Monday, December 31, 2012

Aggie offensive line coach Bedell hired at Arkansas State

The New Mexico State Aggies will be looking for a new offensive line coach, as Brad Bedell has left the football program for Arkansas State University.

Arkansas State made an official announcement of Bedell's hire on its website Monday.

Bedell spent one year at NMSU, replacing Jason Lenzmeier, who left last offseason for the University of New Mexico.

Prior to NMSU, Bedell was the offensive line coach at UC Davis in 2011. He played at the University of Colorado from 1998-99 and then briefly in the NFL.

As stated previously, more changes on the NMSU staff could be in store. According to sources in recent weeks, such moves could be made specifically at offensive coordinator and special teams coordinator. Nothing official yet, but we'll keep you posted.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sports Year in Review: Conference realignment and NMSU timeline

It was a busy year in Las Cruces sports. There were plenty of champions, success stories, some failures and everything in between.

The biggest ongoing story, though? Clearly conference realignment and how it affected the Aggies, who were adversely hit throughout the entire process.

In short: The Aggies entered the 2012 year hopeful a new Western Athletic Conference could be an up-and-coming league for the years to come. With the 2013 campaign on the horizon, the WAC is now a defunct football conference (NMSU will play an independent football schedule next year) and it's non-football sports affiliations are a shell of their former selves.

Here's a timeline of events that took place throughout the past year as it pertains to the realignment rat race, and how it impacted NMSU. Simply because a 25-inch story on the topic wouldn't have done justice:

Feb. 15: With speculation swirling of a possible merger of the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA, New Mexico State Athletics Director McKinley Boston says the Aggies could be a part of such an agreement, adding if other schools are taken from the Western Athletic Conference, NMSU has a plan to counteract.

Feb. 23: WAC Commissioner Karl Benson leaves for the Sun Belt Conference.

March 9: WAC names Jeff Hurd as Interim Commissioner.

April 30: Reports surface that WAC schools Utah State and San Jose State will leave for the Mountain West; Louisiana Tech will head to Conference USA; and Texas-San Antonio will join Conference USA. Such moves (which did in fact happen) would in turn cripple the Western Athletic Conference as a football entity.

May 2: Another WAC school, Texas State, leaves for the Sun Belt Conference. The move leaves New Mexico State and Idaho as the only football-playing entities in the Western Athletic Conference.

May 7: Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson says further Sun Belt expansion, and in turn New Mexico State's inclusion, "hasn't even been discusses."

May 8: NMSU President Barbara Couture (who was also Chair of the WAC) says school's primary goal is to a member of the Mountain West, adding the school never had a face-to-face presentation with the MWC.

May 23: Sun Belt welcomes in Texas-Arlington, a non-football school from the Western Athletic Conference. Meanwhile, Benson said the announcement "allows Idaho and New Mexico State to know what direction the Sun Belt is headed. Personally, I wish the best for the University of Idaho and New Mexico State."

June 13: University of New Mexico Athletics Director Paul Krebs says while Lobos would support an Aggies move into the Mountain West, "there's not a lot of support from the other members of the league to have New Mexico State come in."

July 25: Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson tells reporters that he informed New Mexico State "that they will not be members of the Mountain West. Go on with Plan B, whatever Plan B may be."

Aug. 16: The University of Idaho seeks permission to possibly seek membership in the Big Sky Conference. As of today, Idaho is still a WAC member, although could be move to the Big Sky in the future.

Aug. 20: Long a foregone conclusion, NMSU Athletics Director McKinley Boston declares Aggies football independence for the 2013 season.

Sept. 12: NMSU administration sends letter to fans updating its conference standing. In summation, NMSU addressed its media market, its plan going forward, its commitment to Division I football, its student-athletes academic accomplishments and the need for continued support from Las Cruces.

Oct. 1: Barbara Couture ousted as President of New Mexico State University.

Oct. 9: WAC adds California State University Bakersfield and Utah Valley to non-football membership.

Nov. 26: WAC non-football member Denver leaves for Horizon League.

Nov. 27: In turn, the conference adds Grand Canyon University as non-football member. Grand Canyon is a Division II institution in Phoenix, Ariz.

Nov. 29: With league also in flux, Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson revisits possible league expansion once again: "We haven't had that conversation yet," he said. "One of our primary goals has been to maintain a tighter geography. But this is a new set of circumstances."

Nov. 1: A once-proud football league ends with whimper, as New Mexico State and Texas State play in the last WAC football game. Texas State won big, 66-28, over the visiting Aggies.

Dec. 5: The WAC continues to add faceless programs, as Chicago State becomes the next non-football member.

Dec. 12: One final addition to the WAC: Northern Colorado as a baseball affiliate.

For more Year in Review coverage from throughout Las Cruces, click here

Sports Year in Review: Memorable high school team performances in 2012

We take a look back at some teams that made an impact on the high school playing fields in 2012:

Santa Teresa boys basketball
Long an overlooked basketball team, the Desert Warriors won the Class 4A state championship a season ago with a 58-43 win over Gallup at The Pit in Albuquerque. The Desert Warriors entered the tournament undervalued - a well-coached team under veteran Bob Haack, Santa Teresa was seeded No. 7 and anchored by District 3-4A Player of the Year Adrian Ortegon. They opened postseason play with a 46-32 win over No. 11 Atrisco Heritage and then beat No. 2 Roswell 65-48 at The Pit. Then came the win over Gallup, which brought a raucous contingency to Albuquerque for the game only to see the Desert Warriors play the role of spoiler.

Chaparral boys soccer
Seeded No. 2 in the Class 4A soccer bracket, the Chaparral Lobos didn't disappoint, going the distance to capture the state championship. The Lobos beat Farmington 1-0 in the title game, played in Albuquerque this past November. Senior Adrian Cosio scored the game-winning goal in the contest, assisted by fellow seniors Enrique Martinez and Edgar Lopez. In total, Chaparral had 12 seniors on its state-championship roster. It was the first state title captured by the school, now in its seventh year of existence.

Gadsden football
At some schools, finishing the football season with a 5-5 record is considered fairly pedestrian, at others a disappointment. But at Gadsden High School? Such a performance is a standout effort. Coming off a winless season and recording just five combined wins for all of 2008, the Panthers broke even and head coach Roy Gerela was named South Coach of the Year. The Panthers won their season opener, 34-33 over Hobbs, before beating fellow south county rivals Chaparral and Santa Teresa by a combined score of 90-30. Once in District 3-5A play, the Panthers captured victories over Oñate and Alamogordo.

Las Cruces High soccer
While the Bulldawgs had a solid year on the soccer field and captured the District 3-5A championship, it was the ending of their season that garnered some attention, and controversy. Facing No. 1-seed Eldorado in the Class 5A State Tournament semifinals, the Bulldawgs lost 1-0 on a rebound off a corner kick in the 80th minute. In short, the Bulldawgs protested vociferously that an Eagles player was offsides on the play, yet to no avail as the game quickly ended and LCHS's state-title hopes were dashed. Things became so heated in the aftermath that Albuquerque Public Schools police came onto the field and even threatened to arrest coaches before clearing the field. The team was eventually escorted off, albeit with a bitter taste in its mouth.

Las Cruces High boys basketball
A very talented team, the Bulldawgs showed flashes of being a state-championship team in 2012. A versatile club, they finished the regular-season ranked No. 1 in the state, finished District 3-5A play with a 9-0 record and have a handful of other impressive wins on their resume during the year. The opening round of the state playoffs saw the Bulldawgs absolutely blow out Rio Rancho at LCHS. But in the state quarterfinals the team hit a roadblock, losing to No. 8 Clovis 69-58 in Albuquerque. It was an early-morning tipoff and an oddly-officiated contest, with many whistles being blown both ways and Bulldawgs point guard Joseph Garza - a key piece to the team's success - plagued with foul trouble. Clovis' John Dawson finished with a game-high 23 points, including some dagger 3-pointers in the second half.

Sports Year in Review: Faces, footnotes and accomplishments in Las Cruces

We take a look at some personalities that made an impact on the 2012 Las Cruces sports year:

Jim Bradley: This New Mexico football-coaching legend had his health troubles in 2012. After suffering a heart attack in November of 2011, Bradley had a stroke last January that kept him in the hospital and rehabilitation center until August. Shortly after being released, Bradley suffered another stroke, as his health troubles continued to persist. Typical Bradley, he continues to fight on, although this past year was the first since 1994 that he wasn't on the Mayfield sidelines, guiding the Trojans to victory.

Bob Ogas: Another classic sports personality who's made his mark in Las Cruces, like Bradley, Ogas suffered a stroke earlier this year. He was able to recover, and was later elected to the New Mexico High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor last August. The 71-year-old Ogas' legacy will be that of longevity - a standout baseball coach, athletics director and eventual principal at Mayfield High School. He also had a longtime standing as an NMAA administrator and representative.

Jim Miller: In his 15th year as head football coach at Las Cruces High, Miller won his fifth state championship and is now 5-0 in such games. Miller's now won titles in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2008 and 2012. Miller told the Sun-News last week that he currently plans to coach three more years as his son Kameron plays his high school career at LCHS.

Letticia Martinez: A blind swimmer and student at Las Cruces High School, Martinez competed in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London this past September. Martinez competed in the S11 Division as fully blind swimmer, taking the pool in the 50-meter (Sept. 1, fourth in her heat) and 100-meter freestyles (Aug. 31, fifth in her heat), 100-meter backstroke (Sept. 2, sixth in her heat), 100-meter breaststroke (Sept. 3, last in the finals) and 200-meter individual medley (Sept. 8, third in her heat).

