Monday, August 31, 2009

WAC notes, headlined by NMSU

These were some of DeWayne Walker's comments during Monday's WAC conference call with media members.

On preparing for the University of Idaho
We started working on Idaho last week. The first couple of days it was rough, we were transitioning. We practiced on Saturday and I was real happy with our guys understanding on what we're trying to do. We get a few more days and we'll be ready to roll on Saturday.

On opening up against a conference foe
I think it's a good thing for both teams, personally. It's a great opportunity for us to get off on a positive note.

On snack donations to his program
I thought it was a positive. In some cases, people thought it was a joke but it was a chance for our community to get involved and help our team.

On establishing a new defensive system at NMSU
It's been a process, specifically with our linebackers. We put a lot of pressure on them both in the running game and the passing game. I think they've done a decent job paying attention to detail and we've opened their eyes to another level of football.

On the Aggies' defensive tackles
We'll play at least three or four of them. (E.J.) Cannon, (Vincent) Federico and (John) Finau, they're going to be our top three. (Branden) Warner and (Matthew) Collins could be our fourth.

Idaho coach Robb Akey quote on opening against a conference foe
One thing's for certain, it's kept the attention of our players. It's a game I would like to think our players have an expectancy for after having beaten them last year. This football team, I feel we're better physically. We also have to be better mentally.

An interesting note: Both coaches were asked about game planning leading up to Saturday's contest.

Akey and Aggie offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach worked together at Washington State so the two are familiar with each other's systems and tendencies.

Akey said that he will study film from Walker's days at UCLA to get an idea on what the Aggies might throw the Vandals' way on the defensive side of the ball.

While the Vandals seem to be in a slight hole studying a brand-new Aggie staff, Walker cited the fact that Idaho is going into Year 3 of the Akey era.

"On th flip side, they might think they have an advantage there," Walker said. "They've been together a bit longer and have their systems in place."

Still, it would seem the NMSU staff has more to work with in terms of preparation.

"I don't think they're going to change," Walker said. "The video we've been watching is probably what we're going to get on Saturday."

Other WAC games of interest this weekend: Nevada at Notre Dame is big for the WAC, considering that the conference is under-exposed as is and that teams from the WAC generally never go play the Fighting Irish in South Bend. This contest will be on NBC at 1:30 p.m. (MDT) Saturday.

Thursday night will see Oregon visit Boise State, an ESPN affair, which gets under way at 8:15 p.m. (MDT). Many question BSU's ability to win against top-tier competition. Some of this has to do with the fact that the Broncos have flat-out dominated their WAC counterparts over the years. With that being said, a win here will be good for the Broncos and the conference as a whole. A loss, and the dogs will bark louder.

Another Thursday night affair to keep an eye on this week will be Utah State visiting Utah. Utah State first-year coach Gary Anderson was long-standing defensive coordinator at Utah before moving south to Logan during the offseason. Many think Utah State is a sleeper this year and I will definitely have my eye on this one.

Two other games to watch: Louisiana Tech at Auburn and San Jose State at USC. Actually, I think there is only one game to watch here. The Bulldogs should battle the Tigers and could even pull off an upset in that one. SJSU, I don't think they're going to fair too well against the Trojans.

Quarterback uncertainty: All August we talked about the Aggie quarterback situation. As it turns out, two other teams in the WAC haven't named a starter yet.

At San Jose State, senior Kyle Reed is battling with junior Jordan La Secla. This can't be a good sign for Reed who got off to a hot start last year, cooled considerably and tailed off down the stretch along with the entire Spartans team.

Fresno State is also seeing a QB competition between junior Ryan Colburn and freshman Derek Carr. Yes, Derek Carr, younger brother of former Bulldog great David Carr. The great debate? Colbrun is gritty and a team leader. Carr is a freshman, but with a ton of upside.

I actually feel OK about the Bulldogs situation and feel like both players could perform. The San Jose State situation? I feel much shakier about it.

Another subplot at SJSU: I like the Spartans and have since I began covering the WAC three years ago. This is mainly due to Dick Tomey, who puts out strong defensive teams consistently and will most likely do so again. This philosophy allows SJSU to remain competitive on most weeks.

Offensively, the team has a lot to prove this season. And one man they brought in, Terry Malley, is someone I will keep an eye on.

Malley will be an assistant head coach on offense for the Spartans as well as the team's quarterbacks coach. The past 14 seasons, Malley was with the San Jose SaberCats, a member of the now defunct Arena Football League. The past nine years, Malley was the Sabercats' offensive coordinator. Now, he's back in the college game.

"We struggled on offense last year and Terry has given us some stability," Tomey said. "It took him an extra few months to get used to where the extra three guys are coming from. But he's been able to come in and disagree without being disagreeable. All our players and coached realize his extraordinary manner in bringing people together."

Now, if they could just get that quarterback situation figured out.

Mike Iupati

One player to keep an eye on for Idaho on Saturday will be senior offensive guard Mike Iupati.

Iupati is big - 6-foot-6, 330 pounds - and athletic. He is one of the top linemen in the WAC and will be in charge of clearing holes for the Vandals' three running backs - Deonte Jackson, Princeton McCarty and DeMaundrey Woolridge.

Just someone of interest on the other side of the football.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Jeff Fleming

Well, he's going to get the nod Week 1 against the University of Idaho as the Aggies' starting quarterback.

It's funny, last week I put on the blog that I liked Trevor Walls in the quarterback competition. The next day, the passing game looks bad in practice, with Walls throwing two interceptions. Then that Saturday, Fleming came out and looked better during the team's scrimmage. He looked a lot better, throwing two touchdowns and moving the team into scoring position on three or four occasions. After that game, it was obvious. Fleming would start for the Aggies, and why not? He stood out when in mattered most.

Whoever is going to be under center will have to stick to a blueprint we have talked about on the blog since the spring. Play smart, move the first-down markers and show leadership. Again, the QB doesn't need to be a gamebreaker, but they need to play
within the confines of the offense and step up when the time is right.

I think Fleming can do this, particularly if the Aggie running backs stay healthy. If Colston or Glynn get hurt, it will put more pressure on the QB to play above his head. When the game situation is reasonable, play smart, efficient football.

Alphonso Powell: Powell will start at strong safety, next to Stephon Hatchett who is at free.

When Powell first got here, he was a cornerback. Last year, he was asked to be a playmaker in the 3-3-5 as a bandit. He did well, making over 70 tackles and mixing in some of big plays.

This year, he's at safety. At the beginning of spring camp, he wasn't even in the conversation to be a starter. When fall rolled around, he was in the top-four on the depth chart and now will get the nod Week 1.

"How could you not be proud?" safeties coach Mike Rutenberg said. "Alphonso went from backup to first string and back to backup again. Now, he's first string. He's emerging."

