I wasn't surprised the Aggies lost to the Ohio on Saturday night. I was expecting a 34-21 score, they gave up 10 more points than that and scored 24 on the evening.
I was not surprised by anything, other than the play of the offensive line. And the Aggies special teams weren't good — a missed short field goal and a punt return for a touchdown. If you want to read my gamer from Saturday night, click here. My column that appeared in today's Sun-News, click here. And my blog entry following Saturday's game, click here.
The Aggies will win two or three games this season, in my estimation. Four is possible, but it will take some major improvements on the team, most importantly the play of the defensive line. And this is going to be difficult because the Aggies don't have the bodies here to really do anything about it. This is why the loss of Donte Savage and Augafa Vaaulu were so critical prior to August camp, then the injury to Tommy Stuart piled on. It took a weak area and made it weaker and now the Aggies can't even sub on the defensive front. It will haunt them throughout the year and during the second half of games. Tough spot to be in and it affects he entire defense.
The team was beat on special teams. Taveon Rogers' kick return was a bright spot. Tyler Stampler missed a 27-yard field goal and the team gave up a 65-yard punt return TD. Jake Capraro had one glaring punt — a 31 yarder following the Aggies first possession that gave Ohio the ball at the NMSU 45. For a team outmanned like the Aggies, they have to win the special team's battle. They have to capitalize on makeable field goal attempts and win field position. I will say that Ohio has an excellent punter, kickoff man and return man and are notoriously strong on special teams under Frank Solich. The punter and kickoff man were a remarkable tandem on one team.
I do believe if the Aggie offensive line remains healthy it will make the necessary adjustments and be OK. And with that being said, the Aggies will have to outscore teams this year to get some wins. In my estimation, this team will have to average four offensive touchdowns per game. And I think they can do that.
Andrew Manley delivered the ball well downfield the other night and the receivers are good. This came on a night where the offensive line couldn't block — specifically in the first half — and in turn the team couldn't run the ball. So I think the offense can be solid this season.
Lets look at some other games from Week 1 and what it means for the Aggies.
• They can beat New Mexico — they have the past two years — which lost 14-10 in a hard-fought game against Colorado State. The Lobos don't know how to win, plain and simple, although I do like their running back James Wright. They're going to be hungry after NMSU beat them the past two seasons. And I do think the Lobos have more talent this year.
• UTEP had to come back to beat Stony Brook 31-24 in overtime. This was nothing short of a shocker.
The Miners were missing three offensive linemen — tackle James Nelson and guards Jerel Watkins and James Robinson — and couldn't run the ball.
They picked it up in the second half to beat Stony Brook and are a work in progress.
The last two years the Aggies have been beaten badly by the Miners so this year's game is a big one in Las Cruces. I think the Aggies have to beat UTEP.
• San Jose State lost 57-3 to Stanford and are beatable this year when the Aggies open conference at SJSU in Week 4.
• Idaho didn't look good in its loss to Bowling Green on Thursday night.
They're a young team and have lost key players — quarterback Nathan Enderle, who's currently on the Chicago Bears roster; pass catchers Brian Greenwood (wide receiver) and Daniel Hardy (tight end); defensive end Aaron Lavarias; linebacker JoJo Dickson; and safety Shiloh Keo, who was a great player.
Again, after Week 1 the Vandals appear beatable in Las Cruces.
• Utah State played a great game against Auburn, only to lose 42-38 in the closing seconds. It was a heartbreaker and USU gave the game away, leading by 10 with under four minutes remaining.
Still, after the opening week they look to be a real threat in the WAC. Their offensive line was strong against the Tigers and true freshman quarterback Chuckie Keeton looks like a legitimate player — he threw the ball well and can run with it. WAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Bobby Wagner is a star on defense.
It's just Week 1 and we'll see where Auburn goes from here, but it was impressive to see a WAC team play like that against the defending national champions from the SEC.
NMSU hosts Utah State the last week of the season — Dec. 3.
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