Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Aggie football recruiting: team needs with National Signing Day officially here

With National Signing Day tomorrow, we’ll take a look at what the Aggie football needs from the 2012 recruiting class.

• Linemen, linemen, linemen: The Aggies could use help on both the offensive and defensive lines going into 2012 — heck, any year for that matter.

On the offensive side of the ball, it’s clearly the team’s biggest requirement going into the new year. You know, teams can pick up skill-position players — running backs and wide receivers. Quality offensive lineman are a commodity, however.

Last year the Aggie offensive line didn’t start well but improved as the season went along, anchored by three seniors — Mike Grady (center), Sioeli Fakalta (right guard) and Aundre McGaskey (right tackle). They will obviously need to be replaced.

Outside of that, I don’t have much of an issue with the Aggie offense truthfully.

No, I am not worried about the running back position. I do like Robert Clay, who returns for his senior year. I do like Brandon Betancourt, who will be a sophomore, and Victor Johnson is also back for his senior campaign. I do expect the Aggies to bring in a player or two at this position, as well. The point is that I think a player can be developed here.

The quarterback position will be one to watch, why with Andrew Manley and Travaughn Colwell both back in 2012. The team is also bringing in junior college QB Andrew McDonald.

The Aggies have some tight ends on the roster and will need to replace Taveon Rogers at wide — a true gamebreaker.

None of the above information will matter without good offensive line play, however. Without that, it's tough to do anything as an overall unit.

• In terms of the defensive line, lets not forget the Aggies will get two players back this season. Donte Savage and Augafa Vaaulu will both return — assuming they are in good standing academically. Savage will be a senior and was the team’s best pass rusher before not playing in 2011 while the sophomore Vaaulu showed things in his inaugural campaign — he was big and a good athlete. Their additions should help.

But you can never have enough lineman who can play — senior David Niumatalolo was a pleasant surprise last year, and is now gone.

A good defensive line does two things — pressuring the quarterback in turn makes the secondary better and equates to a good pass defense. And penetration of the offensive line frees up linebackers to now make plays — it can make a fair linebacking corps better.

• Defensive backs: NMSU will have to replace it’s entire starting secondary from last year — cornerbacks Jonte Green and Courtney Viney, along with safeties Donyae Coleman and Ben Bradley.

Veterans Darien Johnson and Jeremy Harris return at the cornerback position, but are they starters? Last year Harris got beaten badly during the schedule’s second half.

In general, the Aggie defense will look different in 2012 — new personnel, a new coordinator in David Elson, and the hope for multiple looks in formations.

• Kicking game: The Aggies are locked into scholarships with placekicker Tyler Stampler and punter Jake Capraro.

Stampler showed he could get the job done two years ago — he led the WAC in field goal percentage — and had a bad year in 2011. He either has to regain his old form or the team could turn to redshirt freshman Brock Baca to see what he can do. Either way, improvement has to come from this position for an Aggie team that needs to win close games.

Capraro was up and down last season — there were times he was adequate. Then there were times like his first punt of the season that traveled about nine yards.

After the season head coach DeWayne Walker spoke about a new punter being on NMSU’s recruiting radar. We shall see tomorrow.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Friday, January 27, 2012

Aggies vs. Nevada: a look back, a look ahead

Looking back at the Aggies game against the University of Nevada on Thursday night, a 68-60 loss for NMSU.

Much of what happened, we already knew and were painfully reminded of.

What this game really boiled down to was Nevada — a good team — shooting at a red-hot clip and the Aggies unable to shoot the ball from deep.

Going into the year we knew the Aggies didn't have a reliable long-range shooter and the team has had trouble defending the 3-pointer at times. And Nevada's Deonte Burton and Malik Story were unconscious from the field.

The Wolf Pack made 70 percent of their shots in the first half — that's just a ridiculous number — and 6 of 9 from 3-point territory.

And what this long-range shooting did was open things up inside for Nevada — namely Olek Czyz and Dario Hunt.

For NMSU, it was the exact opposite. They couldn't hit the 3-pointer and Nevada was able to pack the paint and not allow the Aggies to do what they do best — penetrate, get to the front of the rim, and create second-chance scoring opportunities.

The Aggies do not have an effective halfcourt offense and team's realize they simply have to play a zone defense against NMSU and take their chances from there.

At this point it's obvious that the Aggies are at their best when they're creating offense with their defense — creating turnovers, forcing misses, getting long rebounds and getting out on the break. This gets their transition game going and allows them to get to the bucket as the opposing team can't get settled on the defensive end of the floor.

