Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mike Dunbar

Well, as I'm sure just about all of you know, the Aggies offered the offensive coordinator position to Mike Dunbar.

Dunbar is a veteran coach, someone who has cultivated high-octane offenses during his college career. If he accepts — which I believe he will — it looks like a good hire for NMSU.

Coach DeWayne Walker wanted a coordinator with experience, someone who could watch over that side of the ball and take care of the unit's responsibilities. Dunbar fits the bill.

NMSU still needs added weapons on offense, especially to execute the spread attack. The quarterback position will be an open competition this spring and fall. Where will running back Seth Smith fit in with the new offensive gameplan? I'm sure they are still looking to add a piece or two in the offensive backfield. We haven't seen any verbal commitments from the wide receiver position which will be important as well. The team has bulked up along the offensive line, which was one of its top offseason priorities.

The Aggies have been proactive and aggressive under Walker. They went into the offseason with a plan and executed. No dilly dallying or wasted time, from a recruiting standpoint or from the offensive coordinator position. It's good to see. Coach Walker wants to win at NMSU. Whether or not they do, it won't be for a lack of trying, I can assure you. The work ethic is there. Now they just need to squeeze a six or seven win season out of the group.

What's your feeling on the Dunbar hire? Let me know.....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Offensive coordinator candidates

In case you missed the story, former Minnesota offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar, Feather River College head coach Steve Mooshagian, Nebraska-Kearney offensive coordinator Russ Martin, UNLV offensive coordinator Rob Phenicie and Idaho quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith, all interviewed for the Aggie offensive coordinator position.

All are intriguing, although when speaking with DeWayne Walker at the beginning of the search, he indicated that he was looking for experience and someone who was used to shouldering a great deal of responsibility. This would leave Dunbar as a qualified candidate and one I believe would be in line for serious consideration. He's been a lead assistant at a handful of big programs and has head coaching experience as well. With that resume, you can move him up the list.

I hear that Smith is a fast-rising assistant and might be an interesting fit. Again, he's inexperienced, with no coordinator experience. Giving him the position would be a roll of the dice.

Phenicie would have been very intriguing. Although its believed he'll be joining head coach Bobby Hauck at UNLV.

Any way you slice it, NMSU needs to hit with this hire. I don't think anyone would argue with that. I've been saying it since Walker's arrival: the team doesn't need an all-world offense. They need a competent offense that can move the chains and score 20-plus points on a consistent basis.

Looking forward to the final decision in this one.....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Another offensive lineman

Again, from what I gather, the Aggies have received another verbal commitment, this coming from David Grant, an offensive tackle from Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas.

Grant stands at 6-foot-7 and, according to rivals.com, is 320 pounds. This is a big body coming in here.

NMSU continues to try and beef up along the offensive line.

Manley confirmed

As reported on this blog yesterday, Andrew Manley is coming to New Mexico State University next season.

Here's some links confirming his verbal agreement with the Aggies.

From the Honolulu Advertiser

And from Yahoo Sports

Monday, December 21, 2009

Two quarterbacks, one linebacker

From what I hear, the Aggies received verbal commitments from two quarterbacks and a linebacker.

One of the QBs is Andrew Manley, who hails from Wahiawa, Hawaii and went to Lelehua High School. According to rivals.com, Manley received interest from a handful of competitive schools.

At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, he's your classic drop-back, pocket passer.

Matt Christian, a quarterback from Palomar Junior College in California, is another player who has serious interest in NMSU.

Here's Christian's link to Rivals, as the website indicates that he has received interest Colorado State, Middle Tennessee State, East Carolina and Oregon State.

Finally is linebacker Dylan Davis, who is a prospect that can line up in the middle of the field. Again, a link to Rivals.

Anyway you slice it, NMSU is working hard to address its needs. Along both lines of scrimmage, under center and at linebacker. It's encouraging.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Matt Ramondo

The New Mexico State Aggies will make an offer to Mayfield junior defensive tackle Matt Ramondo.

