Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Battle of sophomore QBs

This week’s Aggie football opener features two sophomore quarterbacks under center.

For NMSU it’s Andrew Manley, a big player with a strong arm. Andrew’s talent is undeniable, although he needs to play at a high level consistently. If he does so, the Aggie offense should be the best its been during DeWayne Walker’s three-year tenure. Andrew is one of the key elements — along with the health of the offensive line and Robert Clay — to this entire unit reaching it's ceiling.

And then there’s Ohio’s Tyler Tettleton, the son of former Major League Baseball catcher Mickey Tettleton. Ohio has run a spread offense in recent years and that’s not expected to change. Although the team might not feature as much run-option this year as it has in the past.

Both of these teams have weapons offensively.

But the play of both young quarterbacks will play a big role in deciding the outcome of Saturday’s showdown.

Position-by-position breakdown: linebackers

We continue our position-by-position breakdown of the New Mexico State Aggies football team with a look at their secondary.

You can view the other position previews by clicking on the following links: Quaterbacks; Running backs; Wide receivers; Offensive line; Defensive line.

Similar to the front-four, the linebacking unit has to step up if the Aggies expect to be better than a season ago.

Expect Butte Community College transfer Alexander LaVoy to start in the middle. LaVoy is a big body — 6-foot-2, 230 pounds — who shows good footwork and runs well. He made plays in pass coverage during August practices which was a weakness for the Aggie linebackers last season.

LaVoy needs to be a consistent tackler and shed blocks better, although it seems he’s an upgrade at the position.

At weakside linebacker, junior B.J. Adolpho will get the starting nod again. Adolpho was raw last year but also has potential to be a solid player in the Aggie defense.

Sophomore Bryan Bonilla was getting snaps at weakside linebacker during August practices.

Last year’s starting middle Boyblue Aeolua could still see time while sophomores Anthony Joyner and Dylan Davis are expected to push for playing time this year and be contributors.

With the absences at defensive line, Walker indicated the team could play more 3-4 defensive sets this season while the team is expected to blitz more often.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I like the Aggie offense...concerned about the team’s defense

I’ve been on the record saying I like the Aggie offense this year.

I am concerned about the team’s defense, however.

For the highlights: I think defensive coordinator Dale Lindsey is a good coach and I like the team’s secondary — there’s numbers and there’s talent.

But — and I’ve been beating this like a drum — what are they going to do on the defensive line? Losing three starters up front would be tough on any team, but particularly one where the defensive line was a deficiency the year prior. This unit has to be adequate this year, but I have my doubts. Particularly during the second half of games and the second half of the season when players will inevitably wear down.

The Aggies need a push from the defensive tackle position this year. The team’s two-deep has NMSU starting Dejuan Yates and David Mahoney inside, backed up by Mark Brown and Walton Taumoepeau. Augafa Vauulu and Tommy Stuart, two projected starters, are both out for the year.

The linebacker position could be underrated. But as I wrote on a previous post, middle linebacker Alexander LaVoy needs to be a consistent tackler. I do believe he will be an upgrade here and come on as the season unfolds.

I think the Aggies can average 10 more points per game — which would put them at just over 25 per contest — if everything goes as planned.

There offense should be improved with a good starting five on the line, depth at wide receiver, a possible workhorse running back in Robert Clay and the precocious Andrew Manley at quarterback. The starters up front need to stay healthy, as does Clay, and Manley needs to reach his potential consistently.

But I do have concerns in regards to them stopping other teams.

Week 1 should be a high-scoring affair against the Ohio Bobcats.

Depth chart for Saturday night's Aggie vs. Ohio game

NMSU Aggies
Aggie offense
WR 1 Taveon Rogers, Jr. 6-0, 188
13 Kemonte Bateman, Jr. 6-1, 185
LT 74 Davonte Wallace, So. 6-4, 272
62 Mike Grady, Sr. 6-3, 306
LG 71 Maveu Heimuli, Jr. 6-4, 338
55 Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, Fr. 6-2, 267
C 72 Sioeli Fakalata, Sr. 6-3, 340
50 Zachary Rockhold, Jr. 6-0, 272
RG 78 Andrew Kersten, Jr. 6-6, 305
77 Houston Clemente, Fr. 6-1, 285
RT 76 Aundre McGaskey, Sr. 6-6, 290
73 Faison McKinnis, Fr. 6-7, 300
WR 7 Todd Lee, Jr. 5-9, 160
4 Austin Franklin, Fr. 6-2, 175
TE 85 Jackson Kaka, Fr. 6-4, 210
15 Trevor Walls, Jr. 6-5, 232
HB 3 Kenny Turner, Jr. 5-10, 192
80 Joseph Matthews, Fr. 6-1, 175
RB 28 Robert Clay, Jr. 5-10, 192
29 Victor Johnson, Jr. 5-11, 223
QB 8 Andrew Manley, So. 6-3, 223
2 Matt Christian, Sr. 6-3, 223
K 18 Tyler Stampler, Jr. 5-10, 173
P 42 Jake Caparo, So. 6-1, 214