But with Nevada hitting at an impressive rate — then able to get back and align in their zone with plenty of time to spare — it simply fed the beast.

We saw it earlier this year at home against the University of New Mexico, when the Lobos were hot from 3-point land and NMSU couldn't score the ball on the other end.

And in Aggie wins at UNM and Utah State earlier this season, it was also apparent. The Lobos shot under 30 percent in the Pit and committed 21 turnovers that evening, as the Aggies won 62-53. Utah State couldn't hit their shots in the second half of their game at NMSU, and the Aggies were able to turn it loose on the other end of the floor with transition opportunities and attacking the basket. This makes sense.

The Aggies were able to get back into last night's game by creating pressure and, yes, forcing some rushed shots and turnovers on Nevada's end. Beat writer Jason Groves covered this in his Sun-News story today.

But at that point it was too deep a hole to climb out of and the Aggies were hurt by some turnovers of their own and some calls that went against them including a questionable charge against Wendell McKines — it was a tough night for the officials all the way around. NMSU was also hurt by missed free throws throughout the night.

Simply put, with the Aggies lack of 3-point shooting, they're not built to be a comeback team.

• While I do believe the Aggies play better without Christian Kabongo — McKines, point guard Hernst Laroche and shooting guard Daniel Mullings' have all seemed to step up since his departure — he was one player who could break a zone with his long-range shooting and ability to get to the basket. In this case, it's kind of a Catch-22. Although, again, I do think the Aggies have played better and more as a team without him.

• Nevada is a very good WAC team and clearly the class of the conference at this point.

Point guard Deonte Burton is a stud — a legitimate NBA prospect with strength, shooting ability and floor vision.

And, while they aren't particularly deep, they have four beasts in Burton, Czyz, Story and Hunt.

They also looked like a well-coached team last night — well disciplined and good decision makers with the ball, although they did have trouble against the Aggie press.

They were also hitting shots, which will make a team look very good on any particular evening.

Does that mean the Aggies can't beat them in the future? Well, no it doesn't.

It's conceivable NMSU can win in a rematch but a few things need to happen if that were to be the case:

— First off, some breaks have to go NMSU's way, such as connecting on some more 3-point shots and possibly getting some of Nevada's core players — such as Burton — in foul trouble.

— Nevada can't — and likely won't — shoot 70 percent from the floor in the first half. At one point in the game, Nevada had hit 7 of 10 3-point attempts.

— And the Aggies cannot get in foul trouble — namely Laroche, McKines and Mullings can't get in foul trouble.

• Renaldo Dixon is back on the roster, but didn't play a single minute last night.

• The Aggies needed some 3-point shooting in the second half and brought in Remi Barry — likely in hopes of getting such.

He would go 0 of 3 from beyond the arc and was taken out after five minutes of action. It was a chance for Barry to make an impact and he didn't.

• Does NMSU need to win Saturday against Fresno State?

Of course they do. The Aggies can't drop any games on their home floor during league play.

I do think some fans are somewhat indifferent at this point, however. Most know the Aggies are a top-three, top-two team in the WAC. Right now they aren't a championship team, however, and that's what many want to see.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Teddy and Brook Show (1/26)

This week's Teddy and Brook show. I talk a lot. My fault Brook

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Some notes/opinion from recent Aggie football story

We take a look back at a a story written yesterday in the Sun-News pertaining to Aggie football. For the full read, click here. For the cliff notes and some opinion, read below:

• Former football program coordinator Juan Lozano (pictured), who has been with the Aggies the past three seasons, took a similar position at the University of Hawaii.

Lozano did a lot for the Aggies — everything from helping in travel coordination, to organizing study halls and DeWayne Walker’s schedule, to helping with NFL scouts. He essentially was Walker’s right-hand man.

• I wouldn’t say I’m thrilled with all the coaching movement this past offseason within Aggie football. Of course it’s part of college football in this day and age, although the Aggies went 4-9 last year and such turnover can be disruptive. I’ve said it before, it’s VERY difficult to build something without continuity.

Still, the man in charge remains in place, head coach DeWayne Walker. The program’s new hires — particularly defensive coordinator David Elson and offensive coordinator Jerry McManus — could be good or not so good. We really won’t know until NMSU takes the field in spring and fall practices, and then in 2012.

