Friday, August 31, 2012

What the Aggies did well, what they need to work on

(Head coach DeWayne Walker walks the sidelines as his Aggie football team huddles downfield/Photo by Robin Zielinski)

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

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg


Anonymous said...

I agree w/ everything you said. Although, the passing game looked good.
Manley kept looking for the home run quite a bit and at times, missed the underneath stuff.

Let's not forget that Manley doesn't even have a total of 5 full games under his belt. He's still learning and learning it fast!

Anonymous said...

So after the Aggies beat a less than average I-AA team by 30 points we can stop the debate as to their place in football divisions? And that certainly was a D-IA crowd on hand. Give me a break. We will see how this season plays out, but this team has been a D-II team disguised as a D-IA team for years. I would like this not to be the truth but I think it's time to look at the true state of Aggie Athletics. With the lack of fan support how will we ever compete with teams that draw 100,000+ attendance and have pockets full of money. If we remain in I-A, will we ever have the chance to play in a big bowl game or have a chance at a national title. Let's be realistic. We fit in I-AA lots better than we do in I-A. We can follow down this same road and be called little orphan Aggies or we can make changes based on fact instead of emotion.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:56

"With the lack of fan support how will we ever compete with teams that draw 100,000+ attendance and have pockets full of money."

So, you think if we put 30,000 fans in the stands regularly, we will be able to compete with the likes of Ohio State, Nebraska, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma? Please tell me where to buy the stuff you're smoking because it has to be good.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis Teddy. After watching Ohio yesterday the Aggies better make those changes quick. Also, utep looked decent, but OU played the worst game I think I've ever seen them play. Probably thought utep was going to be a push-over.

Anon 9:56

Great attitude! NMSU doesn't belong in FCS period!! For us to regress would be a disaster. We need more crowds like we had on Thursday night. Yes that was a good crowd for a game during the week. I've been going to every game for the past 20 years. Obviously I've stuck with the team through rough times. Tickets are cheap and there's no excuse as to why we can't get more fans in the stands. We had 26 wins in basketball last year and were lucky to have 5-6K in the stands. Obviously having a winning program isn't enough for Aggie fans. All you negative "arm-chair" fans need to put up or shut up. Get out there and support them instead of criticizing every step of the way. You're sounding like the minOr fans.

Also, what's with the concessions? They weren't ready for the game. They ran out of food and the service was horrible! Great way to start off the season. Bring in more local restaurants (ie. Roberto's, Burger Time, etc). They've been supporting the Aggies for years and having good local food will add to revenue and "happier" fans. Hot hogs alone isn't going to cut it. Unfortunately I have to say utep has a great concessions program.

Lastly....the Pride Band needs to get involved. They hardly played and when they did it was the same thing over and over. As a former member I'm VERY disappointed.


Anonymous said...

Typical crappy Las Cruces attitude!! WE can't and We don't have go sit with Dr. Boston. You guys have the same attitude.

Anonymous said...

I agree with JH...this wasn't a scrimmage. NMSU should have been ready with some energy and preparation for our opening game. The concession stand people were unprepared, inefficient, and SLOOOOOOOOOW! After standing in line for an eternity, we found out they were out of anything we wanted. The Pride band sucked the energy out of the stadium the 2nd half, playing only one song the 3rd quarter. Sundancers were in slow motion. It was a good crowd who got to enjoy watching the team work hard and never give up, no complaints there. As for the rest of what NMSU dished out to its fans, c'mon we deserve better. As for anon 8:25's remarks about crappy attitude, we need to demand more from those in charge instead of just accepting their patronizing excuses and attitudes. If that means I have a crappy attitude, so be it.