Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dunbar update

Tom Dienhartof of Yahoo! Sports tweeted that Breant Pease has accepted a job offer to be Indiana's offensive coordinator.

This is significant for the Aggies why? Because NMSU coordinator Mike Dunbar's name was mentioned in the job search as a possibility to join Kevin Wilson's staff at Indiana. Could he still go? Maybe. But the likelihood seems to have diminished now.

Friday, December 17, 2010

AD comments on Dunbar

New Mexico State Athletics Director McKinley Boston on whether or not Mike Dunbar would be leaving New Mexico State:

“I heard there (has been interest) from (a) Big 10 school. It's just hearsay.”

Dunbar has been linked to the offensive coordinator position at Indiana, possibly joining friend and new head coach Kevin Wilson with the Hoosiers.

Stay tuned....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rumors of Walker and Texas

The internet — yes the internet — is heating up with rumors of DeWayne Walker being a candidate to be the defensive coordinator at the University of Texas.

You can find stuff by clicking here....And here.....And here....

Well, I spoke with Walker on Thursday evening and he said the internet rumors simply aren't true.

“You always hear rumors, people are always talking,” Walker said. “At UCLA, we talked (he and Texas) a little bit. We have a strong respect for each other. But we didn't talk about it (the defensive coordinator position this time around).”

Walker said he hasn't spoken with Texas, nor has he applied for the job or that the school had reached out to him or his agent Don Yee.

“No,” Walker said when asked. “None of that.”

Defensive coordinator at Texas? It's a premier job. But Walker said he's happy as the head coach at New Mexico State.

“I'm a head coach,” he said. “I'm not going to walk away from a head coaching job.”

Walker was in Las Cruces on Thursday, meeting with NMSU Athletics Director McKinley Boston about the Aggie football program.

The “preferred qualifications” for the Texas defensive coordinator position are a minimum of 12 years of coaching at the NCAA Division I-A level and seven years of NFL coaching experience.

Looking at his history at, Walker has 11 years under his belt as a college coach — counting two as a head coach at NMSU — as well as seven in the NFL — he worked for the Washington Redskins (2004-05) and the New York Giants (2002-03) for two years apiece and the New England Patriots for a three-year stint (1998-2000).

Will Muschamp was the defensive coordinator for the Longhorns before being hired last week as the head coach at Florida.

The Austin American-Statesman reported on Monday that the leading candidate to replace Muschamp was Florida's first-year defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Other names reported were North Carolina defensive coordinator Everett Withers, Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and Seattle Seahawks defensive backs coach Jerry Grey.

Aggies sign defensive end

From the media relations department at NMSU....

Walker signs defensive end
LAS CRUCES – New Mexico State head coach DeWayne Walker announced Thursday, December 16, that defensive end Sean Brown has signed a national letter of intent to play football for the Aggies beginning the 2011 season.
“Sean (Brown) is a good player that we feel can come in and give us that edge pass rush that we have struggled a little with over the last few seasons,” Walker said. “He is a 250-plus pound athlete that is very active. Sean has great character and is a well rounded young man that we feel can bring us something at the defensive end position.”
Brown, a native of Oakland, Calif., played one season at Chabot College. The 6-5, 253 pound defensive end collected 17 tackles in 2010 for Chabot, while also grabbing four and a half tackles for a loss and two sacks on the year. As a freshman, Brown collected seven tackles, a sack, quarterback hurry and a pass break up. During his two years with Chabot, Brown helped his team to an 11-9 record.
National Football Signing Day is February 2, 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mike Dunbar leaving?

The powers of the Internet.

Rumors have started to run that Aggie offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar might be on the move again, this time joining friend Kevin Wilson, the new head coach at Indiana University.

To read about it, click here.....And here....

NMSU head coach DeWayne Walker said on Monday that he had not spoken to Dunbar and that, at this point, things are business as usual for the Aggies.

“He hasn't said anything to me,” Walker said. “His good friend got the job at Indiana. I haven't confronted (Dunbar) about it.”

Walker added that from what he can tell, Dunbar likes Las Cruces and that his family is close by.

“He's at an age now where he doesn't have to jump at those jobs,” Walker said.

Like all Aggie assistant coaches, Dunbar worked on a one-year contract last season. He was the team's highest-paid assistant at $77,000 annually.

He replaced Tim Rosenbach, who was coordinator at the school in 2009, Walker's first year at the school.

While the Aggie offense didn't produce much better — from a statistics standpoint — under Dunbar compared to Rosenbach, the unit was more watchable and appealing. NMSU threw the ball better and was more creative in its personnel groupings. The hope was that further recruiting and upgrading at key positions would allow the Aggies to continue and grow under the veteran coordinator, who has over 20 years of college coaching experience.

If he were to leave, it would be another blow for a program that needs positive news. Lets just see how this shakes out before jumping to a conclusion….

Sunday, November 28, 2010

End of the season

This was a bad year for the Aggie football team.

Sure, 2-10 would be bad no matter the circumstances, but the team wasn’t even competitive.

They lost by a lot on a weekly basis — the team was outscored on average 39-15. It was outgained 453 yards per game to 296. It had nine sacks all year — but it felt like that it was really four. The Aggies forced 13 turnovers, and just four interceptions.

Offensively, the team looked better than a season ago, and it felt better than a season ago. But it wasn’t nearly enough.

The Aggies topped the 20-point mark just three times — another game they hit 20 on the dot. This team has to average at least 25-to-30 points per game to be competitive in the WAC.

I really think the Aggies will get better under DeWayne Walker and his coaching staff. They’re a good group, a hard-working group and a smart group. They really need to get athletes on the defensive side of the ball that are big and can run. That’s a big building process.

Following Saturday’s 59-24 loss to Hawaii, Walker spoke about the need for everyone associated with the program to thoroughly evaluate its direction and the resources behind. “From the top on down,” he said.

If this is really about winning, NMSU will take what he says and really give it a strong look. And, with that being said, this team needs to improve on the field — with or without help.

I think Walker will get some help from the school — not everything he’s looking for, but some — and the team will get better under his watch. It won’t stay like this forever.

It was a tough year.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Las Cruces and Mayfield in state semifinals again

Big weekend upcoming in Las Cruces for Las Cruces High and Mayfield, as both will take the field for the Class 5A state football championship semifinals.

Both will be in tough matchups.

No. 4-ranked Las Cruces will go to Albuquerque to face No. 1 Manzano on Saturday afternoon.

No. 6 Mayfield will host No. 2 La Cueva on Friday night at 5 p.m. The Bears beat the Trojans earlier this season, 45-12, at the Field of Dreams.

Still, don’t count out either LCHS or MHS from reaching the state finals. Both have the state playoff pedigrees to go the distance. They are also battle tested.

Last weekend saw the Trojans upset No. 3-ranked Cleveland, 21-13, in Rio Rancho. While that was going on, the Bulldawgs won a wild 28-27 game over Eldorado at the Field of Dreams. Those games should have been enough to shake the playoff kinks out.

Both of these programs believe they will win every time they take the field and play that way. It shows.

I expect, at the very least, competitive games from both ends of the docket.

Looking forward to the state semifinals this weekend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

By George

George Willis, Las Cruces native and current New York Post columnist, wrote about the Las Cruces-Mayfield football rivalry. Pretty cool.

Here's the link....,0

Clay, Manley get playing time

During the Aggies’ loss last Saturday against Louisiana Tech, NMSU started a new offensive backfield in Andrew Manley and Robert Clay.

Clay played very well, rushing for over 100 yards — the first Aggie to do so this season. He carried the ball 22 times — averaging 4.9 yards per attempt.

Clay ran well earlier this year in the Aggies’ 16-14 win over New Mexico. He hasn’t received a carry since that game — NMSU beat UNM in Week 5 of the season. Certainly he should be a featured runner the final two games of the year — at Nevada and vs. Hawaii. Kenny Turner looks be done for the season with a knee injury and Seth Smith didn’t get a carry last week — he’s out with an injury to his right leg. So Clay could be the man by default, even if he brings reason for optimism.

As for Manley, we’re talking about a true freshman quarterback here. I thought he played fine under the conditions — he completed 20-of-40 passes for 216 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Manley performed the way I expected him to — he was streaky and turned to ball over twice. But he also showed the skill set necessary to be successful at NMSU — he’s got a strong arm and isn’t afraid to rifle the ball around the field. When he got hot, the Aggies moved the ball — highlighted by the team’s second-quarter touchdown drive when Manley went 6-for-6, including a 30-yard touchdown toss to Todd Lee over the middle.

While NMSU lost and this season has been a tough one, Manley and Clay are reasons to continue following the team in the final two games of the season. Both are young players and should be core players in the offense next year.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Aggies need to be perfect to win

The Aggie football team was competitive at Utah State this past weekend.

Unfortunately, the team still lost, 27-22, to the UtAgs.

The Aggies played well enough to win – they outgained Utah State 346 to 296, had the ball with a chance to tie the score inside Utah State territory with a minute remaining in the contest and battled throughout.

The team held a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.

Two key plays in the outcome? Separate kickoff returns by Utah State deep into Aggie territory that led to USU touchdowns, one in the first half and the other in the fourth quarter which led to the go-ahead score.

The Aggies held their own in virtually every other category. NMSU held close to a 10-minute time-of-possession edge, won the penalty battle and held its own along the line of scrimmage.

But the Aggies need to play a perfect game to win. And blown coverages on two kickoff returns that lead to 14 points is enough to sink the ship.

At 2-7, can the Aggies win another game on the season? They won’t win at Nevada. But they can beat either Louisiana Tech or Hawaii – despite the fact that both teams are better. Homefield advantage will be there and those will be tough trips for both Tech and Hawaii to make. And, the Aggies should be hungry for one more win this year.

I do believe NMSU is getting better – playing competitive football at Utah State was a good sign. The team needs to at least close the season playing tight in the final two home games on its schedule, and possibly pulling one of them off to finish 2010.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Safety position

With the re-addition of George Callender, the New Mexico State Aggies have a nice, little rotation at the safety position.

Alphonso Powell (strong safety) and Donyae Coleman (free safety) are still the respective starters in the defensive backfield.