It is important to note that all four coaches left for different reasons — with offensive coordinator Doug Martin and offensive line coach Jason Lenzmeier getting essentially job promotions at more lucrative programs.

• Walker said he is going to be more involved this year and hands on in coaching both sides of the ball.

I think the Aggies are looking to get the defensive side going a bit more and Walker will have a working relationship with Elson.

McManus is a first-time coordinator, although you have to get your start somewhere. Walker said he will spend time with the offense and have input in personnel, more so as a “consultant.”

I will say that I do not want Walker coaching coaches, and he might have to do more of that this year. That could take away from some of his responsibilities as the head coach of the Aggies.

• Walker said he will coach cornerbacks in 2012 while previous cornerbacks coach Will Martin will now coach linebackers.

• We know the Aggies lost Cole Gautche at quarterback when he followed Lenzmeier to the University of New Mexico.

Perhaps the biggest concern with all the coaching movement was how it affected Aggie recruiting, although Walker said it had minimal impact. A tough call.

• The loss of Kenny Turner will be a blow at running back, although I liked Robert Clay two years ago and lets not forget his performance at Minnesota this past year.

The Aggies are also hopeful of signing a couple other running backs and could run the ball more in 2012.

Perhaps the Aggies will be OK at this position after all.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Monday, January 23, 2012

A big game, and a winnable one for the Aggies

It will be a big game this Thursday night for the Aggies when they host Nevada in WAC men's basketball.

The Aggies are 4-1 in league play this year after splitting a road trip to San Jose State and Hawaii. NMSU was down big to UH before mounting a comeback late, only to fall short 91-87. They absolutely demolished SJSU 79-63 in the game prior. The truth is that the San Jose State and Hawaii road trip is one of the toughest ones in conference play. Not a lot of fun.

Nevada is 5-0 in the WAC and has some legitimate talent on their team — point guard Deonte Burton and Duke transfer Olek Czyz at forward both stand out. They also have guard Malik Story and forward Dario Hunt in their arsenal.

But I like the Aggies in this one.

First off, they're home and should play the part of a team that knows they need the win. They'll have to split with Nevada this year if they want a shot at a WAC regular-season title, and Thursday's game is their best chance at doing that.

One would hope — again, hope — that a good crowd would show up and that the students turn out. Again, that's the hope although there's certainly no guarantees in this regard.

It's hard to call this a must win, simply because there is a lot of basketball to be played this season. But it's about as close as the Aggies can get without calling it such — a VERY important matchup and NMSU must defend its home floor. If you want to be WAC champs, this is one that would seem imperative to get and it gives the Aggies a chance to prove themselves in league play.

And I expect senior forward Wendell McKines to play well that night, returning to the Pan American Center in a big WAC game.

One thing the Aggies can't do is fall behind big like they did to Hawaii. I do think it will be a close contest. And a big one at that.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stepping away, for a few days

Just wanted to say I will not be blogging the next few days. Took the weekend off and am in Austin.

Feel free to post and they will get up there. I'll be back at the start of next week.

Reaction to Kenny Turner's departure

Taking it from the top, I'm not surprised by this move.

I thought Turner would return for his senior year, but I also knew that he might not.

Do I agree with his decision? I think he would have been better served coming back to school and I think it's an ill-advised move to leave early.

Rush for another 1,000 yards, get NMSU to a bowl game. Turner's stock would have improved if he accomplished such things next year at the school. And he could finish his education. One more year, that's it.

I also think his size will be an issue on the NFL level.

Of course we can look at it from Turner's perspective.

He's 26 years old going on 27, and would have been a featured back in an offense that will look different next year. He fit into the offensive scheme and new coordinator Jerry McManus will keep much of it in place. But Matt Christian and Taveon Rogers are gone and the Aggies offensive line will look much different. In many respects, the Aggie offense is starting over again.

Turner's worst-case scenario next year if he stayed with the Aggies? Getting injured, which could have hurt his draft status.

Of course this hurts the Aggies because Turner was one of their main catalysts last year and showed why NMSU sought his services. He ran for 100 yards almost weekly and had a four-touchdown game against Fresno State. He had close to 200 all-purpose yards against Georgia — he looked like one Aggie who belonged on the field that day with an SEC opponent. He was big in their win over Idaho.

I do know the Aggies believe they've recruited to this position in the offseason and Robert Clay returns for his senior year.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Turner not expected to be back at NMSU in 2012

Aggie running back Kenny Turner is not expected to return to New Mexico State next season and will enter the NFL Draft.