Matt had a big year last season for the Trojans and has the body to play at the college level. He is listed at 6-foot-3, 236 pounds on the nmact.org website and that roster was put out prior to last season.

I spoke with Matt's mother today and she said he has received interest from UNM as well, and things should pick up steam next year, assuming he's healthy and the Trojans challenge for a state title once again.

Just an interesting tidbit of information from the recruiting front.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One more....

The Aggies have received yet another verbal from an offensive lineman, this one coming from Randy Richards from the College of the Sequoias.

He stands at 6-foot-4, 310 pounds.

According to rivals.com, RIchards had an offer on the table from Arkansas.

He apparently originally signed with Florida Atlantic in 2008.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Aggies get another committment

NMSU received a verbal commitment from offensive lineman Aundre McGaskey. McGaskey is from Blinn Junior College in Texas.

McGaskey actually played a season at Texas in 2008 before transferring to Blinn. He went to La Marque High School in La Marque, Texas. This link has a quote from McGaskey as wanting to leave Texas in order to pursue more playing time at another school.

On a side note, DeWayne Walker is quoted in this interview that he would in fact be able to sign a ninth assistant this year. I wrote in my last entry that I didn't believe the Aggies would fill the spot.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Offensive coordinator; The coaching staff

The New Mexico State Aggies will conduct interviews this weekend with five or six candidates for the offensive coordinator position with the football team.

Head coach DeWayne Walker said all but one of the candidates has prior experience as a college coordinator.

"I'm not too concerned with big names or big resumes," Walker said. "I'm looking at it more from a production standpoint. We want someone who wants to be here and wants to get things done."

Next season, Walker said he would like to see an offense that still incorporates the running game, although one which also is more creative in its playcalling, both in personnel groupings and in scheme. The new coordinator will run the offense as well as coach the quarterbacks. Walker stressed the importance of coaching up and developing the quarterback position.

The Aggie staff will also have a slightly different look next season, with R. Todd Littlejohn moving over from cornerbacks coach to running backs coach. Walker said the team will hire a new cornerbacks coach who will team with safeties coach Mike Rutenberg in the secondary.

NMSU at UTEP (hoops)

Wow. I was at Aggies-UTEP basketball Sunday night, front row. Wow.

It was a great game and I was fired up about it for about 2 hours after I left the arena. I just wanted to see NMSU go out and compete - something they have failed to do against their rivals - heck really against anybody this year. It's not harsh. Those are facts ladies and gents. I just wanted to see them battle, not necessarily come out on top. Why just battle? Partly because I didn't think they could win. Well, they did just that.

I knew the first thing people would be saying following this one. It was obvious: The team won with Mick Durham at the controls. Hey, I can't hate. That's a legitimate statement and one that must be considered when talking about this basketball game. The truth is that Marvin Menzies has been under considerable heat lately because people think he has shortcomings as a manager, on and off the floor. Again, not harsh, just facts. That's what fans and media have been talking about since the opening of the season. And lets be honest, the team got pounded by the Miners in Las Cruces earlier this month. It was quite a turnaround, to get beaten soundly to actually doing the beating. It can't be overlooked. I won't say the team won Sunday night because of Menzies' absence. But hey, right now, it's hard to argue the other way around, I'll say that too. I definitely won't say the team lost despite Menzies' absence. That would be just as naive. They better pick it up when he returns to the bench. If not, it adds validity to those concerns, possibly even adds truth.

