Monday, October 31, 2011

Quotes to note

Quotes from Aggie head football coach DeWayne Walker from WAC football teleconference on Monday

On last week's game against Nevada
We looked like we could definitely compete with the top teams in our conference looking at the first half. That was probably the best that we've looked and we really played off each other. Obviously against a offensive team like Nevada you have to be able to match them and we were able to get some stops in the first half. Our offense was really able to match touchdowns when they did score. Felt like we just broke down in the second half, we weren't able to match them in the second half offensively. Too many punts and too many interceptions and defensively we just couldn't hold up. We just couldn't keep us in the game. It was a team failure in the second half but at the token, that's the best we played Nevada since I've been here and coach (Chris) Ault was very complimentary of our performance. I'm not into moral victories but, we definitely made improvement, we've just got to keep going.

On playing Georgia
Well, no rest for the weary. From Hawaii to Nevada to Georgia. This is murderer's row here. We've just got to prepare our team. One thing, we're pretty healthy going into this game so that's going to be a plus for us. We've just got to get our guys to pony up and try to be as competitive as possible and we'll see what happens.

If being bowl eligible is motivation for the team
That's a good question. I know I haven't really gotten to that level. We came into this season where we wanted to be more competitive. I think we're probably another win away, maybe even two wins away to start talking about that piece of it. Right now, we're just trying to get us another victory and once we can get us a couple more, I think that's when the conversation can be taken a little bit more serious.

On getting close to $1 million for playing at Georgia
That's probably a question for our athletic….I would love for all that money to go to football, to be honest with you. But I don't think that's going to happen. That's probably more of a question that probably should be handled with our athletic director. I'm going to stay away from that one.

How do you feel about playing an opponent like Georgia....what are you looking to get out of it
You get a chance to see up front what a good Southeast Conference football team looks like. Kind of get our kids ready to go. We play Fresno State after Georgia so it really gives us a chance to work on some things that we probably will move over when we play Fresno. I just think it's a good test to see our guys fight against a nationally ranked football team. I know my first year we played Ohio State, really we played them pretty good for one half before it got away from us. I just think it's a good challenge for our kids to be able to get into a situation, you know, David versus Goliath.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Looking back: Saturday's Aggies vs. Nevada game

Lets start this post off by saying the halftime adjustments made by Nevada were the key to Saturday's game — a game NMSU lost 48-34.

The Aggies ripped through the Wolf Pack in the first half because Nevada elected to play a lot of man-to-man defense in the secondary without much help from their safeties. They brought the blitz but couldn't get to NMSU quarterback Matt Christian, who threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and Taveon Rogers had six grabs for 177 yards and two TDs. The Aggies couldn't run the ball, and it didn't matter early — they had their way offensively.

The Wolf Pack dropped their safeties to guard against the deep ball in the second half and played more zone coverage.

They were able to get to Christian more and NMSU still couldn't run the ball, taking the play-action pass out of the game.

NMSU gained just 173 yards in the second half while Christian was sacked three times and threw three interceptions.

Did Christian's injury affect his performance? The Aggie offense didn't look very good in the second half and Christian was pressured more and wasn't as decisive with the ball — it could have been Nevada's adjustments, his injured shoulder, or both.

The Aggies didn't run the option often on Saturday and in turn didn't run the ball nearly as effectively — 29 carries for 48 yards — as they have the past four weeks.

I want to say this: I do not think Christian should play next week at Georgia. What for? Someone has to get thrown to the wolves in that one, but it shouldn't be a hurt quarterback. I'm thinking about his health, first and foremost.

I thought Trevor Walls looked good when he stepped in there — I know, it was for just two throws. But he ran the screen pass well to Kenny Turner and hit tight end Jackson Kaka underneath. Gotta give Walls credit, a kid who came to NMSU as a QB and is now the team's tight end. He didn't leave, stuck with it and is still a player on the team.

Just back to Christian quickly — no doubt that he's a gutty performer that has put it on the line for the Aggies. He was on the money in the first half of Saturday's game.

Did the Aggie defense get tired?

I could understand why — they were on the field a lot in the second half.

Nevada ripped off two long runs and it seemed that the pressure on Fajardo tailed off as the game wore on.

Head coach DeWayne Walker said that defensive tackle Walton Taumoepeau couldn't go because of a knee injury and middle linebacker Alexander LaVoy didn't seem to see the field either.

Kicker Tyler Stampler missed two extra points.

The Aggies have looked at backup kicker Brock Baca in recent weeks, why not give him a shot? Could he do worse? He can make an extra point.

The Aggies gave up 683 yards of total offense.

The first half was one of the best two quarters I have seen the Aggies put together. They played right with the Wolf Pack and were on clicking offensively.

They gave Nevada a scare. The Aggies are playing in closer games and it would be nice if they could get one down the stretch of their season.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Friday, October 28, 2011

Predicting Saturday’s Aggies vs. Nevada game

Here we go...Our weekly prediction.

I think the No. 1 key to this game is going to be the health of NMSU quarterback Matt Christian. He will start under center and his ability to run the option has been a BIG key in NMSU’s success in recent weeks. Surely, Christian will have to be careful and guard against the big hit. It could very well take away from part of NMSU’s attack.

Is Nevada what they were last year? No. But they’re still a good team and they run the pistol with running back Mike Ball and freshman quarterback Cody Fajardo. Both look like good players. The Aggies will see a heavy dosage of the ground game on Saturday.

NMSU will have to play mistake-free in this one. Christian cannot get hurt and needs to play close to 100 percent. The Aggies will have to WIN the special teams battle — something that hasn’t happened this year — can’t turn to ball over and can’t commit dumb penalties.

A key stat: Nevada is minus-five in turnover margin this year while the Aggies are plus-four.

One of the goals coming into the year was for the Aggies play in closer games and so far they have done that. Still, this 15-point spread in favor of Nevada feels about right.