Aggie defense
DE 90 David Nuimatalolo, Sr. 6-2, 247
93 Sean Brown, Jr. 6-5, 253
NT 58 Dejuan Yates, Sr. 6-2, 272
95 Mark Brown, Fr. 6-0, 292
DT 98 David Mahoney, Sr. 6-3, 280
92 Walton Taumoepeau, Jr. 6-3, 300
DE 48 Pierre Fils, Sr. 6-3, 240
99 Stephen Meredith, Fr. 6-4, 240
LB 53 Bryan Bonilla, Fr. 6-1, 217
68 Anthony Joyner, So. 6-2, 232
LB 9 Alexander LaVoy, Jr. 6-2, 230
47 Boyblue Aoelua, Sr. 5-10, 234
LB 36 B.J. Adolpho, Jr. 5-11, 224
32 Dylan Davis, So. 6-0, 230
LC 7 Courtney Viney, Sr. 5-9, 167
10 Jeremy Harris, Jr. 6-2, 180
FS 2 Ben Bradley, Sr. 5-10, 184
5 George Callendar, So. 6-1, 196
SS 3 Donyae Coleman, So. 5-10, 187
8 Justin Smith, So. 6-2, 197
KR 1 Taveon Rogers, Jr. 6-0, 188
PR 4 Austin Franklin, Fr. 6-2, 175

Ohio Bobcats
Bobcats offense
WR 15 Riley Dunlop, Sr. 6-2, 195
17 Bakari Bussey, Jr. 6-2, 206
WR 3 Donte Foster, So. 6-1, 186
16 Jerry Gross, Sr. 6-1, 183
LT 79 A.J. Strum, Sr. 6-5, 296
74 John Prior, So. 6-6, 289
LG 66 Jon Lechner, So. 6-5, 339
52 Mark Smith, So. 6-3, 270
C 65 Sklyer Allen, Jr. 6-3, 290
76 J.D. Bales, Jr. 6-5, 296
RG 77 Eric Herman, Jr. 6-4, 313
63 Sam Johnson, So. 6-3, 304
RT 78 Joe Flading, Sr. 6-4, 290
60 Ryan McGrath, So. 6-6, 298
TE 88 Jordan Thompson, Jr. 6-4, 247
83 Zac Clark, Sr. 6-3, 262
WR 7 LaVon Brazill, Sr. 5-11, 191
16 Jerry Gross, Sr. 6-1, 183
TB 8 Donte Harden, Sr. 5-10, 183
20 Ryan Boykin, So. 6-1, 218
QB 4 Tyler Tettleton, So. 5-11, 206
5 Phil Bates, Sr. 6-2, 226
K 49 Matt Weller, Jr. 6-0, 205
P 41 Paul Hershey, Sr. 6-3, 198

Bobcats defense
DE 99 Curtis Meyers, Sr. 6-2, 262
97 Nic Barber, So. 6-3, 233
NG 93 Neal Huynh, Jr. 6-3, 303
98 Jeff King, Sr. 6-1, 275
DT 89 Carl Jones, Jr. 6-0, 265
94 Corey Hasting, Jr. 6-1, 259
DE 90 Tremayne Scott, Jr. 6-3, 247
97 Nic Barber, So. 6-3, 233
LB 30 Eric Benjamin, Sr. 5-11, 216
34 Jelani Woseley, Jr. 6-1, 209
LB 47 Noah Keller, Sr. 6-1, 246
14 Jay Edwards, Sr. 6-0, 242
LB 46 Alphonso Lewis, Jr. 6-1, 208
10 A.J. Grady, Fr. 6-1, 204
CB 4 Omar Leftwich, Jr. 6-1, 208
26 Mose Denton, Jr. 6-1, 195
FS 13 Gerald Moore, Jr. 6-1, 201
27 Josh Kristoff, Fr. 6-0, 192
SS 23 Xavier Hughes, So. 6-1, 160
35 Nathan Carpenter, Fr. 5-9, 152
CB 18 Travis Carrie, Jr. 5-11, 203
2 Jamil Shaw, So. 6-0, 208

Monday, August 29, 2011

5 keys for the Aggies going into 2011

A look at the five keys for the New Mexico State Aggie football team going into 2011....

