Saturday, September 10, 2011

Aggies get huge win over Minnesota

Well, Saturday’s 28-21 win over Minnesota was amazing and much-needed.

This was easily the best-played game for the Aggies during the DeWayne Walker era. The Aggies played four quarters of football, not perfect, but well-executed nonetheless. The Aggies led from start to finish! Amazing.

On top of that, this was the win the program was thirsting for. Yeah, Minnesota is down, but it doesn’t matter. Any time the Aggies can beat a Big Ten team on the road, it’s a great accomplishment — something that hasn’t been done before. It’s a signature win for Walker and the team.

The team played very well in the first half. They scored on the first possession — the Gophers squib kicked it to the 40 yard line to avoid Taveon Rogers, which is to be expected. NMSU took a 7-0 lead on an Andrew Manley to Taveon Rogers TD pass and the team would go up 14-7, 21-7 and eventually 21-14 going into halftime.

This was big. We knew The Aggies could throw the ball on Minnesota and the Gophers aren’t built to play catchup — a run-first, predictable offensive team.

Manley was red-hot early on — 11-for-11, 176 yards, three TDs — and the team flashed its weapons — Rogers deep, Todd Lee short and Robert Clay chugging hard on the ground.

The offensive line made adjustments, moving Mike Grady to starting center and moving freshman Valerian Ume-Ezeoke to guard. The team churned out 133 yards on the ground with Clay running for 97 on 20 carries.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing for me was that the Aggies gambled. They went for it on fourth down and tried an onside kick in the second quarter. The offensive playcalling was solid and they set up the run off the pass. This team has to take chances and they did so on Saturday.

The Aggie defense was huge in the game, and this is a unit that has been maligned for not making progress. The team had two goal line stands, stopped Minnesota on two fourth down attempts and recorded two turnovers. Last year the Aggies couldn’t force a turnover. This year, they have four.

I thought Minnesota lost some momentum when they went to Max Shortell at quarterback. He played the third quarter — starter Marqueis Gray was out with cramps. NMSU was able to get a touchdown and took a 28-14 lead into the fourth.

One other key....Trimming over five minutes off the clock and moving the ball past midfield late in the fourth quarter on a drive that started on the NMSU 1. The Aggies got the ball at their own 1-yard line and moved it out to the Minnesota 46, taking 5:25 off the clock. The ensuing punt put the Gophers at their own 11.

Going forward

Where does NMSU go from here?

I do believe the next four games on NMSU’s schedule are winnable games and the Aggies have a real chance at establishing momentum going forward.

First off, they cannot lay an egg against UTEP this Saturday. They have to play well in front of a sellout crowd — the Minnesota outcome could sell an extra 10,000 seats at the UTEP game.

We know they can beat UNM, San Jose State and Idaho. This is the underbelly of the Aggies schedule and they have a real chance to build confidence and respect going into the second half of the year — when the slate gets tougher.

Can the Aggies be 5-1? Just thinking about it feels weird. I can confidently say if they are, Las Cruces would go nuts.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg


Anonymous said...

YAY NMSU.....HUGGGGGGGGGEEEEE win. Cant describe how big this was. Congrats boys, you deserve it.

Anonymous said...

This is a BiiiiiGGGG win for NMSU FB!!

You mentioned about not laying an egg next week.
The 1999 team went to Arizona St. and beat the #17 Sundevils handily!

The following week, we went to Utep, laid an egg and got trashed!!

Enjoy the win today boys! However, let's get ready for the I-10 Rivlary and let's give Coach Walker his first win over utep!

I still believe this is the year we SWEEP our rivals! Go Aggies!!


Anonymous said...

I was predicting Minnesota laying 70 on the Aggies. Boy am I happy to be wrong and very happy not to have put any money down.

Am looking forward to a competitive game against the Miners. I am hopeful that the Aggies can again play a complete game and that they won't be complacent. The Miners will probably be without their starting QB and definitely at least one other lost in the SMU game. They will be mad and they won't want to lose to NMSU.

Anonymous said...

You do know what a fluke win is don't you Teddy ?

Besides Minnesota isn't exactly a good team right now.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:38,

What does fluke have to do with anything? You weren't here telling everyone before the game the Aggies were going to win a "fluke" game.

Besides, a Big 10 school, any Big 10 school, should beat the likes of the Aggies, UNM, UTEP, and any number of smaller schools without so much as a sweat. The fact that the Aggies had the temerity to actually make a game of it, win or lose, says a lot.

A fluke. Great. Not a fluke. Great. A win is a win is a win is a get the point.