My prediction: Nevada 40, NMSU 27

NMSU Gameday
Who: Nevada (4-3, 2-0) vs. NMSU (3-4, 1-2)
What: WAC college football game, NMSU homecoming
Where: Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces
When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Spread: NMSU +15
Radio: KGRT-FM 104; Vista 98.7 (Spanish)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

5 keys for Aggies vs. Nevada

Christian’s health: Matt Christian has been a clutch player for NMSU. But the reality is that he’s a wounded quarterback — a hurt left shoulder had Christian playing last week with his arm hanging, tight to his body. So what will his game look like on Saturday? Christian’s mobility has been a key to his success, and now he must stay out of harms way. Certainly his injury will effect how the Aggies run the option and at the first sign of a possible big hit, Christian will need to pitch the ball — a quick read. And then there’s the rest of the season to worry about. It’s tough imagining Christian making it through the whole year and, if he goes down, the Aggies season will take a big hit as well.

A mistake-free game: Can the Aggies beat the Wolf Pack? Their best chance is by playing a near-perfect game — limit turnovers and stupid penalties, win the special teams’ battle and get some breaks of their own. Nevada’s a fine football team. But the Aggies are much-improved, and have been competitive throughout 2011. Another round awaits Saturday — with NMSU as nearly two-touchdown underdogs.

Strength vs. weakness: Last week NMSU faced a pass-happy Hawaii team which, ironically, was a good matchup for the Aggies — the team defends the pass better than the run because of their solid secondary in the back-end and a thin defensive line. Well, Nevada is a run-first team, averaging just over 250-yards per game on the ground while NMSU surrenders close to 200 per contest. Mike Ball is a good running back for the Wolf Pack — power, good balance and a strong stiff arm — and freshman quarterback Cody Fajardo is coming on. On paper, an obvious concern for the Aggies.

Sneak attack: One of these weeks the Aggies could very well sneak up on someone. Is this it? NMSU hasn’t looked overwhelmed this year, has a higher talent level and has been competitive — a defined goal entering the season. Stay with the Wolf Pack and by the end of the contest, it could be anyone’s game. Perhaps the days of getting blown out are over for the Aggies.

Special teams: We can hear the collective grown coming from the Aggie faithful. Outside of return man Taveon Rogers, this unit has hurt the Aggies in just about every game this year. NMSU has improved on its deficiencies this season — the offensive line, running game and pass rush have all gotten better as the season has gone along. If the Aggies get special teams straightened out, they’ll actually be OK in all three phases of the game. If they don’t, they’ll be hard-pressed to win.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Last week, compared to this week

Last week the New Mexico State Aggies faced a University of Hawaii team that threw the ball early and often.

All things considered the matchup wasn’t bad for an Aggie defense that’s strength is on the third level — the secondary. In many respects, it was considered a strength vs. strength matchup.

Well, this week it is the exact opposite.

Nevada ranks second in the WAC with 251.6 yards rushing per game, while NMSU gives up 191.6 rushing yards per contest, which is seventh in the eight-team league.

Nevada has a good running back in Mike Ball (pictured) — who comes with power, good balance and a strong stiff arm.

In truth, you'd almost want the Aggies face a pass-happy team, as opposed to a run-heavy one. They just match up better.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Key quotes from Tuesday’s NMSU football press conference

Aggie head coach DeWayne Walker did not sound satisfied at his weekly press conference when talking about last weekend’s 45-34 loss at Hawaii.

“Not good enough. When you play against good football teams your margin for error is so close. Yeah, we played them hard, we played them better and all that. But to win a game against a good football team, we'll have to play better probably as a team.”

“Are we improved? Sure we are. But I'm not so flattered with that, we've got to win football games.”

“Defensively, we forced the oponent to punt three or four times in a row but, are we forcing them to punt when we need to get the ball back?”

“Obviously special teams, if they can just keep us out of harms way. And offense and defense, if they can just play a little better off each other, than I think we're going to start beating good football teams. That's what I'm hoping we can get done this week.”

On this weekend’s opponent, Nevada
“When you look at them in terms of what we've seen the last couple years — they're not as good as they've been. When you lose guys like Kaepernick and some of these guys that are in the NFL...I think one of the things that's impressive about coach Ault is that his teams, they do the things that we try to get our team to do. They don't make mistakes in critical situations and when one side of the ball needs to make a play, they do. That's why they have a good football team.”

“I think for us to play at a certain level — they're beatable. They are beatable this year. But, at the same token, if we don't play at their level, we're not going to put ourselves in a position to win the game.”

On preparing for Nevada coming off a game against Hawaii
“They're a running offense. When you play against Hawaii, they throw the ball all the time. This week it's a little different. Our focus is going to be on stopping the run. Therefore, when they do pass, they really take advantage of the opponent because there is an emphasis on stopping the run. It's a different style of offense. We do have to control their run game but at the same time we cannot let them hit us with explosive passes.”

“Coach Ault is a no-nonsense head coach and that's the type of team he has. We're going to have to match all of that.”

On special teams
“We gotta get better. In two weeks, they've contributed to 28 points. That is not acceptable.”

On the health of the Aggie quarterbacks
“Matt, we just have to put some Krazy Glue and Band-Aids on him and — lets go. Travaughn, he could be a day-to-day thing. He probably won't practice today. We're just wait and see where he's at by the end of the week.”

Walker also added that tight end Trevor Walls will continue to get snaps as an emergency quarterback and that middle linebacker Alexander LaVoy could return this week after suffering a broken foot four weeks ago at San Jose State.

“Oh yeah. Big-time possibility,” he said of LaVoy.

Now, some interesting stuff from quarterback Matt Christian

On wide receiver Todd Lee’s first quarter touchdown throw vs. Hawaii
“He said he had it and I just sort of trusted him. I told him not to mess it up. If he messed it up, it would ruin our passing stats as a team.”

