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.


Anonymous said...

We need an "identity" before we move too far forward. Are we going to be a running team, a passing team, what? Being a balanced team is the ideal situation, but can we recruit enough quality players to step in and help us in that direction? What do you think?
I'm hoping we can get this program going in a big way.

Teddy said...

Over time, I think the Aggies can recruit enough quality players to move in the direction of a winning program. But I think it will take years of quality recruiting and building from the ground-up.

There is no quick-fix here. Walker needs at least three or four years of recruiting classes here before this team begins reaping the benefits. That's just my opinion.

Sam said...

Don't forget the most important "recruit" of the offseason. Offensive coordinator. I would imagine that who he wants/gets will shape a lot of the signing class on the offensive side of the ball.

Anonymous said...


With Rosenbach gone do you think Trevor Walls will stay in Las Cruces? Your QB analysis seems count him out. I have to stay, after reading your comments and articles over the past year, you do know your football.

(Well Below Freezing here in Ohio)

Teddy said...

Thanks Joe....

As for Trevor, for whatever reason, I think he'll stay here. I think he should at least stay and see who the new coordinator will be.

Trevor has talent. People can say what they want about Hal Mumme, but the man knew quarterback talent. He was really excited two years ago when they signed Walls. I think the Aggies actually have a chip in Walls and I'd like to see him stick around and get a shot.

Anonymous said...


We all keep talking about how Walker will need time to build this program into a winning one or close to it. Im wondering how much time he will get to do that. I mean Mumme brought in a new system as well and he brought in his own players but nothing. He got four seasons, now if Walker gets the same four seasons and we still havent had a winning season or five hundred season would he still stay? What do you think would be the different in him staying compared to Mumme?


Teddy said...

Speaking honestly, coach Mumme was never embraced by the local community. He didn't do himself any favors in this department, as he often alienated fans and administration and wasn't a public figure in Las Cruces. I think that hurt him as much, maybe even more, than his win-loss record.

In a lot of ways, DeWayne has been the exact opposite of that and I think that counts for something.

I will also say this about Hal: the Aggie job is a very tough one. And, looking back on it, I don't think he did as bad of a job as advertised here. He actually brought in some legitimate talent — particularly on the offensive side of the ball — and the team was competitive in many WAC games. Many were frustrated with the team's inconsistencies along with their uncanny ability to let winnable games slip away down the stretch. But they played an exciting brand of football and even pulled off the occasional upset — see at Nevada in 2008; vs. UTEP in '07 and at UTEP in '08. There were a few others mixed in there as well.

The one thing I learned is this: you can be a good coach at NMSU — which I really believe Walker is — and it might not translate into wins. NMSU hasn't gone bowling in 50 years. Do you think that's because the school's had zero good head coaches here in that span? Highly unlikely.

I think if given the proper time and adequate resources, Walker can take the team to a bowl game. But it will take time and patience. He took over a program that was limited to begin with and is in the process of completely rebuilding it from the ground floor. There was a change in system, and philosophy, and football culture during a very tough economic time and the athletics department at NMSU. I said at the beginning of the year — people were on here predicting six, seven, eight, nine wins — that it was unrealistic to expect that. I set the bar at four and said that was lofty, but attainable. Going into next year, I say four, maybe five. But I do think they have the right man in the driver's seat in Walker. He's solid.

chilero said...

Great topic Teddy and I agree that it'll take Walker a few years of continual improvement to get us there. I also agree with your observations on Mumme - his aloof attitude came across as arrogant and he did himself no favors with the local community. Walker may actually ingratiate himself well enough to buy himself the time he needs to turn it around.

On the position needs, the only glaring gaps seem to be linebacker and receiver. So, if we can get a couple of each and maybe some help on the line too, we could be closer than we think.

I'm with you...4 to 5 wins next year and we continue to make progress.

Anonymous said...

Let's not blame it all on passing game.
The offensive play calling was a joke.
Obviously coach Walker saw it too and made the necessary changes.
We obviously need WR's & TE's that can catch.
A couple of JUCO's can take care of that.

We were dead last (120th) in the nation for total offense.
If next year we are 80 to 60th in the nation, we can get those 5-6 wins!

On the LB's, you forget Nick Paden. He was our leading tackler last year and Preseason All WAC before he got hurt.
He should be back in BIG way!

I too miss Aggie FB!!
I'm counting the days to National signing day, waiting for Spring ball/ game, fall camp and then the season opener.

(Nice & 60 here in Las Cruces)

Anonymous said...

Teddy you said we have 17 scholarships available, is that what's left after the signings we already have? Do Kaka, Williamson or Wallace have a shot at cracking the lineup or will the redshirt?

Any chance D. Coleman switches back to WR? Or for that matter any position changes, a quick look at the roster on shows 10 wr's coming back yet that's still a key recruiting position I don't think we'd have 15+ on the roster, so who moves and where?

Teddy said...


You bring up good questions and valid points.

From my understanding, the Aggies currently have 17 open scholarships. I do not believe that counts the three players you mentioned, although I need to clarify that.

I do not think you'll see Coleman move back to WR. He was moved to DB because the staff wanted to disperse scholarship players evenly on that side of the ball. And you mentioned the number of receivers they already had on the roster.

The question of receivers is a valid one as well. Still, having 10 receivers means nothing if they struggle to produce. I don't think NMSU will bring in five newcomers at the position, but three seems like a realistic number to me. But they'll need to hit on all three. As for movement here, it's something you could see. I really don't know to be perfectly honest.

Anonymous said...

First and foremost, we need an offensive coordinator with some big brass ones. We need someone who 1) can get the most out of the talent on the field, 2) is innovative in his approach, and 3) who will complement Walker's defensive bent.

IC said...

Yeah, I noticed I had typed 15 as I hit publish, I meant 12. I think 2-3 at the WR spot is realistic, but like you said they need to be hits. I still think the OC will play a big role in the teams success and in forming an identity. That said Illinois is going to dismiss their OC he was only there 1 year, but spent the previous decade at TCU maybe worth a look. I know DW is a California guy, but bringing in someone with ties to Texas couldn't hurt.
Do you have any insight into the possible coaching replacements?

Anonymous said...

Who ended up red-shirting this season and what is the availability for Nick Paden next season?

NMSU '98

Anonymous said...

Mike Schultz was the OC that Illinois just dismised.

I think he's a good one.
The Illinois offense averaged 35 points the last five games.
You also look at the success TCU had with and Gary Patterson (defensive minded head coach) and Mike Schultz.
Heck, TCU was the only team to beat Boise St. last year!!

I also belive he had a multi year contract at Illinois and will still be drawing a paycheck so, $$ shouldn't be an issue.
I think he & coach Walker could be a dangerous combination!

Don't forget about David Niaumatalolo. He was our starting DT during Mumme's first a true freshman!!
He returned over the summer from his 2 yr Mormon mission in Ghana.
He did lose a lot of weight (down to 200Lbs) during his mission but, is up to 240 and will add more weight during the offseason.

He was a stud back in 2006 and will be a stud for the next three years.


Anonymous said...

I watched the Army/ Navy game noticed how the triple option is tough to defend and just chews up the clock.

The service academys (especially Navy)are similiar to NMSU.
Their players are not very big yet, win enough games to go bowling every year as an independent.

Would the triple option work in Las Cruces?