NMSU ran just about everything through Jahmar Young in the second half and he delivered. Jahmar is a great player, people. This kid has range, can get into the paint and is an underrated facilitator for his teammates. I was very impressed by him. This will be another chip for the Menzies' bashers. This team played with poise in the second half when they could have unraveled. They ran a controlled offense without turning the ball over, with Young as the centerpiece. That's what you do with your best player on the court. UTEP was forced a number of times to switch their big men on him because of the pick and roll game and he feasted on the mismatches. He plays with an assassins touch and I really believe NMSU has a building block in him. I even think he's been underutilized to this point. Anyone can score 24 in a blowout loss. But he did it in the pressure of a big-time college basketball game - at least as far as this region's concerned. Going forward, he needs to be the centerpiece of the team's offensive attack. Not 1A or 1B. No, he needs to be No. 1. I believe that.

Gordo Castillo and Hernst Laroche stepped up to make some huge 3-pointers with the game in the balance. Gordo drained two straight that kept the Aggies in the game and shifted momentum while Hernst buried one that was just as important down the stretch. I gotta give them credit, particularly Hernst who isn't known as a scorer. But he didn't hesitate to pull the trigger when it mattered. Gordo, that's what he's there for. To straight-up stroke the rock. He did what he's supposed to do. Those were big buckets for both players.

Jonathan Gibson kept the Aggies in the game early but went ice cold midway through the first half and from there on out. He finished 2-of-11 from the field and made some mind-numbing plays down the stretch. Different situations call for different decisions on the court. Jonathan will try the same cross-court rifle pass on the break during a 4-2 game two minutes in as he will up 71-70 in the closing minute of action. Risky. But with his athleticism and want-to in the clutch moments, it's hard not to get him out on the court. He did go 9-of-10 from the line. And he's one of the few Aggies who can create offense off the dribble, get his own shot and set up his teammates. As a coach, he's tough player to juggle I'd imagine. A heart attack waiting to happen as well.

The thing that impressed me the most about the Aggies Sunday night: Defense and rebounding. The team has been bad defensively early in the season but battled, scratched and clawed on that end of the court Sunday. Giving up 80 points to UTEP on the road. Aggie fans will take it. And to tie with the Miners 34-34 on the boards, despite being undersized? Again, that's a victory for the Aggies. Rahman deserves credit for banging downlow, the only Aggie who could truly go toe-to-toe with UTEP's size in the post and underneath. He played strong enough defense and got boards. It was a workman-like effort from him.

It also seemed like the Aggies came up with every loose ball. That won them the game, along with shooting 28-of-32 from the line. 12-12 in turnovers? The Aggies did the little things right on Sunday - the intangibles. These are things that have been missing this year. They got it going against UTEP.

Alas, unless Young can play at that level every game, this team will be what they've been all year: an underwhelming group. Menzies still has to answer the same questions at this point, because he didn't lead them to the victory. The ultimate litmus test though? Troy and Wendell's eligibility. From what I saw tonight, if both of those guys are around and if there is quality coaching, this team can compete. So far, those have proven to be pretty big ifs early in the year.

That's what I learned tonight. And that I love basketball. I already knew that though. Whatever.....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Aggie football recruit

The Aggies got a verbal commitment this weekend from Augafa Vaaulu, a defensive tackle out of Warren High School in Downey, Calif.

Vaaulu stands at 6-foot-2, 285 pounds.

According to this espn.com link Vaaulu was considering UNLV and Utah.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A look at Aggies' needs

We'll go position-by-position, to see where the Aggie football team needs to most help. NMSU has 17 scholarships to offer this offseason:

Quarterbacks: The team needs improved play here and one would think a new face will get the start under center. Freshman Tanner Rust redshirted this past year and will likely get a look. Head coach DeWayne Walker said the team would recruit a quarterback as well. Either way, the team needs better production from this position in 2010.

Running backs: Seth Smith had a nice year for the Aggies and deserves a shot to at the fulltime gig once again. The team is high on grey shit Marquese Dunn who, with his big body, looks to be a bruiser as well, similar to Smith. The Aggies could certainly use a change-of-pace back who supplies speed and could be a homerun hitter out of the backfield. The Aggies thought they had two last year in seniors Marquell Colston and Tonny Glynn, but neither made impacts, Colston because of off-the-field troubles while Glynn simply fell out of the backfield rotation. Walker seemed to be OK with the position heading into the offseason, but also said if a quality candidate emerged in the recruiting process that the team would give them a serious look. Also on the roster is James Hall Jr., Robert Clay, Victor Johnson, J'Barrie Jones and Donavan Roberts.