On why he played better in second half of Hawaii game
“I really don't know. I had a rough start to the game, the humidity was tough....I don't know what happened to tell you the truth, sometimes you're just not on your A-game and I had a real rough start to the game. Your right, when I came back in I did play better.”

On how injured left shoulder affects his performance
“The hardest thing is the brace I have to wear now just because it's a real restrictive brace. It was the first time I had to play with it in my life so that was tough. I practiced with it but — practice and games are different and it's the same thing when you wear the brace....No excuses.”

Does it affect his accuracy or arm strength?
“Accuracy more so than anything.”

On if he thinks about it when he’s scrambling
“I try not to. One of the worst ones was when I slid and a guy fell on top of me.”

On if shoulder affects him on option run or on a high snap when in shotgun formation
“I can pitch with my left hand. If I get a high snap, I've got a really, really good right hand....We ran option a couple times left, it's not that big of a deal. I mean, I it's a little different but I can make the pitch no problem. And I told (center Mike Grady) not to snap it high and left, so I'm not worried about that.”

On trying to protect himself as a runner
“They've encouraged me to slide more and get out of bounds more. Not really fight for that yard like I used to....We're thin at the position. I definitely have to be intelligent about what I do with it.”

On sideline activity when he re-entered the game for the injured Colwell
“At halftime I was shut down. I was wrapped up. It was kind of a makeshift sling just because of the pads, the hassle. They kind of wrapped me up and said ‘we need to shut it down, you're shoulder is hurting.’ It was pretty bad. When Tra went down, we thought at first it was (a) broken (foot) just off of what he had said — which ended up not being true....But when he said it was broken — before anyone said anything I told the trainers ‘go get my helmet out of the locker room.’ By the time they got back Tra had gone back to the locker room, we had the ball so there wasn't a whole lot of options there.”

On if his shoulder can get any worse
“I have not idea, to tell you the truth. The extent of damage to me is really kind of unknown. Even for the doctors — it's tough to do an MRI with all the metal in there. That's something I'll worry about after the season. Senior year, I just kind of deal with it, really. It's one of those things, I think the team benefits with me being on the field. So I'm going to be on the field, you know?”

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Looking back: Saturday's Aggies vs. Hawaii game

Lets start out by saying a 45-34 loss for the Aggies at Hawaii isn't a bad thing.

NMSU moved the ball and it's defense was creative and gave good effort. I thought they played well.

We've been saying that the Aggies are an improved team and this game further showed that — tough road test in a place they have typically been beat thoroughly and they were competitive in this one. I think it's a good sign.

I will also say special teams continues to kill the Aggies.

Hawaii had a blocked punt for a touchdown to make the score 14-0 in the first quarter. CAN'T happen.

The punting in general throughout the night was just not good.

If you take out Taveon Rogers from the kick return game, the Aggies special teams has been bad all year.

Surrendering a punt-return touchdown against Ohio.

A missed field goal at Minnesota.

A game lost to UTEP in which the special teams unit was a big reason why and then it almost cost the team last week against Idaho.

On Saturday special teams didn't lose the game for the Aggies but it didn't help either. They lost by 11 and if you take away the blocked punt they're in it late.

It's killin them.

Matt Christian is TOUGH. He played with his left arm and shoulder heavily wrapped because of injury.

It's tough to imagine at this point Christian (pictured) lasting the rest of the year. It seems he's going to play until he simply can't anymore but if he goes out the Aggies are going to be in trouble.

Backup Travaughn Colwell looked like a freshman Saturday night — I still like his game and potential. But it was a different world going against Hawaii than it was Idaho.

Truthfully, I liked Trevor Walls at quarterback but he's a tight end now and hasn't taken any snaps — from what I've seen — all year at the position. Tough spot there and I can understand the Aggies not playing him the other night for that reason. Although it was scary watching Christian running around with one arm, at one point getting helicoptered into the endzone. Again, he's tough and I credit him for the gutsy performance, but I'm just worried about what happens if/when he goes down.

I thought the defense played pretty well in this one and was creative in defending Hawaii.

It was strength on strength — Hawaii's pass offense vs the Aggies secondary.

Hawaii hits teams with the run when the opposition brings in passing personnel — five and six defensive backs on the field and UH gives it up the middle to their big back Joey Iosefa.

The Aggies had five sacks in this one and now have 14 on the season.

NMSU also had more passing yards than Hawaii (284 to 276).

I feel like the chemistry is good for the Aggies. A couple points here:

• Christian could have checked out this year when he wasn't named the starter but stayed ready and has been a very valuable player to NMSU. Impressive to me.

• Then Robert Clay — who hasn't gotten a carry at running back for weeks — was active on special teams against Hawaii. Again, impressive.

We talked about quarterback depth for the Aggies and it really goes for the whole team.

NMSU has a tough second-half of the schedule including road games at Georgia and BYU. This is a big concern here — how will NMSU stay healthy the rest of the way? A couple big injuries and the Aggies will be in deep trouble.

Watched the entire Nevada vs. Fresno State game on Saturday in Reno — Nevada, who comes to Las Cruces this weekend won 45-38.

The win puts the Wolf Pack in the driver's seat to win the league — which I picked in preseason (side note).

Here's what I saw from both teams Saturday:

Nevada has a VERY good running back in Mike Ball: short, powerful, good balance, very good stiff arm.

Freshman quarterback Cody Fajardo looked very good to me to and Nevada's defense is better this year. While Hawaii spreads teams out and throws the ball, the Wolf Pack are going to pound you. Different look for the Aggies this week.

As for Fresno State, they're a big-play team.

Like their quarterback Derek Carr, little running back Robbie Rouse, and wide receivers Devon Wylie and Jalen Saunders.

Fresno will also give up the big play though — teams can throw on them and they didn't tackle well against Nevada.

Louisiana Tech won at Utah State too. I've said it before, the WAC is better than advertised this year. A lot of young quarterbacks in the league that look good too.