1) Health
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.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Position-by-position breakdown: defensive line

We have previewed the Aggies, position by position, going into their Week 1 game this Saturday against Ohio.

So far we have taken a look at the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and offensive line.

Today, we shift our attention to the defensive side of the ball, starting with the defensive line.

Defensive line

This unit has to play better than a season ago, as the Aggies recorded just nine sacks and gave up 207 yards rushing per game.

Those chances decreased in late July, when it was reported that starting senior defensive end Donte Savage and sophomore defensive tackle Augafa Vaaulu were academically ineligible for the upcoming season.

Then starting defensive tackle Tommy Stuart went down the first day of August practices with a torn ACL and will miss the year as well.

Such absences will take an area of weakness and make it even thinner for the Aggies.

Pierre Fils, who had a team-high seven sacks two years ago, will line up at end this year while shifting inside on passing downs.

David Niumatalolo, true freshman Stephen Meredith and junior college transfer Sean Brown will also to see snaps at defensive end.

The defensive tackle position will now see senior David Mahoney, junior college transfers Walton Taumoepeau and Lance Cooley, and senior Dejuan Yates all part of the four-man rotation.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thoughts following Week 1 of prep football season

Following the opening weekend of high school football, I have concerns about Mayfield and Las Cruces High on the prep gridiron.

But I also think both will be fine teams this year when it’s all said and done.

The Trojans dodged a bullet in their opener against Chapin, winning 28-27 after a missed Huskies extra point came from 34 yards out following a penalty.

MHS was winning 28-7 in the third quarter. Did they let off the gas?

I wouldn’t be surprised if that played a factor, and the fact that Chapin had enough talent to rally also played into the comeback. It’s uncharacteristic for the Trojans to let a team back into a game like that, let alone in Week 1, as MHS is typically a very well-prepared program.

What we know about Mayfield: They still have an experienced quarterback in Axten Franzoy and a gamebreaker at running back in Ricky Milks. We believe their defense will be all right. That, and the fact they won their opener, which, you know, is nice.

What has to be answered: Do the Trojans have enough size on the line and enough playmakers at wide receiver to continue holding the No. 1 spot in the state?


As for Las Cruces High, the Bulldawgs were leading El Paso El Dorado 17-7 late in the third quarter, only to lose 26-23 in overtime.

LCHS was flagged for close to 20 penalties and quarterback Devin Perez turned the ball over three times. Look no further than those factors as to why they lost the game.

That and the fact El Dorado moved the ball on the Bulldawgs defense down the stretch.

El Dorado is like Chapin — one of El Paso’s better teams — and LCHS had its chances at winning the game.

Unfortunately, they didn’t.

What we know about Las Cruces High: Offensively, they have the talent to score points. That shouldn’t be an issue in 2011.

What has to be answered: Were Perez’s three turnovers an aberration, or a sign of things to come? That, and how will the defense hold up this season?


And on Friday night, the Oñate game was brutal.

Simply put, the Knights were overmatched by a bigger and far superior Franklin program.

Oñate is small, shallow in depth and inexperienced from a playing and coaching standpoint.

But I did like the offensive scheme first-year head coach Caleb Hull is implementing. The Knights showed they can run the ball while mixing in the pass. They spread the field and were more entertaining. That does mean something.

I would like the know who’s scheduling for this poor team. Franklin, at Americas, at Cleveland to open the season? How can the Knights build confidence against such a slate of games?

Further down the line there are some opponents that OHS should match up with. Just not early in the year.

What we know about Oñate: This team has a long way to go.

What has to be answered: Is there enough talent, depth and size on the roster and can they be competitive later in the season?


So there you have it.

For the record, Week 1 had some intriguing scores throughout the state — La Cueva appearing to struggle on offense in a 16-6 win over Volcano Vista; Clovis barely squeaking by Alamogordo 20-19; and Gadsden nearly tripping up Hobbs in a 24-21 loss were a handful that caught the eye.

The point is that opening games can be an anomaly.

I think Mayfield and Las Cruces High will still be fine football teams this year.
The Knights are building.

Oh, and the annual Trojans vs. Bulldawgs showdown — on Nov. 4 this year — won’t be a battle of unbeatens.

Today, we do know that much.