Still, Callender, who at 22 years old is listed as a freshman, received a good amount of snaps last weekend and gives the Aggies versatility deep.

Callender can spell either Coleman or Powell, or he can come in and allow Coleman to shift down to cover the slot receiver in the nickel.

While Coleman struggled in the role last week, he’ll get better — he’s been a bright spot on the Aggie defense so far this year and is arguably the team’s most gifted athletes.

The group is working well together and should be a strength of the defense down the stretch of the schedule.

“He helps a lot, man,” Coleman said of Callender. “He brings that fire too. George is a really great player. He’s young, he’s fast and he’s a big hitter too. I really like George. That’s like my brother. He helps us a lot, it’s like a three-man circle. We can all get breaks or we can move me down to play the slot and have George or Alphonso at a safety. When we go to base, George is out of the game and I’m at safety. We got a big thing going.”

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The San Jose State game

Saturday's Aggie game against San Jose State was a wild one.

There will be people who talk about how NMSU let SJSU back into the game and how it shouldn't have been that close to begin with. That is true, but who really cares? A win is a win for the Aggies at this point and I don't think the team needs to apologize about getting victories. They've been rare and everyone should just enjoy it, particularly how it came - a 29-27 final with NMSU winning on the last play of the contest.

While the Aggies have struggled to get W's, the team has won close games under head coach DeWayne Walker. The Aggies have won five games the last two years - and all have come by three points or less. They've lost just once in the same scenario.

If the Aggies could find a way to be in 8-to-10 games a year, this would bode well. Winning close games is a skill in football. Granted, NMSU hasn't beaten very good clubs during that period, but they are beating teams that are of similar skill. If Walker and the coaching staff continues to build the Aggies the way they see fit, and bring in more talent across the board, NMSU will begin to play with more teams as the years go on. And they have shown that they can win the close ones.

While Saturday's game saw NMSU lose a 17-3 lead and eventually fall behind 27-23 late in the fourth, the team didn't fold. Matt Christian's fumble with under 3 minutes remaining in the contest could have toppled the Aggies. But they scratched, clawed, got some luck - a missed field goal was a big helper - got the ball back and capitalized. Make no mistake - there was pressure on the Aggies to win this game, and the Spartans for that matter. Realistically, how many more wins are these teams going to have all year? This could be the final one for the Aggies, and every W counts at this point. They continued to fight and got the win. It does mean something.

I'm excited about the final four games of the season - at Utah State and Nevada, hosting Louisiana Tech and Hawaii. If the Aggies can swing an upset in one of them, it will be a nice way to close out the season. If they can win two, it will mean they are one win better than a season ago.

People can look at stats and figures all they want. One stat matters - wins. At this point, don't worry about how the Aggies get them, just hope they have one or two more left in the bag before the year closes out.

Friday, October 29, 2010

5 keys against San Jose State

Bottom feeders: This is a game between two of the nation’s worst teams. New Mexico State enters the contest with a 1-6 record, San Jose State with a 1-7 mark. The Spartans’ only win on the year came against Southern Utah, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision. The Aggies and Spartans rank last in the 120-team Football Bowl Subdivision in total offense (NMSU No. 119, SJSU No. 120) and near the bottom in total defense (NMSU No. 118, SJSU No. 107). While this is a scary thought for some, it should also result in a close football game — and a winnable one for the Aggies.

Rising defenses: Both head coaches in this contest — New Mexico State’s DeWayne Walker and San Jose State’s Mike MacIntyre — have defensive pedigrees. And, while both teams are giving up close to 40 points per game, the belief is that the best is yet to come on that side of the ball for both programs. The Aggies play hard whistle-to-whistle, led by a deep defensive line and secondary members Davon House (cornerback) and Donyae Coleman (safety). The Spartans are improving as well, headlined by freshmen linebackers Vince Buhagiar and Keith Smith.

Injury issues: The Aggies have been bit hard by the injury bug along the offensive line, where Sioeli Fakalata (right guard), Robert Rodriguez (right guard) and Dwayne Barton (left tackle) have been lost for prolonged periods of time. The Spartans, on the other hand, have lost nine starters to injury this year, including defensive stalwarts Duke Ihenacho (safety) and Mohamed Marah (linebacker), along with offensive mainstays Ryan Otten (tight end) and Lamon Muldrow (running back). Not surprisingly, the two clubs have a combined record of 2-13.

Wide receiver play: Both teams have inexperienced wide receiving corps, something that will play a factor today. The Aggies hope to incorporate kick return specialist Taveon Rogers more out wide in the offense, while hoping the dropped passes suffered by Darrius Preston and Marcus Williams last week are a thing of the past. Three of the top-four wide receivers on the Spartans depth chart are freshmen, highlighted by Chandler Jones and Noel Grigsby.

Field position: Even if the Aggies’ offense doesn’t score every time out, gaining first downs and pinning the Spartans deep needs to be a top priority. Simply put, the Aggie defense would be better suited when the opposing offense has to drive 75-to-80 yards as opposed to 50-to-65. And, in turn, the unit can then swing the good field position back to the Aggie attack. DeWayne Walker consistently preaches playing as a team. Such an approach would act as a classic example.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sun-News sports video

Hey folks.

Myself along with business editor Brook Stockberger do weekly sports videos at the Sun-News. We could never do it without our multimedia guru Christine Rogel. Check it out.....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The wide receiver position

One area the New Mexico State Aggies need to improve in is at the wide receiver position.

Where has Marcus Allen gone? He got off to a hot start, but has cooled in recent weeks and didn’t make a catch last weekend at Idaho.

What got me in the Vandals’ game though was dropped balls. Darrius Preston has a lot of talent, but he continues struggle. He dropped a critical pass on second-and-10 at midfield that would have set up a third-and-short yardage situation.

One thing I’ve noticed about the Aggies is that when it’s third-and-long, the team is going to punt. Opposing defenses seem content to drop back in zone coverage and dare quarterback Matt Christian to find the soft spots. They also aren’t worried about the Aggies taking a lot of shots downfield — Christian doesn’t have a huge arm and teams don’t seem to think the Aggies can beat them deep.

That’s what made the Preston drop maddening — the Aggies needed to sustain a drive at that point and that would have helped. Instead, it was deflating. Darrius has eight grabs on the year for 83 yards and zero touchdowns. I know he’s better than that.

The team will utilize Taveon Rogers more this week and Todd Lee should get a look as well. Allen has the talent to break out, but I think teams are paying extra attention to him in the passing game.

But the Aggies don’t have a ton of options at the position. This offseason the team will bring in Daniel English during the offseason, a player from New Westiminster, British Columbia. Redshirt freshman Adam Shapiro is also expected to possibly contribute. Joseph Matthews will come in as a true freshman from Tucson, Ariz.

The Aggies believe they can build their offense with young players at running back and wide receiver. And they will have a chance to do so at WR.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tougher to build on defense?

The last few weeks, I’ve had a theory about the Aggies and their quest to build on the defensive side of the ball under head coach DeWayne Walker.

I want to make it clear: I think you can build from the defensive side of the ball at NMSU. But I also think it’s harder to do so and takes longer to accomplish.

Here’s why....

Under Hal Mumme — the Aggies went 11-38 in Mumme’s four year at the school but were more competitive in his second year at the helm than they are now — the team ran an explosive offense and got rolled on defense.

There point production at least allowed them to put a scare in teams.

The Aggies used a lot of undersized players on both sides of the ball — it’s almost a necessity at a school like NMSU to recruit athletes who are on the smaller side of the Division-I scale.

And the point is that it’s easier to be undersized, yet still pose on threat, on offense. Think Chris Williams, Marcus Anderson, Derek Dubois, Tonny Glynn, Nick Cleaver and Wes Neiman. In Mumme’s unconventional, chuck-it-and-duck-it offense, these players were utilized to actually take advantage of their skill set — fast athletes who were effective with the ball in space and could make a bigger defender miss in the open field.

Even Chase Holbrook, who was a big quarterback, worked better in Mumme’s offense because it was unconventional. He wasn’t mobile, nor did he have to be, and made simpe, straight forward reads and throws to those receivers.

This was the team’s backbone and core.

Now, we move on to the defensive side of the ball, where the Aggies are trying to make their foundation under Walker.

It’s much harder on defense to be successful with undersized talent.

The Aggies starting defensive ends are Pierre Fils (6-foot-3, 245 pounds) and Donte Savage (6-3, 239). Both are considered small for their position and face opposing tackles that outweight them by 50-to-75 pounds on the weekly basis. That’s a tough way to play for both players.

Only two defensive tackles are listed over 300 pounds on the Aggie two-deep — John Finau (6-1, 302) and Tommy Stuart (6-3, 303).

Frank Padilla has legit size at strongside linebacker (6-2, 243 pounds) but middle linebacker Boyblue Aoelua (5-10, 227) and weakside linebacker B.J. Adolpho (5-11, 207) aren’t considered big for their positions.

The point isn’t the criticize these players. The point is that in football, you need to have talent to play, and in most cases, you need the physical attributes as well. And, defensively, you really need that. You need flat-out athletic freaks at defensive end and linebackers that are big, tough, physical and can fly around to the football. They have to get to the quarterback and cover backs and receivers in the passing game.

It will take Walker a little longer to bring in players with that types of physical qualities. I’m not saying he won’t I’m just saying it will take time.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thoughts following the Fresno game

Here’s what I thought following the Aggies vs. Fresno State game on Saturday night.

• The Aggies got off the a horrible start offensively and it led to a 16-0 hole.

Really, you take away that start, and the Aggies played Fresno State tough — Fresno State won 17-10 the rest of the way.

That start was fueled by the Fresno State defensive line having their way with the NMSU offensive front and freshman quarterback Andrew Manley running for his life during the opening possessions of the game.

• The Aggie offensive line got off to a very bad start, but improved as the game went along and blocked for Seth Smith and Kenny Turner, who both had strong games.

The line began blocking better once quarterback Matt Christian was inserted into the game for Manley. Don’t know if that was a coincidence or not, although it seems like Christian has a quick release and that internal clock all quarterbacks need in terms of getting rid of the ball. Manley’s still very young and is growing. And I thought he could have gotten another series or two once the bullets stopped flying.

Back to the O-line though.

When you see a unit work hard and improve like that during the course of a game, it’s a sign of good coaching.

The bottom line is that offensive line coach Jason Lenzemeier continues getting the max out of the minimum. Last year the group was solid enough and this year it has been the most consistent overall unit on the team despite being ravaged by injuries and really having no dominant player, particularly along the interior of the line. But they play hard, block hard and held their own from the second quarter on against a very good Fresno State defensive front.

• Taveon Rogers needs the ball more often.

He has speed and can rip off the big play. He caught one ball last night — a screen pass that went for 50 yards.

The Aggies also got nice games from running backs Seth Smith and Kenny Turner. Seth had 11 carries and Kenny had 15. I’m fine with Turner’s workload, although I think Smith could stand to get 10 more carries. He’s still a very good player for NMSU.

• The Aggies had some good field position, particularly early on in the game, but did nothing with it. If you’re going to spring an upset, particularly on the road, you gotta take advantage of those opportunities. Very simple.

• We can talk about how the Aggie defense played better in the second half, but here’s the thing:

It’s impossible to accurately tell how good you are when you’re either up or down by 30. Sure, Fresno State was trying to score in the second half, but it’s human nature to let up when you know you have the game in hand. I would be more impressed with the Aggie defense if they held Fresno State to three points in the second half during a 20-17 win, not a 33-10 loss.

• At Idaho next week.

My gut tells me the Aggies are going to be competitive.

NMSU will get one more win this year if they keep playing the way they are.

Still, two more is not out of the question.

Three more would be a great way to end the season — going .500 down the stretch and surpassing last year’s three-win total.

That would be pretty awesome.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Manley factor

I want to come out and say I think the Aggies should start Andrew Manley the remainder of the season.

Why not?

The team got a win, so they got that taken care of. Will they be able to win a few more games this year? I think they can win one or two more. Will it matter if it’s Manley or Matt Christian starting under center? Judging from how Manley threw the ball last Saturday — I know it was a small sample size, two passes — but I still don’t think so.

I think it will be a valuable experience for him to start. Manley is the future of the Aggie program.

Here’s the thing with Andrew, though. He’s going to throw interceptions. And he’s going to be up and down.

And lets not mistake last Saturday’s game. The Lobos are a terrible team. The only program comparable to UNM the rest of the way on NMSU’s schedule is San Jose State. So it will be tough sledding for Manley if he does start from here on out.

But he showed exactly what you want in a pressure situation — poise, confidence and no fear. And he’s got a nice arm — he zipped that pass down to Marcus Allen inside the 10-yard line to set up the winning field goal.

I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Manley since fall practice. My opinions didn’t change the other night.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thoughts following UNM game

Well, the Aggies needed to beat the Lobos and they did.

Was it pretty? No. Was it a must win? That's a relative term, but you didn't want to be the loser in this one. It meant you might be the worst team in Division I.

The Aggies had some young players step up and when you look at the field, there are some DeWayne Walker recruits who are getting the job done.

Obviously Andrew Manley looks to be a player. We've been talking about it since fall camp and he didn't disappoint in leading the team to the winning field goal yesterday.

Manley should have been brought into the game sooner. The Aggie offense looked like last year's attack - a quarterback draw on 3rd-and-13 in the fourth quarter stood out. Manley enters the game and zips two passes right in there, particularly the 21-yarder down to Marcus Allen inside the 10-yard line. That was a real-deal throw.

But there were other players that stood out to me too.

No. 1 was true freshman defensive tackle Augafa Vaaulu. Vaaulu has the size - 6-foot-3, 295 pounds - to be an impact Division I lineman and he made some plays last night. It looked like he forced a fumble, although it was awarded to Davon House. He recovered a fumble, made three tackles, with one going for a loss. The Aggies do have depth along the line, and I think Vaaulu could be a keeper. He's No. 91, take a look at him next game you're at.

I also think Branden Warner has had a decent year backing up at defensive end. Warner was highly touted coming here last season and didn't do anything. But he made four stops last night and held his own at the point of attack.

Donyae Coleman has been the most consistent defensive player on the team this season at safety.

Tyler Stampler's performance last night was strong - three field goals including the game winner.

And true freshman Davonte Wallace has been starting for most of the season at left offensive tackle.

It's nice to see young players stepping in and making an impact, particularly at the quarterback position. It gives fans hope for the future.


The Lobos are terrible and it showed on Saturday.

Five turnovers? And they were all critical - a muffed punt for the touchdown and how do you fumble late and give NMSU a crack at taking the lead, which the Aggies did?

At some point, players have to stop putting the ball on the ground. The Lobos had three fumbles in the second half and all were critical and gave NMSU great field position. Somehow, the Aggies only got three points out of them.

It's tough, because Mike Locksley really needs his own quarterback running the show. He hasn't gotten that yet.

But you couldn't get off to a worse start to a head coaching career than he has. It just looks like - judging by his team's performance is all you really need to see - that he wasn't prepared for such a big task of being a head coach. And it is a big task, a huge task. It's not even a comparison to being an assistant.


The fan reaction after the game was awesome with everyone piling onto the field.

The place was loud last night in the fourth quarter.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Las Cruces would support a winner. And it would be awesome to see.


Despite both teams bungling around in the second half - the Aggies couldn't complete a forward pass and both clubs seemed to move backwards on offense in the third quarter - Walker said the attitude was still upbeat on the NMSU sidelines.

The third quarter saw the Aggies face a 4th-and-34 and a 4th-and-36; UNM faced a 4th-and-39 and a fourth-and-27.

At one point in the fourth quarter, the Lobos fumbled away the ball at the UNM 28, only to have the Aggies fumble it back to the Lobos at the 25. UNM was up 14-13 at the time.

"We just never lost faith," NMSU head coach DeWayne Walker said. "Our sidelines, they were alive the whole night. The coaches, they were alive the whole night…Our kids fought till the end and we knew it would go to the end. It was a four-quarter game and I was happy to see our guys finish it up with the W."


The defensive line finally got pressure on the quarterback. Donte Savage had a monster game - nine tackles, two sacks, four tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles.

NMSU forced five turnovers and recorded two sacks after having none in either category through the first four games of the season.

Sacks and turnovers - those two statistics go hand-in-hand.


Robert Clay was the unsung hero from Saturday's game.

He recovered the muffed punt in the endzone for a touchdown.

He made another nice tackle on special teams on punt coverage.

And he ran hard - 11 carries for 44 yards.

Robert is proving his worth. Without his efforts, the Aggies don't win the game.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

5 keys vs. UNM

Pressure to perform: With the bad start both teams have endured to the 2010 season, you can bet they have pressure to win the game.
Is it a must-win situation? One could certainly make the argument.
Both will take the field with a sense of urgency, but it’s also important both play under control and don’t fold at the first sign of trouble.
Confidence is a tough thing to gain and an easy thing to lose and neither team has a whole lot right now. That, along with the pressure to win give both programs a shaky psyche, and an interesting subplot heading into the contest.

The quarterbacks: Will he play, or won’t he play.
It’s a good question for both of the team’s starting quarterbacks — Matt Christian for New Mexico State and B.R. Holbrook of New Mexico.
Christian got rocked last week by Boise State and suffered a sprained shoulder, while Holbrook has been nursing a knee injury since Week 2 of the season.
If they can’t go, redshirt freshman Tanner Rust will take over under center for NMSU while true freshman Tarean Austin will get the nod for the Lobos.
Mark it down — the team that throws the ball better downfield will get the win tonight. Can Rust deliver it deep, or will Austin connect long? Will either start, or play the entire game, could be the better question. The quarterbacks hold the keys.

Aggie ground game: Where have you gone Seth Smith?
After rushing for over 1,000 yards last year, the senior is on pace for not even half that in 2010, as he’s rumbled for just 134 yards thus far.
Smith’s declined production can be attributed to one thing — a lack of opportunities, as the Aggies have given him the ball just 40 times this year.
That should change tonight, as NMSU can pound the Lobos on the ground and Smith remains the same straight-line battering ram that hammered defenses last season.
NMSU needs to get Smith involved early and often. Throw in a little Kenny Turner out of the backfield on pitches and quick passes, and the Aggies could cut up the Lobos on the ground.

Aggie defense: The New Mexico State defense ranks last — No. 120 — in the nation.
Are the Aggies a top-50 defense in the nation? No. But they’re not 120 either — they’re better than that.
The unit needs to get on track and couldn’t pick a better time to do so than now.
The team still hasn’t recorded a sack and, in turn, hasn’t forced a turnover.
A new linebacking corps has taken longer than expected to get adapted to the Division I level.
They won’t get it totally turned around tonight. But a solid performance would go a long way toward getting a much-needed win.

Last year’s contest: Last year saw the Aggies go to Albuquerque as big underdogs and come out with a 20-17 win in the final minute.
At the very least, NMSU can draw from that game. Now, they have the Lobos in Las Cruces and know they match up well with them.
This should be a close one as well. When in doubt, NMSU should reflect on 2009.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Boise State game

I know it was the No. 3-ranked team in the country.

But the New Mexico State Aggies looked flat-out bad on Saturday night at home, losing to Boise State 59-0.

I thought the best thing the Aggies did all night was the first play of the game - a play action pass that saw them take a shot deep downfield to wide receiver Marcus Allen. Allen beat the BSU cornerback by a step, but quarterback Matt Christian overthrew him.

After that, it was downhill.

The Aggies next snap went over Christian's head and he threw the ball away, getting flagged for intentional grounding.

The team turned the ball over on the next three possessions and Boise State did exactly what everyone expected - rolled NMSU up and down the field.

Right now, the Aggies don't look like a Division I team. And it's going to get worse if Christian's out for an extended period of time with an injured shoulder he suffered on Saturday.

Backup QB Tanner Rust does not look ready to play at this level.

And it's going to be hard to get up for this weekend's game against New Mexico. Both of these teams are arguably the worst college football has to offer. Outside of the San Jose State game at home later in the year, it will be the Aggies best chance for a win.

If Christian starts, they should win. If he doesn't, I don't think they will.