Wide receiver: The Aggies need a stud here, someone who they can call a flat-out No. 1 receiver. They're certainly not easy to come by. A player with size and gamebreaking ability is preferred — frankly it should be a top priority come signing day. While Todd Lee and Marcus Allen were contributors this past year, they would benefit from playing next to a true No. 1 target. NMSU will need to add a couple receivers, as Marcus Anderson won't be back next season and no one made a sizeable impact across the unit in 2009.

Tight end: With just 17 scholarships available, Walker indicated that adding a tight end likely won't be No. 1 on the list. He also acknowledged that the team will need much-improved play from this unit next season. Kyle Nelson couldn't catch a cold all season long and suffered from a lack of confidence. Physically, Nelson can do the job. Now, it's about him picking up his play. Kyle Hipp is big — 6-5, 250 — but didn't see the ball much. NMSU didn't utilize the tight end much in 2009 — Nelson, Hipp, Kenny Evora combined for 17 catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Whether that was because of the scheme or the players is another question. Keep in mind that no one got going in the passing game, however. Tight end Jackson Kaka, who played his high school ball in Hawaii, looks to be coming to NMSU. Still, how much can the team rely on a true freshman? As of now, it looks as if the Aggies will need better play from the players they already have on the roster.

Offensive line: Although only a handful of contributors from this unit are departing during the offseason — most notably starting tackle David Norman — Walker wants more bodies along the offensive line. A team can never have too many O-linemen and, while the Aggies actually held their own here in 2009, more depth and better skill could have made the unit a standout position. Keep in mind, the Aggies got a 1,000-yard rusher this season without the real threat of a passing attack ever in place. The O-line can take at least 50 percent of the credit on that one. Another plus from last year: While penalties were a major concern during the first three weeks of the season, they were cut back as the year went on. Was the unit outstanding? No. But it was solid and should be even better in 2010 with more coaching and added reinforcements.

Defensive line: Again, Walker wants more bodies here, and rightfully so. Defensive ends Pierre Fils and Donte Savage played, what seemed like, every snap this past season. They both had good years with 13 sacks (Fils with 7, Savage with 6), 106 tackles (each had 53), five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and six passes defensed. They could use a third, even a fourth player, in their rotation however to keep them fresh and have the unit humming at a more efficient rate. NMSU was also fortunate that both D-ends stayed healthy throughout the entire season as well. Defensive tackle was a cut-and-paste job this year, with bodies being rotated into the lineup. Still, the group battled every week. John Finau was probably the group's most steady player while Chris Romero contributed at times. I expected more from E.J. Cannon. Dejuan Yates will be in the fold next year and how about Branden Warner? He was non-existent this past year, despite the preseason hype. One cannot count on Warner, but if he could deliver on his potential next year, it would be a nice shot in the arm for the Aggie D-line. Expect D-tackle to be a coveted position during recruiting, with upgrades here being a top priority.

Linebacker: This unit needs to recruit players that can step in and take the field right away. Walker said the Aggies will look toward the junior college ranks to upgrade here. The coaching staff is high on B.J. Adolpho, who was the team's top practice-squad player last year. Four seniors took all the snaps here last season — Ross Conner, Jason Scott, Jamar Cotton and Sam King. This group didn't set the house on fire, but they were at least reliable, particularly Scott, who came on as the year moved along. Finding adequate replacements across the board for next season could be the coaching staff's toughest challenge of the offseason.

