Aggies with 37 tackles on the season. The senior also has an interception and a pass defensed.
"I feel good, real comfortable," Conner said. "It's my kind of system. You have to be on top of it mentally and know where to be at all times. That plays into my hands."
Passing game: Marcus Anderson said that the receiving unit is still gelling as the group works new names into the rotation.
Anderson, Todd Lee and Marcus Allen have been mainstays this season. Donyae Coleman and William Bullock have been worked into the lineup the last couple of weeks.
"We're still growing, coming together," Anderson said. "We're a family. All of us, the wide receivers, the quarterbacks, everybody. We're working together."
When asked if playing with different quarterbacks effected his play, Anderson said no.
"It's a football," Anderson said. "You gotta go get it."