Week 1 prep football scores

Friday’s Scores
By The Associated Press

Artesia 35, Lovington 14
Aztec 40, Los Lunas 27
Belen 48, Deming 21
Capitan 34, Hagerman 31
Carlsbad 28, Roswell 24
Carrizozo 50, Foothill 0
Chaparral 20, San Elizario, Texas 0
Cleveland 49, EP Bel Air, Texas 12
Clovis 20, Alamogordo 19
Clovis Christian 37, Dora 0
Dulce 55, Tohatchi 0
EP Franklin, Texas 54, Onate 14
Escalante 18, Magdalena 0
Farmington 48, Gallup 8
Fort Sumner 32, NMMI 0
Goddard 33, Rio Rancho 25
Grants 50, Capital 0
Hobbs 24, Gadsden 21
Hot Springs 34, Tularosa 6
La Cueva 16, Volcano Vista 6
Lake Arthur 59, Vaughn 6
Menaul 58, Reserve 12
Mora 56, Wingate 6
Moriarty 35, Bernalillo 0
Mountainair 38, Gateway Christian 24
Piedra Vista 66, Santa Fe 26
Portales 26, Robertson 7
Raton 38, Clayton 25
Ruidoso 54, Cobre 0
Santa Rosa 33, Estancia 14
Socorro 35, West Las Vegas 8
St. Michael’s 42, Bloomfield 8
Tatum 28, Animas 12
Texico 34, Dexter 7
Tucumcari 21, Hatch Valley 7
Valley 33, Del Norte 25
Willcox, Ariz. 24, Lordsburg 6

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hall Jr. will transfer to Tiffin University

Aggie running back James Hall Jr. will transfer to Tiffin University in Tiffin, Ohio.

Hall didn’t play a role for the Aggies the past two years, but the fact he was a star at Las Cruces High — he led the team to the 2008 state title game — made him a recognizable face within the program and in the community.

That, and the fact that Hall is a good kid. He’s going to a place where he’ll take the field and play football.

We wish him all the best.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Position-by-position breakdown: offensive line

We continue our position-by-position breakdown on the New Mexico State Aggies with the offensive line.

So far we have reviewed the team's quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.

Offensive line

If this unit can remain healthy — something it couldn’t do last year — it should be OK.

It starts inside, where Sioeli Fakalata appears fully recovered from a broken leg that sidelined him for the entire 2010 season.

Fakalata is listed as the Aggies starting center this year after lining up at guard the past two seasons. At his best the 6-foot-3, 340 pound Fakalata is the Aggies top lineman, a hard worker and agile power blocker in the running game.

Next to Fakalata inside will be junior Maveu Heimuli and junior college transfer Andrew Kersten.

El Paso native Davonte Wallace was an above-average freshman last year and will return as the starting left tackle.

Right tackle Aundre McGaskey is a serviceable player entering his senior season.

The Aggies top backup is center Mike Grady, a starter the past three years.

True freshman Valerian Ume-Ezeoke lined up at center during August practices and flashed ability.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Prep football kicks off Thursday

Lets take a look at the three Class 5A schools from Las Cruces and their chances in the season’s opening games.

Chapin at Mayfield, Thursday, 7 p.m.

Last year the Trojans absolutely pummeled Chapin 51-8 in the season opener in El Paso.

One would think Mayfield could handle them again, this time at home at the Field of Dreams.

While Chapin looks like one of the better Class 4A teams in El Paso, Mayfield is ranked No. 1 in New Mexico and is coming off yet another state title. I expect them to take care of business on their home field Thursday.

Las Cruces High at El Dorado, Thursday, 7 p.m.

This is a tricky game and has the potential to be a very good game.

LCHS looks loaded and should have a strong season, but the last time they faced El Dorado at the SAC two year ago they lost 48-3.

El Dorado loses some key players on the offensive side of the ball from a season ago — namely wide receiver M.J. McFarland, who committed to the University of Texas — but still has athletes and numbers.

I expect Las Cruces High to win here, but it’s far from a gimme.

Franklin at Oñate, Friday, 7 p.m.

Boy, Caleb Hull and the Knights sure drew a tough Week 1 opponent.

Franklin is a good team and last year beat OHS 49-2 in El Paso.

Hull will coach his first game at Oñate. What are the expectations here?

For one, be competitive. It would be nice if the Knights fought and battled hard against a better football team.

No. 2, implementing a new, entertaining system on both sides of the ball. Expect Oñate to spread the field on offense — similar to Las Cruces High but with a bit more passing — and play a base 3-4 defense.