Brad Harlan: The original Pistol Pete at New Mexico State University, Harlan passed away last February from cancer at the age of 56. Beginning with a crimson shirt and jeans, a white vest and a fake mustache, Harlan made his debut as the longtime NMSU mascot in 1973 at an Aggie football game and Pistol Pete's overall theme, by and large, has stuck. A number of different Aggies have worn the outfit and, unlike other college sports mascots hidden behind a large foam-rubber head, each person has brought their own unique qualities to the character of Pistol Pete. It has long been a part of Aggie lore, and Harlan was the first to do it.

Kelsey Crooks: A former Oñate High School standout and New Mexico State basketball player, Crooks passed away this past August at the age of 31. Crooks was a star athlete at Oñate, setting many basketball records at the school, before playing at his hometown college from 1999 to 2004. At 26 years old he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but later it was determined to be something else. Ultimately, Crooks passed away of a long illness.

Courtney Schultz: Coming off one of the best seasons of any cross country runner in New Mexico State history, Schultz will finish her career as one of the most decorated athletes ever to run in the Aggie cross country program. She was named Western Athletic Conference Athlete of the Week on three different occasions during the 2012 season. She finished second overall at the WAC Championships in Ruston, La. and 59th at the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky. Schultz has been named to first-team All-WAC all four years at NMSU and was named WAC Freshman of the Year in 2009. She was WAC Athlete of the Year for three-straight years, spanning 2009-11.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Friday, December 28, 2012

Aggie men's basketball enters WAC play as likely favorites

The New Mexico State Aggie men's basketball team enters Western Athletic Conference play this weekend as likely favorites to contend for a league championship.

Yes, NMSU is 6-6 and has no marquee wins to speak of. But the WAC gets progressively worse with each passing season and NMSU typically challenges, and some years wins, league titles.

Physically the Aggies should hold an edge in the WAC — size, strength and athleticism. And they've shown a penchant to overpower undersized teams (and such opponents should be prominent on the WAC schedule). The WAC preseason rankings had the Aggies picked to finish first in the coaches poll and second in the media poll.

NMSU opens WAC play this weekend with a road game at Texas-Arlington on Saturday and then another road game at Louisiana Tech on Monday. Per usual, they should be in the top-half of the league standings and playing for something in March.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Video: Teddy and Brook Show (12/27)

LCSN duo look back at the past year in Las Cruces sports, and talk about what the biggest stories were in the community:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

On break

My apologies for the lack of posts in recent days. I am actually on a brief holiday break and will not return until the middle of this week. Feel free to comment on respective posts, I will be updating from afar.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Aggie football beat: Possible changes to coaching staff?

The Cruces Sports Blog is hearing of some possible coaching-staff changes coming within the Aggie football program.

If such is true, one would figure a new offensive coordinator could be coming on board in the not-to-distant future. Yes, it would make the fifth change at NMSU’s offensive coordinator post in five years (six if you count Hal Mumme’s last year as head coach at the school) but also not far-fetched to reason.

The reality is that the Aggie offense didn’t go anywhere under last year’s coordinator Jerry McManus. For McManus, it was his first time holding such a position — a veteran coach, yes, but a first-year offensive coordinator. After scoring 49 points in a Week 1 win against Sacramento State, NMSU averaged just under 16 points per game the rest of the way.

If such a change is made, expect the Aggies to give Doug Martin a long look to take back over. Martin coached the offense to a respectable level two years ago when the Aggies had a competitive 4-9 season under head coach DeWayne Walker (who still hasn't gone anywhere, by the way). Martin left this past offseason for a better offer from Boston College, but BC did not retain head coach Frank Spaziani after this year, making Martin a possible free agent once again.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

WAC adds Texas-Pan American

(Official press release from the Western Athletic Conference)

The Western Athletic Conference announced that The University of Texas-Pan American has accepted an invitation for membership to join the conference, effective July 1, 2013.

Texas-Pan American becomes the eighth member of the conference in 2013-14, joining New Mexico State University; University of Idaho; California State University, Bakersfield; Chicago State University; Grand Canyon University; Seattle University; and Utah Valley University.

“The addition of The University of Texas-Pan American adds another important piece to the rebuilding of the Western Athletic Conference,” said WAC Interim Commissioner Jeff Hurd. “UTPA brings a program with 60 years of history and success, and we look forward to the Broncs competing at a high level in the WAC.”

UTPA will bring all 14 of its sports – baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track & field, and volleyball – to the WAC and will begin competition with the upcoming 2013-14 season.

“This is a defining moment in the history of UTPA Athletics, and it has been a long time coming,” UTPA Director of Athletics Chris King said. “We have been working hard for the last few years to transform this department into one that is no longer content with simply being at the Division I level, but instead has a strong group of student-athletes and coaches who can help us compete for championships while excelling in the classroom and the community. This is another step in that transformation process. Aligning ourselves with a nationally recognized and well-branded conference such as the WAC will allow us to gain national exposure for both UTPA and the entire Rio Grande Valley.”

Located in Edinburg, Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, UTPA’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics competes at the NCAA Division I level. UTPA, formerly known as Pan American College and Pan American University, is a part of the University of Texas System of Schools.

The Broncs have won six team national championships, including the 1963 NAIA Championship in men’s basketball and every NAIA Championship in men’s tennis from 1961 through 1965. The baseball team has seen the most success at the NCAA Division I level, reaching the NCAA Tournament 13 times, including an appearance in the 1971 College World Series.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Aggies hope to reverse trends in rematch with Lobos

(The Aggies could use a bounce-back performance Wednesday from Bandja Sy/Photo by Robin Zielinski)

When breaking down last Saturday’s Aggies vs. Lobos men’s basketball box score, the reasons NMSU lost 73-58 are obvious: The team’s two seniors, Bandja Sy (2 for 14 shooting effort) and Tyrone Watson (0 for 5) combined for a 2 for 19 shooting night from the floor; the Lobos hit 26 of 35 free-throw attempts; and UNM also drilled 7 of 13 3-point shots.

Can the Aggies get a better performance from their seniors on their home floor? One would hope. Just getting a 50-percent shooting effort from the combo would have led to a much closer game, perhaps even an Aggie victory. These are two players the team counts on in such a tough road affair, and those numbers alone (particularly Sy’s 2 for 14 effort) are a big reason the Aggies fell.

UNM’s game is to get to the free-throw line, and they hit 10 more from the charity stripe than the Aggies (NMSU hit 16 of 19 attempts). Perhaps there will be better balance in the Pan American Center.

In terms of the Lobos hitting 53 percent of their 3-point attempts, either they were red-hot or wide open. During their Tuesday press conference, the Aggies indicated they gave up open looks and need to do a better job defending the 3-point line.

Again, one would think (or at least hope) the seniors perform better on Wednesday at the Pan Am. Perhaps the other stats will balance out as well to form a competitive rivalry game, and one the Aggies can possibly win. Even if the Lobos have a fine team once again under head coach Steve Alford.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Monday, December 17, 2012

Football recruiting: Going locally, and beyond

When the New Mexico State Aggies wrap up a tough football season, the question becomes, why doesn’t the team look more in-state for its football talent?

These cries become inherently louder when locally there’s high school football success, and such was the case once again this year when Las Cruces High won yet another state championship two weeks ago.

Again, after a year such as last, these complaints could have validity. What’s the difference between a 5-foot-9 athlete that runs a mediocre 40-yard dash time, whether he’s coming from California or New Mexico?

At a school like NMSU, where coaches, administrators and the athletics department as a whole are asked to do more with less, combing the state for any conceivable football talent would seem a good idea. We go back to the Rocky Long era at the University of New Mexico, where he would bulk up his roster with New Mexico athletes and have relative success doing so.

Some received scholarships, some were walk-ons. Some became standouts (Brian Urlacher, Hank Baskett) some were just contributors and others were roster fillers. But it’s about taking what you have and working under those circumstances. There could be some immediate resources nearby that can help, yet are being overlooked or thought over.

Is it the ticket to football prominence? Perhaps it’s a step towards that goal, although believing it’s the means to an end would appear wishful.

Expanding the Aggies recruiting footprint would also seem important. The days of looking into two states for football talent — California and Texas — seems dated, and has also proven not to work at NMSU. Newsflash: The Aggies aren’t winning with such a strategy.

More of a national recruiting philosophy, where going to different areas of the country and attracting different players is a very appealing idea on the surface. Two of the Aggies best linemen in recent memory didn’t come from California or Texas. No, Tony Wragge and Nick Cole both hailed from the midwest, and were great players at NMSU before moving onto the NFL ranks.

Of course, such a philosophy takes connections and resources that might not be readily available, yet also seem important.

Alas, whether you’re recruiting at the school down the road, or seven states away, quality recruiting is ultimately the lifeblood of a program. Forget following a website and chasing names that appear to be sought after by various competitors. It’s about having quality connections, and possessing an eye for talent that may be overlooked, yet can work within your model.

