The New Mexico State Aggie football team will be improved this year if....
This team needs to get better production from its front-four. It’s been written about, blogged about, tweeted about. The Aggies need Tommy Stuart and David Mahoney, two junior college transfers a year ago, to produce. I do think defensive tackle Augafa Vaaulu will be a good player at NMSU if he continues to develop — he showed flashes last season at defensive tackle.
Obviously defensive ends Donte Savage and Pierre Fils need to give the Aggies more. They were adequate in 2009 but were invisible last season.
The Aggies have a few new faces on the line this year, but the players back from last season have to play better. I don’t think the Aggies necessarily have to be gangbusters up front, but they need to have a presence. They need to be a threat. If not, the defense won’t be any better this year.
Flipping it around, NMSU needs its offensive line to stay healthy. Is guard Sioeli Fakalata fully recovered from the broken leg he suffered last year? If so, he’s the Aggies best lineman and a force on the right side.
Last season Davonte Wallace played well at left tackle. He’s undersized for that position but he was a standout freshman for the Aggies and should be all right playing there again.
Mike Grady is a veteran center and junior college transfer Andrew Kersten was brought in to play, in this case at the other guard spot opposite Fakalata. Aundre McGaskey started all of last season at right tackle.
Isn’t this always the problem at NMSU? Depth, size and production along the offensive and defensive lines? Yes.
Another key? Andrew Manley’s continued development at quarterback, where he has the potential to be a difference maker at the position.
If the Aggies get positive results on the three things listed above, they’re going to be better — much better. Four wins is a realistic target for the team this season and they’ll get there if the factors listed above work out.
Will they work out?
I think the O-line will be OK and while Manley will have his growing pains he’ll be all right too. I have greater concerns about the defensive front, which needs to get much better in a hurry.