With that being said, I just can’t see the Knights winning here. They’ll have their hands full with the Cougars.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Savage, Vaaulu still practicing

If anyone has gone out to practice this August, you will see Donte Savage and Augafa Vaaulu practicing with the team despite being academically ineligible.

Well, they’re redshirting this season so they’re allowed to participate in practices.

Just wanted to clarify that in case some were wondering.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Q&A with head coach DeWayne Walker

Had a quick question-and-answer session with head coach DeWayne Walker following practice last week. Here it is....

On expectations this year
It’s just being competitive. Everybody can talk about bowl games, everybody can talk about winning seasons. I don’t think we’re to that level yet. We got to worry about getting games to the fourth quarter and trying to figure about winning games in the fourth quarter. We can’t worry about that other stuff. Once we’re able to start getting more competitive and getting games into the fourth quarter and winning some of those games, then now you can start talking about the other stuff. But we got to prove that we’re competitive first.

Is there any additional pressure on you going into Year 3?
I think I’m maturing more as a head coach. I think I’m understanding more my situation. I don’t make those decisions. All I can do is try and improve this football team and try to put this program in a better position than it was in when I got here. I’m just worrying about taking one game at a time, improving, and whatever happens from there, happens.

Will there be improvements on defense?
The one thing I want more out of the defense is we got to be more blue collar. When you look at our offense, the offensive line, our receivers, our quarterbacks — there’s talent. There’s enough talent. Now they have to execute and they have to be productive. But on defense, I want 11 scrappy guys that are going to play together and play as a total defense. And I think we have the capabilities of being that way. I think, and we should, be improved on defense.

How about the assistant coaching staff?
I love coach (Doug) Martin. I think he’s brought a lot to the offense. I think guys have a good working relationship. I think the staff is getting more comfortable with each other. Everybody knows there roles. We have two strong personalities on both sides of the ball. I know I’m more animated this year. I’ve stepped my game up in that area just because of a lot of offseason self check and really taking this team, they’re going to respond to my lead. I like how they’re responding so far. I just gotta make sure I eat three meals a day and keep the energy going.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday scrimmage

Some thoughts from Saturday’s Aggie football scrimmage....

The team went light on tackling, with defenders not going low on ball carriers — they were wrapping up high and keeping them off the ground. The team was looking to avoid injuries.

I thought quarterback Andrew Manley looked good.

Manley connected on some long passes — he hit Taveon Rogers deep downfield when the receiver beat George Callender in coverage; Manley lofted a long pass down the left side to Kenny Turner — good ball, well placed — that went through Turner’s hands; then the quarterback hit Kemonte Bateman over the middle for a touchdown from about 20 yards out.

On all the above throws, Manley was well protected by the offensive line. And, while he’s a young player still learning the college game, Manley throws a good looking deep ball.

Middle linebacker Alexander LaVoy needs to be a more consistent tackler and get off blocks better. On any team, in any walk of football, the middle linebacker has to bring down the ball carrier consistently.

Running back Victor Johnson has stood out during August practices. He’s a big back — 5-foot-11, 223 pounds.

I do think Robert Clay needs to stay healthy and be the team’s workhorse at running back. The guys behind him right now — James Hall Jr., Brandon Betancourt and Victor Johnson — have all looked good this summer but are unproven.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Position-by-position breakdown: wide receivers

Previously I broke down the quarterback position and then running back.

Tonight I look at the wide receivers for the New Mexico State Aggies, a position that has been bolstered....

Wide receivers

The Aggies have upgraded here over the past two seasons with a deeper, more talented unit in 2011.

Taveon Rogers was the team’s top target in the second half of last season and remains a speedy threat on the outside.

Turner, who will see him get carries out of the backfield and motion into the slot on passing downs, should provide maturity and toughness inside.

Two newcomers — junior college transfer Kemonte Bateman and true freshman Austin Franklin — have the look of athletic playmakers.

Tight end Jackson Kaka has been a do-it-all threat during August practices and senior wideout Todd Lee should provide veteran savvy.

Rounding out the depth chart is tight end Trevor Walls — who has the look of a pass catcher — and wide receivers Adam Shapiro and Joseph Matthews.

If Manley has time to throw the ball, he has weapons that can do something with it.

Quick hits from Friday’s practice

Trevor Walls continues to stand out as a pass-catching tight end. Walls is a big target and has very good hands. It seems like he catches just about everything thrown his way.