Powell sounds happy in his role.

"Oh, it's very exciting for me," he said. "I'm kind of the quarterback of the defense back there. And I get to make plays. Which is always fun."

Saturday's practice: The Aggies are prepping for the University of Idaho.

The team ran a fast and efficient practice on Saturday night. Everyone was moving and into it, coaches and players alike.

"I'm really happy," DeWayne Walker said. "We're working for Idaho, that's it. We're learning there schemes here in a short period of time. But I think both the offense and defense looked comfortable."

Just let the games begin already.

Injury updates: Walker said that both Kyle Nelson and Davon House (House sat out Saturday's practice) will be ready to go against the Vandals.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Attitude adjustment

Someone a few posts back asked what I thought the biggest difference was on this year's Aggie football team as opposed to years past.

It's early, although I have made some observations. I really think this group is tight-nit, more so than in the past. Todd Lee said it in my story today in the Sun-News, DeWayne Walker has brought the group together and it looks more "team" oriented.

Honestly, a lot of players I've spoken with this past month have brought up that they want to do whatever the team needs them to do. The first couple of times I figured it was just your token remark. But I do not fabricate when I say I've spoken to at least 10 players who have talked about team concept. I don't know how much collective talent this group is going to have, but playing as a team and fighting for the entire group - that's exactly what to look for out of this program. I think that attitude alone will net them a few more wins than people think they can get.

Todd Lee: Did a piece on Todd Lee today and also on Barry Huntley.

It looks like Lee is going to be a starter and you got to give him credit here. The reality was that Todd is a young player who got some experience last year although didn't do a whole lot. I do know that the past coaching staff was high on his ability. Still, a lot of coaches talk in good terms about young players that they recruited.

Coming into camp and being one of the teams better players the last handful of months says something.

As for receivers, Barry Huntley will be a backup, but he has seen considerable time this camp.

I expect the starters to be Marcus Anderson, Todd Lee and Marcus Allen.

The quarterbacks: Expect the Aggies to officially name a starting QB by early next week. Jeff Fleming has had the edge throughout camp, and that includes Saturday's scrimmage performance.

Final thought: I believe the Idaho game is going to come down to defense. Whichever defensive unit can contain the opposition fastest will win the game.

The Aggie defense has had a good camp, although it's been against the Aggie offense. The point is that nobody really knows what they have until the season starts. And even then, perspectives change.

Still, I like the NMSU defense Week 1 against Idaho. And I think the Aggies will be able to move the ball some too.

Important news on practice

Got some important news on practice for those who enjoy going out and watching the team play.

Since the NCAA allows teams 29 practices in fall camp, adjustments had to be made on the Aggie practice schedule. The Aggies have had 23 practices so far during camp. Here are the remaining practice days leading up to Week 1.

Aug. 27th – 3:50 – 5:50 pm
Aug. 29th – Time to be announced
Sept. 1st – 3:50 – 5:50 pm
Sept. 2nd – 3:50 – 5:50 pm
Sept. 3rd – 3:50 – 5:50 pm

I spoke with coach Walker about the lack of practice time leading up to Idaho and he wasn't concerned. On the team's “off” days, the players are still working heavily in the weight room and at team and position meetings.

“We beat them up physically this camp,” Walker said. “We have (six) of them left. When we get out there, we have to practice hard.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Donyae Coleman

Donyae Coleman practiced today for the first time with the Aggies.

Coleman, a recruit from Compton College, is a wide receiver and kick returner.

Coach DeWayne Walker said that Coleman most likely wouldn't be a contributor for the Aggies in their Week 1 game against Idaho, due to his inexperience in the Aggie system. Still, he's a player to keep an eye on as the season unfolds.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tonny Glynn

DeWayne Walker wrote in a text message that Tonny Glynn is OK.

Glynn injured his arm during Saturday's Aggie football scrimmage at Aggie Memorial Stadium. Glynn went for X-rays following the contest. It seems that things are alright with the senior running back.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday's scrimmage

Some thoughts from the team's first scrimmage.

First off, I thought Jeff Fleming separated himself in the quarterback race. I liked Trevor Walls, but Fleming threw the ball well on Saturday. He hit Marcus Anderson on a long touchdown pass and found Todd Lee on a 10-yard scoring strike later in the evening.

On the first possession, Fleming led the team into field goal range (Jordan Davenport missed the FG attempt from about 40-yards out).

Walls really didn't play poorly and he's working with the second unit. But Fleming made some plays. I was particularly impressed with his deep ball to Anderson. It was on target and it was a nice grab by Marcus.

More on the receivers: Anderson will have a good year again. He's got a little Chris Williams in him. Marcus plays hard and is very fast. Small, yes, but he's a big-play threat. He will also make some plays returning punts this season.

Todd Lee is getting an opportunity to perform. He was playing with the first unit along with Anderson, Marcus Allen and Barry Huntley. Allen made some good grabs as well and worked the underneath routes.

Darrius Preston, who I've been high on during camp, was not with the first unit. He played mostly with the No. 2 and No. 3 teams.

Tight ends: Kyle Nelson did not see any action during the scrimmage. Nelson got hurt two weeks ago after getting twisted awkwardly on a tackle during practice.

Kyle Hipp caught a ball over the middle in traffic. Hipp is big and I've seen him make a few tough grabs during camp. He's got a nice pair of hands.

Jason Scott: I like Jason, he plays the game the right way and is a leader. At one point, he pulled the defense together on the sideline and gave an inspired pep talk to get them to play better. It was all Scott.

He was also active on defense. He nearly picked off a tipped ball during the first possession of the scrimmage and knifed through the line to bring down a ball carrier in traffic minutes later. After the play he got up, clapped his hands and shouted toward the defensive sideline. As long as he stays healthy, he'll have a productive year. He might even surpass last year's numbers.

David Quiroga: He had a pick return for a touchdown.

A poster always asks about Quiroga. Well, he made a big play Saturday night.

Tonny Glynn, Marquell Colston: The one bad piece of news on the evening was Tonny Glynn, who went down with an arm injury midway through the scrimmage.

Glynn was going to get X-rayed following Saturday's action. If Glynn's out, it will hurt.

Tonny ripped off a long run down the left sideline early in the scrimmage. He hit the open field and was cut off at the 20-yard line. Trying to cutback to the middle of the field, he stumbled, kept his footing, and was hit. He fumbled the ball and it was recovered by the defense.

Glynn struggled with fumbles last year. But really, first things first, lets hope he's healthy.

As for Marquell Colston, he ran the ball well. He had one run that went for about 15-yards down the right side on the team's first possession.

Kicking game: Jordan Davenport went 4-for-7 on field goal attempts.

Mike Diaz and Kyle Hughes split punting duties. Both got off some pretty decent kicks.