Schedule will be tough for an improved Aggie team.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Friday, October 21, 2011

Predicting Saturday’s Aggies vs. Hawaii game

The beginning of this football game will be KEY.

Hawaii will look to get out quickly on NMSU and if the Warriors are successful it could get a little out of control. If the Aggies can stay competitive for the first two quarters this will be a good football game. At that point, who knows where it will go?

Which brings us to the main question surrounding the contest: can the Aggies hang around? If they can, they have a shot. I do not see them blowing Hawaii out, so their hope is to pull out a close one. If they’re in the game they can win it late — it would be anyone’s ballgame at that point.

An early big moment — forced turnover, TD, whatever it may be — would be very beneficial for Aggies as it would stem Hawaii’s momentum.

I believe the Aggies are more equipped now than they have been in the past to beat Hawaii. Does that mean they will? No, it doesn’t mean that. But they’re capable of doing so, where in the past I don’t think they were.

One thing that’s obvious: if they want to win here, they have to play a good game. Seriously. They’re not going to have a chance if they’re not on top of things.

The travel for this game is killer. And the fact the Aggies will be playing a game that’s a 10 p.m. kickoff in Las Cruces. Hawaii typically gets charged up and plays faster on its homefield.

My prediction: Hawaii 37, New Mexico State 27

Game info
Who: New Mexico State (3-3, 1-1) at Hawaii (3-3, 1-1)
What: WAC football game
Where: Honolulu, Hawaii
When: Saturday, 10 p.m.
Spread: NMSU +22
Radio: KGRT-FM 104; Vista 98.7
Internet: ESPN3

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Donyae Coleman having big year

The senior safety is having a great season for the NMSU football team.

Coleman is on the field A LOT for the Aggie defense and is playing with confidence — that will take you a long way as a player.

Coleman came to NMSU two years ago and initially played wide receiver. That same year NMSU head coach DeWayne Walker moved Coleman to cornerback and that offseason the team moved him to safety. He did play defensive back in high school.

Just take a look at Coleman’s box score the other night from the Idaho game: 11 tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception and a pass breakup. He filled it up.

He led the team in tackles a season ago and is back at it again this year with 60. He also leads the Aggies with two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He leads the WAC in interceptions with four.

NMSU is plus-four in turnover ratio this year — a statistic that’s synonymous with winning football. Teams that win the turnover battle typically win games.

Simply looking back at the team’s turnover margin in some recent season: minus-21 (in the 2005 season); minus-10 (2006); minus-15 (2007); minus-6 (2008); minus-nine (2009); minus-four (2010). The Aggies aren’t used to being on the positive end of turnover margin — they have forced 12 this year as a team.

Coleman’s been in the middle of plenty.


Another player who's come on for the Aggies is running back Kenny Turner. To read a story I wrote on Kenny that appeared in Tuesday’s Sun-News, click here.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Defending Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz

Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz is the best QB the Aggies will have faced up to this point of the season.

He had an off game last week against San Jose State — he threw three interceptions — but he’s a proven player, a perfect fit for Hawaii’s run-and-shoot offense, and should bounce back this week.

Hawaii is going to throw the football. The team lines up in four wide receiver sets with a single back and throws on virtually every down. Last weekend they threw the ball 46 times and ran it 17, with their running plays featuring draws and misdirections.

Moniz wants to get out of the pocket — that’s when he’s going to hit his big plays, particularly with his running ability. Hawaii’s offensive line doesn’t appear as dominant as in years past so....The Aggies are going to have to cage Moniz in. Make him be a pocket passer or a runner up the middle — something that he will do but it’s not his forte.

This contest will be the Aggies biggest challenge of the year up to this point — and toughest road test of the season through the first eight weeks of 2011. Hawaii enjoys a HUGE homefield advantage — they’re an entirely different team at home. I believe the beginning of the game will be critical — if Hawaii jumps on the Aggies early, NMSU could be in trouble. If NMSU can keep it close for a quarter, two quarters, they can make it a competitive football game.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Christian, Colwell could both take snaps Saturday...And some interesting stuff

New Mexico State Aggie head football coach DeWayne Walker said he expected quarterback Matt Christian to play on Saturday at Hawaii and for freshman Travaughn Colwell to get playing time as well.

Christian injured his left shoulder last week but is ready to go on Saturday.

“Yes, for sure,” Walker said when asked if both players will see action against Hawaii. “We’ve got to find a way to take hits off Matt and....(Colwell) proved last week that the game’s not too big for him. We’ll continue to manage him and protect Matt as much as we can.”

Walker added that tight end Trevor Walls — who played quarterback for the Aggies in 2009 — is next in line behind Colwell on the depth chart.

Speaking of quarterbacks, here are some comments from wide receiver Kemonte Bateman regarding both QBs — most specifically Colwell — during Tuesday’s press conference. Found them interesting....

On Colwell’s performance
“Honestly, when he first came in I was, like, jittery. But like coach Walker said, we’ve got to gather around him and let him know ‘we got your back.’ Even in the huddle, we would talk, but he was kind of nervous. He finally put his foot down and told us, ‘just be quite. I’ve got this. Just make sure you’ve got my back.’ We all told him, ‘we got you. Just play your game.’ First series he was kind of nervous. Just told him to calm down, just go through the reads. I guess one of the defensive players got to him and he just turned into a whole different player, just started playing ball. Everything just settled down for the offense.”

Did that help your confidence when you saw he was more confident?
“Actually it did. They didn’t think he could pass. But they also couldn’t send the blitz because of the tempo we have in our offense, that kind of helped as well. Once they found out he could pass, and they think he can run, they have to respect him. No doubt. Once he saw that, he took advantage.”

The difference of when Christian’s in the game as opposed to Colwell
“Matt takes his time and actually goes through the defense. That’s something Tra has to do and we tell him all the time. Even in practice, he rushes the cadence and he thinks he goes through the defense. There were a few plays in the game where he was supposed to audible, or flip the play or what not. It happens. He’s a freshman. That’s a correction we’re going to make over this week.”