Wide receiver Kemonte Bateman made some outstanding catches during Friday’s session including a juggling one-hander on a long ball down the left sideline.


True freshman Andy Cunningham, an offensive linemen, is out with a broken left leg.

Standing at 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, Cunningham was going to be a backup on the O-line.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Position-by-position breakdown: running backs

We continue our position-by-position breakdown of the Aggie football team with the running back position. You can read about the quarterbacks by clicking here.

Running backs
Robert Clay started down the stretch of last season for NMSU and endeared himself to the Aggie faithful.

Standing at 5-foot-10, 192 pounds, Clay hit the hole hard, was a tough runner inside and had just enough speed to be a threat out of the backfield.

Under new offensive coordinator Doug Martin the Aggies will move to a zone-blocking scheme in the running game that asks the ball carrier to be patient, allow holes to open in front and then pick the correct one to hit.

Clay seems to be a good fit for the system and could be in for a solid year.

Germi Morrison is a junior college recruit who is expected to be a contributor and Kenny Turner, last year’s starting running back, is expected to still get carries as a do-it-all player from the Aggies newfound H-back position.

True freshman Brandon Betancourt, a Mayfield High School graduate, has displayed a burst during August camp. He's someone to continue keeping an eye on as practices unfold.

Betancourt impresses, Morrison still out

Brandon Betancourt has had a solid August as a freshman running back in Aggie camp.

The general assumption was that Betancourt — a Mayfield High School graduate — would redshirt this year but he’s pushing for playing time.

As for Germi Morrison, a junior college transfer who was expected to help the Aggie offense this year....He has an injured right foot and hasn't been practicing. He hopes to be out on the field by next week.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Position-by-position breakdown: quarterbacks

Leading up to the season, we will look at the Aggie football team position-by-position on a day-to-day basis.

We start today with the quarterbacks....


This is one unit on the team that supplies intrigue and upside.

Sophomore Andrew Manley is expected to start the 2011 under center after starting four games last year. He completed 63 of 121 pass attempts for 604 yards, with one touchdown and six interceptions.

Statistics aside, Manley is a big body — listed at 6-foot-3, 223 pounds — with a live arm, making him a good prospect.

Far from a running quarterback, Manley needs to continue to work on his pocket mobility — namely his footwork to avoid the inevitable pass rush — and leadership skills.

Senior Matt Christian is a steady player and gritty leader who knows how to win.

Either way, the Aggies could do worse at the most important position on the field.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Key games: Contests that will set the tone for the Aggies

What are the contests to circle on the calendar as the New Mexico State Aggies football season nears?
Here’s a look at five key games, as NMSU gets set to embark on the new year.

Sept. 3, vs. Ohio
This is the most important game of the year for the Aggies, their season opener at home against the Bobcats. A win here for NMSU will give the team a boost of confidence and get their season off on the right foot. It won’t be an easy task, however. Ohio is a tough team — a bowl outfit last season led by former Nebraska coach Frank Solich. They’re expected to be good once again, meaning NMSU will likely have to spring an upset.

Sept. 17, vs. UTEP
The last two years have seen the Aggies get pounded by the Miners. Things need to get turned around — UTEP is largely unproven heading into this year and NMSU needs to keep face against their chief rival. And it’s similar to the Ohio game — a win here, and the Aggies can feel good about their prospects in 2011. A loss will further hammer home the fact that NMSU has a long way to go.

Sept. 24, at San Jose State
The Aggies only WAC win last year came against the Spartans on a last-second touchdown. This year the Aggies travel to SJSU against a Spartans team that should be improved — despite the victory last year NMSU was picked to finish behind San Jose State in the WAC preseason polls. Conference wins are hard to come by for the Aggies, but their league opener this year against SJSU is one they can get.

Oct. 15, vs. Idaho
The Vandals have been a better team in recent years under head coach Robb Akey, but will be vulnerable on the road in this mid-October game. It’s a winnable one for the Aggies, who should stack up with the Vandals.

Dec. 3, vs. Utah State
The final game of the year for NMSU features a home game against their northern rivals. NMSU beats Utah State two years ago in Las Cruces before losing a tight game on the road last season. Again, a winnable game for the Aggies against another team from the WAC underbelly.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Aggies Sunday scrimmage

Some news and notes from Sunday’s Aggie football scrimmage:

• It looked like the offense was ahead of the defense.

The defensive line got pushed around in the running game although the linebackers seemed to play well. Alexander LaVoy can play on this level and will be a welcomed addition to the team at middle linebacker.