NMSU will likely make an official announcement in the coming days. Turner had a big year for the Aggies, rushing for 1,070 yards on 206 carries (4.9 yards per rush average) while scoring nine rushing touchdowns. He added 46 catches for 514 yards and three TDs in the receiving game.

He would have been entering his senior season at New Mexico State.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Through Twitter, McManus accepts NMSU's offensive coordinator position

Jerry McManus will be the next offensive coordinator for the New Mexico State University football team.

This according to McManus, who made the announcement through his Twitter account on Wednesday night, writing “I'm happy to announce I have accepted the offensive coordinator position at New Mexico State!”

McManus worked closely under NMSU's previous offensive coordinator Doug Martin. The two worked together when Martin ran East Carolina's offense from 1996-2004, and then at Kent State when Martin was head coach of the Golden Flashes from 2005-10.

Martin was the primary playcaller at both stops as McManus was an associate head coach with the Golden Flashes. Martin, who ran a successful offense last year with the Aggies, was hired by Boston College last month. McManus' addition would mean the Aggies would have a similar system, philosophy and terminology in place from a season ago.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This week's Teddy and Brook Show

This week's Teddy and Brook Show. I won....

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Power rankings: A tale of the tape in District 3-5A basketball heading into league season

A ranking of the teams in District 3-5A boys and girls basketball, which tips off its league season tonight.

No. 1-ranked Las Cruces High headlines the boys division, while defending state champion Mayfield is in the driver's seat amongst the girls.

Boys division
1) Las Cruces Bulldawgs
Pre-district record: 11-4
The skinny: The Bulldawgs have been the No. 1 ranked team in the state for much of the year and are beginning to play the part. Power forward Mando Marshall is the team's most physically imposing player and point guard Joe Garza might be its most important. LCHS has all the qualifications to be a top-ranked team — some marquee players, a good supporting and a bench that's beginning to round into form.

2) Mayfield Trojans
Pre-district record: 7-8
The skinny: Mayfield's talent doesn't necessarily jump off the court, although the Trojans will play hard and play together. There is some skill here, too, and the Trojans always seem to be in a comfort zone as the underdog. That's good a good thing in this case, because they'll certainly play that role when taking on crosstown rival Las Cruces High.

3) Oñate Knights
Pre-district record: 6-10
The skinny: This is a dangerous team, simply because of their style. Their slowed-down pace allows them to hang in games and, if they get the lead, they're tough to mount a comeback on. They have two seniors — Brandon Rosales and Chino Saldivar — who won a state title with the program last year, and a freshman — Sammy Barnes-Tompkins — who has the green light to shoot the ball.

4) Alamogordo Tigers
Pre-district record: 6-11
The skinny: This team has lost seven-straight games and doesn't seem likely to contend for a league title. An effective post player, Harold Jackson, left the team and they've struggled offensively. They still have some athleticism and their go-to scorer is wing player Eric Schalk.

5) Gadsden Panthers
Pre-district record: 6-10
The skinny: An improving team, it still seems like Gadsden will be jockeying with Alamogordo for fifth place in District 3-5A.

Girls division
1) Mayfield Trojans
Pre-district record: 13-3
The skinny: The Trojans have remained true to their identity — creating offense with their full-court, pressing defense. They do look slightly different in personnel, however, possessing a thin backcourt and three big players — Tiffani Lara, Daeshi McCants and Allie Pierce — anchoring their frontline. They are a well-coached team that could contend for a state title once again in a wide open Class 5A.

2) Oñate Knight
Pre-district record: 11-6
The skinny: An injury to guard Kelsie Niehoff could hurt Oñate from truly pushing Mayfield in the league standings. When Niehoff — who is out with a foot fracture — is away from the floor, OHS has to move shooters Alexyss Burkhartsmeier or Sharolette Shanks to the primary ballhandler position, which can put a cramp in their offense. The hope is that Niehoff can return to action for the stretch run of district play.

3) Las Cruces High
Pre-district record: 9-7
The skinny: Similar to Oñate, LCHS has some good guard play — led by Samantha Mendoza — and not a lot of size. The Bulldawgs are a well-coached team, but their lack of depth up front can hurt them in the rebounding department, and ultimately will hurt them in challenging for a state title.