Generally speaking for Aggie football, the team’s OK from a starting-lineup standpoint. Yes, these players can typically hold their own against the competition. It’s about the players after them on the roster — developing quality depth — that makes a football team one to be reckoned with over the long haul. The Aggies had six players make the All-WAC team this past year — a high number coming from a 1-11 club. They need a few more to build off that base, and have to find a way to get them any way possible.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Friday, December 14, 2012

Video: Teddy and Brook Show (12/13)

The Las Cruces Sun-News duo talks Las Cruces High's state football championship, DeWayne Walker's future and Aggies playing Lobos in rivalry basketball game:

Weekly Aggie sports podcast

This week, we sit down with and talk about DeWayne Walker's future and New Mexico State men's basketball game at New Mexico. Click here for our weekly podcast.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Austin Franklin named All American honorable mention by

(Austin Franklin runs upfield against UTEP in a mid-September game at the Sun Bowl. Franklin recorded over 1,200 receiving yards and nine touchdowns for the Aggies in 2012/Photo courtesy of NMSU athletics)

New Mexico State wide receiver Austin Franklin was named an Honorable Mention All-American.

Franklin, a sophomore from Dallas, Texas, had one of the best seasons for a wide receiver in school history and is now the 13th Aggie to earn All-American honors.

“It feels good to be honored as an All-American,” Franklin said. “I just want to take God, my friends, my family, my teammates and coaches for all the support.”

“I think this is great for Austin,” head coach DeWayne Walker said. “You could see him mature not only as a football player but as a person this season. These types of accolades are not only good for Austin but good for our program, showing that we are recruiting the right players and are continuing to grow.”

Franklin led the Aggie receiving corps in 2012 with 74 catches for 1,245 yards, averaging 103.8 yards receiving a game and 6.17 catches a contest. He also ranked eighth in the nation in receiving yards per game and 33rd in catches per game.

Franklin was second in the Western Athletic Conference in receiving yards per game, catches per game and all-purpose yards per game. His season numbers rank as the third-most receiving yards in a single season in school history.

Franklin eclipsed 100-yards receiving seven times this year and 200 yards once. He had a team-high nine touchdowns and was named a Biletnikoff semifinalist.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Links: Las Cruces High wins state football championship

As I'm sure most know, Las Cruces High won the Class 5A State Football Championship last weekend in Albuquerque, a 35-28 victory over Sandia. The Sun-News was present and had a story and photos from the game (which can be viewed by clicking here). Just as important though was a series of videos shot immediately following the contest, which can be viewed by clicking here. Enjoy.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

What happend to Aggie football, and what can be done to fix it

(The following piece appeared in Sunday's Las Cruces Sun-News. For our online edition, as well as another weekend story on head coach DeWayne Walker's future at the program, click here.)

There are a number of descriptions for this year’s New Mexico State football season: An unmitigated disaster; one of severe disappointment; one of severe depression. All would suffice.

Talk going into the year was of possible postseason play and a bowl berth. What followed was a 1-11 campaign that saw the Aggies win their first game and remain uncompetitive in every other.

How did it happen, and why? A look back at the Aggies 2012 football season:

How it unfolded

What was overlooked by those who declared NMSU’s 2012 year as one of promise: The loss of key players on both sides of the ball — quarterback, running back, wide receiver and defensive secondary to name a few key position groupings.

Also, the departure of four assistant coaches, none more glaring than offensive coordinator Doug Martin, a good addition to the Aggies staff last year who got an immediate promotion to Boston College during the offseason (ironically, BC’s head coach Frank Spaziani was relieved of his duties last week, making Martin a possible free agent once again).

In came Jerry McManus, and the Aggie offense never truly got off the ground. Aside from Austin Franklin (who had an impressive year at wide receiver), weapons in the passing game — talented targets such as Kemonte Bateman and Trevor Walls — didn’t hit full potential in terms of production. A run-based offense was, for the most part, grounded (even if mid-year starter Germi Morrison ran tough to provide a bright spot).

The quarterback unit was a microcosm of the year. Starter Andrew Manley never showed real progress — the ability to check down or throw in the short to intermediate passing zones — while sophomore backup Travaughn Colwell played some yet seldom threw (13 pass attempts compared to 31 rushes). Junior college transfer Andrew McDonald came to town only to never see the field (excluding three passes late in a blowout loss at Ohio). Odd, considering he came in as a possible competitor, only to never get a shot at a position of struggle.

Defensively, no need to pretend things were much better. There were lowlights — giving up 20 first-quarter points to UTEP, a defunct gameplan against New Mexico’s option attack — and some positive moments — 28 total points surrendered against high-powered Louisiana Tech and an improved secondary over the season’s duration.

But the final results speak for themselves: 39 points per game surrendered along with 476 yards. Just 11 sacks and nine turnovers forced during the year.

What needs to be done

The first question that must be addressed: Is head coach DeWayne Walker returning to NMSU for his fifth year at the school? The reality is that Walker’s experience here has been a difficult one, while his 10-40 career record is an eyesore and also tough to judge on its own merits.

There have been things surrounding Walker’s tenure that have been positive: The belief that he runs a good program while having good people — players and coaches — a part of it; the team, outside of a week or two during this past season, played hard; attitude and preparation still seemed to be a part of its weekly routine.

What wasn't in place was a passable offense, which has been the case three of the past four years. When there was one, the Aggies finished 4-9 in 2011, could have easily gone 6-7 and there were rays of hope in improvement (which is really all most Aggie fans want at this point anyway). When one hasn't been present, the outfit has struggled simply being competitive.

The point is this: If Walker comes back next year, he needs a good offensive coordinator, because that side of the ball simply isn't his forte. In this era of college football, teams aren’t winning many games 7-6, 14-10 and 17-13. The Aggies aren't, anyway (instead, they're losing by scores closer to 50-14).

Walker talked this year about — really, throughout the past three years he’s addressed — the need for more resources within the program. This has been honest commentary from a frustrated coach. At the end of the day, there also seems to be validity to these statements (Aggie competitors Utah State and San Jose State didn't get better simply because of a resurgence in coaching. These schools have invested money into their programs in recent years, and big-time results have followed).

Walker’s pointed to two areas in which he wants to see an uptick: His team's strength and conditioning program and in recruiting. No doubt important areas of emphasis, but may we add a third?

Get funds for assistant coaches, and hire an offensive coordinator for $150,000 to $200,000 (more the going rate, and well above what the Aggies are paying now). This will mark the fifth coordinator the school's had in five years (a mind-blowing number, which goes directly back to its on-field struggles) but could also attract a proven coach who might stick around for longer than eight months.

Get the unit up to at least an adequate level. We're not suggesting the Aggie defense was remotely close to such a clip in 2012, but maybe with an offense that could move the chains and have some variation in its game, NMSU’s defense could perform at a slightly higher level as well. In turn, you'd have a more adequate team, something the 2012 Aggies were not.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Walker: No interview, contact with Cal

Spoke with DeWayne Walker today, who's name has popped up as a possible candidate for the defensive coordinator position at California. Sonny Dykes was introduced as Cal's new head coach on Wednesday.

The speculation makes sense to some degree.

Walker, who just completed his fourth year at NMSU, used to coach against Dykes when the two were assistants in the Pacific 10 Conference and then as opposing head coach’s in the Western Athletic Conference.

With experience as a defensive coordinator at both UCLA and USC, Walker has a history in the newly-formed Pac 12 and is well connected in California.

Walker finished this year with a 1-11 record (he has a 10-40 record during his tenure at NMSU). While he has four years remaining on his contract after signing an extension this past offseason, Walker has often talked of the lack of resources surrounding the Aggie program.

When contacted by phone on Thursday, Walker said he has not been interviewed for the Cal job nor has he been contacted by the school.

“My main concern is, what do we have to do to make football a priority as a group (at New Mexico State),” he said. “That’s my main concern: What are we doing?”

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

What to watch: Friday's LCHS vs. Sandia state championship game

(Bullldawgs quarterback Jonathan Joy continues to run a flawless offense. Las Cruces High needs such a performance for just one more game/Photo courtesy of the Albuquerque Journal)

It’s seemed like a foregone conclusion for much of the year: The Las Cruces Bulldawgs playing for the 2012 State Football Championship in early December.

This is a talented team that’s hit it’s stride during the past month of the season.

Their final test awaits tonight: Taking down Sandia in Albuquerque. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Wilson Stadium between the No. 2-ranked Bulldawgs and No. 4-ranked Matadors.

Below is a breakdown of the game, and what to watch for heading into tonight’s contest:

• Bring your lunch pail: For all intents and purposes, Las Cruces High is the favorites going into tonight’s game. Their talent notwithstanding, the Bulldawgs have simply been on fire of late and haven’t had a particularly tough path to the state championship game to this point — facing No. 7 Clovis in the opening round, No. 11 Eldorado last weekend and now No. 4 Sandia. The Bulldawgs simply need to take the field with a healthy dosage of respect for the competition and be willing to do the dirty work as if they are the underdog at kickoff. If they play a straight-up, nose-to-nose football game for four quarters, that alone should give them a definitive edge in the contest.

• Mistake free: At this point, the only conceivable way the Bulldawgs slow down tonight is if they get in their own way. Last week against Eldorado, LCHS was a well-oiled machine, only stumbling when they tripped themselves in the form of penalties. Sandia will need to force some LCHS turnovers to have any chance in this one — a required plus-two or plus-three in turnover ratio for the Matadors seems necessary in order for Sandia to compete at a high level.

• Defensive gameplan: Last week the Bulldawgs played your classic bend-but-don’t-break scheme. As opposed to the man-to-man coverage in its secondary many have become accustomed to, LCHS played predominantly a deep zone against Eldorado — it also worked for a secondary that’s struggled containing the pass throughout the year. One would think the Las Cruces High defense will deploy a similar gameplan today against Sandia: Rely on the defensive line to stop the run and keep opposing wide receivers in front of the defensive backfield’s coverage.

• Sandia’s scoring prowess: With Las Cruces High’s offense locked in during recent weeks, one would think the Matadors will have to keep up in a track meet tonight. Do they have the weapons? The Matadors will throw the football out of a spread offense with quarterback Craig Coffman at the controls. They do have some athletes on their roster and size on their offensive and defensive lines (even if they’re still smaller than the physical Bulldawgs up front). Simply put, they’ll need to make less mistakes than Las Cruces High and capitalize on virtually every offensive opportunity they get.

• On a roll: Ever since a 42-21 loss to No. 1-ranked Rio Rancho on Sept. 21, the Bulldawgs have been red-hot. Since then the following final scores have taken place in favor of LCHS: A 54-27 victory at Artesia; A 52-20 triumph over Oñate; The team mercy-ruled Gadsden by halftime, 50-0; And separate playoff wins, a 70-40 victory over Clovis in the quarterfinals round followed by a 55-28 win at Albuquerque Eldorado last weekend in the state semifinals. If the Bulldawgs keep this play going, the program’s seventh state football title — and first since 2008 — would seem very attainable.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Former Aggie Williams is CFL's top special teamer

(Chris Williams, former Aggie turned CFL standout/Courtesy photo)

Former New Mexico State wide receiver and current Hamilton Tiger-Cat Chris Williams was named the Canadian Football League's Most Outstanding Special Teams Player, announced this week.

Williams returned 78 punts for 1,117 yards, averaging 14.3 yards per return while setting a new CFL record with six kick-return touchdowns in a single season. He also caught 83 passes for 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns to pace the Tiger-Cats.

Last season, Williams was named an East Division All-Star and earned the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie award.

This season, Williams was also named an East All-Star as both a receiver and a kick returner.

A Rio Rancho native, Williams played four seasons (2005-08) at New Mexico State. He caught 246 passes for 3,555 yards and 32 touchdowns with the Aggies. He also returned 42 kickoffs for 1,033 yards (24.6 avg) and two touchdowns as well as 51 punts for 297 yards (5.8 avg) and one TD.

In 2006 he set school records with 92 receptions and 1,425 receiving yards and led the nation in receiving yards per game (117.9) and catches per game (7.66). He was an All-WAC selection in 2006 and 2008 and a second-team All-WAC second-team member in 2007.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Six Aggies picked on All-WAC team

(Wide receiver Austin Franklin had a standout year for the Aggie offense, being placed on the All-WAC first team/Photo by Robin Zielinski)

The All-WAC football teams were announced yesterday. Here’s a complete list of honorees, with New Mexico State having six players named to the respective rosters. San Jose State led the way with 16 selections while Utah State and Louisiana Tech each had 14 named. The list was then followed by NMSU (six selections), UTSA (five), Idaho (three) and Texas State (three):

Top Individual Awards
Offensive Player of the Year: Colby Cameron, Sr., QB, Louisiana Tech
Defensive Player of the Year: Travis Johnson, Sr., DL, San Jose State
Freshman of the Year: Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech
Coach of the Year: Gary Andersen, Utah State

First Team

Pos-Name, School, Ht., Wt., Year
WR-*Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech, 6-2, 195, Sr.
WR-Austin Franklin, New Mexico State, 6-2, 180, So.
WR-%Noel Grigsby, San Jose State, 5-11, 175, Jr.
TE-*Ryan Otten, San Jose State, 6-5, 245, Jr.
OL-Jordan Mills, Louisiana Tech, 6-6, 315, Sr.
OL-*Stephen Warner, Louisiana Tech, 6-0, 295, Jr.
OL-Nicholas Kaspar, San Jose State, 6-4, 284, Jr.
OL-%David Quessenberry, San Jose State, 6-6, 291, Sr.
OL-*Tyler Larsen, Utah State, 6-4, 308, Jr.
OL-Eric Schultz, Utah State, 6-4, 304, Jr.
QB-Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech, 6-2, 205, Sr.
QB-Chuckie Keeton, Utah State, 6-2, 198, So.
RB-Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech, 6-0, 211, Fr.
RB-Kerwynn Williams, Utah State, 5-9, 193, Sr.

Pos-Name, School, Ht., Wt., Year
DL-IK Enemkpali, Louisiana Tech, 6-2, 245, Jr.
DL-*Travis Johnson, San Jose State, 6-3, 244, Sr.
DL-Travis Raciti, San Jose State, 6-5, 286, So.
DL-Al Lapuaho, Utah State, 6-3, 289, Sr.
LB-Vince Buhagiar, San Jose State, 6-4, 237, Jr.
LB-%#Keith Smith, San Jose State, 6-1, 229, Jr.
LB-Jake Doughty, Utah State, 6-0, 227, Jr.
LB-Kyler Fackrell, Utah State, 6-5, 236, Fr.
DB-Gary Walker, Idaho, 6-0, 203, Sr.
DB-Dave Clark, Louisiana Tech, 6-2, 190, Sr.
DB-Jeremy Harris, New Mexico State, 6-2, 185, Sr.
DB-Bené Benwikere, San Jose State, 6-0, 192, Jr.
DB-Triston Wade, UTSA, 6-0, 170, So.
DB-Will Davis, Utah State, 6-0, 192, Sr.

Pos-Name, School, Ht., Wt., Year
PK-$Trey Farquhar, Idaho, 6-1, 189, Sr.
P-*Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech, 6-2, 215, Sr.
ST-D.J. Banks, Louisiana Tech, 5-9, 185, Jr.

Second Team

WR-Myles White, Sr., Louisiana Tech
WR-Chandler Jones, Jr., San Jose State
WR-Matt Austin, Sr., Utah State
TE-Chase Harper, Sr., Texas State
OL-Oscar Johnson, Sr., Louisiana Tech
OL-Kevin Saia, Sr., Louisiana Tech
OL-%Davonte Wallace, Jr., New Mexico St.
OL-Scott Inskeep, So., UTSA
OL-Jamie Markosian, Jr., Utah State
QB-David Fales, Jr., San Jose State
RB-De'Leon Eskridge, Sr., San Jose State
RB-Ray Holley, Sr., Louisiana Tech

DL-Anthony Larceval, Jr., San Jose State
DL-David Tuitupou, Sr., San Jose State
DL-Franky Anaya, Sr., UTSA
DL-Jordan Nielsen, Fr., Utah State
LB-Trashaun Nixon, Jr., New Mexico State
LB-Steven Kurfehs, Jr., UTSA
LB-Brandon Reeves, Sr., UTSA
LB-Joplo Bartu, Jr., Texas State
LB-Zach Vigil, So., Utah State
DB-%Chad Boyd, Sr., Louisiana Tech
DB-Davis Cazares, Jr., New Mexico State
DB-Darryl Morris, Sr., Texas State
DB-McKade Brady, Sr., Utah State
DB-Nevin Lawson, Jr., Utah State

PK-Austin Lopez, Fr., San Jose State
P-%&Bobby Cowan, Sr., Idaho
P-Cayle Chapman-Brown, Jr., New Mexico State
ST-Tyler Ervin, So., San Jose State

*2011 First-Team All-WAC Selection
%2011 Second-Team All-WAC Selection
&2010 First-Team All-WAC Selection
#2010 Second-Team All-WAC Selection
$2009 Second-Team All-WAC Selection

Others receiving votes

WR-Mike Scott, Sr., Idaho; Jabari Carr, So., San Jose State; Kam Jones, So., UTSA; Chuck Jacobs, Sr., Utah State; TE-Cole Hubble, So., UTSA; Kellen Bartlett, Sr., Utah State; OL-Mike Marboe, So., Idaho; Ryan Jones, Jr., San Jose State; Cody Harris, So., UTSA; Matt Freeman, Fr., Texas State; QB-None; RB-Evans Okotcha, Jr., UTSA; Marcus Curry, Sr., Texas State.

DL-Jesse Davis, So., Idaho; Maxx Forde, So., Idaho; Shakeil Lucas, Jr., Louisiana Tech; Blake McColloch, Jr., Texas State; Connor Williams, Jr., Utah State; LB-Homer Mauga, Sr., Idaho; Rob Siavii, Sr., Idaho; DB-Aaron Grymes, Sr., Idaho; Cullen Newsome, Sr., San Jose State; Craig Mager, So., Texas State; Jason McLean, Sr., Texas State.

Special Teams
PK-Matt Nelson, Sr., Louisiana Tech; P-None; ST-Kenny Harrison, So., UTSA; Andy Erickson, Jr., Texas State; Jafus Gaines, Fr., Texas State.

Former Aggie coach leads team to D-II bowl win

(Hal Mumme celebrates with his McMurry War Hawks team after a win during October of 2011/Photo by Tommy Metthe,

Former New Mexico State Aggie head football coach Hal Mumme recently led his new school, McMurry University, to a 36-35 win over Southern Arkansas in the inaugural CHAMPS Heart of Texas Bowl. McMurry joined the Division II football ranks this past year. Mumme's in his fourth year with the War Hawks.

For a press release on the bowl-game victory, click here.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Aggie football heads into offseason. What has to be done?

Wanted to give a quick look back on the 2012 New Mexico State football season. There will be more extensive analysis later in the week, but for now a primer: What's the team's immediate needs going into the 2012 offseason?

First off, the entire year was one of immense disappointment. Coming in, there was talk of a possible bowl game, of postseason aspirations. But those expectations were met by a program ill-equipped for such lofty goals (and a 1-11 record quickly followed). What action must be taken to rectify such a situation? On the surface a lot.

For one, the team lost key contributors on both sides of the football from a year ago, as well as four assistant coaches. None left a bigger hole than offensive coordinator Doug Martin (all the departures were felt. The lack of an experienced and innovative offensive coordinator was felt most).

We like most things about NMSU head coach DeWayne Walker: the belief that he runs a good program while having good people — players and coaches — a part of it; The team, outside of a week or two during this season, played hard; Attitude and preparation still seemed to be a part of its weekly routine.

What wasn't in place was a passable offense, which has been the case three of the past four years. When there was one, the Aggies finished 4-9 in 2011, could have easily gone 6-7 that particular year and there were rays of hope in improvement (which is really all most Aggie fans want at this point anyway). When one hasn't been present, the outfit has struggled simply being competitive.

We're not passing the buck. We're saying if Walker comes back next year (which in itself doesn't look like a foregone conclusion at this point) he needs a good offensive coordinator, because that side of the ball isn't his forte.

The point is this: In this era of college football, you're not winning many games 7-6, 14-10 and 17-13. The Aggies aren't anyway (instead, they're losing games closer to 50-14).

Walker talked this year — very openly we might add — about the need for more resources within the program. This was honest commentary from a frustrated coach. At the end of the day, it also seemed valid (Utah State and San Jose State didn't get better simply because of a resurgence in coaching. These schools have invested money into their programs in recent years, and big-time results have followed).

At season's end, the Walker pointed to two areas in which he wanted to see an uptick: His team's strength and conditioning program and in recruiting. May we add a third?

Get funds for assistant coaches, and hire an offensive coordinator for $150,000 to $200,000 (more the going rate, and well below what the Aggies are paying now). This will mark the fifth coordinator the school's had in five years (a mind-blowing number, which goes directly back to the on-field struggles) but could also attract a proven coach who might stick around for longer than eight months.

Get the unit up to at least an adequate level. We're not suggesting the Aggie defense was even remotely close to such a clip in 2012, but maybe with an offense that could move the chains and have some variation in its game, NMSU's defensive performance could perform at a slightly higher level as well. In turn, you'd have more an adequate team, something the 2012 Aggies were not. Closer to an abomination, actually.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wild Saturday in Las Cruces sports

Saturday was simply wild and crazy in the world of Las Cruces sports. Some reaction will be posted shortly but just wanted to get the top news from the weekend out there for all to read:

Austin ‘No Doubt’ Trout retains title with win over Miguel Cotto: Click here for story
Get the Associated Press' take on Trout's big win at Madison Square Garden: Click here
Las Cruces High hammered Eldorado in the Class 5A State Football Semifinals: Click here
See video reaction from the Bulldawgs big road win in Albuquerque: Click here
Aggie hoops gets another home win, this one of Southern Miss: Click here
Aggie football season ends by getting drubbed at Texas State: Click here

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Aggies in realignment: What to believe and what the expect

Word came out yesterday that Conference USA, after losing East Carolina and Tulane to the Big East, would add Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic to its football membership, keeping such titles at 14.

Of course this set off rage on Twitter (the perfect storm, really) with many tweet and retweets, accusations, insinuations and assumptions pointing towards Western Kentucky and New Mexico State being added as to Conference USA as well. Why not? A 16-team field makes perfect sense. A utopia, if you will.

When reached by phone yesterday, NMSU Athletics Director McKinley Boston simply said it wasn’t true. That he had no such contact with C-USA, and that such rumblings were pure speculation. For a story on the matter, click here.

This, of course, should not be taken as surprise. If Conference USA was interested, they would have invited NMSU earlier this year as opposed to Old Dominion, a school located in Norfolk Va. that currently plays football on the FCS level (the Monarchs will become an FBS member in 2013).

And, just an opinion of course, but as long as UTEP’s a Conference USA member, the Aggies having a chance at league membership just doesn’t seem favorable. The Miners have long balked at being in the same conference as New Mexico State. Unless there’s a change in that sentiment, or UTEP picks up and leaves for the Mountain West Conference, the Aggies wouldn’t seem destined for C-USA status.

But, with that, one wouldn’t think an Aggie move back to the Sun Belt would be too far-fetched either. What’s changed in that league since the last time realignment hit full throttle? A lot, actually.

For one, Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic were both Sun Belt teams, and are now expected to leave. The conference’s football membership will now be eight — down from its previous number of 10, while 12 such members would open the chances of a football championship game. But they need bodies to accomplish these goals, too.

Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson is also the former commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference. And while the Sun Belt wasn’t keen on bringing the Aggies in previously, that was with a different membership structure within the league, and with a different leadership council at NMSU. Barbara Couture, the former president of New Mexico State and the chair of the WAC, has been since relieved of such positions. Perhaps some new blood and leadership can breath life and spur some conversation amongst past friends.

The one thing we do know? NMSU can’t play independent football for long. And the WAC as a non-football league might not be for long either.

And we’re also aware conference realignment isn’t done either. With that, we wouldn’t rule out the Aggies future in this regard.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Aggies hoops work-in-progress: its halfcourt offense

The Achilles heel for the Aggie men’s basketball team to this point of the 2012 season? Thus far, it’s been its halfcourt offense.

There are couple reasons for such struggles: For one, the team’s point-guard position remains a work-in-progress. KC Ross-Miller right now is their best option at that spot, and the Aggies will likely remain committed to him and hope he comes around by conference play. At the moment, NMSU’s 17-turnovers-per game rank third-worst in the WAC (UT-Arlington sits at 19.3 and Seattle 22).

Another issue is the Aggies don’t necessarily have a go-to player in their halfcourt offense. The last handful of years, point guard Hernst Laroche was a steady, consistent hand and power forward Wendell McKines could impose his will on the game. Would the Aggies have lost a 22-point lead against Niagara with Laroche and McKines on the floor? A pure hypothetical, obviously, but one where the answer seemingly comes back as no.

Not that the Aggies don’t have players to potentially fill this void. Tyrone Watson can make a play with the ball in his hands, yet is versatile, not a one-trick scorer. Daniel Mullings is athletically gifted, but still at his best in the open floor. Centers Sim Bhullar and Tshilidzi Nephawe are big, strong and imposing, yet are still developing moves in the low post.

The Aggies remain a team at its best on the break — last year they needed their defense to create their offense, pushing transitional opportunities that way — yet can stall in the halfcourt. With that, the season’s still very much in front of them.

While the pre-conference season appears to be rough, Marvin Menzies’ teams, for the most part, have gotten better as the season progresses. The WAC does not appear particularly strong, meaning the Aggies should be right there in the standings.

Wednesday night’s game at UTEP? It’s a winnable one. With that, pre-conference games such as Southern Miss, UNM, South Alabama and Missouri State don’t figure to be easy, simply because the Aggies are still very much finding themselves.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Friday, November 23, 2012

Five keys going into NMSU vs. BYU game

Taking a look at Friday’s college football game:

• Ray of hope?: Should the Aggies, or their fans, have reason to believe today will be different from past Saturdays throughout the 2012 college football season? Since their Week 1 win over Sacramento State, the Aggies really haven’t been in any games and now BYU comes to town in the final home contest of the year. On paper, it looks like much of the same should be expected, which would mean a long day at Aggie Memorial Stadium for the home team.

• Can they score?: NMSU’s last game against San Jose State might as well have ended in a shutout — down 47-0, the Aggies managed to score a touchdown with under a minute to play in the contest. The Aggie offense hasn’t progresses as the season’s moved along — a lack of creativity where the deep ball is forced frequently — which means it’s taken steps back. Even a couple touchdowns today would be encouraging.

• Dealing with BYU up front: How will the Aggies protect quarterback Andrew Manley? This is a key for the team every game, and the Cougars certainly have the bodies up front the get after NMSU’s drop-back quarterback. BYU’s front-seven is its strength, namely a linebacking corps anchored by standout Kyle Van Noy. Expect the Cougars to attack the Aggies like most teams have this season — get after Manley up front while taking away the deep ball in the secondary. Thus far NMSU hasn’t been able to capitalize against such strategies.

• Aggies front-seven: How does this part of NMSU’s defense — the line and linebackers — match up against BYU’s offensive line? The Cougars will look to overpower the Aggies in the trenches during the contest. In truth, BYU doesn’t quite have the same big-play capabilities as some of NMSU’s past opponents this season (team’s such as Utah State, San Jose State and Louisiana Tech, for instance). What the Cougars are is physical, and they’ll simply look to wear NMSU down.

• An inspired effort: It’s been a depressing season across the board, but ending on a high note in the home finale would be good to see. If the Aggies simply go out, play hard and compete, this would qualify as marked as progress. If for nothing else, it would be nice for a senior class about to play their final game at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Aggie volleyball wins WAC Championship, headed to 2012 NCAA Tournament

(The New Mexico State Aggies: 2012 WAC Volleyball Tournament champions/Courtesy of Mark Sobhani Photography)

One word to describe NMSU's first-place finish in the WAC Volleyball Tournament: Huge.

We've said it before — the Aggie volleyball team is currently the school's most consistent in terms of competing for and winning conference championships. That's six in 15 years for head coach Mike Jordan (there would have been more, as well, if not for national power Hawaii being a part of the WAC for many years).

The Aggies will take any good piece of news they can get in what's been a tough fall season for the athletics department. But this also signifies NMSU's third NCAA Tournament berth in the past calendar year: Men’s basketball qualified last March, baseball last May and now volleyball in late November. Such victories indicate a good balance.

For a full recap of the volleyball team's WAC Championship win over Idaho, click here.

PREP FOOTBALL: Bulldawgs should play for state title

Las Cruces High football can go, and perhaps should go, to the state championship game in early December.

