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.”