The last word: Throughout camp, it seemed like the defense was getting the better end of the offense.

Saturday night, the offense had the edge.

It was good to see. Offensively, the team looks good one day, and not so good the next. The team needs to find more consistency on that side of the ball. Saturday was a good sign though, particularly because Fleming looked good.

At the end of the day, we need to see this team play against another Division-I program. Practices are fun and they can show us some things. I, for one, have seen enough of them. I'm ready for Week 1.

Robert Clay

Aggie coach DeWayne Walker said that the team will move running back Robert Clay to safety.

Clay has had a good camp running the football for the Aggies, although the team is deep at that position. Walker said that he thought Clay could be ready for action when the team squares off against Idaho on Sept. 5, the opener for both teams.

“He's a great athlete and a smart kid,” Walker said. “We think he can pick things up quickly (at safety).”

NMSU is set at safety with Stephon Hatchett, Alphonso Powell and Junior Fasavalu. Walker said that he thought Clay could move into the top-4 in the rotation quickly and could be an immediate contributor.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The kicking game and other things

Someone posted on my last entry, asking about the team's special teams units.

Here's how things are shaking out: As of now, Jordan Davenport is the team's placekicker, Mike Diaz is the punter and Kyle Hughes is pushing both players at each position. In essence, it's a two-way battle, with Hughes challenging both spots.

Davenport actually has an impressive leg. He hit from 51-yards out the other day at practice, and special teams coordinator Keith Murphy said that Davenport went 5-for-5 on FG attempts the other during a “mini-scrimmage.” The bottom line with Davenport is that he's never kicked in a real-game situation before, an entirely different experience, obviously, than simply booting balls in practice.

Diaz, a freshman, has a good leg. Murphy said that many times the kid simply battles himself and is working on his composure more often than not.

Hughes is working his way to get into the lineup. He has a strong leg and could conceivably move into one of the starting roles this year. I've always liked Kyle's ability, particularly as a punter, so we shall see.

Marcus Anderson will be back returning punts this year while Tonny Glynn and/or Marquell Colston will take care of kickoff return duties.

I will have a story in the coming days on the special teams units.

Barry Huntley: Huntley, a receiver, has been one player this fall that has really been overlooked — particularly by me — but deserves more credit as his role has increased from over the past few seasons.

Huntley has good size at the position and has seen significant action throughout camp. He was running routes with Marcus Anderson on Friday with the No. 1 offense.

Huntley has not played significantly at all the last three years. Is he going to be a contributor this season? It would make a good story.

The passing game: I came at the tail end of Friday's practice and really only caught about a 1/2 hour of play. Still, from what I saw, the passing game was ugly.

Both Fleming and Walls didn't look good. When they did put the ball where it needed to be, receivers saw it slip through their hands.

Both QBs threw picks. Junior Fasavalu had one and Davon House made a great grab on one ball to pluck it out of the air. There were a couple more too throughout the evening.

It's true. One day I see the offense and it looks alright. The next day I'll watch it, and wonder what the team is going to do this year.

“They've got to figure it out and realize when enough is enough,” offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach said. “I'm not going to be out there on Saturday afternoon with them. It's on them to get better. Someone has got to take charge and turn it around.”

Practice/Scrimmage: The Aggies are running a practice/scrimmage on Saturday from 6-8 p.m.

It would be a good chance for fans to come out and see how things are coming along.

I know I'm looking forward to it. But not as much as the Idaho game. Week 1 really can't come soon enough.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

E.J. Cannon

I have been writing that I think E.J. is going to have a good year for the Aggies.

While there has been a lot of talk about Branden Warner, E.J. has easily been the team's top lineman in camp.

“He'e been consistent for us since day one,” DeWayne Walker said. “He's just been steady. I'll say he's been our most consistent defensive player since the spring.”

Cannon, a defensive tackle, is listed on the roster at 6-foot, 292 pounds. I'd be surprised if he's not topping 300, however. He's athletic for his size as well.

I'll have a story on E.J. in the coming days.

Defensive personnel: I asked Walker about what's going on at strongside linebacker, where Sam King has gotten more snaps recently in place of Jamar Cotton.

“I look at it like we have four starters but we can obviously put only three out there at once,” Walker said. “Right now, we'd probably go with (Jason) Scott, (Ross) Conner and King. But Cotton is right there.”

It also looks like Jonte Green will see significant playing time this year. He has been playing with the first unit the last handful of days at camp, while Chris Buckner is suiting up as the team's No. 3 cornerback.

For those wondering about Warner, he was back on the field practicing on Thursday.

It also looks like Alphonso Powell and Stephon Hatchett are leading the way at safety, although Junior Fasavalu is close behind.

The quarterbacks: I thought Trevor Walls looked good on Thursday. I actually think Walls has looked good ever since the team put on pads two weeks ago.

He threw a long touchdown pass to Todd Lee during Thursday's practice and he made some other intermediate throws that were good too. Trevor has some zip on his throws and is accurate.

Jeff Fleming also made some plays. He hit Kenny Evora on a long touchdown pass and also led an effective two-minute drill to close out practice, hitting tight end Kyle Hipp over the middle on fourth down for a TD.

“Both have there good days,” Walker said of the quarterbacks. “If we had a game tomorrow, Fleming would be the starter.

“The way I see it, we have two quarterbacks we can go into a game with.”

The end of practice: It was an eventful way to wrap up practice on Thursday.

Both first units came out for a two-minute drill. With the ball at midfield, Fleming immediately went up top for Marcus Anderson, who came down with it inside the 10. The Aggie defense held down the fort. On third down, Fleming scrambled out of the pocket and hit Anderson, who caught the ball and slid out of bounds at the 1-yard line.

The ball was placed back at the 6, and both sidelines came alive. On fourth down, Fleming dropped back and floated a pass over the line of scrimmage and into the hands of Hipp, who caught it and rumbled in. The team was going nuts. The offense converged on Hipp in the endzone.

Good way to close out the day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Thought this was interesting

Spotted by Felix Chavez....

Kickoff moved up for for Hawaii home games
The Associated Press
HONOLULU — The kickoff time for the University of Hawaii’s four Western Athletic Conference home games at Aloha Stadium this season has been changed to 5:05 p.m. That’s an hour earlier than originally scheduled.

Hawaii athletics director Jim Donovan made the announcement Thursday. UH says the time change allows Hawaii’s four opponents — Fresno State, Boise State, Utah State and New Mexico State — to depart Honolulu later in the evening, thus saving their respective programs’ travel budgets an additional night of lodging.

A look at Idaho

It's never too early to check out the first game of the season and this one promises to be a classic. While across the country, few will care about Idaho at NMSU I, for one, think it's going to be a good game with a lot of subplots.

