Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Aggie notes

DeWayne Walker said on Wednesday that wide receiver Todd Lee should be back in the starting lineup since injuring his shoulder last week. Lee missed the UNM game. He leads the team with 13 catches.

Also, left tackle David Norman is expected to return to full health after suffering a sprained knee. Norman hasn't played the last two weekends.

Speaking of the offensive line, the unit has performed fairly well this season. The group is undersized and the Aggies have been a one-dimensional offense for much of the year, leaning primarily on the running game. Still, the line's been able to move the pile.

"The guys have played hard and I'm happy about that," coach Jason Lenzmeier said. "We still have a lot of work in front of us if we want to keep progressing."

More from Lenzmeier: Last week, Lenzmeier faced his former team, the New Mexico Lobos.

This week, he'll face his former boss, as former Lobo head coach Rocky Long is the defensive coordinator for San Diego State.

Lenzmeier, who coached the UNM offensive line and now does the same with the Aggies, used to also play under Long and said there remains connection between him and his former coach.

"He did a lot for me," Lenzmeier said. "He gave me a scholarship, he gave me a job as a division-one offensive line coach, he called (New Mexico State) when there was an opening down here. Sure, it definitely means something."

Lenzmeier said he hasn't spoken with Long since the O-line coach has moved to Las Cruces.

"I'm sure we'll talk before (Saturday's) game," Lenzmeier said.

One thing's for certain. The Aztecs will likely bring a tenacious defense to the field come Saturday. That's just Long's style.

"In my mind, he's a defensive genius," Lenzmeier said. "He's always done a great job. He's always had a top-notch defense and his kids will forever play hard, very hard. He's a great coach."

House vs. Brown: Aztec wide receiver Vincent Brown, a junior, has six consecutive 100-yard receiving performances. Davon House is the Aggies' No. 1 corner. It should be a fun matchup to watch on Saturday.

"It feels good to go against the best," House said. "It tests me. The better man will win."

House, from Palmdale, Calif, said there will be over 40 family members in attendance for Saturday's game in San Diego.

"A lot of House jerseys," the cornerback said.

Kawika Shook: The defensive end shifted over to defensive tackle early in the year. He continues to make the adjustment to a new position.

"I'll play wherever they need me," Shook said. "If it's at end, if it's at tackle, I'll do my job. I'm not the biggest. Coach Jesse (Williams) has been teaching me to use my hands better. For me, it's technique over size."

DeWayne Walker: The coach spoke about his first season as head coach of the Aggies, through four weeks.

"You want to win now, that's the thing," Walker said. "I'm not on some five-year plan where the first three years we're not worried about winning. That's not it at all. There's no cushion. And that's what I'm focused on. Making sure our group is mentally ready to go and that the focus is on winning."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Quotes from Tuesday's press conference

DeWayne Walker, head coach
On how he’s feeling following win over New Mexico
I can get used to this. I’d like to get another win this week. It’s back to business as usual. We’re getting ready for San Diego State now.

On what he thinks of Aztecs
Defensively with (coordinator) Rocky (Long) they’re tough. They play hard, they run to the ball, they tackle. With his defensive mentality, they’re going to put pressure on our offense.
Offensively, with (offensive coordinator) Al Borgess, I’ve known Al, he’s a good, veteran coach. He’s going to do some things to create matchups. I think there’s a part of his offense where he’ll try to scheme us a little bit and there’s another part of his offense where he’s just going to try and get it to his players.
These guys are starving for a win too. They’re going to be ready for us for sure.

On quarterback situation
We’ll let it go. We have two starters and we’re going to go with the hot quarterback. This week, both of them will get snaps with the first group and we’ll make a decision on Friday.

If winning on the road fosters confidence on the road
I hope so. This is team that’s obviously still a work in progress. I know we’ll have some good discussions behind closed doors today.
I know I told them, we acted like we won the Super Bowl (following the UNM game). I told them we got to get used to (winning games). Hopefully this will translate into more wins on the road.

On Todd Lee’s status
He’ll be back this week. We’ll try to be smart with him in practice and I’m pretty sure we’ll get him back for the game.

Any special feelings on returning to Southern California for the game this weekend?
Not really, not really. You get to this stage, I’m still growing as a head coach, really, you’re just trying to win games. You take one game at a time and try to prepare your team as well as possible and go to the next one.

On things to work on in practice
I want to show the team some cutups. I always have a lesson of the day for the team and the lesson today is showing them all our turnovers. Show the offense and defense all the explosive plays. If we can continue to improve (in those areas), we will continue to improve as a team. Those are two areas we’ll focus on today.

On special teams units
Coach Murph’s done a great job. That’s the reason we hired him. That’s an area we need to win every week. Special teams is critical for us and it’s an area we definitely have to win every week.

On being 2-2 after two games
It’s not just football but in life. If you work your butt off, you would like to be rewarded. It was just good to see our coaches and our players get rewarded for their hard work. Now, we gotta keep it going.

On quarterback change down the stretch
Yeah, I was in panic mode at that point and had to come up with something. It ended up working out well for us. I think it’s good for both quarterback. Now, both have to be prepared going into the game. We have to play the hot guy and, fortunately, Jeff was ready to go after sitting for three quarters. He found Marcus for the game-wininng touchdown.

On the emotions on the sidelines
It was a big-time feeling for our football program and we’re trying to change the culture and all the things that goes with winning.

Is playing both quarterbacks an option this weekend?
No question, I think we have to go with the hot guy. Until one guy separates himself, we have to do whatever it takes to win a game. If we have to do that again this week, we will.

Mike Grady, center
On sidelines following win
It was awesome. Definitely something I haven’t felt for a while, to win at their stadium.

On mindset of team
It was a great (win), but we gotta all keep moving forward. We can’t keep looking back, we have to look toward San Diego and move to 3-2.

On how the Aztecs look on film
I watched their defense this morning, they look good on film. They’re fast, they move around real good. They do a lot of crazy things on defense and try to mess up an offense.

Is it different blocking for either quarterback?
No, not at all. They seem to do the same things. They both sit back there and try to throw and they can both scramble if they need too. It’s not too much different.

How did it feel to run the ball last week
It always feels good to run the ball and keep getting yards and keep chipping away at the defense. It’s a good feeling.

Seth Smith, running back
On performance on Saturday
I did all right, I don’t think I did that well. I did my job though, I held onto the football, helped move the team down the field and we won. I think I could have had a better performance though.

On final drive
Everyone on the sidelines had faith. We had to get it done, no excuses. It was just that.

Were there any nerves?
I wasn’t nervous.

On offensive line
Offensive line is really getting it done. They’re working on their assignments every week and getting better. They’re having less and less mistakes. They’re becoming a real strong point of our offense and of our team, period.

Who’s the leader of the huddle with quarterback situation
It’s not an issue, we’re all on the same page. Our offensive line, they speak up and say a lot. Our center Grady, he always keeps it positive in the huddle. It’s a positive attitude on offense.

On moving the ball in the fourth quarter
I don’t think we were tired. We had an opporunity on a blocked punt and we didn’t score. We were looking for an opportunity to come back and get it back and score. We got the ball back in the fourth quarter and knew we had to score. Everybody had a lot of energy and was excited.

Pierre Fils, defensive end
On his feelings on win over UNM
It’s a great feeling. It’s a rivalry game, so it was a war out there. It was probably one of the best feeling I ever had, winning that game.

On mood surrounding team
We got nine more games to play. We gotta get past it. We were happy afterwards, but it’s over now. We’re ready for San Diego State.

On San Diego State’s gameplan
I would say they’re more of a passing team. Defensive line needs to get a little pass rush to make it easier on the secondary.

Do you prefer facing a passing team?
It doesn’t really make any difference. It gets the defensive line hyped up to face a passing team more. Get a pass rush and get some sacks.

On team’s secondary play
I like the secondary. They give us a lot of time to get a pass rush. They’re doing a good job holding up.

On what he said to Donte Savage following his blocked punt
I went over there and gave him a big hug. We practice it but he did it. It was great.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wow, wow, wow....A win is a win is a win

Well, it was a great game Saturday night in Albuquerque.

It was ugly, and sloppy and not the prettiest football game in recent memory. But it doesn't matter if you're the New Mexico State Aggies. The team is a respectable 2-2 four games into the season, with one of those wins coming over its in-state rival New Mexico, a 20-17 triumph.

This was blueprint coach DeWayne Walker talked about when coming to NMSU last winter. Run the ball, control the clock, make big plays when necessary and just getting W's. Nothing flashy, no style points. Just wins. They got No. 2 on Saturday.

After the game, the team was euphoric. And everyone passed the buck when it came down to the win. Walker to the players. Offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach to Walker. Davon House to the offense. Jeff Fleming to the offensive line. Marcus Anderson to the team.

They play together and that's a sign of good coaching.

The gameplan: I can't lie, it was a tough game to watch at times.

The Aggies just ran and ran and ran, particularly in the second half. I thought the first two quarters, the team moved the ball all right. Trevor Walls converted some third-down throws to Marcus Allen and the team had a nice rhythm going.

Walker said that Walls' second-quarter interception, a throw in the right flat that was picked by Lobo middle linebacker Carmen Messina at midfield and setup a Lobo touchdown, may have locked to Aggies up a little bit.

Bringing in Fleming late proved to be the right call, as he provided UNM with an entirely different look to defend. And, it was a surprise.

At the end of the day, NMSU scored 20 points, enough to win the game. It's also worth mentioning that Kyle Hughes banged home two field goals and both his extra points while the Lobos missed two field goals, including the 47-yarder at the final gun.

