I’m not surprised Andrew Manley got hurt against the UTEP Miners.
He’s been taking a pounding early on this season — very few quarterbacks are going to get hit like that and stay healthy for the duration of the schedule.
Can the offensive playcalling make an adjustment here? It has to. Matt Christian CANNOT get hurt. Lets say this — the team can still win with Matt. They’re going to San Jose State this week. Well, Matt beat San Jose State last year — on a last-minute drive no less. He’s a veteran and I believe he knows how to win. He should have something to prove. He can step in and run the offense.
Things will change for the Aggies and how opposing teams defend the offense. Andrew has a big arm and defenses had to account for that. Expect safeties — who were deep in the defensive backfield with Manley in the game — to line up closer to the line of scrimmage. Cornerbacks who played 10 yards off the line of scrimmage in zone coverage will now play tighter with the NMSU wide receivers.
The Aggie passing attack will likely operate more in the intermediate range — crossing patterns could be incorporated more as well as running backs in the passing game.
With that being said, there are some benefits to Christian being in the game. Again, he’s a vet and will run the offense, he knows what he’s doing. He’s mobile and can get away from the rush. And again, the Aggies have to make adjustments to curtail the rush.
Some things offensive coordinator Doug Martin must be considering. If the team did some of this last week against UTEP they either didn’t do enough of it or didn’t do it well enough. In my estimation, it was both.
• Stop doing five-step drops if its obvious the opposing team is blitzing. Use hot routes and three-step drops and get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands. That was brutal watching the other night. MAKE ADJUSTMENTS. Matt should help here because, again, he’s a veteran player and will know what’s coming his way if the opposition is bringing the blitz. Heck, everyone at Aggie Memorial Stadium on Saturday night could see it coming.
• If something’s working, stick with it. NMSU hit Jackson Kaka the first two passes of the game off play action vs. UTEP, then didn’t go back to it. The Aggies scored in the two-minute drill to end the second quarter against the Miners, then didn’t go back to it in the second half. Why not? IT WORKED. It clearly curtailed the Miners pass rush and it was ran well by Manley.
• Use variation in the running game. Use screens, draws, misdirections and run the ball outside. The Aggie offensive line isn’t overpowering enough to just line up and run over the opposition. It needs help. Plays such as this might get the running game going — it’s been bad this year. And it will take some of the pressure off the quarterback because pass rushers will have to consider such plays and can’t just pin their ears back and rush the backfield. It was too predictable against UTEP.
• If Matt goes down, then the team’s in trouble. His backup is true freshman Travaughn Colwell and then there’s former QB and current tight end Trevor Walls. Does the loss of Manley hurt? Of course it does. He was having a strong year and was improving every game. He improved a TON from last year to this year. He’s a player with potential and someone the program can build around — if healthy. Big loss. But the season is not over. If Christian goes down, it will be. He has an injury history — he missed four games last year and parts of two others because of injury. The team has to be careful how they use him as a runner because he will take the big hit. If he goes down, the Aggies will go down. Keep him upright, keep him healthy. No choice.