If the Aggies are serious about getting a win this year, they have to show up this Saturday and play like there's no tomorrow. It might be their best shot to get one. I'm not being sarcastic or trying to be funny. It's just the truth.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The new defense and Walker's decision

Being head coach and a main coordinator on a football team is a lot to carry.

So, when news got out that DeWayne Walker was going to relieve a lot of his defensive coordinator responsibilities to linebackers coach Dale Lindsey, I thought it was a step in the right direction.

There are a few things that concern me, however.

For one, making such a switch in the middle of the season isn’t preferred. Lindsey is much different than Walker in style and demeanor, and represents a new voice for the defensive unit to adhere to. Having an offseason to adjust would be one thing, but switching mid-week, when you have No. 3 Boise State coming to town this weekend no-less, is a tough order of business for any coaching staff and team to navigate through.

Lindsey brings a world of experience to the position as well, but is he the right man for the job? That’s something that will be answered in the coming weeks. But he has a mountain of work in front of him and will need to hit the ground running, with literally zero time to ease into the position.

Lindsey said he has a good grasp of the defensive personnel and will lean strongly on his assistants.

“I will put my two cents in where I think it will help,” he said. “But, we’ve got a good defensive line coach, we’ve got two good secondary coaches. I’m not a micro-manager. I’d like everybody’s input, I’d like to help. If I can help, fine, if I can’t, then step back and let the people do what they’re hired to do and let them produce. I’ve been accused of being too democratic. Not here, but I had been in the past when I was a coordinator. But....when I was a (coordinator), I had something to help the guy with, I had input. If it’s good, use it, great, if he didn’t, that’s great too.”

Both he and DeWayne Walker said slight adjustments will be made to the scheme.

“We’re looking at this (Boise State) game a little differently, yeah,” Lindsey said. “That’s all I’m gonna say.”

Again, I think as a head coach, delegating work and having your assistants do as much heavy lifting as possible is a good idea.

And I think Walker will make a fine head coach for NMSU. And that’s his title — head coach. He can try to be a hero and lift everything on his back, or he can delegate, rely on the people around him and put all his focuses and energy on running the program.

Lindsey was the best assistant on this current staff to take things over. Again, it may not be at the most opportune time — mid-season, with the team struggling badly on defense and with a top-flight Boise State team coming to town.

I do think it’s the right idea and will pay off in the long run.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The week that was, and the future weeks

Now that we are two weeks into the Aggie football season, what are your thoughts?

I know, I know, not good, I’m sure.

But this is the thing with football. There's just 12 games in a season, but it’s a long year. And each game is under heavy scrutiny.

In basketball, the Aggies lose on Tuesday night, they’re back on the court on Friday or Saturday. There’s a quick turnaround. In football, the games stew and are under a microscope for probably too long.

How many games will the Aggies win in 2010? That answer depends on how you view this team, but the Aggies have looked like no better than a three-win team.

It’s all about matchups.

Since last year, the Aggies have not matched up well with quarterbacks that can throw the ball over the top of the secondary.

This season, that weakness was apparent once again with how the team defended Ryan Lindley and Trevor Vittatoe in the first two weeks of the season. A consistent pass rush just isn’t there and if cornerbacks Davon House and/or Jonte Green aren’t on top of their games, it can get ugly.

So, who do the Aggies match up well with the rest of the way?

I think this weekend against Kansas, the team will be in the game. A 23-point spread, I think the Aggies will cover. Am I crazy? This is how I feel.

Kansas is playing a redshirt freshman at quarterback and a true freshman at running back. I don’t see the Aggies applying pressure on the backfield, but I think the secondary can keep the play in front of them.

Alas, they won’t win.

They match up well against New Mexico and I think the Aggies will get that game.

They match up well with San Jose State and I think the Aggies will get that game.

I think they match up well with Idaho, but it’s away. And the Vandals are simply further along than NMSU in Robb Akey’s fourth year with the program.

Louisiana Tech is in a transitional stage and I think the Aggies could — could — get that game. Still, it would be an upset. But it’s one I feel.

Hawaii has looked good so far, actually. But, on the last game of the year and with a sound gameplan, the Aggies could beat them in Las Cruces.

The first two games weren’t a great start to the season, but this is a week-to-week business. Hopefully, the Aggies can be at least competitive in Kansas. It will make the next week more bearable — for the team and the fans.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week 2 thoughts following loss at UTEP

It was sad how the Aggies came out on Saturday night against the Miners.

UTEP was up 21-0 quickly, scoring on their first three drives of the game and it really looked easy.

Vittatoe went up top and also kept the ball and ran for yardage. Third down was not a problem for the Miners.

For the second straight week, the Aggies were pushed around on the defensive side of the ball.

To me, it's not a surprise the Aggies are 0-2. I knew that San Diego State and UTEP were ahead of NMSU on the football field coming into the year.

But I am surprised that the Aggies are playing this poorly on defense. I said it following last week's loss - defense was supposed to be the bread and butter for this team in Year 2 of the DeWayne Walker era. But the unit has been invisible up to this point.

It's the perimeter of the defense that has been the biggest disappointment. Where are defensive ends Pierre Fils and Donte Savage? There has been zero pressure put on the quarterback to this point.

And cornerbacks Davon House and Jonte Green have underperformed. House was decent in Week 2, but Green had easily the worst game of his Aggie career. What was the problem? Something was off with him against the Miners. It looked like his head wasn't in the game.

I think the team's gotten decent production from its defensive tackles John Finau and Kawika Shook. Donyae Coleman has been the secondary's best player to this point and I think backup safety George Callender's shown some ability to this point.

But the Aggies will do nothing if they don't get to the quarterback more often. That's the name of the game - it's how a team swings field position and creates turnovers.

The Aggies didn't blitz a whole lot on Saturday - they are relying on their front-four to generate a push. So far, it's going nowhere.


Offensively, the Aggies have been decent - anything would be better than last year and the fact they're getting 15-to-20 yard pass plays downfield is reason for excitement after 2009.

I'm not going to sit here and say the offense contributed to the defense's bad start. Sure, the Aggies didn't get a first down until the 11:00 mark of the second quarter, with the score 21-0 UTEP.

But it's hard as an offense when you're not on the field to generate any type of rhythm. And that's what happened in this one - the Aggies ran six offensive plays in the first quarter.

In the first game, there was talk of the offense leaving the defense hanging in the second quarter. On Saturday, the defense left the offense hanging in the first. You gotta get your team the ball to see what they can do. No use being on the sidelines for all but three minutes of the opening period.

I do think the Aggie offense has been hot and cold in the first two games of the season. The second quarter, the unit got moving, but that was really it all night. And when it's been off, first downs have been hard to come by.

I feel for running back Seth Smith, because he's not the type of back who's going to be at his most effective with just 5-to-10 carries per game. He needs 15-to-20 at the bare minimum for his impact to be felt. I still believe he's the team's most complete player on the offensive side of the ball, but it's tough to tell with the team trailing and he being under utilized.

Marcus Allen looked good again and Todd Lee made a couple big grabs. Kenny Turner catches the ball well out of the backfield, although I would have liked to see him get out of bounds during the two-minute drill to close out the half. Instead, with under 20 seconds remaining, he caught a ball near the sideline but turned in back inside where he was brought down near the 15 yard line. It led to an Aggie field goal, cutting the UTEP lead to 21-10 at the half, but it also forced the team to burn its final timeout of the half.


Special teams was average at best on Saturday and the Aggies were hurt by a 28-yard punt by Tanner Rust that gave UTEP the ball at midfield to start out the half. The Miners quickly turned the possession into points, another Vittatoe touchdown pass, to go up 28-10.

The return game was nothing special and Taveon Rogers fumbled the opening kickoff of the half, only to recover. Still, scary.

Tyler Stampler hit a field goal and an extra point on the evening.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Aggies lose....

....42-10 to Miners.

I thought the Miners would win by double digits - but not by 32. I was thing 10-17 would be the difference.

I can't say I'm surprised though. The Aggies have a long way to go. I did think the NMSU defense would be much better at this point. They have been torched since the opener against San Diego State.

There has been zero pass rush and cornerback Jonte Green and Davon House have been disappointments. I don't know if Green was hurt or what on Saturday but he had a bad game.

Thoughts are encouraged following this one.....

Friday, September 17, 2010

5 keys vs. UTEP

Aggie defensive line: The Aggie defensive line was a no-show last week against San Diego State. No sacks. seldom a quarterback hurry and the Aztecs ran wild throughout. And that was against a suspect offensive line, which won’t be the case tonight. UTEP comes in loaded up front, with all five starters — tackles Will Osolinsky and Alex Solot, guards Anthony McNac and Rod Huntley and center Tanner Cullumber — bringing senior experience to the table. How will the Aggies fare any better this week? They gotta find a way, or this one will be over quickly.

Holding up without Fakalata: Last year, the Aggies remained relatively injury free. They got bit quickly by the bug in Week 1, with Sioeli Fakalta going down with a left leg injury that had head coach DeWayne Walker saying the senior right guard could miss the remainder of the season. In steps Ruben Escarsega to fill the void up front, but the Aggies will be lucky if he plays close the Faklata’s level. The one saving grace: NMSU offensive line coach Jason Lenzemeier has been making chicken salad — the Aggies talent up front — into a gourmet dish since the day he arrived in Las Cruces. Time to pull another rabbit out of the hat.

Aggie running game: One of the bright spots in last week’s loss? New Aggie running back Kenny Turner showed a burst around the corner and the ability to make defenders miss. The Aggies gave Turner the ball 10 times, a number that’s sure to increase against the Miners. The team also needs to give the ball to Seth Smith more — last year’s 1,000 yard rusher got just five carries in the loss, for two yards no less. The Miners have been playing Ole run defense for the past four years. NMSU’s backs can take advantage if given the chance.

UTEP’s injuries: At the beginning of the year, talk in the Borderland was on UTEP running back Donald Buckram, and his elevation to elite status in the nation. Alas, the 5-foot-10, 195-pound running back has yet to see the field in 2010, nursing a bruised knee during the Miners’ first two games of the season. He said he felt confident that he could take the field on Saturday, although we’ll see how effective he is in shaking off the rust. Perhaps more important is the loss of safety Braxton Amy, an animal in the defensive backfield who was nothing short of the heart and soul of the Miner team. He’s done for the year, tearing his ACL in the loss at Houston last week.

Bouncing back: Both of these clubs lost last week. UTEP is now 1-1, while the Aggies hold an 0-1 mark in 2010. No time to sulk for either club, just time to get back on their horse and play some hard-nosed football. Whichever team takes the field ready to rebound will come out on top.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Aggies: Week 1 recap

It was a disappointing opening night for the Aggie football team on Saturday against San Diego State.

Of course it was a disappointing. The team lost, which is always tough, and it was a game they could have won. They were in it late, and the 41-21 final does not accurately reflect the competitive nature of the contest that was.

As in most cases, there were positives and negatives. The team played hard and at times well. It also didn’t step up late, it faded down the stretch.

For me, the biggest disappointment, and surprise, was the Aggies play on defense.

I figured the team would be stronger in this area in 2010, barring injury.

Granted, the Aztecs have a lot of weapons on offense, but I felt NMSU could hold San Diego State under 30 points. I felt like the Aggies could do it, and I believed they would do it.

Early on, it looked like they were well on their way. They stuffed the Aztecs on fourth down during SDSU’s first offensive possession, which led to NMSU’s first score of the game. 7-0 Aggies, and things were looking up.

But, when it was all said and done, the Aztecs carved up the New Mexico State defense. 563 yards of total offense – 319 passing, 244 rushing; 9-of-19 on third downs – and it felt worse than that; 83 offensive plays total, compared to the Aggies’ 60.

NMSU generated zero pressure on the quarterback. Where were Fils and Savage, along with the improved and deeper defensive line? It was a no-show.

The fact of the matter is that I may have overrated NMSU’s defense \ going into the season. Here’s what I was thinking were positives as the new year approached:

*Year 2 in head coach DeWayne Walker’s system.

*A better defensive line and a nice secondary with two good corners. Neither Jonte Green or Davon House stood out on Saturday though. SDSU has some toys at wide receiver. The nicest play either made was House breaking up a ball in the back corner of the endzone on a third-down play in the second quarter.

*I knew the linebacking corps had some question marks but figured if the top-three stayed healthy, they would be fine. Alas, Frank Padilla went down with a leg injury in the second half on Saturday.

The defense has to turn it around, starting immediately. Next week, they have another opponent with weapons and a coach who can draw it up, when they travel to face UTEP. The defense has to – repeat has to - be the backbone of this team. I know the offense didn’t do the job at points in time on Saturday, namely during the second quarter, when NMSU couldn’t get a first down and the defense was forced to fend for itself for virtually the entire period – that’s tough to be on the field for that long. But I hold this unit to a higher standard. The Aggies only chance at approaching five wins this year is if this group plays like they said they would during fall camp – as the best defense in the WAC.


With all that being said, the Aggies are a better team in 2010 than they were in 2009. For starters, from an entertainment standpoint, they are far more appealing. Mike Dunbar was a fine hire at offensive coordinator and has the savvy and gameplanning skills to vastly improve the offense during one offseason.

Three receivers made nice plays on Saturday night – and all did nothing in 2009. Marcus Allen had over 100 yards, Todd Lee was impressive catching the football and Darrius Preston got loose on some screens.

Matt Christian displayed nice attributes at the quarterback position. He threw on the run, hung in and took the big hit and didn’t turn the ball over. He also showed ability as a rusher upfield.

Christian is a streaky thrower and I am concerned about his health. He took at least four big shots on Saturday night and the team needs him to stay on the field. He was limping around after the game.

The Aggies threw the ball downfield, with Christian averaging over 13 yards per completion – he went 17-of-34 on the evening for 223 yards.

The running game didn’t do much – Kenny Turner was the team’s best back on Saturday. The Aggies cannot forget about Seth Smith on offense, but he needs to ball 15-to-20 times to be effective. He got five carries for eight yards on Saturday, not enough on either end.

Defensively, the Aggies played well for a half, but broke down in the final two quarters. Still, I think this unit will improve and the offense will continue to show some spunk, making for more competitive games in 2010.


The Aggies are similar in this regard from last year to this year: they have zero margin for error.

These are things that happened on Saturday that simply can’t happen if the Aggies want to win:

*Nine penalties for 86 yards.

*A Kenny Turner muffed punt late that ultimately led to a SDSU touchdown as the Aztecs put the finishing touches on the win.

*A Tyler Stampler miss on a 37-yard field goal to open the game. The Aggies had a nice first drive and were aided by a poor pass interference penalty call on SDSU. NMSU also got a 20-yard completion from Christian to Lee down to the SDSU 26-yard line on 3rd-and-11. Stampler then comes out and misses what should be a make.

*Special teams in general just weren’t very good. Tanner Rust averaged 40.4 yards per punt with a long of 54, but was aided by some friendly bounces and did not get the hangtime that we were used to from Kyle Hughes a season ago.


I looked up in the third quarter and saw half the student section emptied out. It had a nice gathering in the first half, but I guess everyone went home after two quarters.

Too bad, because it totally takes away from homefield advantage. That could be the difference in the Aggies winning and losing that game, too. It was a close game going into the fourth quarter. A loud and enthused crowd could have only helped the Aggies. Having half the students leave at halftime can only hurt them.


Padilla and offensive guard Sioeli Fakalata both left the game with what appeared to be lower-left leg injuries.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

5 keys vs. San Diego State

What to watch as Aggies gear up to host Aztecs in 2010 football season opener....

Along the front: The Aztecs have one horse on the offensive line, that being two-year starting center Trask Iosefa. Other than that, the unit is unproven, with Alec Johnson and Nik Embernate at the guards and Tommie Draheim and Kurtis Gunther at the tackles. The Aggies come in with some old reliables along the defensive front. Donte Savage and Pierre Fils return at the end positions while John Finau will man the nose tackle and Kawika Shook will line up in the three-technique. Backing up the front four will be David Mahoney and Tommy Stuart at tackle and Brandon Warner and David Nuimatalolo at ends as NMSU added depth in the offseason. The unit will look to blast holes in the SDSU blocking scheme.
“Our starting four guys, they played in this game last year and we feel like we’ve recruited some quality backups,” NMSU head coach DeWayne Walker said. “That would be nice to get an advantage up front (on Saturday).”

Aggie passing game: Aggie fans are familiar with San Diego State defensive coordinator Rocky Long, the former head coach at the University of New Mexico. Long runs a unique 3-3-5 system, bringing blitzers from all angles to try and pressure an opposing quarterback into making costly mistakes. It will also open up opportunities in the passing game if the Aggie line can buy quarterback Matt Christian time in the pocket. And then the NMSU wide receivers have to get open and make the catch if it’s delivered on time and on target. It didn’t happen quite like that last year, but the plan is for the Aggie passing attack to be in better harmony in 2010.

SDSU weapons: The Aztecs have plenty of toys to play with on offense. Junior quarterback Ryan Lindley returns after throwing for over 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2009. A three-man backfield of Davon Brown, Ronnie Hillman and Walter Kazee can all run the ball effectively while wide receivers Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson are impressive targets downfield. They will face an Aggie defense that continues to scheme and improve under second-year head coach DeWayne Walker.

Opening night: While San Diego State had their season opener last week — a 47-0 thrashing over Nicholls State — New Mexico State had their bye to start the 2010 campaign. In other words, tonight is NMSU’s season opener, which can be a blessing or a curse. When it’s all said and done, expect the Aggies to come out strong with something to prove against SDSU, in what should be a competitive football game.
“We have some new offensive coaches, our players have bought in. So, we’ve done things right,” NMSU head coach DeWayne Walker said. “You’d just like to see our guys improve and we’d like to have success too. I think this is an important game for us.”

Last year’s meeting: Last season saw the two teams compete in San Diego, with the game holding close until late in the fourth quarter. Down 17-7, the Aggies got two second-half scoring drives, led by backup quarterback Trevor Walls, to tie the score at 17-17. Late turnovers, though, ultimately led to three late Aztec touchdowns in the final eight minutes of action, as SDSU pulled away with a 34-17 victory. NMSU is a drastically different team this time around, however. Equipped with a brand new passing attack on offense and three new starters at linebacker, the Aggies have a brand new look in 2010. Will it lead to better results?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Mexico State/San Diego State depth chart

Here are the starting lineups for Saturday night's game....

New Mexico State
Pos. Player, class No. Size
QB Matt Christian, Jr. 2 6-3, 220
Tanner Rust, RFr. 8 6-2, 195
RB Seth Smith, Sr. 20 5-8, 198
Kenny Turner, So. 3 5-10, 195
FB Brandon Perez, RSr. 38 5-8, 231
Ronald Opetaia, Jr. 21 5-9, 219
X Taveon Rogers, Jr. 1 6-0, 175
Marcus Allen, Sr. 32 6-0, 187
LT DeWayne Barton, Sr. 75 6-4, 270
Davonte Wallace, Fr. 74 6-4, 250
LG Dejuan Yates, RJr. 58 6-2, 274
Mike Yocius, So. 63 6-4, 296
C Mike Grady, Jr. 62 6-3, 302
Robert Rodriguez, Sr. 70 6-2, 290
RG Sioeli Fakalata, RJr. 72 6-3, 321
Ruben Escarsega, RJr. 66 6-4, 273
RT Aundre McGaskey, Jr. 76 6-6, 315
Matt Passwaters, RSr. 78 6-3, 270
Z Darrius Preston, So. 19 6-1, 169
Marcus Williams, Jr. 10 6-3, 185
TE Kyle Nelson, Sr. 17 6-4, 222
Tonny Torres, Sr. 85 6-4, 241

End Pierre Fils, Jr. 48 6-3, 249
Brandon Warner, Sr. 92 6-2, 291
DT Kawika Shook, Sr. 94 6-3, 275
David Mahoney, Jr. 95 6-3, 300
NT John Finau, Sr. 54 6-1, 300
Tommy Stuart, So. 51 6-3, 315
Rush Donte Savage, Jr. 52 6-3, 240
David Nuimatalolo, RJr. 90 6-2, 250
Sam Frank Padilla, Sr. 5 6-2, 248
David Quiroga, So. 22 6-1, 230
Mike Boyblue Aoelua, Jr. 47 5-10, 235
Numi Lolohea, So. 96 5-11, 237
Will B.J. Adolpho, So. 36 5-11, 215
Bryan Bonilla, RFr. 53 6-1, 221
LC Davon House, Sr. 4 6-0, 190
Darien Johnson, Fr. 6 5-9, 180
RC Jonte Green, Jr. 1 6-0, 185
Donyae Coleman, Jr. 3 5-10, 181
FS Donyae Coleman, Jr. 3 5-10, 181
George Callender, Fr. 11 6-1, 195
SS Alphonso Powell, Sr. 2 5-9, 190
Justin Smith, Fr. 27 6-2, 200

Kicking specialists
K Tyler Stampler, Fr. 18 5-10, 175
P Tanner Rust, RFr. 8 6-2, 205
Jake Capraro, Fr. 42 6-1, 220

Return specialists
KR Taveon Rogers, Jr. 1 6-0, 175
Kenny Turner, So. 3 5-10, 195
PR Donyae Coleman, Jr. 3 5-10, 181
Darien Johnson, Fr. 6 5-9, 180

San Diego State
QB Ryan Lindley, Jr. 14 6-4, 220
Jake Bernards, RFr. 12 6-5, 210
RB Davon Brown, Sr. 30 5-9, 190
Ronnie Hillman, Fr. 13 5-10, 185
FB Brandon Sullivan, Sr. 23 5-11, 215
Chad Young, RFr. 40 5-11, 240
Z Demarco Sampson, Sr. 1 6-2, 205
Dominique Sandifer, So. 18 6-0, 190
Y Alston Umuolo, Sr. 7 6-4, 255
Gavin Escobar, RFr. 88 6-6, 245
X Vincent Brown, Sr. 80 6-0, 195
Osmond Nicholas, RFr. 83 6-3, 210
LT Tommie Draheim, Jr. 60 6-4, 300
Riley Gauld, Jr. 66 6-5, 300
LG Alec Johnson, So. 71 6-3, 295
Mike Matamua, Jr. 74 6-4, 300
C Trask Iosefa, Sr. 50 6-0, 300
Alec Johnson, So. 71 6-3, 295
RG Nik Embernate, So. 68 6-4, 305
Jimmy Miller, So. 51 6-3, 290
RT Kurtis Gunther, Jr. 79 6-8, 290
Kellen Farr, Jr. 73 6-7, 300

DE Ernie Lawson, Sr. 99 6-3, 275
J.J. Autele, Jr. 49 6-1, 250
DT Jerome Long, Jr. 94 6-5, 280
Neil Spencer, Jr. 55 6-2, 280
DE B.J. Williams, Sr. 90 6-3, 250
Jacob Tauanuu, Sr. 47 6-1, 260
LB Logan Ketchum, Jr. 31 6-3, 220
Colin Shumate, So. 33 6-2, 220
MLB Marcus Yarbrough, Sr. 52 6-2, 230
Rob Andrews, So. 44 6-2, 220
LB Miles Burris, Jr. 9 6-3, 235
Demetrius Barksdale, Jr. 54 6-3, 210
CB Leon McFadden, So. 2 5-10, 180
Romeo Horn, Jr. 4 6-0, 185
War Darryn Lewis, Sr. 3 5-9, 165
Nat Berhe, RFr. 20 5-10, 185
Azt. Andrew Preston, Sr. 22 6-1, 210
Khalid Stevens, So. 41 5-11, 195
War Brandon Davis, Jr. 11 6-2, 190
Marcus Andrews, RFr. 26 6-0, 190
CB Jose Perez, Sr. 15 6-1, 180
Josh Wade, So. 12 6-0, 180

Kicking specialists
K Abel Perez, Jr. 38 6-1, 225
Bryan Shields, Sr. 29 6-1, 195
P Brian Stahovich, Jr. 14 6-0, 190

Return specialists
KR Davon Brown, Sr. 30 5-9, 190
Brandon Davis, Jr. 11 6-2, 190
PR Larry Parker, Jr. 29 5-11, 170
Leon McFadden, So. 2 5-10, 180

Monday, September 6, 2010

Boise State wins thriller

Who saw Boise State's thrilling 33-30 win over Virginia Tech?

If you didn't, you missed out.

But my real question is this: Who's excited for Boise State to come to Las Cruces on Oct. 3 to face the Aggies? This is a top-3 program if things hold until then, folks.

If you're not excited to see that at Aggie Memorial Stadium, someone needs to check your pulse.

I, for one, can't wait for it.....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The WAC shuffle

Nice work by the WAC to land BYU on the Aggies’ schedule for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

But it doesn’t erase the fact that the conference is losing Boise State. Nor does it help ease the pain of Fresno State and Nevada leaving, either.

It’s a nice consolation prize.

No one can hate on BSU for taking off and going to the Mountain West. The Broncos have dominated the WAC for the past decade and truly are a cut above the rest of the field. Are they supposed the stick around and continue to pulverize teams week-in and week-out? No one’s getting better because of that.

Fresno State and Nevada leaving, to me, are a different story. They certainly are in the upper-echelon of the conference — nobody’s going to deny that. They have been premier WAC teams, but they aren’t in Boise State’s category.

Here are the past five years and how the teams have fared against equal or above competition outside of the WAC, as well as their WAC records during that span:

@ Notre Dame: 35-0 loss
@ Colorado State: 35-20 loss
vs. Missouri: 31-21 loss
vs. UNLV: 63-28 win
vs. SMU (Hawaii Bowl): 45-10 loss

vs. Texas Tech: 35-19 loss
@ Missouri: 69-17 loss
@ UNLV: 49-27 win
vs. Maryland (Humanitarian Bowl): 42-35 loss

@ Nebraska: 52-10 loss
@ Northwestern: 36-31 loss
vs. UNLV: 27-20 win
vs. New Mexico (New Mexico Bowl): 23-0 loss

@ Arizona State: 52-21 loss
vs. Colorado State: 28-10 win
vs. Northwestern: 31-21 win
vs. Miami (MPC Computers Bowl): 21-10 loss

vs. Washington State: 55-21 loss
vs. UNLV: 22-14 win
@ Colorado State: 42-21 loss
vs. Central Florida (Hawaii Bowl): 49-48 win (overtime)

That’s a 7-14 record during that period. Four of the seven wins have come against UNLV....

Fresno State
@ Wisconsin: 34-31 loss (overtime)
@ Cincinnati: 28-20 loss
@ Illinois: 53-52 win
vs. Wyoming (New Mexico Bowl): 35-28 loss (overtime)

@ Rutgers: 24-7 win
vs. Wisonsin: 13-10 loss
@ Toledo: 55-54 win (overtime)
@ UCLA: 36-31 win
vs. Colorado State (New Mexico Bowl): 40-35 loss

@ Texas A&M: 47-45 loss (overtime)
@ Oregon: 52-51 loss
vs. Kansas State: 45-29 win
vs. Georgia Tech: 40-28 win

vs. Oregon: 31-24 loss
@ Washington: 21-20 loss
vs. Colorado State: 35-23 loss

@ Oregon: 37-34 loss
vs. Toledo: 44-14 win
@ USC: 50-42 loss
@ Tulsa (Liberty Bowl): 31-24 loss

That’s a 7-13 record during that time.

Also, during that time, the Wolf Pack have gone 28-12 in the WAC while Fresno State has gone 26-15 in conference. There’s no doubt they have been elite teams in the league.

Lets look at Boise’s numbers during the same period.

vs. Oregon: 19-8 win
vs. Miami, Ohio: 48-0 win
@ Bowling Green: 49-14 win
@ Tulsa: 28-21 win
vs. TCU (Fiesta Bowl): 17-10 win

vs. Bowling Green: 20-7 win
@ Oregon: 37-32 win
@ Southern Miss: 24-7 win
vs. TCU (Poinsettia Bowl): 17-16 loss

@ Washington: 24-10 loss
vs. Wyoming: 24-14 win
vs. Southern Miss: 38-16 win
vs. East Carolina (Hawaii Bowl): 41-38 loss

vs. Oregon State: 42-14 win
@ Wyoming: 17-10 win
@ Utah: 36-3 win
vs. Oklahoma (Fiesta Bowl): 43-42 win

@ Georgia: 48-13 loss
@ Oregon State: 30-27 loss
vs. Bowling Green: 48-20 win
vs. Boston College (MPC Computers Bowl): 27-21 loss

That's a 15-6 record against similar or above-average competition outside of league play. It's also two Fiesta Bowl wins during that span.

Also, the team has gone 38-2 during that period in WAC play.

Boise State needs to move on to bigger and better things. They have proven they can manhandle the WAC.

As for Fresno State and Nevada, they are clearly a cut above the WAC field. But are they on Boise State's level? No.

I would have preferred them to stick around the WAC for at least a few more seasons. It would have been good for the league, and would have made more sense for those respective programs. They still have much to prove before moving up…..

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seth Smith

I've been calling it for the last 2 1/2 weeks. Seth Smith is going to have another big year for the Aggies.

Hey, you never know with a player who came out of nowhere — as Smith did last year, rushing for over 1,000 yards on the season. Was it a fluke? You have to ask that when a guy returns for the following season.

This is why I know Smith won't taper off:

• Same guy: For one, he hasn't changed from last year to now. He's the same guy — quiet, humble, hungry. Key ingredients to an athlete's success, and Smith still has the intangibles' package to get it done.

He's running hard, even in fall camp: While other players are nursing bumps and bruises on the sidelines, Smith is charging hard day-in and day-out.

He looks quicker and lighter, but is still running with that same hit-first mentality that made him a standout last year.

This is why I like Smith — he runs hard every play and doesn't tip-toe in there, he takes it on full throttle. His 3-yard runs can be just as devastating as a 20-yard run, because he inflicts punishment on the opposing defense.

One of the most underrated qualities a football player can have? Playing, and playing well, through pain. It's a necessary requirement in a violent game. Last year, Smith proved he could do it — he battled with a separated right shoulder for the second-half of the season and closed the year strong with back-to-back 100-yard games. I almost think Smith likes playing with a little hurt. Such an attribute cannot be overlooked in a player's success.

The offense will be better in 2010: Last year, the Aggies couldn't pass, defenses knew it, gameplanned to stop Smith and he still got his 1,000.

This year, the offense will be different. How?

Running backs will be asked to be more involved in the passing game. Not just catching balls out of the backfield, but also on blitz pickups and quarterback protection. It also looks like the scheme will be more spread out, with three- and four-wide receiver sets and single-back formations.

Will Smith be able to adjust to a new system? Straight-forward, it seems like he's better suited as a bruiser, lining up in two tight-end formations with a fullback. But I still think he'll be just fine.

Who knew about Smith last year at this time? Not many people and he rose to the occasion. It's just a new challenge, and I think he'll surprise people with his ability as a pass catcher.

And, if the offense moves the ball better through the air — and it has to — it will only benefit the running game. Last year, teams knew the Aggies were going to run every down. Logical thinking indicates that a better passing offense will open things up at the line of scrimmage and will give Smith more room to rumble.

And the one rushing touchdown he scored in 2009? Expect that number to go up. With Smith's skill set, he should be a very solid goalline runner, and the Aggies should spend more time inside the opponent's 5-yard line this year.

Turner's presence: Some think Kenny Turner's presence will cut into Smith's production.

If Turner plays and comes as advertised, than yes, this should hold true.

But it will also help Smith to have a sidekick to lighten the load. And that's not a bad thing at all.

Smith rushed for 1,000 yards last year. He proved he could carry the load. If all goes as planned, Turner will be a dynamite complement to Smith in the running game. And that will only help both players flourish....

There you have it. I think Smith will have a great season — again. Now, sit back and watch....

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Captains named

Head coach DeWayne Walker named team captains for the 2010 season.

The winners are quarterback Matt Christian for the offense and cornerback Davon House on defense. Last year, the Aggies went with new captains each week. This year, it looks like Christian and House will captain the team the entire season.

Players and coaches voted on captains for the 2010 season. Christian, a transfer from Palomar Junior College, was named the team's starting quarterback last week. Coaches and teammates have commented on his leadership skills throughout camp.

House is coming off an All-WAC first-team selection in 2009 after tallying close to 70 tackles, 13 pass breakups and three interceptions. The four-year starter also scored two touchdowns last season.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What we can take away from a wild Week 1 of the prep football season

It was a wild first Friday of high school football.
The drama was supplied by the Las Cruces Bulldawgs — beating El Dorado 23-20 in a back-and-forth affair that went down to the final minute. It was a heart stopper.
Mayfield proved to be, well, Mayfield, hammering Chapin 51-6. The Trojans scored 41 points in the first half to rout the opposition.
And the Oñate Knights? Well, they came up short. Way short, actually, falling to Franklin 49-2. Not fun.
But hey, it was Week 1. A lot can happen between now and the end of the season.
Still, here’s what we can take away from the season’s opening games:

Offensive weapons plentiful at Las Cruces High: One had a feeling that the Bulldawgs would have some toys to play with on the offensive side of the ball. The team didn’t disappoint on Friday.
The 23-20 victory over El Dorado couldn’t have marked a better opening contest of the season at the Field of Dreams — particularly from an entertainment standpoint — as many Bulldawgs shined and big plays were in abundance.
For starters, quarterback Jeremy Buurma had a phenomenal game. Sure, some will point to his erratic performance throwing the football — Buurma was wild on a handful of pass attempts, tossing one interception and could have easily thrown another near the El Dorado goalline.
But what people need to recognize is that Buurma is a playmaker who isn’t afraid to take chances. He recorded close to 300 yards of total offense — both passing and rushing yards — by himself. He had a 10-yard scoring run on 3rd-and-10, a touchdown that eventually put LCHS up 14-12 midway through the second quarter. Later in the period, he avoided the rush and hit Tanner Shoemaker on a fourth-down scoring pass from 18-yards out, as LCHS took a 20-12 lead.
Three crucial El Dorado turnovers aside, Buurma was the MVP of the game for the Bulldawgs.
The team is loaded in the running game, with Xavier Hall grinding out the tough yards on Friday. Another player to watch is Daniel Martinez, who broke off an electric 45-yard touchdown catch-and-run on the first possession of the game.
Buurma, Hall and Martinez will shine on the Friday night highlight videos throughout the prep football season.

Mayfield’s resolve: It happens every season.
The Mayfield Trojans seem to be overlooked, take the field and use such a slight to their advantage.
It occurred once again on Friday. There has been a lot of talk about Las Cruces High this offseason, the season gets under way and — boom — the Trojans dismantle another opponent Week 1.
Mayfield scored 14 points in the first 22 seconds of the contest, 21 in the first five minutes and 28 in the first quarter on their way to a 51-6 win over Chapin — in El Paso no less. Are you kidding?
The funny thing is that I wasn’t even surprised.
This is the most motivated team in the area, there’s no doubt in my mind about it. Always organized, always intense and always prepared to play sound, fundamental football across the board.
Lose their starting quarterback? They’ll just plug in a new one. Return three starters on defense? Keifer Payne will return the opening kickoff 88 yards for a score, then Brock Baca will intercept a pass seconds later and race into the endzone from 20 yards out. Both plays happened within the opening minute of Friday’s cake walk.
The Trojans were up 41-0 at halftime!
Mark it down. MHS, LCHS, set for another collision course once again. Can’t wait for it either.

Tough season ahead for Oñate?: Judging from Friday’s 49-2 loss to Franklin, it could be.
But, it is just Week 1. And Franklin is traditionally an El Paso powerhouse program. So lets look ahead.
The Knights’ next contest will come on a short week, their home opener against Americas.
While a shorter window to prepare for an opponent is often looked at as a disadvantage, in this case, it could work to the Knights’ benefit. They need to get that sour taste out of their mouth as soon as possible following Friday’s romp. And they should have a good week of practice — they certainly shouldn’t lack motivation.
We do know that OHS is very inexperienced. The Knights had a solid team last year, but lost virtually their entire core and must start from scratch once again.
They also run the ball every down. That’s OK when you’re up 14-10, not down 49-2. Somehow, the Knights will need to find some offensive firepower to keep opponents honest.
And, I’ve written it before in a Sun-News column: Why is it in football that I’d rather my team lose 49-0 than 49-2? It just looks like the opposition took a knee in the endzone out of pity.
A simple side note following a long week....


Friday’s prep football scores
The Associated Press
Artesia 63, Lovington 49
Aztec 49, Los Lunas 0
Carlsbad 34, Roswell 6
Clovis 40, Alamogordo 0
Clovis Christian 47, Dora 0
Fort Defiance Window Rock, Ariz. 44, Wingate 0
Fort Sumner 32, NMMI 17
Goddard 34, Rio Rancho 3
Hagerman 41, Capitan 13
Hobbs 53, Gadsden 6
Lake Arthur 59, Vaughn 7
Las Cruces 23, EP El Dorado, Texas 20
Los Alamos 40, Pojoaque 0
Marfa, Texas 40, Mesilla Valley Christian 30
Mayfield 51, EP Chapin, Texas 8
McCurdy 41, Navajo Pine 0
Melrose 50, Logan 36
Moriarty 33, Bernalillo 8
Mountainair 60, Gateway Christian 12
Piedra Vista 28, Santa Fe 27
Raton 46, Clayton 20
Reserve 20, Menaul 14
Rio Rancho 47, EP Bel Air, Texas 10
Santa Rosa 56, Estancia 22
Socorro 41, West Las Vegas 0
Springer 46, Floyd 20
Tatum 16, Animas 14
Texico 14, Dexter 0
Tularosa 47, Hot Springs 19
Valley 21, Del Norte 13

Friday, August 27, 2010

The deal at quarterback, including Jeff Fleming's departure

Sorry for the long delay on posts everyone. I have been absolutely swamped at work putting together the football tab and producing a daily newspaper for all to read.

Obviously the news of Jeff Fleming transferring was surprising. Or was it?

Fleming was essentially demoted to No. 4 on the quarterback depth chart. The team named Matt Christian the starter and said that Rust and Manley were battling for the No. 2 spot. Fleming would have special packages in the offense according to head coach DeWayne Walker. Would he play QB? Maybe some, maybe some wide receiver too. Obviously that's not the same as being the starting signal caller in the offense.

News that Christian was named starting QB shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone. The offense was abysmal last year. Was it all Fleming's fault? Of course not. The entire unit has a hand in it because that's what the game's all about.

But the bottom line is that Seth Smith did run for over 1,000 yards and the offensive line played as well as it could have. The blocking up front wasn't terrible, it was actually serviceable and better than in some recent years past.

The passing game was unbearable to watch and of course a lot of the blame will fall at the quarterback's feet. It's the most recognizable position on the field and carries the most responsibility. The Aggies couldn't, and often times didn't try to, throw the ball downfield in 2009. Playcalling was a factor, certainly quarterback play was as well.

Christian has come in and seems like a leader, which the team badly needs.

“He comes in, he's very vocal, he's confident,” wide receiver Todd Lee said. “Everybody wants to play for him.
“We all rally around him when he starts talking. When he starts talking, that's when you shut up.”

I have concern about Christian's health. He has had collarbone issues in the past, including sitting out some of spring ball because of the injury. He sat out recently at fall camp with a sore elbow.

“I'm feeling all right,” Christian said. “I banged up my elbow....Just treatment every day....Getting extra work off the field and watching it on the field. I got this little (protective) sleeve (on his right throwing elbow)....It's all right. It hurts every once in a while, it aches every once in a while but, again, it's a part of football. You just gotta work through it.”

Some injuries a player can work through, some force a player to the sideline. The Aggies need competent quarterback play for all 12 games this season.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Storylines going into Aggie camp

Are you ready for some football?
New Mexico State University is, opening fall practice today at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
Practice runs from 3-5 p.m. today and is open to the public.
The highlights entering fall camp? Easy.
The team is entering the second year of the DeWayne Walker era, new coordinator Mike Dunbar hopes to jumpstart the team’s punchless offense and the defensive unit is primed to take another step forward in Walker’s system.
That, and a handful of other story lines are present with the new season right around the corner.
The following are five things to keep an eye on heading into NMSU training camp, and throughout the 2010 campaign.

1) New offense in place: Last year, the Aggies weren’t just bad on offense, they were unwatchable.
Enter Dunbar, a veteran coach of over 20 years who will look to get the unit up and moving.
Don’t expect NMSU to look much different in style — the team will be multiple in formation, similar to last year, and will run an assortment of looks, from four-wide receiver shotgun sets, to two tight-end, two running back packages.
Last year, the running game was fine — starter Seth Smith barreled for over 1,000 yards — and should continue to hum with the addition of speedster Kenny Turner and the return of injured fullback Brandon Perez.
The passing game is another story....

2) The passing game: Make no mistake, while Dunbar was brought in to resurrect the offense, his top chore will be getting the passing game — one of the worst in the nation last year — off the ground.
It starts at quarterback, where it appears the competition has come down to last year’s starter Jeff Fleming and junior college transfer Matt Christian.
Both bring different styles to the table, with Fleming a mobile athlete who can create outside the pocket and Christian more of a pure passer from under center.
Redshirt freshman Tanner Rust and true freshman Andrew Manley also figure to be in the mix.
The wide receiver position also needs a boost. Marcus Allen flashed his talent during the spring and could be the team’s No. 1 target entering his senior season. Todd Lee is small — 5-foot-9, 161 pounds — but has speed to burn, while newcomer Taveon Rogers is expected to come in and be top-four on the depth chart.

3) Linebacker: In Walker’s system, the front-four needs to apply pressure and clog running lanes while the secondary requires pure cover corners on the outside.
The linebackers need to be workmen, pure and simple.
And while last year’s linebacking corps — Jason Scott, Ross Conner, Jahmar Cotton and Sam King — were all senior leaders who played hard week-in and week-out, the coaching staff believes it’s upgraded in this department for 2010.
The jury’s still out, however.
Frank Padilla was brought in from College of the Sequoias and has nice size — 6-2, 248. He will step in and start along the strongside.
B.J. Adolpho was the team’s top practice squad player last year and will step in at weakside linebacker. Adolpho is a missile who throws his body around with reckless abandon, but he lacks experience.
In the middle, Boyblue Aoelua goes from strictly a special teams player to MIKE linebacker in Walker’s system. It will be a big responsibility.
Behind the starting three, depth is a concern.

4) Special teams: The Aggies were much improved in the kicking game last year. They’ll need to be again.
Punter Kyle Hughes could never get his grades together and will not be back in 2010. Normally it wouldn’t be a problem, but Hughes had an NFL-caliber leg and played a huge role in two of the Aggies’ three wins last year. He also was the team’s primary placekicker.
Tanner Rust, who’s listed as a quarterback on the depth chart, and newcomer Jake Capraro will compete for the punting job.
The team brought in Tyler Stampler this offseason to be the primary placekicker.
The return game started strong in 2010 before tailing off down the stretch.
Wide receivers Marcus Allen and Todd Lee returned kicks last year as did defensive back Donyae Coleman. All three should be in the mix to do so again, along with receiver Taveon Rogers.

5) Injury free: Last year, NMSU kept most of its heavy artillery on the field. They can only hope to be so lucky in 2010.
Running back Seth Smith played half of 2009 with a separated right shoulder, but remained solid throughout the season. His physical style not only pounds opposing defenses, but it also results in big hits on the 5-foot-8, 207-pound back.
Starting defensive ends Pierre Fils and Donte Savage played virtually every down last year, and turned in productive seasons. They’ll have to do so again, with limited depth to relieve them.
All three starting linebackers need to remain healthy, as does the secondary and offensive line. Good luck with that.

Aggie fall practice schedule
* Practice sessions are free and open to the public. The team will start practicing in full pads on Aug. 15. Preseason practices will continue throughout next month, leading up to the team’s opening game on Sept. 11, at home against San Diego State.
August 11th, 3-5 p.m. (Helmets only)
August 12th, 3-5 p.m. (Helmets only)
August 13th, 3-5 p.m. (Shells)
August 14th, 3-5 p.m. (Shells)
August 15th, 3-5 p.m. (Full pads)
August 16th, 9:15-11:30 a.m. (Shells); 3:30-5:30 p.m. (Full pads)
August 17th, 3-5 p.m. (Full pads)
August 18th, 9:15-11:30 a.m. (Shells); 3:30-5:30 p.m. (Full pads)
August 20th, 3:50-5:50 p.m. (Full pads)
August 21st, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (Scrimmage)
August 23rd, 3:50-5:50 p.m. (Full pads)
August 24th, 3:50-5:50 p.m. (Full pads)
August 25th, 3:50-5:50 p.m. (Full pads)
August 26th, 3:50-5:50 p.m. (Full pads)
August 27th, 3:50-5:50 p.m. (Full pads)
August 28th, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (Scrimmage)

By the numbers
8: Players on the current Aggie roster from New Mexico. Three players — kicker Zach Diaz, wide receiver James Hall Jr. and tight end Spencer Diaz — are from Las Cruces.
21: Years of coaching experience for new Aggie offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar. Dunbar began his career in 1987 as the head coach at Central Washington University. Most recently, he was offensive coordinator at the University of Minnesota.
13: Pass breakups last season by Aggie cornerback Davon House. House also intercepted three passes and recorded 68 tackles, making first-team All-WAC in the process.
4: Quarterbacks vying for the starting job at the outset of Aggie fall camp today. Junior college transfer Matt Christian and last year’s starter Jeff Fleming appear to be the front runners, with Tanner Rust and Andrew Manley also in the mix.
0: Bye weeks for the Aggies this season. The team will start a week later than most programs — Sept. 1. NMSU will play every weekend from there on out, wrapping up its season Nov. 27 against Hawaii.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Wide receiver coming to NMSU, will play this year

Spoke to Solano Community College wide receiver Kenonte Howard, who said he is coming to NMSU next Friday and will suit up for the Aggies in the fall.

“I've been talking to coach (R. Todd) Littlejohn since the middle of spring,” Hoawrd said. “My focus right now is my summer classes.

“I'll be there this fall.”

As of now, Howard is not a scholarship player, as he's expected to walk on at NMSU.

He had a big sophomore season at Solano — 72 catches, close to 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's also a big target — 6-foot-3, 205 pounds.

Expect the Aggies to add a few more pieces to the roster before camp as well, most likely on the offensive and defensive lines.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Another commit?

Just got word NMSU received a verbal from Gary Isaacson. Here's a link.....

I'll track him down and see what I can find out.....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Aggie eighth-place prediction in WAC poll feels appropriate

The New Mexico State Aggie football team was picked to finish eighth in the nine-team Western Athletic Conference by league coaches and media members at the WAC football media conference.

Of course, preseason polls mean little. Did voters select Idaho to finish top-four in the WAC last year? No, more like bottom-two, only to see the Vandals surprise just about everyone by going 8-5 overall, 4-4 in WAC play and qualifying for the Humanitarian Bowl.

The polls simply gauge how fellow WAC competitors view the opposition with the season just a month away. Much of it is based off how the team fared the previous year.

Case in point: San Jose State is coming off a dreadful season — 1-7 in WAC play — and hired a new coach in the offseason, former Duke defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre. Naturally, they were picked to finish last in both polls, simply by default.
Utah State was chosen to finish seventh in both coaches and media polls last year. After going 3-5 in conference play in 2009 and winning two of their final three games on the schedule, coaches selected them to finish fourth in the standings this year.
Really, who knows where any of these teams end up, after the pads are strapped on and the reality of the season sets in?

The one constant for the Aggies is annually residing near the bottom of the preseason polls. The highest NMSU has been ranked since joining the WAC six years ago was No. 6, entering the 2007 season. There was optimism and excitement as Hal Mumme was going into his third year as head coach. The Aggies were coming off a promising finish to close out the previous year, pulverizing Utah State and Louisiana Tech in consecutive weeks. Offensively, NMSU had young talent across the board and there was legitimate talk of a breakthrough bowl berth possibly on the horizon.

“They’re on the verge,” said former San Jose State head coach Dick Tomey when the 2007 poll was released. “They’re a scary outfit, they’re a veteran team and obviously (quarterback Chase) Holbrook’s a terrific player....I won’t be surprised if they’re a team that really makes a move this year.”

Of course, NMSU went 4-9 overall that year, 1-7 in conference and finished in eighth place.

Three years later, new head coach DeWayne Walker enters his second season at New Mexico State, and he continues to build the Aggies from the ground-up.

Despite ranking No. 103 in the country last year in total defense, the Aggies showed flashes of being a tough-minded unit on that side of the ball.

Offensively, the team figures to be improved, simply with the addition of Mike Dunbar at offensive coordinator. Last season, the Aggies couldn’t move the ball — literally. NMSU was last in the NCAA, averaging 229.31 yards per game, recording just over 12 first downs per contest. Dunbar, who has been coaching college football for over 20 years, will bring veteran savvy to the coaching position and there’s really nowhere to go but up.

But there’s no denying that plenty of holes remain.

Injuries to any of the three starting linebackers — Frank Padilla (strongside), Boyblue Aoelua (middle) and B.J. Adolpho (weakside) — will spell trouble for the entire group. Same at defensive end, where Pierre Fils and Donte Savage somehow managed to play virtually every snap last season and put up productive numbers. There just isn’t a whole lot behind these guys.

Offensively, the team has some depth at running back. But what quarterback will emerge? Jeff Fleming, Matt Christian, Tanner Rust, Andrew Manley? Whoever does will need to step up and deliver once the bullets start flying. And, in the game of football, without a quality quarterback, it’s tough to field a quality team.

Who will catch passes? Last year’s top receiver was Todd Lee, with an uninspiring 28 grabs, while Marcus Allen had 308 receiving yards. Good quarterback play and production from wide receivers go hand-in-hand.

The Aggies are in the middle of a big rebuilding effort, and much of the same expectations that were in place last year — playing hard for all four quarters, stealing a game or two that they shouldn’t and remaining competitive for all 12 contests on their schedule — will remain as the barometer.

The point is that eighth place in the WAC is a fair prediction for NMSU. They still have a lot to prove and will need to earn their respect on the field.

And you never know how things will ultimately shake out as the season moves along. Just ask Idaho.

That’s why they play the games.