Saturday, July 14, 2012
Working the polls: Notes and opinion, as we power rank for 2012 WAC football
Some notes as I'm currently doing homework on my WAC football preseason poll.
The media poll is due next week, and will be released, along with the coaches poll, on July 26.
• On paper, Louisiana Tech is the premier team in the conference, coming off a 2011 WAC championship.
A look at preseason All-WAC members on the league's respective teams according to college football guru Phil Steele, who's preseason magazine is out of this world: Louisiana Tech (21), Utah State (14), Idaho (14), San Jose State (13), New Mexico State (9), Texas State (8), Texas-San Antonio (5).
The biggest surprise here for me here? Idaho, with 14 players on the list.
• I really think some things need to break the Aggies way if they want to push the .500 mark this season — or be bowl eligible.
One of these things is to sweep their rivals in 2012. I think the University of New Mexico will be better this year — they should be better coached — although that would still figure to be a very winnable game for NMSU in Las Cruces.
UTEP was, in many respects, rebuilding last year yet somehow won in Las Cruces — that fake punt/special teams made all the difference in the Aggies 16-10 loss.
Winning at the Sun Bowl won't be easy for NMSU this season, but it's a rivalry game and anything can happen here.
Another scenario would be the Aggies winning two of three games this season against three teams in particular — Louisiana Tech, Utah State and San Jose State. No, this won't be easy, actually quite difficult.
Again, Louisiana Tech is the WAC's premier team on paper, and NMSU gets them in Las Cruces.
The Aggies also host San Jose State, a team that was much improved last year and could make a push atop the WAC standings this season.
And Utah State, another good team, will host the Aggies — this should be a tough game in Logan.
• The No. 1 key to the entire Aggies season could very well be the health and production of quarterback Andrew Manley.
Manley tore his ACL last year as NMSU did a very poor job protecting him — too many seven-step drops for the big-armed passer, and he was out for the season by the end of Week 3.
A healthy Manley has the ability to be a difference maker for the Aggies.
This actually falls in line with some of NMSU's WAC foes — look no further than Louisiana Tech and Utah State, who have signal callers Colby Cameron and Chuckie Keeton under center. Both of these players' health could very well hold the keys to their two teams' respective seasons. Cameron played very well down the stretch last year for the Bulldogs, while Keaton was a spectacular early-season player for the UtAgs before getting hurt. Both have to be out on the field for their clubs.
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