Monday, September 24, 2012

A depressing loss, and a depressing Saturday night for Aggies

As the fourth quarter of Saturday's game hit its midway point, one glance at the scoreboard left a depressing question: How are the New Mexico State Aggies trailing the New Mexico Lobos by three touchdowns?

Going into the football game the Aggies appeared to be the better team, seven-point favorites in a contest played on their homefield. Of course, in part, that had as much to do with the carnage left behind by former UNM head coach Mike Locksley, not necessarily the belief the Aggies are a high-quality team. Still, NMSU had a perceived advantage in the passing game on a suspect Lobo secondary. The Aggies had won three-straight games in the rivalry series. Simply put, with the way the schedule stacked up in the season's second half and NMSU seemingly in must-win mode, it was a contest the team couldn't afford to lose.

Still, was a loss plausible? Of course. The Lobos are better than a season ago with Bob Davie at the helm, a more disciplined group with a plan. But the Aggies were thoroughly beaten by an outfit that's no better than mediocre. How, and why?

For starters, New Mexico State just isn't very good. They're limited on offense, vanilla, in part because of personnel and in part because coordinator Doug Martin left the program this past offseason for a better opportunity (he was hired for the same position at Boston College).

Where has the creativity gone? Even a simple screen pass or draw play? It left with Martin's departure, along with gamebreakers Taveon Rogers (wide receiver), Kenny Turner (running back) and Matt Christian (quarterback).

The Aggies failed to exploit UNM's suspect secondary on Saturday night, outside of a second-quarter drive that took three quick-strike passes to eventually find the end zone. Instead, they chose to run the ball into a brick wall, then call play-action passes despite the lack of a rushing attack. Editor's note: when you can't run the ball between the tackles against Sacramento State and New Mexico, it's time to scrap the gameplan and try a different way to manufacture a ground game. In the case of Saturday night, just scrap the ground game all together.

Of course, the offense also got some bad breaks along the way. Two second-half drives saw NMSU building positive momentum, only to fumble the ball away. The first fumble — on the opening drive of the third quarter — came with the Aggies trailing 13-7, although seemingly destined to score a touchdown. Those are deflating plays for an entire team.

And in fairness, this clearly isn't an issue reserved for just the offensive side of the football, rather a team-wide one. The Aggie defense was supposed to be an improved one from a season ago with a new coordinator and new identity. Head coach DeWayne Walker was going to have more of a hand in the unit, at least with the team's secondary. The defense was supposed to help an offense that was expected to have its growing pains.

Yet it's no better at this point of the season than it was a year ago, and has done nothing to carry the team. There's been questionable adjustments and execution, at least the last two weeks in losses to regional rivals. Saturday night it was simple: The Lobos offensive line handled the Aggies front-seven throughout the game and ran the ball at will. NMSU's defense was on the field far too long. The final results (54 carries, 302 yards, 27-14 loss) spoke for themselves.

One can't imagine this team having much confidence. Certainly the fan base doesn't have much if any.

From start to finish, Saturday night was a depressing one across the board for New Mexico State.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg


9pistolPETE9 said...

This was a brutal game to watch. I travelled in from San Diego, and my flight to El Paso was filled with Aggie Fans, all of us with a strong sense that we were going to see a strong effort from the Aggies, and without question we all believed the Aggies would come out victorious. The same group of Aggie fans were again on the flight back to San Diego yesterday, and completed deflated. I can only imagine how the players and coaching staff must feel. If WR #4 isn't catching the ball, you can bet the Aggies will go 3 and out. If the opposition has the ball, well just run it up the middle. The coaching staff must see this right? If not, please pass these sentiments along the next time you speak with them.

Teddy, I ask you this. Is the problem with the NMSU Football Program in the financial support the team receives from donors OR should this team be able to compete with the other WAC programs we face and also against programs such as UNM and UTEP? Should the finger be pointed on the coaching staff or is this a bigger problem that doesn't have a chance of survival in todays game of NCAA College Football?

One would think that NMSU has a geographical advantage in the recruiting of Texas and California High School Athletes and that playing in the Fall Climate of Las Cruces would be advantageous for the coaching staff in those recruiting efforts. However, here we go again, the expectation of a decent season now seems to be destined to be yet another disappointmnet. I really hope that I'm wrong, and this team and coaching staff can turn this around.