Lets start out with the obvious here. For both teams, this is a big game. Neither have been successful in the WAC. For the Aggies, a new coach coming on board means the team will be looking to get off on the right foot. For the Vandals, third-year coach Robb Akey needs his club to show progress. Losing to the Aggies wouldn't be a good sign.

Both clubs are actually going to have similar strengths, weaknesses and question marks as Week 1 nears.

They will both rely on the run. For NMSU, we've been over this before. Marquell Colston, Tonny Glynn, Seth Smith, these three will see carries. The Vandals have a nice threesome as well, an underrated threesome, in veteran Deonte Jackson, sophomore Princeton McCarty and Washington State transfer DeMaundray Woolridge. This should be interesting.

On the flip side, both teams have question marks at quarterback. Again, for the Aggies it's Fleming, Walls and Rust, with Fleming holding the slight edge. For the Vandals, the starting job is between incumbent Nathan Enderle and newcomer Brian Reader.

The one area I think the Aggies will hold a slight edge is on defense. NMSU has shown a new fire on D, while Idaho could have a bumpy ride on that side of the ball. Things got tougher for the Vandals recently, when the team lost safety Virdell Larkins, a productive player and an expected senior leader on the squad. Word is that Jeromy Jones will take over Larkins' post. Jones is an intriguing player as well, actually.

This game is going to come down to defense and kicking. I really believe that. I don't see either team running away with things.


The Aggies had the day off on Wednesday. They will be back on the practice field again Thursday from 3:30-5:30.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Walker thinks defense is coming along

Coach DeWayne Walker said that he thought the defense was coming along on schedule following Tuesday's Aggie football practice.

“The defense is really, really coming around,” Walker said. “I'm happy about it. If we keep progressing the way we are right now, this might be the type of defense I'm accustom to coaching.”

As for the offense, Walker continued to emphasize the need to just play football. Nothing flashy, just productive.

“I want our offensive guys to be like robots,” Walker said. “All they have to worry about is moving the sticks and getting first downs. Our quarterbacks need to be consistent. And our line needs to be tough up front.”

A few battles still taking place: It appears as if there are still some defensive battles taking place.

Jonte Green was practicing with the first-team defense in the secondary with Chris Buckner backing him up. Stephon Hatchett and Alphonso Powell were at the safety slots while Davon House manned the No. 1 cornerback post.

At strongside linebacker, Sam King saw significant action on Tuesday with Jamar Cotton running with the second unit. The group consisted of Cotton, middle linebacker Numi Lolohea and BJ Adolpho. Cotton made a nice play when, one-on-one with the receiver, he broke up a lob pass in the back-right corner of the endzone.

Defensive tackles: E.J. Cannon continues to see a lot of action at defensive tackle. E.J. seems primed to have a big year.

John Finau and and Vincent Federico are also seeing snaps. Branden Warner was in uniform on Tuesday but did not see much field if at all.

At defensive end, the team is going to rotate Donte Savage, Pierre Fils, Kawika Shook and Ka'ua Adolfo.

The kicking game: From my eyes, and these are just my observations, it looks like Jordan Davenport will be the team's field goal kicker this year. At least that's the way it looks in practice, where he attempted three FGs on Tuesday. He went wide-right on the first from about 40 yards out; Davon House blocked the second attempt; and the third, this one coming from between 45 and 50 yards, went through the uprights.

The tight ends: With Kyle Nelson still out, Kenny Evora and Kyle Hipp continue to see snaps in practice.

Walker said that Nelson, who was dressed in full uniform on the sideline, is on the road to recovery and the team expects him back shortly.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Did anyone see Chris Williams the other night?

Chris had a strong night returning kicks for the Dolphins in their preseason game against the Jaguars.

He didn't do very well on punt returns, but he proved what most Aggie fans already knew: He can bring his big-play ability to the NFL if given a fair opportunity to make a pro team.

Chris showed a burst and was able to find the seams on kick returns against the Jags. He brought a handful of kicks beyond the 30 yards line and gave Miami strong field position.

I can say that, after watching his performance, if Chris has one more preseason game like he did the other night for the Dolphins, he will make the team. A strong kick returner is a valuable asset.

I will also say that if Chris continues to play well as a returner, he should get a shot to contribute at wideout too. Physically, he won't be a dominant receiver, but he can do things with the ball in space. I'm talking about screen passes, quick slants, end-arounds. Chris can do it. He'll get a fair shot with the Dolphins.

The top five key games for the Aggie football team

I went through the schedule and highlighted the five biggest games, in my eyes, for the Aggies

Vs. Idaho (Sept. 5): Week 1 will always carry intrigue although this year’s version is really something else.
First off, it’s the first game in the DeWayne Walker era, something that cannot be overlooked or understated. A win would give Aggie fans something to point to as a new coach is hopefully guiding the program in a better direction. A loss, right or wrong, would symbolize that the team is well behind the eight ball.
Adding to the magnitude of it all is the fact that it’s a conference contest to open the season, a rarity, although something the team might also welcome. The Vandals and Aggies have been two of the worst programs within the WAC the past four seasons. Idaho has just ??? conference wins during that span, one of which came last year against NMSU. The Aggies struggles have been well documented in the past.
Simply put, it’s a big game for both programs and one each team feels it has a legitimate shot at winning. It should be fun. 

Vs. UTEP (Sept.19): NMSU has won the last two games in this heated rivalry and looks to make it three straight this season when the two teams square off in Las Cruces.
The reality is that the Miners look to be a more talented team than the Aggies in 2009. But in rivalry games, anything can happen. Both teams will come out looking to knock off the other in a contest that could well go down to the wire – again. 
At San Diego State (Oct. 3): The Aggies travel to Southern California to battle the Aztecs in a battle of mid-major teams under first-year head coaches.
There are some subplots in this one to keep an eye on. The main one is DeWayne Walker, who was a finalist to get the Aztec job before it went to Brady Hoke. In other words, SDSU passed on Walker for someone they thought was a better candidate.
At San Diego State (Oct. 3): made another big coaching hire during the offseason, picking up for University of New Mexico head coach Rocky Long to be the team’s defensive coordinator. It was a great hire by the Aztecs and Long has has an incredible knowledge of not only the Mountain West Conference, but also NMSU.
It’s also a good challenge for the Aggies. A road game, with the season really starting to heat up, against a team that has had it’s struggles too – although many consider a sleeping giant none-the-less. 
Vs. Utah State (Oct. 10): Many expect the Utah State Aggies to be the surprise team of the WAC this season under first-year head coach Gary Anderson. They will come to Las Cruces after beating the Aggies last year in an embarrassing 47-2 season finale in Logan.
While the UtAgs are considered a darkhorse, the last two years NMSU was considered a sleeper by many as well. We all saw how that panned out. There is a lot of uncertainty in the air with each college football season. When this game comes up on the schedule, we will know a lot more about each of these teams. This contest will tell us even more. 
Vs. Nevada (Nov. 21): On paper, the Wolf Pack are the most talented team to come to Las Cruces this year.
They will roll in late in the season, and every game will be critical for the program’s postseason aspirations. NMSU will likely be out of bowl consideration by that time, but playing the role of spoiler can be just as much fun. Even if the Aggies simply battle the Wolf Pack, it will be good to see.
This game also signals the arrival of Nevada quarterback Collin Kaepernick, one of the truly special players in college football. 

Friday, August 14, 2009

Going to Pennsylvania


I'm going to be gone this weekend. A friend for 16 years is getting married in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

I'll be back next week and pick up where I left off. Enjoy practice.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hungry Aggies

The Aggies have turned to their fans for snacks and someone asked for my take. Frankly, I know this post will cause a lot of chatter.

I think the perception is worse than the reality on this one. The Aggies aren't doing well financially and need to think outside the box and be resourceful. It's simple.

From the outside looking in, is this a great story? No. And I don't believe NMSU wanted it out in the national spotlight. That's just my feeling, but someone was celebrating on the blog that this story made the frontpage of ESPN. If it was a story about the Aggies turning around their football fortunes, I could understand, but this particular story isn't exactly something to throw a parade over. People need to get their priorities straight.

My take is that it looks bad, but a bigger deal will be made of it than what needs to be. Yeah, NMSU isn't doing great in the wallet. I think most people knew that. In turn, they need to do things to counterbalance the problem. This is one way to do it.

Walker talks to the media

DeWayne Walker addressed the media on Thursday at the New Mexico State University media day.

There was a throng of reporters there. Actually, it was really small — myself, Randy Harrison from the Albuquerque Journal and Tim Korte from the Associated Press.

Anyway, coach Walker spoke at length about the Aggies, the program and where he thought the team was headed. Here are some snippets from the session....

Walker spoke about how he visited Pete Carroll in California recently. The two spoke about the responsibilities of being a head coach and looking over an entire program.

Even though Walker is a defensive guy, he said that Carroll urged him to take ownership of the offense when the time comes.

“He said, ‘that's your offense,’” Walker said. “‘You might not call a play, but you're the head coach. It's yours.’ Really, it made sense.”

On the team's overall improvement since the start of spring practice

“Night and day,” Walker said. “Now, obviously, we gotta improve to the extent of winning games. But I'm real happy with our improvement.”

On how he landed his assistant coaching staff

“They were all out of work,” Walker joked. “Now, we gotta hold onto them when we start winning. That'll be the next big challenge.”

On why he thinks he can turn around New Mexico State

“It's been done before,” Walker said. “Why can't we do it? That's the way I look at it.

“I've seen a lot of examples of turning a program around in one year.”

On the changing of the team's uniforms

“Hopefully, this is our brand,” Walker said. “They're not flashy. They're just clean and professional.”

For those wondering, aside from the new crimson helmets the Aggies will display, the team will also wear white cleats.


I know this blog has been hit hard by football lately, but two other sports were on display at Aggie media day as well — volleyball and soccer.

As far as Aggie volleyball is concerned, this team is in somewhat of a transitional year under Mike Jordan. Frankly, under Jordan, the team's been so successful you almost take it for granted. But volleyball is no different than any other sport. You get players, you lose players, and eventually, you have to reload.

Gone are standout stars Lindsey Yon, Amber Simpson and Krystal Torres from a season ago. These were great players for the volleyball team and really, in the entire WAC, it didn't get any better than those three.

One player to keep an eye on is Whitney Woods, who should come on strong at outside hitter in her junior year. Again for those wondering, Whitney is the sister of former Aggie cornerback Chris Woods.


As far as soccer is concerned, it'll be interesting to catch the team in its first year.

Playing at Aggie Memorial? Definitely will be interesting to see that as well.

I like Michael Needham's press conference. He said that he expects his team to compete and win.

“If you don’t put a goal out there about winning games, I don’t know why you’re even out here,” Needham said. “We’re here to win.”

There's a first time for everything. Including women's soccer at NMSU.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Practice notes: Walker's thoughts; o-line/d-line; the offense


First things first, someone brought to my attention that the story on Darrius Preston and Marcus Allen never made it online in its entirety. Here it is, now in its full-length version. Sorry about that.....

Anyway, about the Aggies. First off, DeWayne Walker had mixed feelings about Wednesday's practice sessions. Walker said that the morning session was crisp but that he thought the team was sloppy during the afternoon workout.

Walker said that offensively, he felt like the quarterbacks were too willing to tuck the ball and run with it instead of being patient in the pocket. I asked if it was the quarterbacks themselves being impatient or the offensive line not holding its blocks and he said it was a combination of both. None-the-less, he would like to see improvement.

“Our QBs, they're running too much,” Walker said. “They need to learn to be patient and the offensive line needs to do a better job at certain times. If we don't do a better job, we could be in trouble.”

Walker added that on defense, he wants to see his linebackers more effective in their coverage responsibilities.

Kyle Hipp: If you go out to practice, keep an eye on this kid (he's No. 89).

Hipp is a big tight end, and I mean big. He's also athletic. He made some nice grabs on Wednesday, including one over the middle on a crossing route. Hipp went low to the ground to scoop the Trevor Walls pass and hung onto the football. I was impressed.

Hipp has been seeing more time, as Kyle Nelson nurses an injury which has forced him to sit out of practice this week.

“He's definitely going to contribute,” Walker said of Hipp. “With Nelson out, it's nice to have (Hipp) to solidify the position.”

Walker said that he expects Nelson to be back on the practice field soon.

Offensive line: Getting time on the offensive line during Wednesday's practice was Dwayne Barton (left tackle), Joseph Palmer (left guard), Mike Grady (center), Sioeli Fakalata (right guard) and David Norman (right tackle).

Kyle Smith (asthma) and Patrick Blount (plantar fasciitis) remain out of the lineup.

“They're jelling, they've had some injuries there,” Walker said. “Coach Lenzmeier, he's done a good job there, he's getting what he can. And we still have some time to put it together.”

Defensive line: The defensive front saw a lot of Kawika Shook at end and E.J. Cannon at tackle.

Vincent Frederico was also involved in the action at tackle, along with Donte Savage and Pierre Fils at end.

Don't panic about Branden Warner. The defensive tackle has been sitting out with an injury, although Walker expects him back soon.

“It's minor,” Walker said. “We just don't want to rush him back. He's one of our core guys.”

William Bullock: Bullock is still working out academic issues with his old school, El Camino College. While Walker still expects Bullock to play for the Aggies, he did say the receiver is behind his fellow teammates simply due to missed practice time.

