Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quick question

How do you go up 25-3, only to fall behind 60-42?

Very strange.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not close

The New Mexico State Aggies weren't even close Saturday night against the University of Nevada.

The Wolf Pack have been putting up points this season - particularly recently - at a dizzying pace. NMSU simply doesn't have the athletes to keep pace with Nevada, at least not at this point.

The Aggies go to San Jose State this weekend in what is a winnable game. But they will need to score at least 24 points. Can the Aggies get that number? If so, they should beat the Spartans. Judging from the way this season has gone, they will not reach that level.


I would like to say that I have been to some amazing high school football games this year, particularly in the last month.

The Mayfield vs. Las Cruces High game was out of control and last Saturday's Mayfield vs. Eldorado playoff game was just as good - minus the in-town drama. Back-and-forth action, big plays on both sides of the ball and drama. Great game and great win for the Trojans, in a contest where Eldorado could have, maybe even should have, won.


I went to the Aggie men's basketball game last week against New Mexico.

This team should be farther along than it is. Part of that has to do with the ineligibility of Wendell McKines and Troy Gillenwater. Some of that has to do with simply playing poor basketball.

I will say this though. What I thought was a deep team at the beginning of the year, is not. This early-season stretch has proved that. Once - if - Wendell and Troy get back, this team will have a pretty decent starting five and not much behind that. Maybe a decent player or two coming off the bench, but that's it. There's no denying that having both of those guys on the court last week against UNM would have helped.

The Aggies need to step on the defensive end of the floor. No question about that. Wendell and Troy would have helped - only if they played strong, and smart, defense. It's been an Achilles heel the past two years.

Friday, November 20, 2009

5 keys vs. Nevada

1) Nevada rushing attack: This is a unit that sports two 1,000-yard rushers and could possibly have three by season’s end. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a standout athlete, who will hurt the opposition with his ability to tuck the ball and take off. No. 1 running back Vai Taua moves with authority while his backup, Luke Lippincott, would be a starter on most teams, as he’s broken loose for 866 yards on 114 carries. The trio has rushed for 29 touchdowns on the season, while the entire Wolf Pack team had ran for 3,531 yards and 40 TDs. Good luck putting the clamps down on that.

2) Aggie passing attack: Every week it seems that we put this down in our “keys.” Well, we’re back at it again, because the unit needs to produce — and hasn’t for the majority of the season. Jeff Fleming is the undisputed starter now, completing 11-of-21 pass attempts last week for 111 yards while rushing for 16 yards on five carries. He wasn’t sacked on the evening, while throwing two interceptions. The Aggie offense hasn’t scored a touchdown in 17 quarters. That won’t cut the cake against a Wolf Pack team that lives in the endzone. You wanna beat Nevada? You gotta score TDs. If you don’t, you can wave bye-bye to your chances at victory.

3) NMSU offensive tackles: David Norman and Dwayne Barton, meet Nevada defensive ends Kevin Basped and Dontay Moch. The duo has combined for 13.5 sacks on the season, and will be looking to come off the edge frequently tonight. The Aggie passing attack has struggled enough this season. The last thing the team needs is Fleming on his back throughout the evening. Unfortunately for NMSU, getting after the QB happens to be Basped’s and Moch’s specialty. For an offensive line that has played good this year, this matchup is one worth watching.

4) Colin Kaepernick: Unsure about going to the game this evening? Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick is worth the price of admission. The kid can run (123 carries, 1015 yards, 14 touchdowns), pass (134-of-220, 1,638 yards, 14 touchdowns) and, at 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, is a sight to see in the football game. The Aggies will need to somehow contain him and prevent him from breaking out into the open field. Last year, NMSU was able to bottle him up some, forcing him to be a passer first and Kaerpernick, although talented, can be streaky throwing the football. Another key to stopping the junior signal caller? Hitting him and hitting him hard. Those long runs could be a bit harder to come by if the defense is laying the wood.