Simply put, the Bulldawgs have very few holes on their team. None offensively and just one on its entire club: Their pass defense, more specifically the defensive secondary.

Yes, depth behind senior quarterback Jonathan Joy is shaky and the team has suffered some gut-wrenching playoff losses in recent seasons. Like any program this time of year, the Bulldawgs must keep their starting QB healthy and avoid a postseason letdown.

If they do those things, however, playing for a state title becomes a realistic scenario. For the Bulldawgs it’s all about the matchups, and assuming they get the right ones the rest of the way, will find themselves in good position.

Take this weekend’s State Championship Quarterfinals opponent, the Clovis Wildcats. Yes, Clovis is a battle-tested program with a first-rate head coach in Eric Roanhaus. They’re also a run-first team that relies heavily on standout back Kamal Cass, who essentially does it all for the Wildcats attack.

Such is simply a good scenario for the Bulldawgs, and their beastly defensive front-seven. Why with players such as Sam Denmark, Taylor Tisby and Kamryn Dixon, LCHS is typically too big and too strong up front for teams to run the ball successfully.

On the other hand, a bad matchup for LCHS? Their last loss, a 42-21 defeat at Rio Rancho on Sept. 21. The Rams like to spread out the opposition and throw the football often, a test for the Bulldawgs defense.

Granted, the Bulldawgs have played better since that game and, if they saw the Rams once again for the state championship, it would likely be a very good contest and a tough one to project at that.

Of course, both teams must navigate through their respective brackets to reach that point. But both are also top-ranked — the Rams are seeded No. 1, the Bulldawgs No. 2. On the surface, it appears to be a collision course at the top.

Assuming both take care of business in the coming weeks. For LCHS, it starts this Friday at home against Clovis.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Sunday, November 18, 2012

House, Green contribute for respective NFL teams

(Davon House knocked down another former Western Athletic Conference player on Sunday: Detroit Lions wide receiver Titus Young, formally of Boise State/AP photo)

Wrote a story that appeared in Sunday's Sun-News on Davon House and Jonte Green, former Aggie cornerbacks who are now contributors to NFL teams (House with Green Bay, Green with Detroit).

To read the story, click here.

Both teams, and in turn the players, squared off today, with the Packers getting a 24-20 win over the Lions. House recorded four tackles, a sack and a pass defensed. Green made two tackles.

Some tidbits that didn't make it to print:

As mentioned, while physically Green brought a lot to the table, from a production standpoint he was up and down at NMSU. One point that was addressed in the story was Aggie head coach DeWayne Walker's presence — being a former NFL defensive backs coach himself. The point is well taken: Walker's connected in the business, and for that reason could land on his feet regardless of how his future at NMSU shakes out — good, bad or otherwise.

And one more thing about House as well: This is a player who received zero scholarship offers coming from Palmdale High School in Southern California. Who sent out an email and highlight video to every Division-I program in the country, before getting a non-scholarship invite to NMSU in the summer of 2007.

"I got a lot of responses,” House told the Sun-News prior to the 2010 season. “Some said I wasn't good enough, some said they didn't have enough scholarships. There was rejection. Except for NMSU."

He performed well in 2007 fall training camp to earn a scholarship, got better every season going forward and was drafted four years later.

Some pretty cool stories.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Video: Teddy and Brook Show (11/15)

LCSN duo talks about Mayfield vs. Manzano playoff football game, Aggie men's basketball's early season:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

District 3-5A basketball: Breaking down the local district with the season officially here

(Kai Williams and the Bulldawgs powered through District 3-5A a season ago/Photo by Shari V. Hill)

Will the 2012-13 high school basketball season be any different in District 3-5A? Last year it was straight-forward: Las Cruces High School in the boys division and Mayfield High School in the girls. League supremacy for each school swiftly followed.

At least at the outset, that power grid appears to remain in place. Still, perhaps a darkhorse team or two can rise up and make things interesting.

With that, a brief preview of our local district, with the new season set to tip off tonight.

Las Cruces High: This team was loaded last year and looks strong once again. Joseph Garza returns at point guard and Kai Williams and Trevor Noel are back in the frontcourt. Last year the Bulldawgs had a disappointing loss in the quarterfinals to Clovis. They’re still looking to hang their first high school boy’s hoops championship banner since 1976.

Mayfield: The Trojans have a fine head coach in Tommy Morrow but from a personnel standpoint much is unknown. Their two best players from a season ago, Taylor Gibbs and Orlando Benavente Verdugo, are gone. Morrow often gets the max out of the minimum, and might have to do as much again.

Oñate: The Knights had some talent a season ago, finishing third in District 3-5A regular-season play despite the likes of Brandon Rosales, Sammy Barnes and Daemund McCants making up the roster. This year Barnes is gone (he moved to Tucson) while Rosales graduated. Similar to Mayfield, the Knights roster is somewhat of an unknown.

Alamogordo: A former head coach with a successful track record, Mike Day returns to the Tigers. Could Alamo be a darkhorse team in District 3-5A? Perhaps. The community has a history of having athletes and also some basketball success. Such assets simply haven’t risen to the forefront in recent years.

Gadsden: Simply put, the Panthers weren’t good a season ago. With that, they’ve had some past years of competitive play. Could a surprise year in high school football inspire a similar push on the hardwood? Looking for such motivation can’t hurt.

Mayfield: The Trojans return a good frontcourt headlined by Daeshi McCants and Allie Pierce. Mayfield has a tried and true system and winning tradition — a top-notch program. No reason to expect George Maya’s team to slow down in 2012.

Las Cruces High: The question becomes, what does the Bulldawg roster look like going into 2012-13? Scoring machine Samantha Montoya graduated (she won District 3-5A Player of the Year a season ago) and the team was very undersized last year. LCHS is always a well-coached team, and figures to have some shooters once again.

Oñate: Similar to the Bulldawgs, if the Knights have the pieces on their roster to put together a good team, they likely will. They did lose a lot from a season ago — in the form of graduation (Alexyss Burkhartsmeier was their top player) and some defections to Centennial High School.

Alamogordo: The Tigers should be improved under second-year head coach Fernando Sanchez. All five starters are back for Alamogordo and, while the team might not necessarily compete for a district title, expecting them to make a move in league is fair.

Gadsden: The Panthers were a team that played hard last season and advanced to the District 3-5A championship game before narrowly losing to Mayfield (as the No. 5-seed in district, GHS missed out on the state playoffs). They must replace some corps players, however, including leader Nathalie Castellanos.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Monday, November 12, 2012

Looking back: Recapping the Aggies poor performance vs. San Jose State

(San Jose State running back De'Leon Eskridge stiff-armed his way to the end zone on Saturday in the Spartans 47-7 win over the Aggies/Photo by Robin Zielinski)

The bottom-line reality regarding New Mexico State's 47-7 football slugging taken at the hands of San Jose State: The Aggies looked absolutely horrible.

DeWayne Walker summed it up just fine during his post-game press conference, which can be viewed here, or read about here.

One thing about Walker: You may never meet a more honest head coach. He says how he feels, not what's necessarily politically correct or what will make people happy. By and large, he calls it like it is, and in this case he did so once again.

The Aggies were outplayed in every possible area — minus perhaps punting, which has been the norm this year and perhaps explains why the team stands at 1-9 overall.


A personal hypothesis, so take it as you will:

One area the Aggies did not perform in Saturday, and assuming part of Walker's comments could be attributed to this fact, was simply in desire plays. In the case of defense, one could point to poor tackling.

Yes, this team looked demoralized and, as we write every week, it brings us back to the offensive side of the ball, which has brought nothing to the table.

Week 11 of the season just ended yet the offense hasn't progressed, meaning it's actually gotten worse as the year's moved along.

The unit continues shooting itself in the foot: Quarterback Andrew Manley leads Austin Franklin — nice throw and catch — into San Jose State territory, only to see a flag on the field following the play: Illegal shift. Bring it back. Such sequences have been weekly occurrences.

There's also no creativity.

San Jose State plays deep coverage in its secondary, predominantly to take away the big passing play. Regardless, the Aggies continue forcing the ball deep, even with backup Travaughn Colwell in.

The point is that NMSU's defense could have given up 14 points on Saturday and the team likely would have lost anyway. That's just tough to take.

The Aggies haven't scored a first-half touchdown in over a month (their last one came Oct. 6 at Idaho). They should have been shutout Saturday if not for Colwell's touchdown pass to Trevor Walls with under a minute remaining in the game.

Again, in this sport, when you're not getting better you're getting worse. And the Aggie offense hasn't gotten better in 2012.


Going back to Manley: People can point the finger at the sophomore QB and that's fine. He's under-performed this year and was probably over-hyped to begin with.

Andrew still struggles checking down in his progressions and telegraphs passes to intended receivers. But this also goes back to coaching: Either he's not coachable — which I don't believe to be true — or he's received of lack of it at his position.


A theory about fans: Generally speaking, while wins and losses of course remain important, general followers of teams just want to see a ray of hope. While last year it was present, this season Aggie fans just haven't seen enough of it.


It's another bye week for the team. And, no, in this case it does not come at a good time.

Not after Saturday's performance. It would be better to take the field again and take some aggression out, not sit around and let the recent play fester.

Now the Aggies will wait two weeks before hosting Brigham Young in the second-to-last game of the year, before traveling to Texas State to close out the season Dec. 1.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Saturday, November 10, 2012

VIDEO: NMSU coach DeWayne Walker, players talk about Saturday's loss

New Mexico State head coach DeWayne Walker, players talk about Saturday's 47-7 loss to San Jose State:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

VIDEO: Teddy and Brook Show (11/8)

Sports tandem talk Las Cruces High vs. Mayfield prep football showdown:

Who, what holds keys going into Friday’s Cruces vs. Mayfield rivalry football game

Friday night’s Las Cruces High vs. Mayfield game is fairly typical of years past. Both teams are currently ranked top-four in the state (Las Cruces High No. 2, Mayfield No. 4 according to the website and the contest could very well be an intriguing one.

While the Bulldawgs have been the stronger team throughout the year, Mayfield has come on of late, notching emphatic wins against Oñate (48-0) and Alamogordo (48-12) in recent weeks.

Today we take set the table for Friday’s matchup, and discuss where the game can be won or lost.

Mayfield looking better: A month ago this didn’t appear to be much of a game. Aside from the Bulldawgs being a state-championship caliber team, the Trojans looked very ordinary, an odd sentiment considering recent history had the team notoriously place amongst the state’s finest. But Mayfield had it’s bye week Oct. 19 and has come back a better club since. It’s big wins over Oñate and Alamogordo notwithstanding, the Trojans have looked more like the typical program we’re used to: One that executes well and doesn’t beat itself with turnovers and penalties. Such negative factors were prominent early in the year yet have dissipated in recent weeks.

One talented team: By and large the Bulldawgs have assets to win a state title: A very good offensive backfield (quarterback Jonathan Joy and running back J.J. Granados) a very big offensive line and a strong defensive front-seven. Along both lines of scrimmage the team is quick and should hold an advantage Friday. Make no mistake: Even with the Trojans improved play of late, judging from this season’s overall body of work, the favorite heading into the contest figures to be the Bulldawgs.

Mayfield quarterback play: Can the Trojans move the ball offensively? Granted, LCHS played good pass defense in a mid-year win at Artesia — one of the state’s premier pass-happy teams — but many still believe Las Cruces’ Achilles heal to be the defensive secondary. Mayfield has had a time-share at quarterback with sophomore Kavika Johnson and senior Andrew Serna operating the offense. Both are athletic (Johnson in particular has a pair of wheels in the running game), but can they hit receivers downfield in the passing game? And, when LCHS’s aggressive defensive front pins its ears back, can the Trojans rushing attack — which should include their running quarterbacks — find lanes up front and break off to the races? If the Trojans enter this one with a straight-ahead run, run, run gameplan, it could be a long night against the Bulldawgs beastly front-seven.

Protecting Jonathan Joy: Las Cruces High’s senior quarterback has proven to be a very good player in his first year as a starter. One key for LCHS this week and moving into the state playoffs is fairly obvious: Keeping Joy upright and healthy. As long as he’s under center and running the Bulldawgs offense, this team should be a dangerous opponent every week. If he ever went down? It would seem a dicey proposition for the team’s chances at success.

Playoff impact: If the Bulldawgs win Friday don’t expect much change in the form of playoff seedings for either team. Las Cruces High would remain a top-two seed while the Trojans’ first-round bye (which goes to the top-four teams in the state bracket) would be in jeopardy. But if the Trojans win? Certainly a first-round bye would then be in store and who knows where LCHS would fall. Three other key games in the state playoff picture this weekend: No. 1 Rio Rancho at No. 6 Cleveland in District 1-5A title; No. 3 La Cueva at No. 5 Sandia in District 2-5A; and No. 8 Manzano vs. No. 10 Eldorado in another District 2-5A battle. With that as the backdrop, consider the extreme parity of Class 5A, where teams have essentially beaten up each other all season (for instance: Las Cruces High lost to Rio Rancho yet beat La Cueva; Mayfield fell to Eldorado but topped Manzano). All things considered, if even a few upsets occur in the aforementioned games, the state playoff seedings could be thrown into a tailspin come next week.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thoughts, analysis following Aggies scrimmage vs. WNMU

My initial thought following New Mexico State’s men’s basketball scrimmage against Western New Mexico (a 98-49 NMSU win)? Encouraged.

What I really want to see from NMSU in 2012: Once again, a commitment to the defensive end of the floor and rebounding the basketball. This is how the Aggies played last year and, while they weren’t necessarily the prettiest basketball team in the country, getting wins and going to the NCAA Tournament was beautiful. This is a formula that can beat any team on any night and a gameplan one can pack up and take on the road.

They were just a much bigger and physical team than WNMU and the stats were expected, and all we needed to see: NMSU shot 23 free throws, WNMU three; NMSU grabbed 46 rebounds, WNMU 26; NMSU turned the ball over 16 times, WNMU 22; NMSU shot just over 58 percent, WNMU just over 38. In essence, a team the Aggies should have pounded, they did. Nothing wrong with that and the final score took care of itself.

What stood out: The Aggies have bodies and depth. I thought, for being 7-foot-5, Sim Bhullar moved well. Still don’t know how teams would match up with the Aggies if they elected to put Bhullar and Tshilidzi Nephawe on the floor simultaneously. Renaldo Dixon has looked good and B.J. West was the 11th or 12th man off the bench Tuesday. Ditto for Remi Barry. You could do worse than this rotation.

I thought Kevin Aronis gave them something they didn’t have last year — a shooter who goes up with confidence. He hit consecutive 3-pointers in the first half and looked good doing it. My surprise of the evening: Guard Eric Weary, who shot the ball well (three-of-five from the floor, one-of-three from 3-point range), made some nice passes and made some plays defensively. He came in late and made an impact in my mind.

Offensively, I thought the Aggies moved the ball better than they have in recent memory.

My one question mark leaving the gym? Point guard. K.C. Ross-Miller looked OK as the team’s starter, but it was against Western. Daniel Mullings did not look comfortable as the primary backup point guard. Terrel de Rouen checked in late and I thought he brought some good play to the court: He’s a tough kid who won’t back down to anybody; takes on the challenge defensively and wants the best player on that end of the floor; and is also a wildcard who came down court at one point and immediately pulled up for a jump shot (can't imagine this play is what the coaching staff typically wants from the point guard). This position will be one to watch when NMSU opens its season this Sunday at Oregon State.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Las Cruces High vs. Mayfield: Looking ahead

With the annual Las Cruces High vs. Mayfield football rivalry game set to kick off this Friday, we take a look at the matchup. More news, notes and analysis will follow leading up to the contest. For now, an early-week primer:

• A month ago it looked like this would be a one-sided affair going in favor of the Bulldawgs. And, while an early-week prognostication still leans towards Las Cruces High, Mayfield has flipped a switch its last two games — really, since its bye week. The Trojans have blasted Oñate and Alamogordo their last two times on the field and have at least curtailed their early-season undoing — which was, essentially, a lack of execution in the form of turnovers and penalties. The Trojans haven't beaten themselves in recent weeks. Such a turn of events now at least gives us reason to believe this one can be interesting.

• Las Cruces High is simply a very talented team and has an advantage at most positions. Namely, quarterback where Jonathan Joy has had a solid season, along the offensive line and the team's defensive front-seven. Although Las Cruces High's secondary played better in a mid-season win at Artesia (one of the state's premier pass-happy teams) LCHS could still be vulnerable defending that area of the field. But can Mayfield take advantage if opportunities present themselves in the passing game? The Trojans haven't thrown the ball much this season, but getting a big play or two through the air could tip the scales back in their favor.

• Las Cruces High won big last weekend: A 50-0 triumph over Gadsden that was called at halftime due to the New Mexico Activities Association's mercy rule. Were they looking to make a statement? Any way you slice it, such was an emphatic victory.

• One player to watch for the Trojans: Sophomore quarterback Kavika Johnson, who has the potential to be a super one. He already has the wheels to make an impact in the running game. What about the passing game, though? Friday night could be a good time to find out how this sophomore with potential can spin it downfield.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Friday, November 2, 2012

Can NMSU play with Auburn? Perhaps

Can the New Mexico State Aggies play with the Auburn Tigers this Saturday? Judging from the two teams’ 1-7 records, one would think it’s possible.

The Tigers are still an SEC team and are 22 1/2-point favorites going into Saturday’s game. They have a good-looking front-seven defensively and NMSU could very well have trouble running the football (nothing drastically new here, even if the Aggies have had more success in this area in recent weeks).

The Tigers don’t blitz an in-ordinate amount and are willing to play man coverage in the secondary. Here’s where NMSU could move the ball — if wide receivers Austin Franklin and Kemonte Bateman can get loose and, in turn, get the football. In essence, the short-to-intermediate passing attack has been there all season for the Aggies and there’s no reason to think it won’t be again Saturday. Can the team take advantage of that defensive gameplan, however? A key question.

The Tigers have a young team including at quarterback, where freshman Jonathan Wallace is seeing increased action. While Auburn hasn’t displayed much in terms of big-play offense this year, they have a good running back in sophomore Tre Mason and a big offensive line. Wallace is a dual-threat QB as well. In other words, this is one area the Tigers could try and exploit — wearing on the Aggies over the course of the contest with a physical ground game.

Auburn is under pressure to perform and head coach Gene Chizik needs to win badly — they don’t pay head coaches in the SEC to be six games under .500 late in the season. A shocking turn of events, just two years after winning the national title. The truth is that Auburn’s young and, similar to the Aggies, their minus-10 turnover ratio certainly isn’t helping their cause (not coincidentally, NMSU carries the same statistic into Saturday’s contest).

If I had to guess, I'd say NMSU plays within two touchdowns of the Tigers.