Secondary: This unit was average, and I mean that in a good way. They played hard, were solid — for the most part — and carried themselves with confidence. I don't see the need to add many pieces here — not that it would be a bad idea, but the roster has other immediate needs. Again, this entire group — Davon House, Jonte Green, Stephon Hatchett, Chris Buckner, Donyae Coleman, Junior Fasavalu — stayed healthy, and only Buckner and Fasavalu depart. Walker did say the staff would add some players here in recruiting. Certainly added depth at safety and another cornerback would seem to be needs, if they decide to go that route.

Special teams: Coleman could step in as the primary punt and kick returner next season. In 2009, the return game was a revolving door, with Marcus Anderson having the standout play of the year — the punt return against Utah State. Allen also got some looks in the return game, as did Lee. One would think Kyle Hughes will assume the kicking duties once again, but will it be as both a kicker and a punter? Hughes was inconsistent in 2009 and perhaps doing double-duty in the kicking game had something to do with that. Still, with just 17 scholarships, is there an immediate need to grab a kicker or punter for next season? I believe it's important. But there are a lot of holes to fill on the Aggie roster, many I deem more important than that.

It should be fun to track the Aggies this offseason. Is it spring yet? I'm already missing the football field.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Davon House

Davon House, All-WAC selection?

That's a nice award to win at the end of the year for Davon. Just wanted to give a shoutout on the blog....

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rosenbach, Wilson

I was surprised when I heard that Timm Rosenbach and Earnest Wilson would not return to the Aggie football team next year, simply because Rosenabach was part of the equation.

Now, don't get me wrong. I expected some sort of a move to be made on the offensive staff. This team was bad this past season on that side of the ball - yes unwatchable. And I didn't expect everything to remain in place. I just didn't know how extreme the changes would be. Not that I disagree with the changes that were made. Like I said, something had to be done.

Heck, if the offense had been any better - just competent - I think the Aggies would have won another game this season and at least been competitive in a handful of others down the stretch. When you're a defense, and an offense just can't move the ball - can't get a first down - eventually the roof is gonna cave in. That happened a few times during the second half of the schedule.

It will be interesting to see what direction the team goes in, but I would bet that Walker will look for a coordinator that shares the same vision as the head coach. I wouldn't expect a scheme that spreads the field and throws the ball 60 to 70 percent of the time. It will be closer to 50/50, maybe even more toward the run. This team needs the offense to get first downs and eat up the clock and put 20 to 30 points on the board. That's how the Aggies are being built. And, from an offensive perspective, it really never happened this season.

NMSU is still a long ways off from a talent standpoint. This is not a deep team and the coaching staff is building from the ground-floor up. This is, what I consider, the group's first recruiting class, the one being announced in February. This is a critical period of time for the Aggie football team, because Walker is trying to build a foundation. It began when he first got here and it's still in its early stages.

Having some changes on the offensive staff isn't a bad thing. Standing pat would have been worse.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Recruiting news

DeWayne Walker addressed recruiting info at Tuesday's press conference.

The Aggie coaching staff will hit the road on Sunday for recruiting duties.
Walker said the team is in the market for a quarterback, not surprising considering the offense’s struggles this year.

“You have to,” Walker said of going after a QB. “I don’t think we have enough quarterbacks on scholarship anyway. It’s not trying to pick on Jeff (Fleming) or Trevor (Walls), it’s just a need, we need more quarterbacks on our roster.”

Walker said his team is also looking for offensive linemen, a playmaking wide receiver and possibly a difference maker at running back.

On defense, the head coach said he hopes to add linemen, a couple of junior college linebackers and a couple defensive backs.

“We’ve got some work to do,” Walker said. “We’re really just re-doing our whole roster....We gotta build this football team and this roster the way that we want it.”

NMSU has 17 scholarships available, one reason being because of the team’s APR status and another being a handful of grey shirt players on the roster that Walker is excited about.

During Tuesday’s press conference, he cited 6-foot-2, 220-pound running back Marquese Dunn as someone who the staff believes can make an impact.