“It’s a concern,” Walker said. “Our receiving unit is starting to jell. Of course, we still expect him to be a part of that unit.”

The offense: I thought it looked better on Wednesday.

Tonny Glynn had a long touchdown run.

Marcus Allen dropped some balls. Still, he's had a good camp.

Trevor Walls made some good throws, hitting receivers in stride including a long touchdown pass to Kenny Evora.

Side note: Aggie camp has been much more physical this year. There is a lot of hitting and a lot of intensity. Players are visibly gassed following practice.

This isn't a bad thing. Walker has spoken a lot about being tough mentally and on the field. These practices should build such a mindset.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tanner Rust

Spoke to DeWayne Walker about Tanner Rust this season and how the head coach feels about his player possibly redshirting.

It seems unlikely that it will happen, actually. Walker said that Rust has had a strong fall camp and loves the player's versatility. Walker even mentioned Rust as a possible punter if things don't work out with the Aggies' current stable of kickers.

"Right now, it seems hard to do," Walker said in regard to redshirting Rust. "With the way he's come out and competed this fall....We have thirteen games this year. He'll be used."

The offensive line: It's a revolving door right now, partly because guys are banged up.

Kyle Smith is struggling through asthma while Patrick Blount is fighting plantar fasciitis.

Dwayne Barton has come on during camp and has been lining up at tackle. The coaching staff likes David Norman, who can be seen playing tackle or guard. Norman brings versatility to the unit.

Sioeli Fakalata has been up and down thus far. Mike Grady has been on the field at center.

There have been a lot of different players getting looks along the o-line this fall.

The quarterbacks: Jeff Fleming continues seeing the majority of snaps during practice. Still, I wouldn't rule out Trevor Walls at this point. He could make a push.

The Aggie offense seems to favor a more mobile quarterback, something that Fleming and Rust are and Walls is not. But Walls is a quarterback, a drop-back passer with a big arm.

Whoever starts here needs to find a way move the offense in the right direction.

"You know, I don’t care about being pretty or getting style points," Walker said in regard to the entire offense. "We’re looking to move the chains."

The linebackers: This unit is inexperienced and will be a position to keep an eye on throughout the season.

Jason Scott remains an effective player. Good pickup last year.

Dale Lindsey is working tirelessly to get this group going. I think the top three - Jamar Cotton, Ross Conner and Scott - are serviceable. Some other guys behind them will need to step up.

The receivers: Darrius Preston caught a touchdown pass from Walls, Todd Lee caught one from Fleming. Both plays were similar, with the receivers coming back for the ball inside the 15-yard line, shaking a defender and getting into the endzone.

The kicking game: Zach Diaz and Jordan Davenport went back-and-forth during Monday's afternoon practice in the field goal department.

Freshman punter Mike Diaz was booming balls on the practice field.

And, as of now, Kyle Hughes is competing for both jobs.

Again, Walker also mentioned Rust as a possible punter.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Team still feeling its way

During Sunday's practice, it was obvious.

The defense was swarming to the ball and playing with enthusiasm. The offense, on the other hand, seemed to struggle to find its rhythm.

Is this possible? Is it possible for a team to undergo such a radical change in such a short period of time? From an air-it-out unit to one which relies heavily on its defense? It certainly appears that's the way the Aggies are going to look in 2009. It's bizarre.

Anyway, the defense is playing with a fire and energy. During 11-on-11 drills, the D definitely got the better end of the offense. The group was all over the place.

"Well, we need our defense to be playing well," Walker said. "There's some great offense in this conference. It will be a good challenge week in and week out."

Chris Buckner: I'm working on a story on Buckner, who is taking control of the No. 2 cornerback position in camp.

Overall, the coaching staff seems to like him and he's worked extremely hard to become a competent cornerback. For those who don't know, Chris was a wide receiver throughout his Aggie career before voluntarily moving to cornerback last year. The kid wanted to get on the field, pure and simple.

While he struggled last year - as one would expect - Chris is physically built to play the position and it looks like he's made some big strides in the offseason.

"His technique has gotten so much better," No. 1 corner Davon House said. "He used to play high, now he's low to the ground. His backpeddle is more crisp. He's better at reading deep balls. Night and day from last year."

Two-a-days: They start today and they promise to be grueling.

Walker said that the first session will focus primarily on special teams and be, generally, a little lighter. The afternoon workouts will be full-boar.

"I can't imagine what they're going to be like," a tired House said after Sunday's practice. "It feels like we're going through it already."

Lenzmeier: I'm still trying to get a feel for the offensive line, but if you're having a tough day, go to practice and watch Jason Lenmeier coach this group. It really is awesome.

He has the makings of a great coach, someone who is passionate, constantly teaching and seems to care about his guys. He also has some amazing one-liners while the group is going through drill work. I watched the unit work for about 10 minutes on the practice field on Sunday. A few times, I found myself laughing out loud.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Season ticket sales; Darrius Preston

Many have asked about how season ticket sales are going.

I spoke with NMSU Associate Athletics Director Steve Macy on Friday and completely forgot to add the information to my last entry.

Macy said that the team is going to get close to 8,500 season tickets sales heading into the 2009 season. This is assuming that there will be around a 95 percent renewal rate, which would be on par with the last handful of years. NMSU fans traditionally wait to purchase tickets, whether it be for single games or for the full season package.

Last year the team sold 7,300 season tickets, so the 8,500 number would represent over 1,000 new season tickets sold during the offseason. This number isn't earth shattering but when considering what the Aggies have gone through on the football field in years past, I think it's a fairly impressive figure. We shall see how the crowd turnout fairs throughout the year.

Darrius Preston: This kid made some plays during Saturday's practice again folks. First off, during one-on-one drills with the cornerbacks, Preston ran a nice route toward the right pylon, beat his defender by a step and caught the ball. Both feet inbounds. Touchdown.

Later in the day, during seven-on-seven, Trevor Walls found Preston down the middle of the field. He was a step ahead of the defensive back, behind the entire secondary. Walls' throw was on target and Preston caught the ball over his right shoulder — It was all hands. Touchdown.

Again, later in seven-on-seven, inside the redzone, Preston ran a route toward the back-left corner of the endzone. Not sure who the quarterback was who delivered the pass, but Preston leaped over the defensive back and caught the ball. He fell out of bounds, but it was still a great grab. Really, he made it look pretty easy too. It wasn't.

I spoke with Preston after practice. He said that his high school in Florida played against solid competition in Class 3A — Florida, notorious as a football hotbed, has five classes total. He said he “slipped through the cracks” and former NMSU coach Hal Mumme placed a phone call. He redshirted last year and now he's playing ball.

“I just slipped through the cracks, that's all,” Preston said. “I've been waiting to compete.”

I don't think it's a stretch to say that Preston can compete for a starting job among the receiving corps. Marcus Allen too.

“Him and Marcus, they're two promising young players,” coach DeWayne Walker said of the duo. “They're going to push some players at that position.”

When William Bullock does arrive at NMSU camp, it will be interesting to see how the receiving unit fits together. There is some talent there.

I'm going to have a story on Preston and Allen sometime early this week.

The quarterbacks: Walls made some nice throws on Saturday and Jeff Fleming struggled, throwing two picks during passing drills.

Walls also seems a bit more mobile than people give him credit for. Still, he doesn't move like Fleming or Tanner Rust.

Rust has shown flashes of ability and is athletic. Still, it seems like he has fallen slightly behind the quarterback race for now.

This isn't coming from anyone, these are just my perceptions. So, they're probably way off.

Notes: I don't know what to think of the offensive line. I need to study this unit more....Walker complemented the running backs once again following Saturday's workout....I'm addicted to watching one-on-one drills between the receivers and the cornerbacks....Walker also said he liked Kyle Nelson at tight end. When I brought up Nelson's drops the last few days in practice, Walker said that he wasn't worried about it and that he thought Nelson would be a productive tight end in the offense.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday's practice

A few posts ago, I got some questions about Marcus Allen and William Bullock. So, I thought I'd get back at ya.

Allen has been a contributor right off the bat at camp. I got to practice at the tail-end of Friday's workout, but he still made some plays that stood out, including a couple nice grabs along the sideline that went for decent gains. On one catch, Allen dragged his back foot in bounds before being knocked out. It was solid.

“Marcus Allen has been strong so far,” NMSU coach DeWayne Walker said. “He'll play a significant role in our offense.”

Allen is a bit smaller than I initially thought, but he's built well and it looks like he has some skill to go with it.

As for Bullock, he is not at Aggie camp at the moment. Walker said that Bullock has some academic holdups with his old junior college, El Camino College, and is waiting to clear those hurdles before suiting up for the Aggies. The coach did say that he expects Bullock to join the team soon.

The receivers haven't been bad so far, actually I think there are some surprises here. Marcus Anderson will get snaps, as will Allen. Darrius Preston continues to get looks. Todd Lee and Julius Fleming are playing some.

The one concern I have is tight end. Kyle Nelson has dropped at least five balls the last two days of practice, at least from what I've seen. While everyone points to the quarterback play, it's just as much on the receivers to make plays when the QB puts the ball where it needs to be.


Speaking of quarterback play, it seems like, at least from what I've seen, that Jeff Fleming has a leg up for the starter's job.

Fleming looks better to me this fall than he did in the spring and he has a stronger arm than I remember. He's a pretty good athlete and can move a little. It seems like he's made a few more plays than his fellow competitors at the position. One that stood out on Friday was a 60-yard bomb to Preston for a touchdown.


Defensively, the team will have a completely different look. The first two plays of seven-on-seven drills saw Davon House break up consecutive passes, one a deep throw down the right sideline in the endzone, intended for Preston.

E.J. Cannon chased down a runner in the middle of the field. Jamar Cotton got in the backfield to bust up a passing play.

“The defense picked it up,” Walker said. “We’re moving with the energy and the intensity that we need in order to be effective.”


Walker also went out of his way to praise the running back position following Friday's workout.

“I like that group,” Walker said. “I feel real good about what our backs bring to the field.”

We're talking about the two headliners in Marquell Colston and Tonny Glynn. They play well off each other and are very close on and off the field. Expect good years from both. The key? They need to stay healthy.

But there is more than just them.

Donavan Roberts continues to look good. He broke off a long run during seven-on-seven, taking the carry into the gut of the defense, spotting the hole and breaking it left to the outside for a long TD run.

“That's what he's doing now,” running backs coach Earnest Wilson said. “He's spotting the hole and hitting it. He's playing well.”

Some say that he Donavan is a pounder who will move the chains for you. I think he has more big-play ability than people give him credit for. If he keeps this up, he'll see the field.

Walker also said he was happy with the play of Seth Smith.

At fullback, Brandon Perez is the unsung hero. Big, physical and unselfish. Would you expect anything less from the big bruiser?

Last year Brandon carried the ball more than he did in the past. This year, he's ready to roll with the punches.

“Whatever the coaches ask me to do, I'll do,” Perez said following Friday's practice. “If it's blocking and things like that, I'll do it. If they want me to run the ball, I'll do that too. It doesn't matter. It's about the team.”


As for Glynn, it was a tough 2008 season for him. After a productive 2007, last year saw Glynn struggle to get on the field and, when he did, he fumbled. Tonny was a forgotten man last year, but he kept his head up and is getting a fresh start with a new staff. I'll have a story on him in Sunday's Sun-News as well as on our online edition sometime on Saturday.

Till next time.....

Pretty cool

The New Mexico State Aggie football team sent this message out last night....

“We need people to man the sticks (Friday) at practice. "The sticks"---- yardage markers. Who's ready to help the Aggies (Friday)? Your chance to get close to this team. Practice starts at 3.”

I know it's short notice, but this seems like a pretty cool deal. If I were a fan, I'd do it. Why not? It's actually fairly interactive.

Also, for those who don't know, the Aggie football team has a facebook page under “Aggies Pigskin”

It's another opportunity for fans to get closer to the team and get some information on the program. In case anyone was interested.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Highlights from Aggie practice

First off, I did a story on Branden Warner. It will appear in Friday's edition of the Sun-News and on our Web site as well.

Speaking of which, the defensive tackle position has a ton of potential. You can see it on the practice field and while Warner is getting a lot of attention, I think the player to really keep an eye on is E.J. Cannon. While Warner, Vincent Frederico and John Finau are competing for playing time, it seems like E.J. is going to be a starter regardless. He's a big kid who moves well. It seems like he would be a lot to handle for an offensive guard.

“I'm excited for this team and for myself personally,” Cannon said. “I'm ready to get out there and play some games. I think it could be a big year all the way around.”

Defensive tackle is a blue collar position that doesn't get a ton of attention but it is vital. And the Aggies seem comfortable there, at least through the first two days of practice.

More quarterback news: It was an uneven day for the quarterbacks, at least during the seven-on-seven drills I witnessed.

Jeff Fleming and Trevor Walls each made some good throws and some poor ones as well. Lets start with the bad:

Walls made one pass into heavy traffic. There were three receivers bunched up along the left side, struggling to find separation. Walls still tried to force the ball in, though, and it was broken up. The play drew the ire of offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach. Really, when there are three receivers clustered like that, and they were literally huddled together, it's just as much on them. You need to get separation in your routes. But still, Walls shouldn't have let the ball go.