Does he have less leeway than Christian to change the play?
“He has actually has the leeway to make the changes.”

Does he not recognize when to make the change?
“He recognizes it, it’s just that he’s a freshman. He was just happy to be out there playing. He knows when to audible or not. He does it every time in practice. It was just the first, actual game for him that he had to take control of.”

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Quarterback status and other ramblings....

Wrote a story on Matt Christian's status and also Andrew Manley. It looks like Manley will get a medical redshirt this season. For story, click here.

On a side note, Walker said on the Western Athletic Conference media call Monday that he would like to bring Manley to Hawaii this weekend and make the sophomore quarterback an honorary captain. Manley is from Wahiawa, Hawaii.

A few other things of note from Monday's call:

Walker on starting season off with Kenny Turner at H-back before moving him back to running back:
“Our thoughts were trying to get the best guys on the field. At that stage of it Robert Clay had done some good things and we had recruited some good receivers. When Robert went down out mindset was the same. ‘Hey, we've got to get our best guys on the field.’ Kemonte Bateman, who's emerged, Austin Franklin who's starting to emerge. We thought we could get by moving those guys to receiver and moving Kenny back to running back and now we got Robert back so that gives us even more depth.”

Walker on having Turner carry the load against Idaho (29 carries, 171 yards, touchdown):
“It was definitely good against Idaho. I'm not going to say that's going to be the perfect formula week in and week out cause I'm sure we're going to give Robert Clay some carries too to take some of the load off of Kenny. But it was good he was able to carry us on his back a little bit and help us get a W.”

Walker on Hawaii losing on the road to San Jose State last weekend:
“I try not to read into that too much. These are 18, 19, 20-year-old kids, man. You never know what you're going to get. I've said that before. But at the same token, it is a more competitive conference in terms that there's more parity. I know I was talking to Robb Akey after the game, he said himself, ‘anyone can beat anyone in 2011.’ We're just going to prepare and go fight, see where we are in the fourth quarter.”

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Looking back at Saturday's Aggies vs. Idaho game

First off, quotes following Saturday's game: Click here.

For the game itself, it was odd at times and not particularly pretty. Upon leaving the stadium I realized it was also entertaining.

And the Aggies needed the win. We all know that the second half of the season is tougher for NMSU — the team will likely be underdogs from here out.

By beating Idaho, the Aggies now move to 3-3 on the season, 1-1 in conference play. They let one get away against UTEP earlier this year — they really should have four wins. OK, now they're going to have to upset a team or two. I think four wins would be a very good season for the Aggies and five would be a great season.

Much of the first half was tough to watch.

It was literally about breaks on special teams: a fumbled kickoff by Idaho led to NMSU's second TD; moments later, a muffed Aggie punt by true freshman Austin Franklin inside the NMSU 10-yard line led to a short Idaho scoring run; and then the ensuing kickoff was returned 101 yards by Taveon Rogers to put NMSU back up two scores.

It was 21-7 with just over five minutes into the game, and the teams had combined for just 100 yards at that point….Strange.

Quarterback Matt Christian got hit and came down on his left shoulder — he left the game and did not return.

True freshman Travaughn Colwell played well in the second half — particularly when considering that he's a young player.

He managed the game and showed athleticism — threw on the run, good play-action fake.

I liked his 1-yard TD throw to Kemonte Bateman and he later hit Bateman deep for a 50-yard gain. All tolled, Colwell threw for 100 yards and led the team to 10 second half points.

I give the defense the game ball in this one — thought it was arguably their best performance of the season.

A goal line stand to win the game — that says a lot right there. Forcing four turnovers and, really, special teams was responsible for all three Idaho touchdowns.

Safety Donyae Coleman is having a good year — his four interceptions lead the WAC and he stripped and recovered Idaho's fumbled kickoff early in the game.

Kenny Turner was huge for the Aggies.

He was a workhorse running back for NMSU — 25 carries, 171 yards and a touchdown. Don't think the Aggies win this one without Turner.

Since being moved back to running back three games ago he has rushed for 409 yards on 66 carries and has scored three touchdowns. He looks at home.

Idaho is not a very good team.

A few things I noticed:

• Quarterback Brian Reader came off a shaky outing against Louisiana Tech and he didn't play well last night against the Aggies. He overthrew a bunch of WR in the intermediate and deep passing zones. He connects on those, it's a different ballgame.

• Why kick it to Taveon Rogers? He kills teams on kick returns. This isn't a secret at this point — it's Week 7. Rogers returned a TD 101 yards to the house on Saturday.

• I like running back Princeton McCarty but felt he was underutilized. He led the Vandals on the final drive downfield and finished the night with 116 yards on 25 carries and had a 95-yard kickoff return for a TD.

Special teams nearly cost NMSU the game.

Having a kick and punt returned for touchdowns? Unacceptable.

Muffing a punt inside your own 10? Not good.

Tyler Stampler missed another field goal — this one from 39 yards out.

I thought punter Jake Capraro was good — he's improved. And Rogers is obviously a beast in the return game.

We've said it 100 times, the Aggies aren't good enough to be bad on special teams.

If they want to steal a game or two down the stretch, they NEED to get better here. Have to.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Quotes following Saturday night's NMSU win over Idaho

Aggie head coach DeWayne Walker
On the team's defensive performance
I'm just happy for those guys. Defense is playing without three D-lineman, without a starting linebacker. These guys work their tail off. Try to put together schemes, walk throughs, meetings. They do it all. Anytime you have coaches on that side of the ball who work their butts off — you like to see them have success. And it was a great game for them.

On Aggies goal line stand
I mean, shoot…I was worried about, (like) when they played Virginia, that they score a touchdown and try to go for two. I didn't want to go through that. I was hoping and praying that the defense would keep them out of the endzone. They did.