"Too conservative in the third quarter," Rosenbach said. "We were due to get on track. We kept moving the ball but we couldn't finish. Tonight, we were better. And we found a way to win. That's a big step for us."

The team banged away on the ground and leaned on its defense to make plays. The Aggie defense has overachieved this season. They play hard and on Saturday they were walking around with a little bit of a swagger during the game. At times, they were the aggressors.

"That's who we are," Walker said. "I put a lot of pressure on our defense and offensively we can run the ball. We may not score a lot of points, but we scored enough tonight."

The final drive: The Aggies methodically - that word might not even describe it - moved the ball down field for the winning score. A 17-play, 59-yard drive that took 7:00 off the clock. When UNM got the ball back, there were 39 seconds left on the clock.

The Aggies ran tha ball 14 times while attempting just three passes.

"Final drive, we ran the crud out of the ball," Fleming said. "The offensive line did a heck of a job. We just kept running the ball, running the ball, running the ball."

It was by design.

"What I told coach Rosey, I want you to burn all this time," Walker said. "We continued to running the ball and it ended up being our winning drive."

When asked about the winning play, a Fleming 4-yard touchdown throw to Marcus Anderson on 4th-and-goal, Rosenbach said he got a lot of feedback from different members of the coaching staff.

Anderson was the third read on the play.

"We had a lot of help," Rosenbach said. "Just try to listen it and figure out what you got that fits what we're talking about. Jeff did a good job hitting the third (option) on the play."

The offense made the key plays when it had too.

"We've been moving the ball all season," Anderson said. "We've just had problems in the redzone, honestly. Ofcourse, I would love to have more points, I would love to have more catches. But we got what matters most - the win."

Fleming: You gotta give this kid credit, to come in and lead the team downfield when the Aggies were in desperation mode.

Fleming completed 4-of-5 passes for 19 yards during the fourth quarter and hit three receivers on the Aggies' game-winning possession.

"I just need to be ready," Fleming said. "Trevor earned the right to go in there and he didn't play a bad game at all. We were in a little funk. We wanted the change. I slipped on my first play, but I shook it off. I did my job, went in there. Things worked out."

Rosenbach said he wasn't concerning himself with who would get the starting nod next Saturday, when the Aggies visit San Diego State.

"I ain't gonna worry about it right now," Rosenbach said. "I got a four-hour bus ride and I'm going to enjoy this one."

The Lobos: This is a team that's very similar to NMSU, one in transition.

In that spread offense, you need quality receivers and quality quarterback play - obviously. I didn't think Porterie played particularly bad and I felt like UNM could have gone up top more often. They don't seem to have many playmakers at receiver.

As for their running game, there is talent there with Demond Dennis, James Wright and A.J. Butler. I thought, with the exception of two runs for the Lobos, the Aggies did a good job containing them on the ground.

It would have been tough for either team to lose this one. It must hurt for UNM.

Key moments: Some key sequences that may go overlooked but should not.

Kyle Hughes, two field goals. Hughes also punted well and hits the endzone regularly on kickoffs.

Donte Savage, blocked punt, third quarter. The Aggies didn't capitalize on great field position after this play. A 3rd-and-1 inside the Lobo 20 was brought back following a false by Joe Suder and Hughes went on to miss a 45-yarder. Still, it was nice to see the special teams play a factor on the block.

Ross Conner interception on Lobos' first possession, set up a Hughes 42-yarder to get the Aggies on the board first.

Second quarter, Walls hits Marcus Allen over the middle for 13 yards on third down, down to the Lobo 21-yard line. Hughes would hit from 40 on the drive.

Third quarter, Kyle Nelson fumbles, Lobos take over at NMSU 19. When it was all said and done, the Lobos settled for a field goal to go up 17-13. On the possession, Lobo Josh Fussell dropped a pass around the 5-yard line. There was no defender in sight.

Hope everyone enjoyed the game. It was one to remember.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Food for thought

Here are some historical perspectives on the Aggie-Lobo series.....

A look back at some of the great Aggie-Lobo games

All 100 scores from the series

Quotes from some of the series' personalities

Aggie-Lobo prediction

Well, someone asked for my thoughts on the game, so here they are.

I think NMSU loses 28-20. I do believe they move the ball better. They will be able to run the ball on the Lobos and I think they will be able to stretch the field better with their passing game. Trevor Walls throws a touchdown while one of the backs, either Seth Smith or Marquell Colston, run for another.

UNM, which has been abysmal on offense this year, has somewhat of a breakout. James Wright and Demond Dennis score TDs and Donovan Porterie tosses his first touchdown of the year.

I expect a close game. Both teams are going through transitional stages on the field and will be hungry for the win.

Then again, what do I know? We shall see how things shake out on Saturday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Notes: Todd Lee; The quarterbacks

Wide receiver Todd Lee sat out of practice on Thursday with an injured shoulder.

Coach DeWayne Walker said that Lee would be a gametime decision.

Lee has been the Aggies' most consistent receiver this season and if he doesn't play, it will not help against the Lobos.

One thing this could do is open the door for Darrius Preston to get onto the field. I thought highly of Preston during training camp but he has tailed off.

"He started hot but has simmered down," Walker said. "He's a young player who is still growing."

Preston is a redshirt freshman. He has the talent and it was apparent in August.

I also spoke with Walker about Marcus Allen, who had a big first game and has since disappeared. And I mean it. Allen made all of his plays (five catches, 82 yards) in the first game of the season. He's made zero receptions since.

"We gotta get the ball to him," Walker said. "If the passing game struggles, he'll struggle."

Allen has to step up this weekend.

Trevor Walls: I spoke with Trevor about how the quarterback competition was going.

He said that he's been splitting all the first-team snaps with Jeff Fleming so far in practice, although he added that's not unusual during a regular week of practice.

"It would mean a lot," Walls said when asked about playing. "It's about the team first. We're getting an equal opportunity and the best man will get his shot."

Timm Rosenbach: Rosenbach, NMSU's offensive coordinator, will move from the upstairs booth this Saturday, where he has been stationed all season long during games, down to the field.

Walker said Rosenbach wants to be in closer communication with the Aggie quarterbacks and believes being on the sideline will help.

Jason Lenzmeier: Lenzmeier was a very good lineman for the Lobos and eventually coached with them under Rocky Long. Long left the program and, boom, Lenzmeier was gone too.

He was the only coach on the current Aggie staff that came to NMSU without any connections. A straight interview and he got the job.

Being a former Lobo, we talked about the rivalry.

TF: What do you think about the game coming up?
JL: We play at Saturday, 8 o'clock.

TF: Do you have any extra feeling or emotion going into the game?
JL: It's just another game for me. It's a rivalry game between New Mexico State and New Mexico.

TF: Will it be strange dressing in the visitor's locker room or warming up on the visitor's side?
JL: No. I've done it before during a spring scrimmage. I just gotta coach and my guys' got to compete."

This guy isn't giving me anything. I asked him about how he felt the line has played this year.

"The guys have been playing hard. That's what I ask for. Go in and play hard and tough. We've had some injuries, we've had to shuffle some guys around a little bit."

And on the loss of right tackle David Norman, who's sidelined for a handful of weeks with an injured knee.

"You don't make up the leadership that Norman brings to the field," Lenzmeier said. "(Joe) Suder came in and played well. He played hard."

The offensive line has committed some penalties that have hurt the team here and there, but a line is going to hold every once in a while. It's been the timeliness of the penalties that have hurt more than anything else.

I think overall the group has played pretty well and will continue to get better. Lenzmeier has coached them up.

Press conference quotes

DeWayne Walker, head coach
On quarterback competition
We’re gonna heat up the quarterback competition this week. We’re gonna give Trevor the snaps with the (first string) along with Jeff. We’ll decided later on during the week what we want to do.

On injured offensive tackle David Norman
It’s his knee. He’ll probably be out the next couple of weeks, we’re just thankful he’s not out for the season. We’re pretty thin at the offensive line. We have our fingers crossed that he’ll get back in the next couple of weeks.

On New Mexico
Offensively, I’ll tell you, their backs scare the crap out of me. I know their having some quarterback issues as well and they’re trying to figure that out. But there running backs are very good and their receivers are good enough to catch the ball.

On Fleming’s performance
It’s all about scoring points. We’ve moved the ball, we just haven’t scored touchdowns. I just think that it was never a situation where he was the clear-cut starter coming into the season. You have to give Trevor kudos. His two drives, we did score touchdowns. In fairness to Trevor, we should heat it up a little bit in practice and see where they head up.

On Walker's relationship with UNM coach Mike Locksley relationship
We go back. When we’re out (together) we’ll laugh and joke. I’m sure once kickoff starts, that’ll change.

On respect for UNM’s offense
It was good enough at Illinois so I’m sure at some point it will be good enough for UNM. I’m just hoping it’s not this weekend.

Is this weekend a make-or-break game?
It’s too early in the season for that. We’ve got 13 games. If it were a situation where if we lost this game that it would knock us out of bowl contention, than you could say that. But there’s too much football left to worry about that. We just gotta get to 2-2.

On other personnel changes
Federico is still dealing with his concussion. He’s a guy who could be out. We’re going to get Blount back this week and we think he can help us. Kyle Smithis another guy we could get back. That would really help us with our offensive line.
Everything else is pretty much status quo. Quarterback position we’ll heat up.