• Wide receiver Todd Lee got off to a good start in the scrimmage, making three grabs on the offense’s opening possession including a long touchdown pass down the right side. Cornerback Courtney Viney rolled up in coverage and the safety didn’t get over, letting Lee get deep for the score.

• Freshman wide receiver Austin Franklin made a one-handed grab in the back of the endzone with a defensive back draped all over him.

Quarterback Matt Christian made a nice throw on the play — inside the 10-yard line he lofted the ball high and to Franklin’s back shoulder.

And the catch was nice, of course.

“The corner was holding me and I had to find a way to catch the ball,” Franklin said. “I just stretched my long arm out and caught it.”

• Speaking of quarterbacks, I think the Aggies can win with either one.

I think they’re both close right now — no denying Andrew Manley’s potential, although the same could be said about Matt Christian’s senior experience. I think you could go either way at this point, although this team needs wins more than anything else.

• Former Mayfield running back Brandon Betancourt has looked good in fall camp thus far.

Another backup running back, Germi Morrison, isn’t practicing with the team. Head coach DeWayne Walker said Morrison was out with a foot injury. Morrison was a junior college recruit who is expected to help the Aggies this year.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Aggies have the look of a deep wide receiving corps

The New Mexico State Aggie football team has the look of a deep wide receiving corps in 2011.

The core players:

• Taveon Rogers — speedster with big play ability

• Kenny Turner — versatile H-back who displays maturity and toughness inside

• Austin Franklin — true freshman athlete who can make plays

• Kemonte Bateman — junior college transfer who is also a fluid athlete

•Jackson Kaka — all-around tight end as a freshman

• Todd Lee — seasoned player with veteran savvy

Franklin has impressed me during fall practices thus far. And don’t forget about freshmen Joseph Matthews and Adam Shapiro, who could get some snaps as well.

The Aggie offense has some weapons this year and the receiving unit is big a part of it.

Of course, the offense needs to stay healthy, starting along the offensive line and at running back with Robert Clay. But if things stay intact, the Aggies will score more points in 2011.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Stuart officially out

Head coach DeWayne Walker said Tommy Stuart would miss the season for the Aggie football team after suffering a right knee injury at practice last Saturday.

The Aggies defensive tackle rotation will now feature Walton Taumoepeau, David Mahoney, Dejaun Yates and Lance Cooley, a junior college transfer from Hudson Valley Community College.

We’ve written about the defensive line at length so everyone knows what the loss means to the Aggies. They need a productive defensive line in 2011.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday’s practice

The offense seemed to outplay the defense at Wednesday’s Aggie football practice.

The Aggies have more depth at wide receiver. Austin Franklin had a good day and Taveon Rogers made a diving grab on a long pass into the endzone. Todd Lee and Kemonte Bateman made good grabs as well, Bateman on a deep pass downfield.

Newcomers to watch if you come out

Here are some new players on the Aggie roster that have looked good early in fall camp.

Alexander LaVoy
— Big middle linebacker has to play big. LaVoy is a big body — listed at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds — and made some plays in coverage.

Kemonte Bateman
— Junior college transfer could be a playmaker at wide receiver.

Austin Franklin
— Versatile athlete has a good Wednesday session at wideout.

Jeremy Harris — Aggies are looking for a cornerback to take over for the departed Davon House. Harris could be that man.

Valerian Ume-Ezeoke — This true freshman showed good footwork on the offensive line during Wednesday drills.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Walker’s son on NMSU roster

Kevan Walker, son of New Mexico State Aggie head football coach DeWayne Walker, is on the NMSU roster.

Kevan Walker, a wide receiver, was a part of the Oregon State program two years ago and Southern Illinois last year. He will not play for the Aggies in 2011.

Another interesting name on the NMSU roster from the first day of fall practice was Courtney Viney, a senior defensive back transfer from UCLA.


I think the Aggies have some depth and talent at running back.

Robert Clay isn’t flashy but he runs hard and plays well.

Kenny Turner is at H-back, but he will still get carries as a do-it-all talent.

Germi Morrison could be a nice player as a junior college transfer and I think Mayfield’s Brandon Betancourt has potential.

At wide receiver, Taveon Rogers made a nice grab on a long pass down the sidelines today and looks to be a No. 1 target.


Wrote a story about defensive tackle Tommy Stuart going down with a right knee injury. He’ll have an MRI on Monday.

It looked serious at the time it happened — he had to be helped off the ground and carted off the field. Stuart said after practice that he was fine, though, and he was walking and putting weight on the leg. Stuart injured the same knee at the midway point of last year, an injury which sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

The Aggies are already down two lineman and really need Stuart to recover. They just can’t afford to lose players on a defensive line that simply needs to play better in 2011.

These losses might not show early in the season, but as the schedule goes along players will wear down and injuries will happen.

Simply put, players are going to have to step up across the board and stay healthy, a tough task in a long and physical season.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Don’t count the University of Montana out of the WAC picture just yet.

It would be a great catch for the conference — an established football school in the Football Championship Subdivision, a stadium that seats over 25,000 and a program with a solid fan base.

It would create a good buzz around a WAC that desperately needs it.

The WAC won’t go hunting for a new school until after the new year. Last year they courted Montana in March, only to see the school back away. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the league make another pitch at the Grizzlies.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Davon House

Saw that he signed a four year, $2.34 million deal with the Green Bay Packers.

And Seth Smith and Kyle Nelson are still on training camp rosters with San Francisco and New Orleans, respectively.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Walker at the WAC

Quotes and notes from DeWayne Walker's press conference at last week's WAC media conference.

Some of Walker's comments to the print media:

On the Aggies playing better defense this year
“We got to take the ball away….(Stop) the run. I think we're getting players. I think our front's going to be better….Alex Lavoy, one of the linebackers we recruited. More defensive backs. We're gonna be better athletically. I think we have more depth in the secondary. Linebackers. We have to do some things to help our offense too. We just can't focus on trying to outscore people every week either.”

On the importance of quarterback play in the WAC
“It's key. I know when we (played) Boise a couple years ago I was talking to coach (Chris) Peterson and he said ‘coach, you gotta have a quarterback in this league.’ I think we have one. Andrew (Manley) is our future. I think he's mature enough to handle the pressure. How he goes, I think is how our football team goes. We think we have our quarterback for now and for the future.”

On the WAC and a possible shift to defensive football in the league
“That wouldn't bother me. In this league, I was telling our defensive coaches we have to take 14 points off the board and offensively we have to put 14 points on the board. That puts you in the mid-to-high 20s. If we're able to average in the high 20s and keep the points on defense in the mid-20s, we can be competitive. “

On college football players getting legally paid
“We're making so much money off these kids, especially at the BCS level. I'm in favor of just trying to figure out….just try to figure out a way to make sure out kids aren't hungry. That's the main thing I'm always concerned with….I'm not saying we have to give them money to buy fancy shoes or fancy clothes, cars and all that. At the same token….the food part of it is always an issue.“

On Texas-San Antonio and Texas State joining the WAC in 2012
“I think you can look at it two ways. Any time you loose teams like Boise, Nevada, Fresno, Hawaii, those are very good football teams. As we grow our program, you'd like to be able to prepare yourself for those teams. At the same token, will it give New Mexico State a chance to be more competitive? Sure it is. Sure it is….At the same time, you have to play who's on your schedule. I think from a recruiting standpoint….I know the class we signed this past season, all the high school kids came from Texas, for the most part, and our junior college kids came from California. So Texas is definitely, not only high school kids but also junior college schools, we're going to have to do a good job trying to get the better players out of Texas.”

If Boise State wearing blue uniforms on their blue turf proved to be an unfair advantage for the Broncos
“We never looked at it that way… took us four hours (of film study) to figure out what Boise was trying to do (while some other teams it took less time). It was a little distraction — blue on blue — but….we weren't really focused on that distraction. It was tough enough trying to stop them.”


OK, what stood out here.

I really think the Aggies are a better team this year. They probably were a little overrated by their followers going into last year and they're probably underrated going into this year. I don't think they were as bad as the final scores indicated last season. The Aggies compete on every play and play hard, it just means little when the team is down 20.

I think Walker's comment — “we have to take 14 points off the board and offensively we have to put 14 points on the board. That puts you in the mid-to-high 20s. If we're able to average in the high 20s and keep the points on defense in the mid-20s, we can be competitive” — is a fair goal to shoot for. This team just has to be in games going into the fourth quarter before anything else.

I really thought the Aggies could push for four or five wins this year and surprise some of their followers. That was before defensive linemen Donte Savage and Augafa Vaaulu were ruled out because of academics. It's a big blow to an area of weakness from a season ago. Now that unit will have to stay productive and completely injury-free.

But I also know the Aggies are going to be better than last year from a final-result standpoint. Again, they weren't as bad as the numbers indicated last year and have to continue to move towards playing competitive football.