Did you feel like they under utilized Princeton McCarty?
Robb (Akey) had mentioned in the paper that he wanted to turn run the ball more…..They only ran it 29 times and we ran it 41 times. They threw it 35 times so….They were playing from behind quite a bit too. Maybe that had a little bit to do with it. They were pretty close to 50/50.

Was quarterback Matt Christian able to go back into the game?
Yeah, he just hurt his shoulder a little bit. Doug (Martin) and I talked about it and I just said ‘hey, we're going to need him next week.’ The youngster (freshman quarterback Travaughn Colwell) was doing his thing, he was getting ripped on the phone from coach Martin (chuckle). He kept us in it and it was a great game for him to get his feet wet….If it had got to a two-minute situation where we would have had to put Matt in there, maybe in that situation, than we probably would have done that. But it was good to see the youngster get some snaps and do a good job.

On special teams
There's always something to work on. I know coach Murphy — and I love him to death — he kept his distance from me most of the game. That's an area we're definitely going to have to get fixed. Again, we're going to enjoy this one, but Hawaii is a good football team. I'm already thinking about next week, personally.

On second half of schedule
You know, I wasn't going to say anything about this — but this is deja vu. My first year, were in the same situation. We were 3-3 and our last seven games weren't very good. Now we're sitting in that same situation. And I'm looking forward to these last seven games regardless of who we are playing. Because we know what it feels like to experience the other part. We want to get a chance to compete in these last seven games better than we did in 2009.

On Kenny's performance
Yeah, he said at halftime, he said…I brought the whole team up and said, ‘look, guys we're going to support our freshman quarterback.’ And Kenny pulled me aside and said, ‘coach, give me the ball.’ Any time a player wants to put the team on his back, you've got to give him a lot of credit. Kenny had a helluva game.

Aggie quarterback Travaughn Colwell
On experience of playing quarterback
It was exciting. I've been working on it in practice, been working hard, just getting ready for when my time comes. It was pretty exciting.

On quick turnaround — Christian hurt, Colwell in
Basically, it was just me doing what I've been coached to do. That's what I did. That's how the touchdown play happened.

On if he surprised some people
One thing I have been doing is staying after practice and working on things I haven't been comfortable with. It shows in a game. Coach Martin tells me all the time…A lot of drills I do to warm up, I'll see in a game.

How would you grade your performance
I think it was bad. I got a lot of stuff to work on. It's just fundamental stuff, getting everything right….I feel pretty confident though.

Running back Kenny Turner
On what win means to team
It means a lot to the team. One-and-one in the conference, 3-3 — fresh start for the season. It means a lot.

On feeling at home at running back
That's what I was recruited to play. That's what I do.

On success Saturday night
Same thing every week. Hitting the holes hard. Since the spring I was in the slot. The first two games back at running back, it was kind of just hit the holes. Tonight, I was more reading the holes and hitting it when I see space.

How do you build off this game for next week
This is the first time in a long time that the Aggies own two-straight games. We feed off that. That's momentum. We just take that momentum to the next game. The things we do good, we do better and the things we're not doing good, we get better at now.

Aggie defensive back Donyae Coleman
On defensive performance
We just did what we had to do. We made up our minds, we set up a goal, and we did it. Coach showed us America's Game last night. We were watching the '85 Bears. And that defense was amazing. We went off that and we wanted to be like them. We made up our mind and just went out there and played ball.

More on performance
We rep this every day in practice. Our amazing offense, they win some, we win some. We were just geeked about it. We knew it was going to come down to us. Travaughn came in, we knew Matt was down and we knew we couldn't let them score no more. We have a freshman quarterback up in there, we had to protect him, make him feel at ease so he can ease into it. We just did what we had to do. Fourth-and-1, we were pretty geeked about it.

On the defense forcing four defensive turnovers
Every day in practice. On the kickoff, I just ran down there, I just kind of took it from him. On the interception, I was just doing what I was coached to do.

On how he's taken his game to the next level
A lot of prayer and work. I set out a goal this year to get interceptions. Believe it or not, this is the first time in my career to get interceptions in a game. I'm pretty excited about that. I'm just trying to keep that going.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Predicting the Aggies vs. Vandals game

First off, this is a big game for both teams.

The Aggies need this one — a winnable conference game at home. If they want to hit the five-win plateau this season, this is a must-win game. At 2-3, they have a shot at getting back to the .500 mark overall and in conference play.

Idaho needs the win badly too. At 1-5 overall, 0-2 in the WAC they’re going to come in ready to play.

Idaho quarterback Brian Reader is a player to watch. He hasn’t progressed this year and hasn’t been accurate. His play will be a key element in determining a winner Saturday night.

Idaho hasn’t been able to score points. Last week the team scored 11 total and none offensively — a punt-return touchdown, a field goal and a safety.

NMSU has to stop the run, get off to a quick lead and put the game in Reader’s hands.

Idaho has a good special teams unit. Running back Princeton McCarty has hurt the Aggies through the years.

Defensively, the Vandals have shown they’re a better than in past years and will bring the blitz.

The Aggies are coming off their big win at UNM followed by a bye week. I think the team will be OK here.

My prediction: New Mexico State 23, Idaho 17

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Game info
Who: Idaho (1-5, 0-2) at NMSU (2-3, 0-1)
What: College football, Week 7
Where: Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces
When: Saturday, 6:07 p.m.
Weather: Sunny, temperatures in the low 80s at kickoff
Spread: Aggies -1
Radio: KGRT-FM 104; Vista-FM 98.7 (Spanish)
TV: AggieVision

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Five keys for Aggies vs. Idaho

1) Idaho quarterback Brian Reader: Reader hasn’t progressed this year and was down last week against Louisiana Tech, completing just 19 of 47 pass attempts while tossing three interceptions. Still, Reader has shown in pockets that he is capable — a senior QB, he replaced Nathan Enderle, who is now a backup with the Chicago Bears. Reader’s performance in today’s game will likely dictate which team comes out on top.