5) Seth Smith: Smith has been nursing a banged-up shoulder and has been in-and-out of the Aggie lineup the last two weeks. It’s a shame, because it takes away from what has been a strong season for the junior running back. Smith has gained 734 yards on 173 carries this season, good enough for a 4.2 yards-per carry average despite defenses gearing up to shut him down on a weekly basis. The team could use a big effort out of him tonight. But will it come if he’s not healthy? Time will tell. Another stat to keep an eye on: if he remains in the Aggie lineup the final three games of the season, Smith has a legitimate shot at cracking the 1,000-yard mark. Certainly something to be proud of for a featured runner who used to be an afterthought.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Aggies at Hawaii

Well, it was another loss for the New Mexico State Aggies.

This team will get one more win before the end of the season. But it wasn't on Saturday night against the Warriors.

Hawaii really moved the ball well early and sputtered out as the game wore on. NMSU was able to get some pressure on quarterback Bryant Moniz to disrupt some things. UH had some key injuries during the game - Moniz and Leon Wright-Jackson stand out.

The Aggies didn't do anything again on offense. Actually, if you really want to be positive the team did move it better from time to time. But two interceptions on drives took away scoring opportunities. Tonny Glynn came in and ran well. Where has he been? He was running with some spunk.

My fears continue regarding Seth Smith's health. He has just been ran so much this year and that's going to take its toll, especially when considering his style of play. Maybe Glynn can give the team some of the big plays on offense it so desperately needs.

Kyle Hughes has been inconsistent this year, particularly punting the football. His best game of the season was against Utah State but he has been up and down ever since. Saturday night saw him average 39.9 yards per punt while getting off a 15 yarder.

At the beginning of the year, I said the team would upset either Fresno State or Nevada at home. Well, we saw how the FS game went. The Wolf Pack come here next weekend. I expect NMSU to come out fired up and compete in their final home contest of 2009.


Last week, Walker said the team would like to add offensive linemen and defensive tackles during the offseason.

He also said that the Aggies would look for running backs, linebackers and another quarterback.

NMSU will have 17 scholarships available following this season.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Donyae Coleman

The wide receiver has been moved to defensive back.

DeWayne Walker said that Coleman will play nickel back this weekend at Hawaii. The Aggie head coach said that Coleman played DB in high school.

Walker said part of the decision was made because the team had a large number of scholarship players on offense and not as many on defense.

Coleman happily made the move.

"He's a football player," Walker said. "He'll go wherever we need him and give 100 percent."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Down the stretch they come

With four games left in the Aggie season, we look ahead at what to keep an eye on during the final month of the team's schedule:

1) The passing game: The offense's struggles have been well documented. Really, it's been the passing game that has struggled the most. The team will go with Jeff Fleming the rest of the way. Fleming wasn't very good early and Trevor Walls was mostly ineffective as well. But will this area of the offense improve at all as the season winds down? Really, it has to.
The team is coming off a bye and one would hope the unit can move in the right direction down the stretch, not the other way around. And while the quarterback gets the majority of the headlines, the entire operation has to get better. From receivers getting open to soild protection up front to throwing the ball downfield more often. The passing game has taken steps back this year. It needs to reverse course as the schedule comes to a close.

2) Seth Smith's workload: Smith runs hard and looks for contact. And he's had a surprising season. The junior is averaging 4.2 yards-per carry despite the gameplan being pretty straight forward. That is, Smith getting the ball play-in and play-out.
But how much more pounding can he take? It's a physical position to be in to begin with, but there aren't many more difficult tasks than running the football on a team that can't throw. Opponents gear up to stop Smith. In other words, they stack the box and plan to hit him hard on every play. So far, he's been a blue-collar player who's grinded it out every week. That part of the offense isn't expected to change any time soon. Hopefully, Smith can hold up and stay out of harms way in the closing weeks. If he does that, he just might eclipse the 1,000-yard mark.

3) Defensive resolve: Some would disagree, but I believe the Aggie defense has been much better this year. It's not even so much in the numbers, as it is the attitude of the unit. The group plays with a swagger, even with a chip on its shoulder.
We will have many opportunities to continue to critique their performance the rest of the way. Hawaii this weekend will be a solid test for the Aggie D. The team hosts Nevada, a very difficult offense to gameplan for. They should be able to hold down San Jose State. And Boise State? That will be the toughest game of the season.
Still, under Walker, the Aggies will be a defensive team. That's for this year, and in the future. Good defenses give an entire team confidence. They can be the backbone of a team. The Aggie D has shown flashes this year, albeit with a makeshift lineup at certain areas of the field. I think this group will close the season strong.

4) Playing as a team: Sure, the record isn't great. But most knew this would be a tough year for the Aggies. And one thing the Aggies have delivered on has been their willingness to play together, as a team.
NMSU hasn't folded in games this year. Sure, some weeks they've just been outmatched, pure and simple. But there's been no quit. And in the games they have won, all three units — offense, defense and special teams — have contributed. I believe they'll get one more win this year. And they'll do it by playing the right way. It will be a team effort.

5) Coaching staff: This is the toughest time of year for a coaching staff. The team's on a three-game slide and has really struggled in all three contests. It's November, the end of the season's in sight. Easy to pack it in, right?
I don't believe the Aggies will. They've focused on the little things all season. Remember the first three games of the year when they were flagged on, what felt like, every third play? The penalty situation has improved. Special teams has been solid. The defense has gotten better. And the offense...Well, we know that story.
But lets see how things shake out in these final four games. I, for one, think the staff has done a nice job with this team. If the Aggies collapse down the stretch, my opinion could very well change. But if they battle it out, play to the final gun and can squeeze out another win or two? It further validates my belief.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Food for thought

I’m just getting over my emotional hangover regarding the Las Cruces High-Mayfield football showdown Friday night. What a game!

But it also got me thinking: which one of those kids could play for the Aggies? I always said that the local high school football here is nice, but comparing them to Aggie football is like apples and oranges. These kids are high school players! They can’t do it at Division-I!

Folks, the other night shifted my opinion. I’ll be the first to admit it, I am not a college recruiter. But I still know good, clutch sports when I see it unfold. Each team the other night made one big play after another. And that’s a reflection of players with steely resolve, guys who are immune to the pressure. That stuff translates to the football field, regardless of the level of play.

The Aggie coached staff spent its bye week recruiting in areas such as Southern California, Houston and Phoenix. I certainly hope someone from the team was on hand at Aggie Memorial Stadium on Friday night. You might have a kicker who could play here, you might have a lineman or two. You might have a quarterback.

We’ll see what they come back with from Houston. It might be better. It might not be better.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Aggies during the bye week

There has been a ton of talk about the Aggie offense the last few weeks, culminating in last week's performance against Ohio State.

Fleming or Walls, Walls or Fleming, the offense hasn't looked very good either way. Me, I would stick with Walls. But that's just me.

How about third stringer Scott Galland? Why not? Try anyone who might give the unit a spark.

The one thing I do know is that the offense hasn't been good either way and it's regressed. The most frustrating part for me? Third-and-eight, and the quarterback throws a 5-yard out to a wide receiver or tight end. 4th-and-3. Punt. At least run a 10-yard pattern and at least throw the ball 10-yards downfield! And the coaching staff has to take responsibility on this one. This has happened too much for it to fall strictly at the players' feet.

I also think the next four weeks will be critical for the team and for the offensive coaching staff. They don't have to set the world on fire, but they have to score some touchdowns. They have to move the ball downfield and put points on the board. They just have to.

Where do the Aggies turn to in recruiting? Well, judging from this year, I think you need to continue to search for a quarterback. I know about Tanner Rust, but I would still look. The offensive line has been alright, but I still think upgrades and depth are needed. The team needs to add size at the wide receiver position. And it will also need to recruit some running backs to help Seth Smith carry the load.

What about defense? I certainly think the team could start by getting a middle linebacker. Jason Scott is gone and, although he's performed admirably this year, he's miscast in the middle. A big-time pass rusher too, although Pierre Fils and Donte Savage have had positive seasons. Still, I would get another guy who can get to the quarterback off of the edge. They need to continue adding depth to defensive tackle. And at linebacker. Linebacker is thin this year and all the impact players on the unit are leaving after the season.

As for the secondary, the entire starting unit from this year will return. Depth at safety is a must and also adding another corner or two would help.

The Aggies will need help across the board. They won't be able to add every piece this offseason. This is at least a two or three year recruiting job here, for Walker to bring in his guys and to build depth with his guys. The staff is out in full force this week though, trying to add pieces.

First things first after the bye week though. The team needs to score a meaningful TD.