On passing game’s improvement
We have to take what the defense gives us. There were some throws — Kyle (Nelson) was open on the first play of the game. We’ve got to catch that. I know that’s something that disturbed me last week at practice. I thought there were a lot of dropped balls in practice. That’s something we’ve addressed as a staff. You can’t drop balls in practice because if you do you’re going to drop balls in the game.
If the quarterbacks get the ball there, we’ve got to catch it too. We’ve got to open it up a little bit. We’re not going to throw it on every down, but we’ve got to keep the defense honest as much as we can.

On intensity level of practice
I think our guys have really practiced really good. It’s about execution. I don’t think (the problem is) our practice habits per say. It’s about execution on gameday.

On field goal kicking
We’re at a stage where we need every point we can get. Defensively, we’ve played well in spurts. If we could just get some help, whether it be a field goal or we get in the redzone and score a touchdown here or there. We’re not the Baltimore Ravens, we’re not going to win 10-3 games. We’re not that kind of defense yet. But I think we’re good enough to if we can get whatever we can get, that’ll keep us in games against good football teams.

On penalty situations that have hurt Aggie scoring drives
That’s when I lose my cool. Again, as a football team, we need every break we can get. When we move the ball and we’re on the verge of getting some points and we get a holding or a offsides, now you get pushed back. We’re not good enough to do those things. We’re going to address it in our own way and get that handled.

On lightning delay
It was different, I don’t know if I even experienced anything like that....UTEP had to sit out just like we did, I don’t want to use that as an excuse. You hate to go through stuff like that. You would rather play the game when it’s supposed to be played rather than chilling out in the locker room for three hours. Whether that had anything to do with how the game played out doesn’t matter, but it definitely was an experience.

Tonny Glynn, running back/kick returner
On avenging close loss last year to UNM
We’re trying to get to a bowl game this year. Just win more than we lose.

On offenses struggles
We just gotta cut down on our penalties. We’re moving the ball pretty good but when we get into the redzone, we’re always shoot ourselves in the foot.

Is this week a make-or-break game?
I think it would help us but I don’t think it would break us if we were to lose.

On rivalry with UNM
It’s just crazy. An exciting game to be in. They have great fans that come out and support them. It’s a great environment to be in.

Ross Conner, linebacker
On looking to avenge close loss
I wouldn’t say avenge, we’re looking to get a win. We’re looking to get to that magical number for the bowl game. That’s our goal.

On teams mental after UTEP loss
We lost, and it hurt, but we’re still focused and we’ll be prepared for game this weekend.

On NMSU defensive effort last week
I think the defense played well. We played strong in the first half. It didn’t work out for us but it isn’t going to determine our season. We’ll still have a strong defense, hopefully one of the better ones in our conference. We still have high hopes.

On preparing for UNM’s spread offense
It’s something we’ll have to address in practice. We’ll work on it and have a good gameplan for that.

On the rivalry with UNM
It’s a big rivalry. The fans on both sides are into their teams. UNM has a very good fanbase. It’s gonna be a very exciting game, high emotions. Hopefully it all turns out well.

On coming off a rivalry game and jumping back into another
I wouldn’t say it effects us. As a team we have to stay on top of our A-game. We lost last week. It’s unfortunate. This week, it’s UNM, it’s a huge game also. We can’t dwell on that loss, we’re over that. We’re focusing on UNM. That’s all we’re thinking about.

Stephon Hatchett
On UNM game
It’s a rivalry game, coming off the loss to UTEP, we’re going out there looking for a win. There will be a lot of people in the stands and high intensity both emotionally and physically. We’re going to try to go out and get a win.

On importance of getting the win
It’s always important to get a win and to get back to 2-2, .500, so we can meet the goals we set at the beginning of the year. Especially after the loss to UTEP, we hope to get the confidence back in our team and in our program.

On goals for the secondary
Stop them from scoring. We want to stop them from scoring and give the offense more opportunities.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What were your honest expectations?

Going into the season, what did you honestly think the New Mexico State Aggies would do on the football field?

Did you think they would beat UTEP? I didn't. Then again, I thought they would beat Idaho.

Did you think they would go to a bowl game? I didn't. Then again, I optimistically thought they could pocket four wins (a number which is still attainable although, at this point in time, seems ambitious).

My point is this. It seems like some people legitimately thought this team was going to win six to nine games this season. At least that's what I'm gathering by reading some of the blog posts the last two days.

Here's how I saw the schedule shaking out this year. THIS WAS MY PRESEASON PREDICTION:

vs Idaho: Win
vs. Prairie View: Win
vs. UTEP: Loss
vs. New Mexico: Loss
at San Diego State: Loss
vs. Utah State: Win
at Louisiana Tech: Loss
vs. Fresno State: Loss
at Ohio State: Loss
at Hawaii: Loss
vs. Nevada: Win
at San Jose State: Loss
at Boise State: Loss

Again, this is my preseason prediction. Things can change, a game or two can shift, I just thought four wins was attainable. With this schedule above, I think anyone who thought the team would win more than four was setting themselves up for disappointment.

This is a rebuilding year for the Aggies. A major rebuilding year. Forget year, this team needs years to rebuild. I know fans don't want to hear that and some simply won't understand, but this is a major project at NMSU.

Lets take a look at how I thought things would shake out this year throughout all the areas of the field and how they are going three games into the season:

I thought the Aggies would get more out of this position, but not by much.

I knew that either player, Jeff Fleming or Trevor Walls, would have their hands full in their first year as Division I starters. Then again, I thought the offense would move the ball better than it has. I didn't expect the unit to be like the Air-Raid from seasons past, I simply thought that they would be more methodical and move the chains better. The unit hasn't done that to this point and some of the blame for the offense's shortcomings needs to fall on the quarterback's shoulders.

Running backs
This unit is just about on par with what I pictured, particularly when considering NMSU hasn't gotten much out of its passing game so far.

Seth Smith has been a surprise, while Marquell Colston and Tonny Glynn have been steady, although not spectacular.

Still, this threesome has been the most consistent part of the Aggies' attack.

Wide receivers
This unit has been obscure to me.

No one has really stood out. Todd Lee has been a contributor. After a decent first outing, Marcus Allen has disappeared. Where has Darrius Preston gone? I liked him in fall camp but he hasn't even seen the field so far this season.

NMSU has done a poor job of finding speedster Marcus Anderson down field. He's one of their few offensive weapons who can really strike fear in a defense, although he has been a non factor.

At tight end, Kyle Nelson has had a problem with drops since the beginning of fall practices. Kyle Hipp's a big body who hasn't been involved in the passing game.

Offensive line
I feel this group has done a good job in pass protection and a serviceable job on run blocking.

There have been some untimely penalties on offense this season and some of those mistakes have fallen on the line.

Again, we knew what we were getting out of this unit coming into the year. An undersized group who would try to play together and go eight to 10 men deep.

They haven't been overpowering, but it hasn't been terrible either.

Defensive line
Again, this group is undersized.

The defensive tackle position, to me, has been a disappointment. I thought E.J. Cannon would be in for a big year, although he has tailed off after a good start to fall practice. Junior college transfers Jon Finau and Vincent Federico haven't made an impact.

Defensive ends Donte Savage, Kawika SHook and Pierre Fils have had some moments. But there hasn't been enough pressure on the opposing quarterbacks through the first three games either.

This group played its best against Prairie View A&M and didn't have as much success against Idaho and UTEP.

I must admit, this is one area of the team I do not have a great feel for.

I know the first game of the season against Idaho they had some struggles. Still, with the exception of some big plays, I feel NMSU has done a decent job defending the run this year.

I also know the team has some emotional leaders on this unit.

Coming into the year, I thought the group would struggle with its size but also come to play every time out and rely on veteran savvy.

Right off the bat, Stephon Hatchett has surpassed my expectations. If anyone is looking for an Aggie jersey, scoop up a Stephon Hatchett. The name alone would sell, but he's been a productive player as well.

Davon House has had two good games and struggled some against Prairie View. Chris Buckner and Jonte Green have had their ups and downs.

While Hatchett has exceeded my expectations, House has just about met them. The No. 2 cornerback spot and the nickel corner, I thought NMSU would get more out of. But the season is still young and I feel the group can still grow and be a team strength.

Kyle Hughes has done a good job punting.

The Aggies haven't had a field goal kicker since I came to Las Cruces 2 1/2 years ago.

I thought coming into the year that Hughes would hold his own as a punter and I did have concerns about the team's placekicking situation.

Before I go, I really should say that while I didn't expect the Aggies to be a dominant team this season, I also thought they would be a smart team.

The most worrisome aspect for NMSU so far, to me, has been the penalty problems the team has experienced. I didn't think the group would be undisciplined or beat itself, but that has happened a few times this year. I certainly hope that gets cleaned up.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A look back at UTEP

The game last night was unwatchable.

The Aggies are really a team in major transition. I'm not surprised they lost 38-12 to UTEP. They lost 21-6 to Idaho and barely beat Prairie View A&M.

This year is being sacrificed for years down the road. Ironically, it's similar to Hal Mumme's first season, when the team went through a total change in system offensively and didn't have the pieces to make it work. I'm not giving up on the future years under DeWayne Walker but, so far, the first three games have been rough.

I just want to get this out of the way before we go any further. The team should start Trevor Walls at quarterback against New Mexico next weekend. With the exception of the second half against Idaho - when the Aggies moved the chains the final two quarters - the passing game has been a non-threat.

Is it all on Jeff Fleming's shoulders? No. He can't help it when Kyle Nelson has a ball bounce off his body and into the arms of a UTEP defender on the first play of the game. He can't help it when Marcus Anderson drops a deep ball in the second quarter that would have put the Aggies inside Miner territory. He's not committing holding penalties when the team moves into the opposing redzone - a re-occuring theme in two of the three games the Aggies have played.