2) Aggies fast start: We write this in every game preview, so why stop now? The Aggies have shown when they get up early on the opposition, they’re in the driver’s seat. They took a 14-point first-half lead on Minnesota and led from start to finish. They were up 21-0 two weeks ago against New Mexico and never looked back. Idaho is a similar situation: get up early, and give a run-deficient defense some cushion. With that being said, you can bet the Vandals will be looking to do the same.

3) Playing at home: Truthfully, the Aggies haven’t played particularly well in Las Cruces. A 44-24 loss to Ohio in the season opener wasn’t competitive until too late. A 16-10 loss against UTEP was one the Aggies let get away. This one should feature a nice-sized crowd — mainly because of the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign surrounding the game. It’s also a very winnable game for the Aggies. They have to do it for the home fans.

4) Matching Vandals intensity, physicality: You know the way followers of the Aggies view the Vandals as a winnable game? Well, reality check: Idaho views NMSU as the same thing. This is going to be a desperate team in must-win mode, meaning they will come out ready to go from the opening whistle. Head coach Robb Akey has done a fine job at Idaho and his teams play hard and with confidence. The Aggies must match that mindset.

5) Score more points: This might be the most obvious key we’ve ever come up with. Allow us to explain: The Aggies last time out on Oct. 1, they dropped 42 points on New Mexico — their best offensive output in some time. Can they replicate that? As for Idaho, their offense has struggled this year, but will this be the week it gets healthy? The Aggie defense has to step up and hold down the Vandals.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The “new” Pan American Center and Aggie hoops in general

The Pan American Center is shrinking!

NMSU recently announced the decision to reduce seating capacity for men’s basketball games at the Pan Am — formally seating around 13,000 fans, it will now seat just under 9,000. Essentially, the four “corners” in the upper deck will be blocked off.

First off, I can understand the reasoning behind it. The Aggies aren’t selling those seats — last year the team didn’t even average 4,000 fans — and it just doesn’t look good. I love the Pan Am, and it’s sad when its on TV and the entire east side seating is empty. The reality is that the seats that are blocked off, no one was sitting in them anyway. This is a move designed to condense the crowd and create supply and demand for the seats that are for sale.

But I will also say this: there have been times when Aggie basketball has drawn very well and the product should be THE ticket in town. It should be the buzz sport in town. I think there are a lot of reasons for fans not showing up to the Pan American Center — the economy, ticket prices, a new day and age for the young sports fan and a general disconnect between the fans and the program are a few. I also believe it can be cyclical and if fans can get into the program, they will support the team. AND that place can rock.

With all that being said, if I had to prognosticate I’d say the team isn’t going to average more than 9,000 fans per game this year. And if they did I think that’s a problem the Aggies would be willing to have.


As for the team, lets take a look at the squad with practice opening up later this week.

First off, I think the team has a good talent level.

The Aggies have put a lot on Wendell McKines, their senior forward who missed all of last season with a broken foot — he is their heart and soul, is extremely athletic, plays extremely hard and has charisma. Some players play better in the spotlight and with greater responsibility on their shoulders, and I think McKines is the type that can handle it. And I will say this: I would be hard pressed to find a better athlete to ever play in an Aggie uniform. Maybe there have been over the years, it's just hard for me to see it.

Outside of him, the team has bodies in the front court — Hamidu Rahman and Chili Nephawe are big while newcomer Sim Bhular is 7-foot-4!!! Still not sure if Bhular will play this year....Is the team going to get improved play out of Rahman this year? He was a non-factor in 2010 — injuries hurt here. I think Rahman can average a double-double but at this point he’s a role player.

I thought B.J. West and Renaldo Dixon showed flashes last year and wouldn’t mind seeing more playing time for them. Tyrone Watson has a role — a hustler who makes a positive impact on the game.

At this point the backcourt is thin.

Senior point guard Hernst Laroche is a steady player and will run the team. He isn’t flashy and he won't take your breath away, but he won’t turn the ball over either.

The Aggies do need a shooter/scoring punch next to Laroche and have some new players — Remi Berry, Eric Weary, Terrel de Rouen — who might be able to supply some help. Christian Kabongo, who brought intensity and fight to the court, returns at shooting guard.

I do want to say this: the Aggies have been a spotty defensive team the last few years and that needs to improve. They have had the athletes to be a better defensive and rebounding team and I think they HAVE to improve in this area. You know, teams win on the road with defense and rebounding. No reason the Aggies shouldn’t be better here. If a player can’t commit to playing on that end of the floor, just cut his playing time. That'll make him better, or you don't need him anyway. It's worked in basketball before….

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Monday, October 10, 2011

Aggie expectations and the key quarterback

Wrote a story on expectations for the Aggie football team going into the second half of the season. You can read it by clicking here.

Just expanding on this a bit:

I really believe quarterback Matt Christian's play is a key for the Aggies. The team needs the offense to lead the way and the unit has looked good the past two weeks.

Christian's ability to run has opened up the team's overall running game. He's a savvy player and good decision maker.

If the Aggies can run the football, take early leads and put the defense in favorable position, they will be in games.

Currently at 2-3, how many wins do you think the Aggies will have by the end of their 13-game schedule?

Comment and vote in the poll along the right-hand column.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mike Dunbar resurfaces with high school team

Former New Mexico State Aggies offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar has resurfaced in football — high school football, that is — as the offensive coordinator at Tenino High School in Olympia, Wash.

Dunbar abruptly retired in early March, after just one season with the Aggies.

Dunbar has been a college football coach for nearly 25 years.

“My wife and I, we talked about it a lot on and off,” Dunbar said to the Sun-News on March 6. “For us, this is the time.”

Click here to read the latest story on Dunbar from The Olympian, a newspaper in the Pacific Northwest.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Aggies need to play well at home

Do the New Mexico State Aggies need to have a good showing for the home fans next Saturday against Idaho? I believe they do.

The Aggies need the win — first and foremost. And NMSU needs to play well for the home fans in a game that should feature a decent crowd — it will mark the Tough Enough to Wear Pink game in Las Cruces, and will be a big game for the team.

We all know attendance has been an issue for NMSU and fans are slow to buy into the team. Both of NMSU’s wins this year have come on the road and the team lost a disappointing home game to UTEP in Week 3.

The Aggies are an improved team and have a legitimate shot at having a solid second half of the season. But they need the win against Idaho.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Aggies going forward

What are the expectations for the New Mexico State Aggies going forward? It’s actually tough to tell.

The team is on its bye week with a 2-3 record and play Idaho on Oct. 15. It will be a tough game for the Aggies, but a winnable one as well.

On paper, the second half of NMSU’s schedule is tough and I think the WAC is a tough league this season.

Hawaii and Fresno State both look strong behind quarterbacks Bryant Moniz and Derek Carr, respectively.

I don’t think there are any bad teams in the league this year — NMSU, Utah State, San Jose State and Louisiana Tech are better and I still believe Idaho isn't bad.

In truth, it’s hard to predict the Aggies win/loss record the rest of the way. I do think they can be in the hunt. Next weekend against Idaho, they have a chance at winning. The following week, they go to Hawaii in a big road test. These are two key games right on the horizon where should can learn a lot about the team.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bye week comes at good time for Aggies

Here’s why:

• The team can get healthy — Taveon Rogers (hip/tailbone), Robert Clay (shoulder), Alexander LaVoy (broken foot) and B.J. Adolpho (ankle) all could use the week off.

Head coach DeWayne Walker originally said LaVoy could be out three-to-four weeks but that could be optimistic. As for Adolpho, Walker said the team hopes to get him back for Idaho.

• The bye comes at the right time of the schedule — just before the midway point before a big home game against Idaho. The first five games for the Aggies were tough from a mental and emotional standpoint — season opener, a road BCS game, the conference opener and two rivalry games. The off week can give them a chance to recharge and catch their breath.

On paper, the second half of the schedule looks harder and the Idaho game is big — the Aggies can get momentum with a win that would bring them back to 3-3 on the year. Now, they have two weeks to prepare the Vandals on a high note after thrashing UNM last weekend

• In recent history the Aggie bye week hasn’t come at a good time.

Last year the team didn’t even have a bye — their off week came Week 1 and they played 12-straight games.

In 2008 it was the same thing — remember the Aggies’ Week 1 game against Nicholls State was cancelled because of Hurricane Gustav hitting the Gulf Coast and NMSU had to reschedule a game against Alcorn State for later in the year, during what was supposed to be their bye.

And the 2007 campaign saw NMSU’s bye come the second-to-last week of the season — it didn’t do a whole lot.

This year’s off week comes at a much better time — when the Aggies could actually use it.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Recapping the Aggie-Lobo game

By now we all know about the Aggies 42-28 win at the University of New Mexico on Saturday night.

Is a 14-point win a blowout? For the Aggies it is. And it sure felt like a blowout with the team up 21-0 after the first quarter, 28-7 at halftime and 35-7 in the third quarter.

Every team needs to win big once in a while and for the Aggies it hasn't happened in a long while. Frankly, NMSU has been on the other side of that result too many times.

No need to apologize for the big win.

Quarterback Matt Christian is playing like a senior. He was on target on Saturday and ran the offense very well.

WIth Christian and running back Kenny Turner in the game the Aggies have ran the ball better the past two weeks than they have all season, out of the run-option offense.

No knock on Andrew Manley — I wrote at the beginning of the season that the Aggies could win with either quarterback in the game — but Christian is just a bit more dynamic at this point.

He's fast, mobile and a good decision maker — the system has brought variation to the offense and has allowed the line to protect the passer better. Defensive coordinators now have more to consider when game planning for the Aggies. They have to be more honest — defend more of the field without bringing the blitz as much.

Coordinator Doug Martin needs credit in this. He has reinvented the offense the last two weeks with his backup quarterback and running back in the lineup and has catered to his players' strengths — Christian's running ability, Turner's speed and ability as a gamebreaker on the edge. Martin has adapted the offense and the Aggies have looked very good the last two weeks.

I wrote during fall camp about the Aggie wide receiving corps — this unit was upgraded the most in the offseason.

We all know about Taveon Rogers and Todd Lee.

On Saturday Rogers didn't play (hip/tailbone) but it did not matter.

True freshman Austin Franklin is going to be a monster (five catches, 115 yards, touchdown) and Kemonte Bateman (two catches, 41 yards, TD) and Jerrel Brown (four catches, 51 yards) stepped up. Brown has been seeing action in practice — he was right at the edge of the Aggie depth chart — and is now getting playing time. He caught two balls last week at San Jose State.

We knew going into the game that the Aggie receivers would have a major edge on a woeful UNM secondary and they played well.

The Aggies had to jump out on the Lobos quickly and did exactly that.

The reasons were two-fold:

For starters, the Lobos are a down team and the faster NMSU got up on them, the better. There was no need to give UNM a chance at believing they could win.

Also, the Aggie defense has had its struggles. When the Aggie offense can lead the way and get up by a couple scores on the opposition, it helps the defense. We saw that in both Aggie wins this year — at Minnesota and this past Saturday at UNM.

There is no getting around the fact that the Lobos are just awful. Their defense is bad and the Aggies did whatever they wanted to with the football. UNM didn't generate a pass rush and it's secondary can't cover or tackle — poor coaching.

It's incredible that a school with so much more resources than NMSU can be so much worse at football. This game really showed how bad the Lobos are — NMSU looked entirely too good.

The Lobos have hit rock bottom.

With that being said, any time the Aggies can win three straight over UNM it's a big accomplishment — no matter the circumstances.

Great way for NMSU to enter their bye week.

Now they can rest up and get a boost heading into a big Oct. 15 home game against Idaho.

Week 5 of the season in the books.

And the Aggies are still going.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg