Friday, August 31, 2012
What the Aggies did well, what they need to work on
A look back at New Mexico State’s 49-19 win over Sacramento State. What we think the team did well, and what they can work on going forward.
What they did well: The final score
Just the 49-19 outcome was good for the Aggies. Any time New Mexico State can beat another team by 30 points it’s a big win. It also gives the pundits less fodder. A sector of the community has wondered if the Aggies would be better served in the Football Championship Subdivision level (formally Division I-AA). By beating the Hornets big, an FCS program itself, it proves a point for NMSU. And would you rather have the shoe on the other foot? The University of Idaho (in a similar position to the Aggies, as a WAC football program without a legitimate home in 2013) lost to Eastern Washington, another program in the FCS, 20-3 on Thursday during the Vandals 2012 home opener. Eastern Washington could very well be a better team than Sacramento State but, regardless, it’s much preferred to win such a contest than the alternative if you’re an Aggie fan.
What they can work on: the running game
It was a big question going into the 2012 season opener: could the Aggies run the ball assertively in a downhill rushing attack? They did nothing to quell those concerns in Week 1, carrying the ball 40 times for just 101 yards (a 2.5-yards-per-carry average). Simply put, these numbers need to improve dramatically if New Mexico State wants to win its fair share of football games this year. If the Aggies can’t get the ground game going against Sacramento State, what can we expect next week when they travel to face a very solid Ohio team? Because of their Thursday season opener, the Aggies will have some extra preparation time leading up to next Saturday’s game, and major improvements will have to be made in this area.
What they did well: the kicking game
This is one part of the Aggies that looked to be upgraded following Week 1 of the season. Snow College transfer Cayle Chapman-Brown displayed good height on his punts, booting the ball six times to go with a 50-yard average. Tyler Stampler made all seven of his extra-point attempts and Brock Baca was effective on kickoffs, putting balls in the end zone consistently (kickoffs have been moved from the 30- to 35-yard line this year in college football). Nice to see the Aggies perform better in the kicking game.
What they can work on: the secondary’s play
This was a key going into the game, as NMSU is breaking in four new starters in their defensive backfield. The unit had its ups and downs on Thursday as Sacramento State hit its stride offensively — it seemed the Hornets found an area of NMSU’s defense to attack for positive yards, and tight end TJ Knowles gave the Aggies trouble in the second half with five catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. In general, Sacramento State gained 400 total yards of offense, a high number for this particular contest. Similar to the ground attack, the Aggies must make big improvements in this area before facing Ohio junior quarterback Tyler Tettleton.
The Aggie passing attack looked superb, with Andrew Manley throwing for 367 yards and three touchdowns and Austin Franklin going off (eight catches for 236 yards and two TDs). This was a clear mismatch on the field — NMSU’s wide receivers against the Hornets defensive backs — and the Aggies attacked. ...The Aggies pass blocked well in the first half, although Sacramento State got after Manley a bit in the third quarter. The sophomore QB was sacked four times on the evening. ... Sacramento State outplayed the Aggies in the third quarter, outscoring NMSU 9-0 and holding a 162-48 in yards gained. ... The Aggie linebacking corps is a strength. Trashaun Nixon was a find for NMSU out of Ventura College, racking up 10 tackles in the first half and 14 total for the game. Strongside linebacker Bryan Bonilla laid some bone-crunching hits on the evening, while middle man B.J. Adolpho brings experience to the unit.
In case you missed it: More contest from Thursday's game
Game story from Thursday's win: Click here
Thursday's game photos: Click here
Coach DeWayne Walker post-game press conference: Click here
Aggie players react to season-opening win: Click here
From the blog, my video analysis: Click here
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