A complete game: The Aggies third-quarter struggles have been well documented this season — the team’s been outscored 33-10 during the period including giving up 24 unanswered points last week in their 51-24 loss at Ohio. Perhaps it’s attitude and intensity coming out of the locker room, halftime adjustments or just sheer coincidence. Whatever the case, it needs to be corrected this week. UTEP will come out fired up for this game, meaning the Aggies must keep it close going into halftime and play well in the early portions of the third period in order to have a chance at winning in the fourth. A mistake-free football game in its entirety is a must.
Moving the sticks: The Aggie offense has been of the big-play variety — in short, the team throws the deep ball well, is inconsistent in the short-to-intermediate passing attack and hasn’t ran the ball well enough. The short passing game could very well be available against UTEP (assuming the Miners look to take away NMSU’s deep pass) and the Aggies could use a 100-yard rushing effort, say at a three-to-four yards-per-carry average. Such an approach would allow NMSU to control the clock and the game’s tempo, important against a good UTEP team.
Secondary concerns: The Miners possess a big-play offense — they look to hit the opposition both with the screen-passing game and by throwing the deep ball. NMSU’s secondary has shown its inexperience at times and has blown some coverages at others. Don’t think UTEP hasn’t taken notice. If the Aggies can prevent the big play, they’re defense has a shot. But they will be tested through the air.
Special teams: Lets rewind to last year’s game, a 16-10 Aggie loss in Las Cruces where special teams played a key factor. The Miners nailed three field goals and pulled off a well-timed fake punt that led to the game’s go-ahead touchdown. These units could very well be important again. Be aware of UTEP’s Mike Edwards, a threat as a punt-return man.
Important game: Leading up to the season the Aggies talked bowl game — the team will need seven wins to be granted postseason eligibility and could still be in the conversation with a 6-6 record. With that being said, to be a bowl-caliber team, winning Saturday’s contest would seem like a necessary requirement. Yes, it’s just one on a 12-game schedule, but it could provide a jolt of confidence. That, and the team hosts New Mexico next week, plays Texas San-Antonio the following weekend and then visits Idaho. After that, the schedule gets considerably tougher. The time is now to get some wins and build momentum.
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