The most important gameplan formulated by the New Mexico State Aggies in preparation for Saturday's football game at the University of Texas-El Paso, will be playing a complete contest.
For starters, UTEP is going to be fired up for this one. The team's played well in the early-portion of its schedule — don't let their 0-2 record fool you. The Miners were competitive in losses to power-conference programs Oklahoma (a 24-7 loss at the Sun Bowl) and Ole Miss (a 28-10 defeat). They were in those games going into the respective fourth quarters and have looked like a good football team doing it. They'll be hungry for their first win of the 2012 campaign going into Saturday night's tilt.
For the Aggies, weathering such a storm and being in the game going into halftime would be a good place to start.
If they accomplish that, coming out in the third quarter and carrying their good play into the second half will be the next step in completing the process. Two-straight weeks the Aggies have played poorly in such a scenario — coming out of the locker-room intermission — and they simply can't afford such a lapse this weekend.
In the home opener against Sacramento State, it meant being outplayed in the third quarter, which really didn't matter to the end result — the Aggies beat the Hornets 49-19 that evening, although Sacramento State scored on four-straight possessions and had the ball once again, down 28-19, before a costly turnover in its own territory.
Last Saturday it came in the form of an abysmal third period that saw the Aggies get outscored by Ohio 24-10 — Ohio scored 24-straight points, sandwiched between an NMSU field goal and kick-return touchdown. The Aggies gained just 16 yards in the quarter, and completed five passes in the second half all together.
When reflecting on the game, there's no apparent reason for it. The Aggies performed as well as could be expected the first half. They were competitive with the favored Bobcats, and blocking a field goal just before halftime should have provided an emotional lift, down 21-14 and ending the second quarter on a high note. Yet it didn't carry over.
Maybe it's a lack of general intensity or halftime adjustments. Maybe it's sheer coincidence. All we know is that it's a trend that must to change, beginning this week.
The NMSU camp has made no secret of it — they see themselves as a bowl-caliber team. If that's the case, getting the required seven wins — heck, even six victories — means coming out of this game victorious would seem to be a necessary requirement.
It will be a tough game. A game the Aggies will be underdogs, and will have to play their best this season. And always an important game against one of the school's top rivals — either UTEP or the University of New Mexico hold that billing, take your pick.
It will also have to be a complete game for the Aggies. Two halves of football, in hopes of one critical victory.
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