Here are some links:
Aggies hope to continue gradual improvement: Click here for story
A pair of 1-7 football teams clash: Click here for story
I previewed the game with Click here for story

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Video: Teddy and Brook Show (11/1)

Sports duo talk Aggies at Auburn, high school football, other tidbits:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Recapping the Aggies surprise performance vs. No. 24 Louisiana Tech

(Donte Savage and the Aggie defense played tough against Kenneth Dixon and Louisiana Tech's No. 1-ranked scoring offense/Photo by Robin Zielinski)

The best way to describe New Mexico State's football performance against Louisiana Tech on Saturday? From a defensive standpoint, it was astounding.

For NMSU to give up just 28 points? Against a team averaging 56 points per game on the season; against a team that scored under 50 points just once all year (when it tallied 44 against Virginia); against a team that dropped 57 points on Texas A&M and rang up another 70 and over 800 yards of offense against Idaho? Simply put, the Aggie defense looked like a brand-new unit Saturday evening.

Think about NMSU's early-season contests against the likes of Ohio, UTEP and New Mexico. Games where the unit looked poor in spurts or, frankly, all together in its entirety. On Saturday against Louisiana Tech the secondary covered well while sniffing out the Bulldogs screen-passing game. The defensive front-seven battled against the run and the Aggies tackled much more effectively. Going into the game, many (including this blog) thought a 60- or 70-point outing from Louisiana Tech was more than possible. But a season-low 28-point output? With the way the 2012 season's gone this was a moral victory and, when considering the opponent, the best game NMSU's played this season.

Unfortunately, if the defense has gotten better since it's early-season showing and played well enough to win against the No. 24-ranked team in the country, the offense hasn't made nearly the same strides, if any at all.

On a night when the team was expected to move the chains more effectively and score in the range of four touchdowns — a fair expectation against a defense that surrendered 36 points per game prior Saturday's 6 p.m. kickoff — 14 points (all coming in the fourth quarter with NMSU already trailing 28-0) fell well short of the needed goal for victory.

Not that this is a new development. The Aggies have had underwhelming offenses throughout recent years (last year's Doug Martin stopover being the exception) and Saturday's performance has been the norm this season as well. Frankly, we've been resigned it.

Look no further than the curious handling of the quarterback position, particularly backup Travaughn Colwell: When he's in the game, the sophomore will run the ball out of the shotgun-wildcat formation. For an opposing defense, little guess work is involved, and the pickings look relatively easy. Then, he's put under center on a fourth-and-short play during the third quarter, only to fumble the snap from center. It's one of the few times — perhaps only time — Colwell's been put in such a position this season. Poor timing for such a move.

The use of the tight end continues to puzzle. Trevor Walls makes two nice grabs early, then is seemingly ignored the rest of the game. What ever happened to playing to one of the team's strengths?

And overall the unit continues to shooting itself in the foot — this is the main issue, as NMSU was relatively effective moving the ball Saturday. The first half saw some untimely drops and holding penalties, the second half witnessed three killer turnovers, in some cases with NMSU driving and establishing some momentum. It's been a theme throughout the season.


There were some offensive bright spots: Aside from his third-quarter interception, quarterback Andrew Manley played better. That, and running back Germi Morrison's been reliable, continuing to run hard and catch the football (16 carries, 92 yards; four receptions, 51 yards). Him and the offensive line (which has also played better since the bye week) seem to have generated some threat of a rushing attack.


When considering the above-mentioned factors, Saturday's game was counter-intuitive to many pre-game predictions. Again, the general expectation was for Louisiana Tech to score near its season average, perhaps higher. That, and after moving the ball better last week — despite finishing with just seven points against Utah State — NMSU's offense figured to have a level of success against the Bulldogs. Scores of 7-0 at halftime and the 28-14 final went directly against that pre-determined script.


If the Aggies continue their improvement, they should finish the season pushing a team or two and could grab another win.


One look at this game, and it's not far-fetched to reason Louisiana Tech could be slightly overrated. That, or they just weren't entirely on their game Saturday night.

For starters, they are a fun offense to watch in rhythm and their season statistics are unreal. And it would be naive to think three missed field goals in the first half from Matt Nelson didn't have some negative effect on them and could have boosted the Aggies morale as well.

But, as written on this blog before, Utah State could very well be the more well-rounded club going into the two teams Nov. 17 showdown in Ruston, La., that will most likely determine the WAC championship.


The Aggies go to Auburn this weekend with one of the surprise statistics of the season: Both teams holding identical 1-7 records.

The Tigers are minus-10 in turnover margin this season (same as the Aggies) and start nine freshman and sophomore players on the depth chart, eight juniors and just six seniors.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Sunday, October 28, 2012

VIDEO: Aggies postgame press conference vs. Louisiana Tech

DeWayne Walker, players react to 28-14 loss to No. 24-ranked Louisiana Tech

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sources: Establishing the Aggies independent schedule

Through reports and sourcing, we've compiled what is believed to be the majority of the Aggies 2013 independent football schedule. Nothing's been released from NMSU at this point. Here's what we've learned:

2013 home games
Abilene Christian
Florida Atlantic
(*Note: Aggies would like to establish one more home game on schedule)

2013 away games
New Mexico
(*Note: We understand Aggies could schedule sixth road game against BYU)

Five keys for Aggies vs. Louisiana Tech

Score, score, score some more: The Aggie offense looked better last week in the form of gameplan and scheme. But they couldn’t cash in, leaving two to three touchdowns on the field due to turnovers, penalties and missed passes — in a nutshell, a lack of execution against a good Utah State defense. Louisiana Tech gives up 38 points per game, struggling to stop opposing offenses throughout the year. The Aggies will have chances to put points on the board again Friday, and will have to against a high-octane Bulldogs team.

A balanced attack: In the case of Friday, a good offense will be a good defense. Control the ball and the clock and move the first-down chains, which would obviously be aided in the form of a good rushing attack. The Aggies haven’t had a balanced attack this season and haven’t been able to capitalize on the short-to-intermediate passing game. Both areas will have to be in effect Friday, if for nothing else to keep Louisiana Tech’s offense (which averages 56 points per game) off the field.

Slow them down: Can the Bulldogs offense be stopped? It hasn’t thus far. They looks like a team that could easily put up 60, 70 points tonight ((they scored 70 last week against Idaho, and haven’t been held under 40 points in a game all season). In the case of the Aggie defense: Get off the field on third downs and do whatever possible to hold Louisiana Tech to field goals instead of touchdowns. This is a Bulldogs team capable of getting into the end zone every time it touches the ball. Simply slowing them down would be a good starting point for Friday’s game.

Don’t lie down: At 1-6 on the season and getting battered virtually every week, the Aggies haven’t given up and continue to play hard on Saturdays. It’s late October, meaning over a month remains in the college football season. The goal at this point should be simple: Instead of worrying about wins and losses, continue to play hard on Saturdays and make improvements in all phases of the game.

A nationally-ranked program: This is an opportunity for people in Las Cruces to see the No. 24-ranked team in the country, highlighted by Louisiana Tech’s No. 1-ranked scoring offense. The Bulldogs are 30-point favorites coming into the game and just re-entered the national polls. A win for the home team will be a tall order — if possible at all — but it will be a chance to play, and for fans to see, a top team in the country.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Key players for Aggie basketball going into 2012-13

(Tyrone Watson was a smart, steady and tough player for the Aggies last year. An improved jump shot could improve his value as a go-to player in 2012-13/AP photo)

Wrote a story the other day about New Mexico State guard Daniel Mullings. To read all about it, click here.

Daniel is a key player on this year’s men’s basketball team, along with a handful of other 2012-13 Aggies. This is a team with a number of question marks on its roster, although not necessarily in a negative way. Here’s how I see it:

No one on this year’s team can come back as essentially the same player they were a season ago. In Daniel’s case, it’s an improved offensive game on the perimeter — jump shooting, free-throw shooting, ball handling. Athletically, on a scale of one to 10, Mullings checked in at a 10 last season. He was a difference maker defensively and was a tremendous player in the open court. If he gets his perimeter game down in the halfcourt offense, the sophomore has the potential to be a very special player at NMSU.

Two seniors also need to see improvements in certain aspects of their game.

I like what Tyrone Waton brings to the basketball team — a smart and tough player, a leader. He’s a good decision maker and under-rated passer. A steady and consistent contributor. Would it be nice if his jump shot was more effective this season? Absolutely. When defenders lay off him on the offensive end of the floor — which we saw often last year — he has to make them pay by knocking it down. This would also increase his value as a go-to player on the team.

Another, Bandja Sy, has tremendous physical ability and was an X-factor last year for the Aggies: when he was hitting the 3-point shot NMSU became a much tougher club to defend and he was a good defender during the season. Simply put, a more competitive Sy would mean a potentially dominant player. We hearken back to last year’s 83-78 overtime win at Fresno State when Sy scored 22 second-half points and pulled down five rebounds and think about the possibilities that could await him. Fair or unfair, if Sy took the court like Watson or last year’s senior Wendell McKines, we see a potential force.

No, we have not given up on Remi Barry. And, yes, we think Tshilidzi Nephawe (with his soft pair of hands and adequate free-throw shooting) could be an X-factor on the team. With a front-court of Nephawe and 7-foot-5 Sim Bhullar, along with 6-foot-11 B.J. West and Renaldo Dixon, the Aggies have startling size and potential skill to work with here. And we understand the shoes that must be filled at NMSU with the loss of McKines and last year’s steady point guard Hernst Laroche.

Yes, much is unknown about this year’s Aggie team. But the start of their season is also something to look forward to as we enter late fall and then winter.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg