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.