4) Gadsden Panthers
Pre-district record: 8-9
The skinny: This has the look of an improved team, with a record close to the .500 mark entering league play. Nathalie Castellanos has returned to the court this year for Gadsden, which could provide a scare for a couple of their District 3-5A rivals.

5) Alamogordo Tigers
Pre-district record: 6-11
The skinny: First-year coach Fernando Sanchez took over the Tigers this past offseason and the team is in rebuilding mode. An inexperienced squad, Alamogordo lacks scoring punch and looks to press on the defensive end of the floor.

Monday, January 16, 2012

As of Jan. 15, Turner's name still off NFL early entry list

In terms of early entries into the 2012 NFL Draft, Aggie running back Kenny Turner is still not one of them — at least as of Jan. 15.

The deadline for early entry passed on midnight Sunday. Here is the list provided by CBSSports.com Rob Rang, who also writes (in paragraph No. 2) that there could be possible changes to this list in the future. There has been no confirmation on Turner's status from New Mexico State at this point.

Turner was a great player for the Aggies a season ago — one of the team's MVPs to be sure — rushing for 1,070 yards on 206 carries (4.9 yards per rush average) while scoring nine rushing touchdowns. He added 46 catches for 514 yards and three TDs in the receiving game.

One of the appeals regarding offensive coordinator candidate Jerry McManus — who appears to be a favorite for the job at this point — is that he worked very closely under Doug Martin at Kent State and at East Carolina. In other words, same system, same terminology, same philosophies.


NMSU's 2011 out of conference schedule is in the books. The team opens at home against Sacramento State on Sept. 1, travels to Ohio Week 2 and then plays UTEP and UNM the following weeks before opening conference play. Auburn is the Aggies money game on Nov. 3 and NMSU hosts BYU Nov. 24.

For the out of conference schedule, click here.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Saturday, January 14, 2012

In a text message from Walker, three coordinator finalists are identified

A text message from New Mexico State head football coach DeWayne Walker identified three finalists for the Aggie offensive coordinator position: former Kent State associate head coach Jerry McManus; former Maryland offensive coordinator Gary Crowton; and former Hawaii offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich.

McManus' hiring would make sense, considering that he worked under previous coordinator Doug Martin. In other words — if he runs the same system as Martin — the Aggies wouldn't have to change systems or terminology. That would be an important factor.

Crowton has a world of experience — an offensive coordinator at the University of Maryland last year and also has head coaching experience at Louisiana Tech and Brigham Young. He has previous NFL coaching experience with the Chicago Bears and was an offensive coordinator at the University of Oregon and LSU.

Rolovich’s name has been in the mix for some time, a former University of Hawaii offensive coordinator who is familiar with third-year quarterback Andrew Manley.

Walker also noted in the text message, “I will have an answer on Monday.”

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

With reports that Crowton will go to Utah, another name to consider

With reports that Gary Crowton will be named next offensive coordinator at Utah, perhaps a good candidate for New Mexico State to consider for their offensive coordinator position would be A.J. Pratt.

Why? Pratt (pictured) is the former coordinator at Kent State under head coach Doug Martin. If he were hired, the players wouldn't have to learn a new system, or terminology. Pratt spent 11 seasons at Kent State and was recently at Western Kentucky as the offensive tackles/tight ends coach.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Friday, January 13, 2012

Two finalists for the Aggie offensive coordinator position: Are these the men?

Through conversations regarding the Aggie offensive coordinator position, the Cruces Sports Blog has learned that two key candidates could be finalists for the job: Nick Rolovich and Gary Crowton.

Rolovich’s name has been in the mix for some time, a former University of Hawaii offensive coordinator who is familiar with third-year quarterback Andrew Manley. He could have an interest in returning to the mainland.

As for Crowton, he’s a new face in the hunt, although one with experience. Crowton was the offensive coordinator at the University of Maryland last year and also has head coaching experience at Louisiana Tech and Brigham Young. He has previous NFL coaching experience with the Chicago Bears and was an offensive coordinator at the University of Oregon and LSU.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

NMSU hoops analysis: To run away from Utah State, Aggies pushed ball to the basket

Saturday’s game for the New Mexico State Aggies — an 80-60 home triumph over Utah State — could be a defining game for this season.

Better yet, the second half of the game could have been a defining moment of their season.

The Aggies turned the ball over just six times on the evening — an outstanding number.

They look like a better team without Christian Kabongo — who knows how this game would have ended up with Kabongo in the lineup, but freshman Daniel Mullings has been impressive. Certainly the six turnovers for the Aggies would have been higher.