Fleming overthrew a handful of passes into the flat. One time, he was visibly upset with himself.

Both QBs also almost tossed a few interceptions that the defensive backs batted down.

There were good plays also, however. Walls dropped back on one play and zinged a ball over the middle, splitting the safeties and hitting wide receiver Barry Huntley in stride beyond the secondary. Rosenbach immediately greeted him after the play with a high five.

Fleming made a handful of good throws. One that stood out was a play action pass where he faked left and rolled right, flushed out by the pass rush. Fleming whirled and fired off his back foot to an open Julius Fleming for 20 yards. It was a nice throw and showed off his arm strength.

Tanner Rust didn't do much, although he did make one play with his legs, rolling left with a linebacker in his face. Rust pump faked, getting the defender in the air and scrambled back to the line of scrimmage. The play showed off his athleticism.

Walker spoke with Las Cruces Bulletin sports editor John Keith about Walls after Thursday's practice. Walker said that the offense is designed more for a mobile quarterback, something that Fleming and Rust are and Walls isn't as much. With that being said, Walker said that in fairness to Walls, the coaching staff will seek plays that fit his skill set more — that of a big, drop-back passer with a strong arm.

‘He's slightly different and we want to show off his strengths,” Walker said. “He's sharp, accurate, a little more of a pocket thrower. He's a bigger guy and he has to be comfortable back there.”

Walker also said that just because one man wins the starting job doesn't mean the coaching staff won't go back to the drawing board during the season if things aren't moving in the right direction.

“It's a constant competition,” Walker said. “Lets just say that Fleming wins. Well, he's still go to do it in the game too.”

A few more notes: Marcus Anderson hauled in a deep touchdown grab. I wrote it yesterday and I'll write it again. Anderson will still be a big part of the offense. He also said after practice that he will still return punts and kickoffs....Another receiver, Darrius Preston, continues to see a good deal of action this fall....Chris Buckner had a nice pass breakup in seven-on-seven drills. Physically, Buckner can handle the cornerback position.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The first day is in the books

Well, the first day of fall football practice is in the books for the Aggies.

First off, it's the first day of practice. Painting the entire picture for the entire team would be unfair and inaccurate. The group wasn't even in pads today. Still, here were a few things that caught my eye.

Warner takes the field: Defensive tackle Branden Warner made his much-anticipated debut for the Aggies on Wednesday and looked good, at least from what I saw. Here was the picture:

The offensive and defensive lines were doing one-on-one drills along the practice field's north endzone. Warner lined up over the guard and on both rushes got through the hole. The first one he got taken to the outside and held up. The second he moved swiftly through the line and got to the quarterback, which created a buzz among his fellow defensive linemen.

I actually thought the entire defensive line looked good. E.J. Cannon is a big body and I think there could be depth here. Just something to keep an eye on during camp.

Running backs will be a strength: We've been saying it since the team hit the field in spring practice, the running backs look to be a strength of this team.

Marquell Colston can run the ball in between the tackles and did so a handful of times on Wednesday. He's shifty in traffic. The big question for Marquell is health. He came up gimpy after one run, but stayed in there for a few more. Still, he needs to be out there.

Tonny Glynn looks to have a bounce back season and will get opportunities to carry the ball.

The one who came out of nowhere on Wednesday was Donavan Roberts, a sophomore who saw very limited time last season. He showed a burst out there and is competing with Seth Smith for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart heading into Week 1. Another name to watch as the month of August unfolds.

“Yeah, we got some good backs,” offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach said. “And we'll need every single one of them.”

The wide receivers: There are a lot of receivers in camp with the Aggies and just about all of them saw snaps on Wednesday. The incumbents — Marcus Anderson, Julius Fleming and Todd Lee — all got time. Darrius Preston is a good athlete and Marcus Allen was visible.

Anderson will once again be a part of the offense. He remains a player who can make things happen with the ball in his hands.

A few tight ends: Kyle Nelson made some grabs and could develop into a reliable target.

One player to keep an eye on is Kyle Hipp, a newcomer from Southern California. He's a big target and someone Walker likes.

Alphonso Powell: He was lining up at safety next to Junior Fasavalu on the first-team defense. Chris Buckner was opposite Davon House at cornerback.

The quarterbacks: I thought Fleming and Walls had some good throws. It's really early. I wrote a story in Thursday's Sun-News about the quarterback competition between all three players. It's also in our online section.

This was just Day 1. I'll report back throughout the week.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Aggies get committment; some other things

The Aggies have received a commitment from an El Paso offensive lineman, Irvin High School product Davonte Wallace.

Wallace stands between 6-4 and 6-6, 260 pounds. From my understanding, he has also been offered by North Texas.

Other schools have toyed with the idea of moving Wallace to the defensive side of the ball but NMSU seems intent on playing him at his current high school position, offensive tackle.


Ya know, I would like to apologize for not posting for close to a week. I went on vacation last week and had full intentions of blogging from the road, but the trip was much more busy than I anticipated. I'm back now and will be with you throughout the season. It's a very important time for everyone and I understand that.


Coach DeWayne Walker said that he sees running backs Marquell Colston and Tonny Glynn as co-starters in the backfield. He said the real competition at that position in camp will come down to the No. 3 spot on the depth chart between Seth Smith and Donavan Roberts.

"Who's the next guy after Tonny and Marquell?" Walker said. "That's the question."


Walker also said that the coaching staff will keep a close eye wide receiver Darrius Preston during fall camp.

I asked about Preston because I am intrigued by him. A player from Florida who was brought to NMSU and redshirted last year. Hal Mumme often found athletes at wide receiver and Preston resembles such - a 6-foot-1 burner on the outside. His senior year at Dunbar High School, Preston caught 62 balls for 1,106 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Walker sounded excited about Preston and said that the wideout would be in the mix for playing time during fall practice.


Fall practices kick off today and there are story lines throughout camp. A few posts ago I listed what I would keep a close eye on during camp. Again, here's a list:

Quarterback play will be watched closely for obvious reasons. Walker said the other day that he is looking for a full-time starter, not a committee approach. So we will see who comes out on top when the dust settles.

Truthfully, I am looking at every aspect of the team. Offensively, the running back position seems to be a strength and we will see how the team blocks up front. At receiver, players have to prove themselves here and take the burden off the QB.

On defense, every position is inexperienced but that aspect actually has me excited about the unit. The unknown can be appealing, at least initially.

The main thing I will be watching? How much different will this team be compared to the Aggies from years past? There is a new coach in town with new philosophies. How quickly will Walker's philosophies rub off on the team and show on the field? Ultimately, teams are a reflection of their coach.

I expect the practices to be high energy and intense. Spring ball was intense, and, well, I just said it. It was spring ball. This will turn it up a few notches.

New team, new season. And new hope. At least for now.