Good thing there was plenty of booze in the tailgate parking lot to forget the performance inside Aggie Memorial.

Go Aggies!

Anonymous said...

The last two games remind me of Mumme's last year.
We all know the staff thru in the towel 1/2 thru the season..then team then followed.

You go to the practices.
Has the staff/ team thrown in the towel? If the answer is "no", they sure look like they did on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 11:29
Is right. The only way to watch the past two rivalry games is really drunk!!
However, the hangover lasts for a full year.

Anonymous said...

No excuse for getting outcoached.

Losing to the Lobos? Oh my.

Anonymous said...


We are in recruiting limbo; we aren't in either recruiting market, California or Texas. Same is true for UNM and UTEP. The Aggies are generally competitive with both UNM and UTEP. Just not this year.

The problems as I see them, are 1) no imagination on offense, 2) predictability of the offense, and 3) no real time adjustments by the coaching staff.

Outside of that, there is absolutely no marketing of the games by NMSU. Zip. You wouldn't know there was a home Aggie game if you didn't drive up University Avenue.

Anonymous said...

You can make the argument thast this is Walker's 4th recruiting class or his 3rd.
He was hired a month from 2009 national signing day and pretty much had to take Mummes recruits.

Either way after 3-4 recruiting classes, shouldn't the team be moving forward and not backwards??

Yes, we've had assistants leave but, the team full of Walkers recruits just seem lost/ un-inspired.

Teddy said...

Anon 12:30

At no point have I felt like this team has quit or not played hard. When teams play poorly they look bad and that's what happened on Saturday night. It's not a lack of effort.

As I stated in my post, the problem for me lies schematically. The Aggies have lost their creativity on offense and the defense hasn't played well. When teams play bad, they look bad. That's what you saw on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

I guess were going to be looking for our 5th straight offensive coordinator at the end of the year.

McManus sucks! If he got hired because he was an assistant to Doug Martin and we thought it was business as usual, then we got duped!
Fire Jerry Mac and replace him with a graduate assistant!

Anonymous said...

It's time to releave McManus from his play calling duties.

If the fans in the stands can predict his play calling. Defensive Coordinators are licking their chops!!

9pistolPETE9 said...

Anon 4:24 PM - As a witness on Saturday night, I agree with all (3) of your points. However I'm confused by your statement that Texas and California are not the Aggies recruiting market? I scanned the roster and almost 60% of the players listed have hometowns in one of those respective states. Granted, many college programs recruit within those High School hotbeds, I was making the point that it would seem that Las Cruces would have a Geographical advantage to both? Am I mistaken? I agree, a much better and consistent marketing campaign throughout Southern NM, El Paso and with Alumni is vital for NMSU athletics to survive the current storm, especially in Football and Men's Hoops. When I was a freshman, the Pan Amanicacs ran the Pan Am Center, and it was the place to be, even for week night games....I digress.

And Teddy, am I reading between your lines correctly?? Are you too SCREAMING that the real issue lies in the coaching and not in the talent which this team has on the field? So is it an Offensive Coordinator change OR an entire Coaching Staff overhaul that's needed? Incredible, just a couple of seasons ago I was in awe of Coach DeWayne Walker, and proud he was the captain of the ship. However, now from what I saw Saturday and what I think I'm hearing you say....well, could I have been oh so wrong?

Anonymous said...

Actually, this is the same offense I saw when Manley was playing and we beat Minnesota but lost to UTEP. IMO, so take it for what its worth, the quarterback style is limiting our offensive capabilities which is ineffective because our line can't protect him with the exception of a couple, players aren't catching his passes. I think Manley has a lot of potential but not with our system. Its time to burn Colwells redshirt if the Aggies want to win another game this season.

I really hope NMSU Administration and staff understand how important it is to win this year. I agree the play calling is vanilla and not hard to stop. We don't win this year then we may wind up independent in all sports.

Anonymous said...

Some may criticize you for your recent statements about Aggie football but I applaud you, a little tough love may wake them up.

Anonymous said...

Just heard that Couture got the boot by the regents!!
Boston, your next!!

Anonymous said...

Is Andrew McDonald still on the team?
Why don't they give him a chance to play?