But, most importantly, the Aggies pushed the ball to the basket. They created early offense in the shot clock, got to the front of the rim, and to the free-throw line.

Such a game reaffirmed a basic fact that we already knew earlier this season: When the Aggies get stops on defense, they can beat an unorganized opponent down the court and score the ball.

For this, we’ll look at two games from this season, last night’s being the first.

The first half ended with the game tied at 34-34, with Utah State going toe-to-toe with the Aggies and NMSU playing in their halfcourt offense, which frankly can be offensive — lots of standing, dribbling and not a lot of movement away from the basketball.

But in the second half, Utah State shot poorly over the Aggie zone defense, going 1 for 10 from beyond the arc and shooting 39 percent in the second half. This low percentage helped the Aggies get into the open floor and get the ball inside.

Players like Mullings, Bandja Sy and Tyrone Watson all got involved in the action, and the Aggies hit 14 of 20 attempts from the free-throw line.

There were also other factors for the Aggies ability to get the ball to the basket, namely Utah State’s preference to double-team the NMSU post players, which opened driving lanes for other Aggies. And they won in emphatic fashion.

Now we’ll shift to another game, an early-season home contest against the University of New Mexico.

UNM hit 12 of 24 from 3-point land and 17 of 20 from the free-throw line and the Aggies were forced to play out of their halfcourt offense for much of the night — and it wasn’t pretty. NMSU is without consistent outside shooting and one of their go-to players in the halfcourt is Hamidu Rahman, who I would rather have helping other players get open, not trying to create his own offense.

This was written on the Cruces Sports Blog following that game:

Simply put, (the Aggies) couldn't score the ball, not with UNM draining a barrage of jump shots and layups.

NMSU doesn't have enough offense to score to win in a halfcourt game and need their defense to generate their offensive attack — rebounding the basketball and creating turnovers generally translate into easy baskets on the other end of the floor.

They have athletes — Sy simply looks better when taking the ball to the to the basket with aggression, and Mullings has been impressive as a freshman, particularly on the defensive end of the floor — he’s a quick player who can get steals, a leaper who can block shots.

And that’s when the Aggies are playing at their best, when they’re creating turnovers and getting into their fastbreak. While Saturday didn’t go exactly like that — Utah State can live with their 10-turnover number — certainly USU’s long-range misses helped the Aggies push the ball to the basket, and then finish the game.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A big Thursday night game for Aggies

It will be a big Thursday night basketball game for the New Mexico State Aggies, when they host the Utah State Aggies at 7 p.m.

Both of these teams figure to challenge for a league title — Nevada, NMSU and Utah State all have the look of top-four teams in the conference. And if the Aggies are serious about competing for the WAC title, I don’t think they can afford to lose this game.

Utah State is a well-coached team and will be ready after losing at home to Nevada last week.

But I like NMSU at home in this one. Could be a different story in Logan, but in Las Cruces I’ll take the home Aggies.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Monday, January 9, 2012

Report: Three interviewed for Aggies offensive coordinator position

A report from footballscoop.com has New Mexico State University interviewing three men for the Aggies offensive coordinator position in football.

The three names in the report: former Hawaii offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich; former Colorado State head coach Steve Fairchild; former Washington State offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy.

The Cruces Sports Blog had two of these names when speculating on possible coordinator candidates last month. Click here for that list.

Aggie head coach DeWayne Walker is currently at the American Football Coaches National Convention in San Antonio, Texas, an event that runs through Wednesday.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Aggies: inconsistent, can go either way

The one thing we can count on from the New Mexico State Aggie basketball team — at this point of the season — is nothing at all. Not on a night-to-night basis, anyway.

They're capable of good things, they're capable of bad things. They're capable of beating the best teams on their schedule, and they're capable of losing to mediocre ones.

Case in point: what do you think the Aggies are going to do against Utah State on Thursday? Well, I think they're going to win, but that's just me and I could be way off or dead on. They could lose by 10, they could win by 30. One certainty on any given night: if the Aggies shots are falling and the team is focused — which can go hand in hand — their percentage of winning moves upward.

They're still a 20-win team. A top-three, top-four team in the WAC, they can win the league. But it's far from a guarantee. One can't make many guarantees at this point — good or bad.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Walker signed contract extension ‘two weeks ago’

New Mexico State Aggie head football coach DeWayne Walker said he signed his contract extension at NMSU “two weeks ago.”

