A look at the five keys for the New Mexico State Aggie football team going into 2011....
This is a critical component for New Mexico State every season. The Aggies simply don’t have enough depth to withstand a rash of injuries. The team is already thin on the defensive line with the academic ineligibility of Donte Savage and Augafa Vaaulu and a season-ending knee injury to Tommy Stuart. The starting five on the offensive line needs to remain healthy as does running back Robert Clay. Any injuries to any of the above-mentioned spots could very well sink the Aggies season.
2) Defensive front seven
This unit got torn up last year and the Aggies never stood a chance. Just nine sacks were recorded and the team gave up 207 rushing yards per game. Can the unit play better in 2011? With the losses up front, the defensive line seems vulnerable once again, perhaps even more so than a season ago. Middle linebacker Alexander LaVoy hopes to be a promising addition at middle linebacker, however, and could help the defense.
3) Who’s will replace House?
No. 1 cornerback Davon House was scooped up in last April’s NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. The Aggies secondary does have numbers, however, and seems to have some skill as well. Jonte Green has the ability to replace House as the team's No. 1 coverman and the 6-foot-2 Jeremy Harris is big and can run. Courtney Viney and Darien Johnson should see the field as well.
4) Andrew Manley
The Aggies are putting their eggs in Manley’s basket, a young quarterback who played last year as a freshman. There’s no denying the sophomore’s talent, a big kid with a strong arm. But he needs to be consistent and show he can lead he team. The Aggie offense has some weapons and, with a highly effective Manley, this team should be able to score some points.
5) Being competitive
The Aggies slogan this year is ‘believe and compete.’ It's fitting for a team that needs to at least be in football games in 2011. Last year the Aggies played hard, it just didn't translate on the scoreboard, where the they were blown out regularly. This year the Aggies have to at least be in games with a chance to win down the stretch. If NMSU can enter the fourth quarters of most games within 10 points, it would be a step in the right direction. Then they can really see where they stack up.