Still, his numbers have not been good. 35-of-66 for 367 yards and four interceptions. No touchdowns. And while Walls' numbers don't pop out at you, the team had two touchdown drives with him in the game last night. He threw a TD pass - Nelson caught the ball - the first Aggie scoring toss this season. Will he lead the Aggies to a bowl game this year? No. But he gives them a better opportunity to beat the Lobos next week in Albuquerque.

Speaking of which, that promises to be an awful football game. UNM is in a similar spot as NMSU - a complete overhaul in system, a brand new coaching staff, searching for an identity to hang its hat on. The one guarantee is this: both teams will be desperate. Whether or not that translates into a decent game is another question.

Penalties and special teams: One things is for certain about the Aggies.

The team is limited on firepower. And when that's the case, the unit needs to be fundamentally sound and disciplined. They were neither on Saturday night, nor were they against Idaho in Week 1. Just look at the penalties.

The Aggies actually came out and had two decent drives following the lightning delay. They move the ball to the UTEP 29-yard line in the first quarter. Flag, holding on Mike Grady. Bring it back. Drive killer, NMSU goes for it on fourth-and-10 later in the possession and Fleming is dropped by UTEP's Aaron King.

On the next possession, down 7-0 still, the Aggies move the ball down to the UTEP 15. Flag. Holding. Bring it back. Second-and-17 from the 25. Flag, false state. Bring it back. Kyle Hughes goes on to miss a 43-yard field goal. NMSU is now 0-for-3 on field goal attempts this year, with Hughes missing his only two tries.

Another terrible penalty: Aggies clinging to life, down 24-0. UTEP throws an interception to Davon House, who made a great play in the endzone, one-on-one with the defender, juggling, picking and bringing the ball out to midfield. Some life?!?! Wrong. Flag. Roughing the passer. UTEP keeps possession. Next play, touchdown, 31-0, game over.

The Aggies were penalized eight times for 70 yards. You can't play that way and expect to win if you're the Aggies. They just don't have enough to make up for those types of errors.

"That's something that's kind of disturbing," Walker said of the penalty problems. "The referees are doing their job. We can't argue those calls."

On a bright note, I thought Tonny Glynn had some nice kick returns. And I'm not being sarcastic, he looked alright to me in that department.

Defense: Defensively, the team didn't play as poorly as the final score might indicate. It was 14-0 in the third quarter, a lead which went to 17-0.

Fleming throws a pick deep in Aggie territory. Touchdown Miners.

On the next possession, Walls and Colston botch a handoff, UTEP recovers the fumble at the Aggie 20. Again, touchdown Miners. That's tough.

On the surface, NMSU held the ball for 30:27 to UTEP's 29:33. Still, take a look a bit deeper. The first quarter had the Aggies holding onto the ball for 11:06 (UTEP 3:54). And in the second quarter, NMSU had the ball for 8:09 (UTEP 6:51). In other words, UTEP won time of possession in the second half and wore out the Aggie D. The Miners ran the ball better in the second half. But I thought the defense battled.

One area the team needs to get better at? Third down conversion. UTEP converted nine-of-14 third downs on the evening.

"Idaho we didn't look too well, last week we thought we got a handle on it," Walker said of third-downs. "We gotta go back and take a look at it. On both sides of the ball."

Lightning storm: That was strange for everyone involved - players to coaches to fans to reporters. A three-hour delay, then they go back out there and play a football game? Strange.

No one in the Aggie camp used it as an excuse, which they shouldn't have. Both teams had to deal with it and, as Walker pointed out following the game, NMSU actually came out of the locker room and strung together some decent drives that ultimately stalled in UTEP territory. Still, the Aggies actually played a decent first quarter following the delay, UTEP just outlasted them.

Linebacker Jason Scott said that during the break the team talked football, ate oranges and bananas, went over the Miners first scoring run and stayed focused. That's a long time to be sitting around waiting to take the field. It's not easy. Again, UTEP had to deal with it also.

Some bright spots: I mentioned Tonny Glynn on kickoff returns.

I thought the team fought defensively until running out of gas.

Davon House seemed to have a good game at cornerback. The Miners elected to throw toward Jonte Green and Chris Buckner as opposed to House. When the ball did come House's way, he either made the tackle or in the one case, had a nice interception that was called back because of a roughing the passer penalty.

Seth Smith had another 100-yard effort on 13 carries. He had a 53-yard run that set up the Aggies' first score of the game.

Ross Conner made 11 tackles.

And there's always next week. The Lobos game should be interesting. Two teams that are struggling right now, but a contest the Aggies can win.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Game update

An announcement was just made that play will be picked up for the Aggie-Miner game at 9 p.m.

The game was delayed at 6:20 because of lightning.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Keys to Saturday's game

1) Aggie offensive line: NMSU will have to block well up front, create holes in the run game and also protect quarterback Jeff Fleming. UTEP has solid pass rusher in defensive end Aaron King, who has two sacks on the season and will be looking for more. The Aggie running game hummed on all cyclinders last week. It will be tougher on a UTEP defense that is, well, Division-I caliber. And, Fleming will need time in the pocket. If he rushes his throws, it could be trouble, as Miner playmakers Braxton Amy and Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith lurk in the UTEP secondary.

2) UTEP wide receivers: Idaho’s wide receivers were ordinary. Prairie View had some talent on the outside. Still, neither team compares to the one-two punch the Miners will throw NMSU’s way in Jeff Moturi and Kris Adams. Both can fly and make the big play look easy in the passing game. The Miner passing game has gotten off to a slow start in the 2009 season. Reagardless, the team is looking for a breakout performance. In other words, UTEP and it’s receiving corps believe that Saturday is the night the unit gets on track and the scoreboard lights up.

3) Aggie passing attack: Last week’s 8-for-20, 63-yard effort from the Aggies won’t cut it against against the team’s rivals from the south. The Aggie wide receivers need to get open downfield and, when they do, Jeff Fleming has to look their way and deliver the ball accurately. Even in Week 1, the Aggies used short, conservative throws to methodically move the ball downfield. Big plays in the passing game will be a necessary requirement for NMSU on Saturday. If it doesn’t happen, the Miners will stack the box looking to stop the run, and points will be hard to come by for the Aggies.

4) Miner penalties: Nothing will kill momentum faster than crucial penalties at critical times. All you have to do is ask UTEP, which has been flagged 25 times for 238 yards in just two games. Sure, the constant penalties are correctable. They’re also a bad habit to fall into and the Miners already seem to be knee deep in the mire. Just another subplot to watch out for, with the 87th Aggie-Miner battle on tap.

Ticket sales

NMSU would not give an exact total on how many tickets have been sold for the Aggie-UTEP game this weekend although there was this interesting tidbit.

Associated AD Steve Macy said that typically 7,000-12,000 UTEP fans purchase tickets to the game when its held at Aggie Memorial Stadium. As of Friday morning, by Ticketmaster's count, those numbers are lower.

“UTEP fans are not buying tickets,” Macy said. “Less than 500 have been bought. That's on Ticketmaster counts.”

Those numbers alone would indicate that this season will see a substantial drop in ticket sales for the game.

“Anytime I don't have a sellout I'm concerned,” Macy said. “Regardless of who we play.”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

LaVorick Williams

Spoke to LaVorick Williams yesterday on the telephone.

Williams, who played for the Aggies last season is now on the UTEP roster. He showed flashes of promise last year on the football field, with good size and a fluid motion. Many Aggie fans were excited about what he might become, although they pictured his future in Crimson and White, not Miner Orange.

The wide receiver said that he left NMSU prior to the 2009 season in hopes of playing football and running track at Texas Tech, an option that wasn't available at NMSU (no men's track and field program). Things fell through for him at Tech, however. He attempted to come back to the Aggies but there was no scholarship left for him. Now, he's with the Miners.

“It had nothing to do with the coaches or anything like that,” Williams said. “I wanted to do both sports. I have a lot of love for track and wanted to get back involved with it.”

Williams, who runs the 100-meter and 200-meter races, is currently redshirting with the Miners — he won't suit up in Saturday's game at AMS — and is running with the practice squad. He said that he hopes run track for UTEP as well.

“Everything's good so far,” Williams said. “I like coach (Mike) Price a lot and his offense. I'm enjoying myself.”

Williams said that last year's freshman year at NMSU was a positive one.

“It was great,” he said. “It was something I always wanted to do. Just to line up with those other great receivers, with a guy like Chris Williams. It was a great experience, I learned a lot and I'll never forget it.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Josh Smith

The Aggies recently added defensive back Josh Smith to their roster.

Smith originally committed to the University of Washington, but reportedly a couple of his core classes did not meet NCAA standards.

The Aggies allowed Smith to take the courses over the internet this past summer and he got cleared last week.

He is currently in Aggie camp working on getting caught up on the playbook.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Quotes from Tuesday's press conference

DeWayne Walker
On rivalry game against UTEP
"This is obviously a big game, it's a rivalry game. I've had my share of rivalry games at UCLA and USC since I've coached at both places. I understand the magnitude of this game. Our guys are working hard, UTEP has a good football team. Even though they're 0-2, they're not an 0-2 team I think. We'll have our hands full. We'll probably have to play our best game this year to have a chance."

On the running game this week
"I would think there coordinator would come in thinking they have to stop the run and force us to beat them throwing the ball. We'll be prepared for that. Jeff will have to complete some throws and our receivers will have to make some plays in the passing game. We're not going to be discouraged because they put eight guys in the box to try and stop the run game, we're still gonna run it. But our passing game is going to have to be better against UTEP compared to our passing game this past weekend."

On Seth Smith's status
"He'll be our starter, he's the guy right now. I believe he's earned that right."

On Smith's performance last week
"We still like all our backs. I know going against Rosey (NMSU offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach) when he was at Washington State, really Seth fits the mold of the backs that he had when he was coaching at Washington State. We thought Marquell did a good job when he got some carries and we still have Tonny. I think we have to get Tonny some more carries in this game as well. But Seth has definitely proven that he's the guy to get the carries in this particular game."

On specific improvements passing game needs to make
"Just Jeff hitting his throws. We had guys open, Jeff just has to simmer down a little bit and when guys are open we have to make plays in the passing game. Just getting himi more comfortable and have him trusting that receivers are going to be where their supoosed to be. Just make his throws."

On UTEP's offense
"They're explosive. They have the capabilities of really blowing it up. Just watching their first two games, they really haven't had a chance to get it going yet. I'm sure he thinks this is a game where they can get their offense and football team on track."

On mood of team following a win
"You gotta think the guys feel good about themselves regardless of whether it's a I-AA or a Division II. We were in a eight-game losing streak and to see them enjoy the win, we handed out awards and had a good time. It gave them a chance to feel good about themselves. I'm a firm believer that winning breads winning. If we want to have a winning season, we have to continue to win football games."

On Aggies' two-game winning streak against the Miners
"There's a pressure I know I'm adding to myself because Hal (Mumme) did beat UTEP two years in a row. We'd love to keep that going. My thinking is that there's a new head coach, new schemes. To (Mike Price) he's probably thinking of it as an advantage to his football team. I think it's a disadvantage for us. They'll come in here with steam coming out of their ears knowing that they've lost to New Mexico State two years in a row. In (Price's) mind, this is a great opportunity to get his team its first victory."

On pep rallies on campus where football team's presence has been sparse
"We need to look at our schedules. For example, on Friday night, we took our team to the movies. Now is that more important than a pep rally? If we could just get better communication, then we could easily cut out the movies and go to the pep rally. It is important. I know that I went to the first week, we had another assistant coach go the next week. If we have to do something to compromise that, I will. It has nothing to do with us not being in support of it. Our guys are still preparing for a game too. It's the night before a game and the pep rallies are kind of late. I know the first two games, the pep rallies were at 9 o'clock. Our guys are really getting ready for snacks and getting ready to go to bed at that time of the night. I would just like to have better communication because we would like to work with that, we want to make the students happy and do our part. I just would like there to be more compassion for what our guys are doing at that time of the night before we get accused of not being supportive. That's far from the truth."

Sam King, linebacker
On rivalry between NMSU and UTEP
"I'm feeling really excited. This will be my fifth game being a part of it. The festivities and the environment when this game comes around, it's always a crazy feeling and it makes the practice week more intense. Every day you're thinking about this battle. And it's the same thing 35, 40 miles away. It's pretty exciting."

On the Aggies' two-game winning streak against the Miners
"They're a great team and I know they played Kansas and a close one against Buffalo. They're chomping at the bit. Before this game, records don't matter. It's NMSU versus UTEP, it's one of the biggest games of the year for us. We're battling for it like it's our bowl game. Everybody is strapping up, getting ready. I don't think records matter in this game."

On pride of winning streak
"I'd like to keep it that way before I leave. That would be a good way to end my legacy here. But it doesn't really matter. That can get in your head and they can take advantage of you. We could get to cocky thinking we've won in the past two years. It's not an automatic and nothing's a given in these games."

On UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe
"I think he brings a lot to the table with his arm and his legs. He has real good poine on the field. He's a good leader of that team. He has good control out there. We'll have to study him and study what he does."

Donte Savage, defensive end
On defensive line's ability to bat down balls
"Coach taught us to have ball disruption. You see that ball go, put your hand up. We want pressure from the D-line. That was one of our concerns from last year. We didn't give our secondary a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks and create interceptions. This year, we've been working heavy on that. I think we came a long way."

On playing with four linemen this year as opposed to three
"Playing with four is fun. Everybody has their gap. In the 3-3-5, you have to do a lot of double teams. When you play the 4-3, you have tackles big enough to take on double teams and fill in the gaps. Last year was not really fun for me. I was only 220 taking on double teams. It feels better to be on the edge where I can use my abilities to get to the quarterback."

Seth Smith, running back
On carrying last week's performance into UTEP game
"Hopefully as a team we do a better job. I think the offensive line did pretty good. Work on the mistakes we made last week and hopefully carry it over into this game."

On carrying the ball in a run-first offense
"I think it's more of a balanced team now. Week 1, we ran the ball 30 times and threw the ball 30 times. I think it's more balanced. The passing game's going better and the running game's going better."

Would a big game against UTEP be a bigger statement than against Prairie View
"Not really. Yeah, but not really. Keep the same attitude every week, have it carry over. Progress and do better. Really, I try to keep the same attitude."

If he's ever played in an atmosphere like Saturday night will be
30,000 (fans), no never in front of 30,000 before. I've played in packed high school games but never 30,000.

Is that exciting for him?
Oh, yeah, it's exciting. Especially coming down the tunnel, coming out, getting to run out onto the field. A lot of energy, a lot of excitement for the fans. Hopefully we can keep the stands full the rest of the year.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The UTEP Miners

With the Aggies sitting at 1-1 on the season, we look at the team's next opponent, the UTEP Miners.

UTEP has lost two games early in the season in which the team really didn't look very good - hosting both Buffalo and Kansas. This is part of the reason the Miners concern me going into this game.

I think UTEP has talent, particularly on the offensive side of the ball - a strong and mobile quarterback and good receivers should make their pass game a handful to deal with. They have also clearly played better competition than the Aggies thus far. How will they play against NMSU?

There's another way to look at things as well. Would you rather face a team coming off a poor performance or coming off a good one? The Miners will come in focused and desperate for a win. On the flip side of the coin, one would hope a rivalry such as this would provide plenty of motivation for either team, regardless of record or standing.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A win is a win is a win

NMSU beat Prairie View A&M 21-18 on Saturday night.

I don't know how this game is going to be interpreted by fans. Some will view it as a positive no matter what, the Aggies pulled out the W. Others will say that NMSU should have won anyway and the score shouldn't have been as close as it was.

The bottom line is that the Aggies came away on top and that's what I'm going to remember about the contest. Sure, Prairie View came back and made a game out of it late, rallying from a 21-3 deficit. And the Panthers are a I-AA team. But what if the Aggies lost? I knew going into this game that NMSU would have its hands full. They lost to Idaho last weekend at home! I was happy to see the team get the win. It wasn't a gimme going into the evening and anyone who was at the season opener last weekend, I would hope, would agree.

NMSU is 1-1 on the year. There is no room to apologize for the victory. The Aggies got the win, they will take the win and they will move on. As they should.


One positive I saw in Saturday's game was that the team improved in just about every phase of the game I thought they needed to.

They generated a pretty good pass rush and the defensive line was active. NMSU finished with three sacks and the D-linemen batted down some balls at the line of scrimmage. Defensive lineman Donte Savage was particularly effective.

Both Vincent Federico and John Finau didn't play in the second half, sidelined with concussion problems.

“That's something we didn't get last week and that's a nice starting point for us,” coach DeWayne Walker said of the pass rush.

The Aggies ran the ball well. Seth Smith had a big effort and Marquell Colston was a good compliment. The team ran for 304 yards.

“He's a guy that has always kind of been my secret weapon,” Walker said of Smith. “From spring ball to training camp, he's always been a guy that, once he got the opportunity, I knew he was going to make the most out of it. I'm not surprised.”

Jeff Fleming had 59 yards rushing and two touchdown runs.

Walker was pleased with the ground game as a whole.

“We want to run the ball, that's who we are. Seth did a great job,” Walker said. “Jeff — he scared me to death, I don't want to lose my quarterback — but he did a great job and got us some first downs with his legs. That's who we are.”

I thought Jonte Green played well at times.


Some areas that concerned me were in order.

The passing game didn't look good. Fleming wasn't crisp and missed some receivers downfield.

“The passing just wasn't there this week,” Fleming said. “I was struggling a little bit out there. Luckily our run game came through big for us and the offensive line got a great push.”

Davon House had trouble with wide receiver Gabe Osaze-Ediae. The stats didn't show it but House wiggled out of a few jams out there.

The team still struggled to stop the run.


The team also had problems containing quarterback K.J. Black, who came in in a relief role for the Panthers and made some things happen, almost bringing the team all the way back.

Black led Prairie View on two scoring drives down the stretch and caused problems both with his passing and with his legs.

“The quarterback they brought in, he's a heck of a football player,” Walker said. “I'm glad they didn't start him to be honest with you. He changed the momentum of the game. Quick throws, a big guy who can get out of the pocket and run. He was able to make plays for them.”

The Panthers gave the Aggies particular trouble with their no-huddle attack.

“The difference was the hurry-up,” Savage said. “They took advantage of it and the defense didn’t see it coming. We have to find a way to stop it.”


Smith's game was impressive.

The coaching staff liked Smith throughout camp and said this week he would be a bigger part of the offense against the Panthers.

Last year, Smith didn't take the field because of grade issues. He returned to the team during spring ball.

“I can't even explain how tough it was,” Smith said. “I went through a lot. Not playing, missing the game. Thinking about the opportunity. It was above and beyond.”


Stephon Hatchett gave the game ball to Walker who handed it over the offensive lineman Joe Suder, who lost his mother to breast cancer.

“We dedicated the game to him,” Walker said. “I gave my first win to him.”


Walker wasn't doing cartwheels after winning his first game as a college head coach.

“Not really,” Walker said when asked if there was any extra emotion after getting his first win. “I don't want that to sound like I don't appreciate it because I do. But I'd like to win more than one game.”


Good quote from Savage.

“This year we’re more of a team,” Savage said. “Everyone gets along with everyone in the locker room. It’s fun now.”

Friday, September 11, 2009

Keys to the game

Here are what I will be watching for when the Aggies host Prairie View A&M....

1) The ground game: NMSU will look to run the ball better this week and control the line of scrimmage.
The team would like to see their yards-per-carry average higher than the 3.2 number it mustered against Idaho last week. Marquell Colston and Tonny Glynn will see action again, as well as Seth Smith, who’s role is sure to increase out of the Aggie backfield.
In turn, stopping Prairie View on the ground will be a top priority. While NMSU ran the ball 33 times last weekend, the Panthers also took to the ground often, recording 39 rushing attempts for 126 yards, for a paltry 2.2-yards-per-carry average.

2) The kicking game: NMSU tinkered with their field goal kicker this week, replacing Jordan Davenport with Kyle Hughes.
Hughes will do it all tonight for the Aggies’ special teams units, handling kickoffs, punts and field goals. Last year, Hughes was the Aggies primary place kicker, booting through all 33 of his extra point attempts and connecting on 7-of-11 field goal tries.
In a game that could be nip-and-tuck, Hughes might be the difference between an Aggie win, or loss.

3) NMSU pass defense: The Aggie cornerbacks are often left on an island, forced to defend receivers one-on-one in the secondary.
Prairie View struggled last week throwing the football, as quarterback Jay Bluford went 10-of-18 for just 91 yards. The QB did connect on two touchdown tosses, however, and will look to take advantage again this week.
The key could be the Aggie pass rush. The team would like to generate pressure in the backfield and dictate when Bluford throws the ball, not the other way around. If the team rattles Bluford, turnovers should follow suit.

4) Confidence factor: The mental edge in this game will play just as big a factor as anything else.
For the Aggies, every contest is important, whether it be against Boise State or a team that competes in the FBC. Coming off a loss last week against Idaho, NMSU would benefit from a fast start in tonight’s contest. Letting Prairie View stick around could lead to problems.
As for the Panthers, the team will be fired up for this game — a Division-I opponent in enemy territory. They will come out ready to play. If NMSU can take air out of the Prairie View balloon early, it will pay dividends later in the contest.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A few things

First off, coach DeWayne Walker said tonight that running back Seth Smith will likely get more touches in the offense this week.

Smith ran fairly well in the fourth quarter last week and seems to have earned more playing time.

Also, Walker said that tackle Vincent Federico has been battling through headaches stemming from a concussion. Federico's status for Prairie View remains up in the air.

For those wondering about tackle Branden Warner, his right foot/ankle was in a protective boot at practice earlier in the week. If Federico can't go, NMSU seems to be very low on bodies at defensive tackle.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Talk with Rosey

Spoke with NMSU offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach Wednesday.

I asked him what he thought about the running game last weekend. He said that he thought there were some flashes of good play from the position but that, on 33 carries, he'd like more production than the 107 yards gained from scrimmage.

Don't be surprised to see a little more of Seth Smith this week at running back. Seth came in during the fourth quarter last week and pounded his way for yardage - four carries, 17 yards. Still, Rosenbach likes his other backs as well and said that while the team would like to get Smith more touches, much of that will be dictated by course of the game this Saturday.

I also spoke to Rosenbach about the play of Jeff Fleming. The offensive coordinator said that it was similar to the backs, some good things and some mistakes. Rosenbach said that the No. 1 point of improvement he wanted to see from Fleming was in redzone efficiency, an area of struggle for the Aggies against Idaho.

I spoke with Fleming as well. He said that the one lesson he learned this week was the value of protecting the football. NMSU committed three turnovers against the Vandals, with two coming from inside the opposing 20.

Coach Walker said something about Fleming that made a lot of sense. Statistically, Fleming played well. 21-of-33 pass completions - over 60 percent completion percentage - 230 yards and an interception. He also was mobile, making a few plays with his legs.

Still, while Walker pointed out Fleming's performance, the head coach wants to see more out of Fleming in terms of game management and leadership. He said that's half the battle as a quarterback, leading the troops.

I believe quarterback is a deceiving position. You want a football player back there first and foremost. And the No. 1 number is wins.


Lots of frustration on the board, some from me and a lot from our posters.

It's still early folks. The Idaho loss was disappointing, but it was only Week 1.

Everyone knew coming into the year, this team was a work in progress. Actually, I think some did and some are unrealistic. I had a neighbor come out and say the other day that he thought the team would win all of its home games and go to a bowl. I told hims straight out, that isn't going to happen. But he believed it. This is a classic example of setting yourself up for disappointment.

I predicted at the beginning of the year that NMSU would win four games. This isn't some crazy call that the team is going to challenge for a WAC title. This was realistic, yet in my eyes fair and attainable. I had them beating Idaho - which they obviously didn't - but I'm going to stick by my original call. I still think they can pull off four W's. And if they do, in my eyes, that would be a great season.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday's press conference

Some quotes from the presser

DeWayne Walker, NMSU head coach
On game against Idaho last weekend
Obviously disappointed. First year head coach, new staff, new players, new scheme, we thought this was a winnable game for us. I know in the first half we struggled and we looked like a rookie team. We went in at halftime, made some adjustments and played a far better second half. We shut them out defensively which is my style of defense, offensively we moved the ball up and down the field, unfortunately, we just couldn't get into the endzone. But going back and watching the tape, I saw a football team. We've got to go back out this week, get us a W and just keep moving forward.

On if inexperience played a factor in the team's loss to Idaho
You don't really want to use that as an excuse because we do have some experienced players that have played. I think it's more just new schemes and new coaches trying the transition this football team. It's something where we have to go back, look at the mistakes and make the corrections this week in practice.

On his take on this weekend's game
We gotta win. I'll just leave it at that. We can't take anyone lightly. I know I made a joke saying that we can't even take a high school team lightly. That's just where we are right now. We can win some games, we just gotta get on track.

On Prairie View's defense
It's fun watching them. They fly around, they tackle, i think they do a good job schematically, they're pretty athletic. I think there's some pieces of their defense we can take advantage of but they're going to come and challenge us knowing we have a first-year quarterback. I'm sure they'll try to take advantage of that a little bit.

On his feeling in second half when team began turning it around
Defensively, thank God, this is the style of defense we need to play. Where have you been? Offensively, it was good seeing our offense move up and down the field. Coach Rosenbach did a great job at Washington State, I just think he's probably disappointed we couldn't score more points but we were still able to move the ball up and down the field. I think that's who we are. If we can stop people from scoring and we can score some points, that's the type of team we can have this year. I'm very positive, I was disappointed for the community, for our university, for our players, but it's still a process. We'll build off this first game and we'll be OK.

Ross Conner, linebacker
On defensive adjustments at halftime
Basically, we started playing what worked for us in the first half, did the things that worked best for us on defense. That worked in the second half. We shut them out so it was a direct result.

On upcoming game
It's a big week, it's a pink week, it's an honor and priveledge to be a part of it. The players are really excited to do this. It's great for the community and all the women we are helping. For the game, its a must-win situation. We can't lose. We gotta win. That's the bottom line.

On Prairie View's offense
I think we stack up really well with their offense. They’re gonna try to run the ball on us a lot. Our defensive line will be solid and our linebackers will be a lot better. Get the ball back and let our offense go to work.

On second-half performance
I think it started at halftime in the locker room. The guys, they got fed up with it. I've been here a long time now. I'm tired of losing. We started it in the second half. There were a lot of emotions. As soon as we got that first three-and-out on defense, we got going. The offense scored — it was a very emotional game. Unfortunately we lost. Hopefully that doesn't happen again.

Alphonso Powell, safety
Evaluating secondary's performance
We tackled real well. Passing, we gave up a couple deep balls. We gotta work on that, make sure we're working on our technique and that we're there to make the play.

Going against Prairie View
We're gonna come out and play hard. It's going to be some hard-nosed D.

Marcus Allen, wide receiver
On his performance this past weekend
A great experience. I wasn't nervous, it was more excitement than being nervous. Seeing that many people in the stands, it was exciting.

On quarterback Jeff Fleming
He's a great quarterback. He's making his reads, he doesn't fold under pressure. He's a young quarterback, just like all of us.

Some roster moves

A few changes to the Aggie lineup heading into their Week 2 performance against Prairie View.

For starters, and likely the position most would like to know about, is the kicking game. Kyle Hughes will handle everything this week — place kicking, punting and field goals. He replaces Jordan Davenport on field goal attempts.

Jonte Green will start over Chris Buckner at cornerback this week. I considered Green to be the starting corner here anyway.

Also, Vincent Federico will start in place of E.J. Cannon at defensive tackle.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A chance to reflect

So I thought about the Aggie game a lot the last two days. And here's what I came up with.

The loss last weekend to Idaho, in my eyes, it was bad. And yes, I was disappointed. I never thought this team would be great this year, but I also thought they could win three or four games in DeWayne Walker's first season. Frankly, that would be a great year for the Aggies in 2009, win three or four and be competitive in a few others. One must be realistic when evaluating these sorts of delicate matters, but I thought a win against Idaho would be in the offering. Frankly, with the four-win prediction I put on the table at the outset of the season, it was a mandatory performance.

The team lost and I didn't think they played well. I know, I know, some people are pointing out that the defense played better in the second half. Some are saying that Fleming created around and outside the pocket and look at the two long second-half drives and see offensive potential. My response is, yeah, there are going to be silver linings in anything. At the end of the day, the team lost 21-6 to Idaho, on its homefield. We can try to sugarcoat it all we want, but a 21-6 loss to the Vandals is a 21-6 loss to the Vandals. The Aggies have a long way to go.

We move on. NMSU needs to beat Prairie View on Saturday and Prairie View isn't a bad team. They come in with a good defensive track record, a strong 2008 campaign under their belts and a chip on their shoulder. All I'm saying is that they're going to be a tough opponent.

There is no need to look too far ahead if you're an Aggie fan right now. One week at a time is enough, anything more than that can be exhausting. The team simply needs to win this weekend. When it's all said and done, that's my take on everything at this juncture. Focus on Prairie View and beat Prairie View. I do know that it's not a gimme.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Thoughts on the game

Hey folks. Some thoughts from Aggie football, Week 1.

First off, it was a weird game. It was actually a tough one for me to swallow because I thought NMSU would play much better and more crisp.

The first half was straight-up ugly on the Aggie side of the ball. Idaho converted on seven-of-nine third-down attempts and NMSU couldn't find a rhythm offensively. Here's two plays that stand out to me, in the first quarter alone, offensively.

NMSU has the ball, 3rd-and-15 from the Idaho 45, first Aggie possession of the game, Idaho up 7-0. Still, NMSU has strung together a few first downs. Todd Lee open on a slant pattern and Jeff Fleming misses badly with his pass attempt. Aggies punt the ball.

The next was following a Stephon Hatchett interception, NMSU has the ball at the 21-yard line. Two plays later, Fleming and Marquell Colston muck up a handoff and there's a fumble. Idaho football. Talk about a momentum changer.

Both teams would exchange punts after that, but the damage was done. Idaho would cash in later in the quarter and you could feel the air come out of Aggie Memorial Stadium.

Defensively, Idaho killed the Aggies on third down. Just look at their first drive. Third-and-10 from the Vandal 33, Enderle hits Preston Davis for 48. Third-and-goal from the NMSU 6, Enderle to Hardy for the score.

Other third downs in the first half, Enderle hits Hardy for 12*, Shaw for 14, Komar for 38*, Woolridge runs for 9 and Komar runs for 15 (* indicate a scoring drive).

Penalties: Speaking of momentum shifters, the Aggies were hit by some crucial penalties throughout the course of Saturday's game.

Three that stand out, off the top of my head: 1) End-around to Marcus Allen, Allen gets a nice gain inside the Idaho 40. Flag. Holding. Bring it back. Drive stalls. 2) First possession, third quarter, Fleming hits Todd Lee over the middle on a crossing pattern and Lee runs for the first down. Flag. Holding. Aggies forced to punt. 3) NMSU driving, late fourth, trying to tighten the score, third-and-goal from the 3. Whistle. False start. Next play, Fleming throws toward the endzone for Kyle Nelson. Interception. Ballgame.

Idaho was actually penalized for more yardage than the Aggies in the contest but it felt like the other way around. It was the timing of the NMSU flags and the plays that they negated that stood out the most.

Not enough heat: I believe one of the problems NMSU had at stopping Idaho on third downs was because of a lack of pass rush.

I said leading up to the game that the Aggies would need to pressure Enderle into making some mistakes. They didn't do it and the big quarterback made them pay by stepping up and throwing the ball downfield. NMSU needed to win the turnover battle and the way they were going to do it was by rattling Enderle. It didn't happen.

The biggest surprise for me was....: The way NMSU ran the football.

I thought the Aggies would have a field day running on the Idaho front-seven, but it really didn't happen. Sure, the Aggies topped 100 yards on the evening — 107 to be exact — but it they were all hard earned (NMSU averaged 3.2-yards per carry while Idaho averaged 5.2). It was a methodical attack and I thought we were going to see more big plays out of the ground game Saturday night.

Marquell Colston (14 carries, 54 yards) and Tonny Glynn (nine carries, 29 yards, TD) handled most of the duties while Seth Smith (four carries, 17 yards, 4.2 ypc) contributed late as well.

Jeff Fleming: I thought Fleming played OK, but the team scored just six points. Some of that burden falls on the quarterback's shoulders. He threw just one pick too, but he could have easily thrown two, maybe even three. The Idaho DBs had some drops.

Fleming did lead the team on a couple good drives in the second half that were very long, but I thought this was a combination of a few things. First off, NMSU was taking what the Idaho defense was giving them — deep drops in the secondary, offense going underneath to short and intermediate routes in the passing game. Secondly, Fleming's strong suit isn't throwing the ball deep downfield. There was one play on the team's long fourth-quarter drive where he had Marcus Anderson deep, went to him, and missed. It could have been a really big play right there.

In turn, and some of this is by design, the Aggies were forced to run a ton of short passing routes. Again, some of this is simply their system. It just makes for very long drives — a 16-play, 92-yard possession that took up 9:38 and a 17-play, 61 yarder late. It's a double-edged sword. It keeps your defense off the field and wears down the opposition. It also leaves your team with a greater chance of error — that's a ton of plays. I just think NMSU needs more big-play capability from its offense.

One thing I like about Fleming: the ability to make plays with his legs. One in particular on the 92-yard possession which ended in the team's only TD: third-and-18 from the NMSU 15, Fleming is pressured, avoids the rush, buys time, steps up into the pocket and finds Anderson over the middle of the field for a first down. Jeff can move and throw on the run which is a benefit in Timm Rosenbach's system.

Defensive secondary: DeWayne Walker's defense demands that his corners play straight-up, man-to-man coverage on the outside.

I didn't think the Aggie corners played particularly well on Saturday evening, particularly Chris Buckner who got beat a handful of times for big gains.

The NMSU corners will need to get better for the defense to reach its fullest potential. Sure the Aggie D played better in the second half, but Idaho threw the ball just five times. They went to the ground, even on third-down attempts.

On the flip side, Stephon Hatchett played a good game. He recovered the phantom fumble that was called back and a few plays later had an interception. Enderle just threw that ball up in the air but, still, it was a turnover. Considering where those plays occurred in the game — NMSU down 7-0, looking for a lift — they were big in context.

Marcus Anderson: He played and I didn't see anything to indicate that he was hurting badly. The team even put him back on punt returns in the second half.

NMSU needs to get Anderson more involved. He made four grabs for 50 yards on the evening.

“I’d like to get him the ball more,” quarterback Jeff Fleming said. “He’s a big playmaker for us.”

The kicking game: Kyle Hughes looked good on punts and kickoffs. Jordan Davenport wasn't good on his one field goal or extra point attempts.

Don't be shocked to see Hughes handle both duties in the near future.


Hello all. Hope all is well.

Gameday today, Aggies vs. Vandals. What's going to happen? I think it could be very tough for the Aggies if Marcus Anderson does not go. He's the team's top playmaker on offense and Jeff Fleming will look for him. So, I think it's important that Marcus is playing at close to 100 percent.

As for the game itself, here's what will happen. The Aggies will run the ball well and if Marcus plays a big role, should be adequate in the passing game. This should net them at least 20 points on the evening. If NMSU scores over 21, I think they win this game.

I also think that the Aggies need to force some turnovers from Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle. Pressure him and force him into some mistakes. This is possible, as Enderle is error prone, throwing 17 picks last year. He can also throw the ball downfield and I expect that Vandals to score at least two TDs, most likely three. I do think with a healthy Anderson, NMSU scores close to 30.

Without Anderson? NMSU will be hard pressed to move the ball and will be without a big-play presence on the outside.

With Anderson, NMSU wins 31-21. Without Anderson, or an Anderson who isn't effective, I think the team will lose 21-14. I think he's that important.

Week 1, feel the energy!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Notes: Marcus Anderson, scheduling, team captains

NMSU coach DeWayne Walker said that Marcus Anderson will be a game-time decision when the Aggies play the University of Idaho on Saturday.

Anderson tweaked his knee during Wednesday's practice and will be held out of action leading up to the game. He will be evaluated again at that time.

Scheduling: NMSU Athletics Director McKinley Boston said that NMSU has locked up two away games at the University of Minnesota for the 2011 and 2013 seasons. NMSU will receiver $800,000 for each game.

The Aggies are also in discussions with Auburn and Texas for possible away games. The Auburn discussions are farther along than the ones with UT.

Team captains: Captains for Saturday's game will be middle linebacker Jason Scott, defensive tackle E.J. Cannon, wide receiver Todd Lee and offensive tackle David Norman.

The Aggie coaching staff will choose captains this year and the honors will be dictated on a week-by-week basis.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Keys to Saturday's game

Here are what I think will be the five keys going into Saturday's game. The one I left out was the kicking game. Other than that, read away....

1) Quarterback play: Jeff Fleming will take on Nathan Enderle on Saturday under center.
For Fleming, it will be his first game as a starting quarterback on the Division-I level. What can we expect? Tough to tell, and that’s part of the problem.
Enderle, on the other hand, is a gunslinger, someone who threw 20 touchdowns last year, to go along with 17 interceptions. The junior’s numbers could be somewhat deceiving — many of them came with Idaho down big and forced to chuck it early and often.
Each teams’ passing game will likely make plays. The key will be protecting the football. Fleming or Enderle, who will make the crucial play, or big mistake? That’s the million-dollar question.

2) Aggie defensive tackles vs. Mike Iupati: This matchup is the epitome of football — a defensive tackle and an offensive guard meet up, likely won’t touch the ball, but could very well dictate whether their team wins or loses the contest.
NMSU’s unit is headlined by E.J. Cannon (6-foot, 292 pounds), who showed athleticism and quickness during fall camp on the defensive line. He, alone, could be a game-changer on the interior of the defense throughout the course of the year.
The senior and his fellow tackles will get a stiff challenge Saturday, however, in Iupati, who’s built like a condominium (6-foot-6, 330 pounds) yet moves like a gazelle.
NMSU’s Cannon, John Finau and Vincent Federico will be asked to penetrate into the opposing backfield but, perhaps more importantly, will also be required to tie up Iupati along the line of scrimmage. If Idaho’s All-WAC guard can beat them off the ball and block the second tier of the Aggie defense — the linebackers — the Idaho running backs will have room to roam. If the Aggies can bog Iupati down, the Vandals’ running game will be grounded, and their ability to move the football will be harnessed.

3) Aggie pass rush: The easiest way to get a quarterback flustered? Bring the heat. And the Aggie defensive line applying pressure on Enderle could cause a pick or two going the other way.
The big holdup is Idaho’s offensive line, which is big and brimming with potential. The left side of the unit, which is highlighted by guard Mike Iupati (6-foot-6, 330 pounds), also features tackle Matt Cleveland, who at 6-foot-4, 314 pounds isn’t exactly small. The center is Irvin Stevens III (6-foot-3, 277 pounds), while the right side is anchored by guard Adam Juratovac (6-foot-3, 306 pounds) and tackle Bryce Sinclair (6-foot-5, 322 pounds).
The Aggie defensive linemen are inexperienced, yet quick and athletic, particularly ends Donte Savage and Kawika Shook. Size isn’t everything. Skill will ultimately be the deciding factor in this war in the trenches.

4) Marcus Anderson vs. Isaac Butts: The Aggies playmaker on offense? It’s still Anderson, who had a big year in 2008 and looks for an encore in 2009.
Small, yet fast, Anderson has the ability to beat his man deep. Once he has the ball, he has a knack for finding the endzone, as witnessed by his nine TDs last year, on just 50 receptions.
Butts, on the other hand, is a senior and an experienced player for the Vandals. Make no mistake though, this is a defense that has struggled in the past stopping the big play. It just so happens, that’s Anderson’s bread and butter.

5) Defensive turnaround: Both of these teams need to play better on the defensive side of the ball in 2009.
The Aggies seem primed for a turnaround under DeWayne Walker, who’s made a living over the years at scheming on that particular side of the ball. Leaders of the unit include senior linebackers Jason Scott, Ross Conner, cornerbacks Davon House and Chris Buckner and tackle E.J. Cannon. Will this go from the team’s main weakness the last handful of years to an area of strength? Time will tell.
As for Idaho, the Vandals can score points. Stopping the opposition remains a bone of contention. Back is senior leader Shiloh Keo, a safety who missed all of last season due to injury. He will team with safety Jeromy Jones and cornerback Isaac Butts to give Idaho an experienced defensive backfield.
The question for the Vandals will be, how will they hold up along the front-seven? We’ll find out Saturday.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Depth charts; notes from the press conference

Here are the depth charts released b New Mexico State and the University of Idaho. Starters are the players listed next to the position, backups are directly below starters.

New Mexico State Aggies depth chart
QB: 9 Jeff Fleming
11 Trevor Walls
RB: 3 Marquell Colston
23 Tonny Glynn
FB: 21 Ronald Opetaia
38 Brandon Perez
X: 7 Todd Lee
83 Barry Huntley
F: 10 Marcus Anderson
32 Marcus Allen
Y: 17 Kyle Nelson
89 Kyle Hipp
LT: 75 Dwayne Barton
78 Kyle Smith
LG: 67 Joe Palmer
73 Patrick Blount
C: 62 Mike Grady
61 JR Saultietis
RG: 72 Seioli Fakalata
63 Mike Yocius
RT: 59 David Norman
74 Joe Suder

LE: 94 Kawika Shook
48 Pierre Fils
RE: 52 Donte Savage
37 Justin Adolpho
RT: 90 E.J. Cannon
69 Matt Collins
LT: 54 John Finau
92 Vincent Federico
Sam: 51Ross Conner
11 Jamar Cotton
Mike: 9 Jason Scott
47 Boyblue Aoelua
Will: 56 Sam King
36 BJ Adolpho
LC: 4 Davon House
14 Lorenzo Caldwell
RC: 1 Jonte Green
8 Chris Buckner
SS: 2 Alphonso Powell
15 Junior Fasavalu
FS: 19 Stephon Hatchett
40 Mike Zant

Special Teams
K: 46 Jordan Davenport
98 Zach Diaz
P: 96 Kyle Hughes
43 Mike Diaz

Idaho Vandals depth chart
QB: 10 Nathan Enderle
14 Brian Reader
RB: 3 Deonte Jackson
20 Princeton McCarty
Y: 89 Peter Bjorvik
81 Taylor Elmo
X: 1 Eric Greenwood
2 Maurice Shaw
H: 84 Kevin Small
88 Daniel Hardy
Z: 7 Preston Davis
24 Justin Veltung
LT: 70 Matt Cleveland
63 Ronald Mallory
LG: 77 Mike Lupati
66 Kurt Newboles
C: 69 Irvin Stevens III
71 Clell Hasenbank
RG: 62 Adam Juratovac
61 Tevita Halaholo
RT: 79 Bryce Sinclair
67 Tyrone Novikoff

Rush: 55 Andre Ferguson
58 Benson Mayowa
Nose: 99 Jonah Sataraka
44 Faleaoga Faumui
Tackle: 93 Michael Cosgrove
43 Fonomanu Sakona
End: 95 Aaron Lavarias
96 Charles Smith Jr.
SLB: 34 JoJo Dickson
33 Conrad Scheidt
MLB: 42 Paul Sanescall
51 Tre’Shawn Robinson
WLB: 1 Robert Siavii
18 Korey Toomer
CB: 27 Isaac Butts
4 Eric Hunter
CB: 2 Kenneth Patten
3 Gary Walker
SS: 6 Jeromy Jones
12 Quin Ashley
FS: 10 Shiloh Keo
26 Brandon Artz

Special Teams
K: 21 Trey Farquhar
Punter: 13Bobby Cowan
Punt return: 10Shiloh Kep
Kickoff return: 8 Kama Bailey
20 Princeton McCarty

Not too many surprises from an Aggie standpoint. DeWayne Walker said that Kyle Nelson would be in the lineup and he is. Brandon Perez is backing up Otetaia. Perez was banged up in August with an injured ankle.

Kyle Smith was also not in the lineup a whole lot in August because of asthma. I'm not surprised about Barton getting the start there, nor am I surprised about Norman getting the nod at right tackle. Norman had a great camp and is a team leader.

The top-four tackles are like Walker said during yesterday's WAC conference call. Branden Warner is also expected to be in the mix, but expect a heavy dosage of Cannon, Finau and Vincent Federico.

Jason Scott's listed as the team's starting middle linebacker with Conner starting at strongside. During the second-half of fall camp I noticed Scott playing more in the middle, but I am still surprised by the move.

Jonte Green gets the nod over Chris Buckner at the No. 2 cornerback position.

Nice to see Kyle Hughes getting the nod as the team's punter. Kyle's got a nice leg and can be used as a weapon here.

Tuesday's press conference

I asked Walker about Idaho's running backs — Deonte Jackson, Princeton McCarty and De'Maundrey Woolridge.

“I know we’ll have to do a good job with their cutback runs, they’re nifty, I know they got a new back (Woolridge), he’s a big bruiser,” Walker said. “I think we’ll have our hands full.”

It's going to be interesting to see both teams' running games on Saturday, which figure to be featured prominently. The Aggies will trot our Marquell Colston and Tonny Glynn, who certainly aren't slouches either. The depth and versatility here is a strength for both clubs.


Who's excited to see the Aggie defense take the field? I know I am.

This group has been rebuilt under the new coaching staff, but will get a real test once the games start. How much can you learn by playing your teammates during August practices?

“We’ll never really know until we play a game,” Walker said of his defensive unit. “The biggest thing has been trying to change the culture, move guys in the right spots. Where we are right now, I think we’ve come a long way. We’ll find out on Saturday exactly where we are.”


Walker on changing the Aggies' losing culture:

“I think (the players are) in the right state of mind. Our coaches have tutored these guys in trying to change that losing mindset, those losing ways. Coach (Dale) Lindsey, the veteran of the staff, he said it perfectly. He said we just got to worry about us. Our players need to worry about executing. From special teams to offense to defense. If we take care of our business, we’ll be OK.”


Offensive center Mike Grady was at Tuesday's presser. He was asked about the adjusting from primarily a passing offense to one which will feature the run more in 2009.

“It's a big transition as far as our offensive line was concerned,” Grady said. “Last year, we threw the ball and this year we are definitely going to be more balanced. It's been a change, but we're fitting in together.”


Ross Conner on Idaho guard Mike Iupati, who is one of the WAC's finest.

“He seems impressive,” Conner said. “He’s got a big body, he’s strong. He has all the makings of a good NFL prospect.”


Just a thought: This game is going to come down to which team can protect the ball.

Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle has a habit of throwing picks and it would help if the Aggies generate some pressure in his face. If he throws a couple interceptions and NMSU can capitalize on good field position, it will change the course of the game.

As for Fleming, we really don't know what to expect. This is his first Division-I start. He needs to play smart and not give the ball away.

I do think more points are going to be scored in this game than people think. For whatever reason, I do think some big plays will occur in the passing game. And I also think one of the QBs will turn it over a time or two. It could be all the difference.