No confirmation yet from NMSU that the deal is in fact official.

The extension is believed to give him five more years from this point forward. In other words — and this is speculation based off of conversations regarding the new contract — you can tear up his original deal and just start it over again with a similar financial package in place.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Judging — and digging into — the David Elson hire

David Elson was hired at New Mexico State University as the team's new defensive coordinator. Click here for the Sun-News story online.

You know, I feel pretty comfortable with this move.

Some are going to look at the fact that Elson coached in high school last year.

Well, I say get over it.

The truth is that it shouldn't matter where Elson coached last season — as long as he can coach. Which DeWayne Walker is betting on by bringing him on board.

Lets dig beneath the surface before judging Elson's hire strictly on his tenure at Franklin-Simpson High School in Franklin, Ky.

He was a longtime assistant under Jack Harbaugh at Western Kentucky University, and the defensive coordinator on the Hilltoppers I-AA National Championship team in 2002.

He was the head coach at WKU during their transition from FCS to FBS — a stretch where the team lost 20 straight games and went 0-12 in 2009, his final year with the program. Ouch.

But the truth is that the Aggies have to think outside the box when hiring assistant coaches and coordinators. I've written on this blog 100 times: if you're going to pay your top coordinators below average salaries — which in Elson's case is $100,000 next year — you might have to dip into guys who are in the high school ranks. You might have to get guys who have struggled elsewhere. And that's OK. Neither of those factors should necessarily be determining factors if they can coach or not. And, when hiring at NMSU, no matter what route you go, you're going to take some level of risk.

After all, Elson does have some experience on the Division I level and should know what he's getting into at NMSU — Western Kentucky is similar in that it's a bottom-tier Division I football program. In many ways, Elson's hire is similar on the surface to last year's offensive coordinator Doug Martin, who came to NMSU after being let go as head coach at Kent State, and on the verge of being a head coach in the high school ranks. Like Elson, he was relatively unknown. And all he did was lead an offensive turnaround at NMSU and then hit the jackpot — one good year in Las Cruces and then off to Boston College as OC. If Elson can get similar production from the Aggie defense, it will be a good hire for the team.

Walker said Elson has a “background” in the 3-4 defense. I wrote on this a few weeks back when the Aggies first began their search (click here for the blog entry). Maybe the 3-4 is a good fit at NMSU, maybe not. But the Aggies haven't had a dominant pass rusher in 25, 30 years. Walker has maintained that he wants his team to be multiple and that he and the defensive staff will work their base defense around the personnel they have.

On the offensive coordinator search

The search continues at NMSU for an offensive coordinator to replace Doug Martin, as does the search for a new defensive line coach.

Walker said he will interview three, possibly four coordinator candidates - all with Division I coaching experience - at the
American Football Coaches National Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

The convention will be held Jan. 8th through the 11th.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Aggies beat Bakersfield, and thoughts on Kabongo's departure

How do I feel about the Aggies Monday night win over Cal State-Bakersfield?

I think a win is a win and that's the most important thing for the Aggies at this point.

They did get bailed out by a late Bakersfield foul that allowed Tyrone Watson to hit two free throws with under a second remaining to clinch the 73-72 victory.

Bakersfield actually caused some trepidation going in — the Roadrunners are a good 3-point shooting team, and we know the Aggies haven't been.

One stat that stood out was free throws — NMSU finally made them when they counted, going 35 of 44 (just under 80 percent) while Hamidu Rahman went 2 of 6 — sorry Hamidu.

Daniel Mullings scored 21 points and grabbed five rebounds. Even before Monday night Mullings has shown real promise as a freshman.

In terms of Christian Kabongo leaving:

As far as I'm concerned it's addition by subtraction for the Aggies.

Kabongo couldn't have helped team chemistry — who knows what the Aggies dealt with off the court, but on the court the ball would stop at him and he would go one on five vs. the opposition. You do have teammates.

I also think a shorter rotation — NMSU played eight against Bakersfield — can help team morale and everyone knows they're going to get some time.

There has been turnover with this team over the years and it seems that discipline has played a role here.

Jahmar Young, Troy Gillenwater and now Kabongo all stand out over the past three years. It's not like these guys are first-round NBA draft picks — some teams deal with turnover in that regard and that's understandable. You don't want it the other way though.

Frankly, I'm not thrilled about that factor, but I do think on a case by case basis, Kabongo leaving isn't a bad thing for this team.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg