Monday, September 2, 2013

After bizarre opener vs. Texas, Aggie football's 2013 prognosis yet to be determined

As far as college football games go, New Mexico State's season-opening loss at Texas on Saturday was very much a bizarre one.

A contest where the Aggies were shockingly competitive in the first half - leading 7-0 late in the second quarter and trailing just 14-7 at intermission; only to see the Longhorns hit the field with a barrage of big scoring plays to begin the second half - within a seven-minute stretch to start the third quarter, Texas would score three offensive touchdowns from 24-, 55- and 74-yards out.

Texas wasn't done from there either, scoring three more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one coming on a 25-yard pass and another on a 38-yard run.

The irony of the game: despite the Aggies feeling good about their first-half performance - and rightly so - the No. 15-ranked Longhorns still covered the 42-point spread (winning by 49 in the process).

But here's the point to remember: weird things happen Week 1 of a college football season.

Some examples were a number of FCS victories over the first weekend of the 2013 campaign; Saturday's Aggie game is one to mark down as well; and does anyone remember last year's NMSU opener - a 49-19 win over Sacramento State, one that wasn't a true indication of what was to come during a 1-11 season.

On Saturday in Austin, The Aggies played about as well as anyone could have expected in the first half.

The new offensive scheme looked light years ahead of last year's outfit, with quarterback Andrew McDonald showing he could in fact run the system effectively, the pistol offense in place which led to the quarterback-option run game, and the tight ends getting involved in the passing attack (Andy Dean came out of nowhere with six catches for 22 yards).

Defensively, the Aggies held their own along the line of scrimmage and made some great plays, forcing three turnovers. Essentially, much of Texas' offense came on two long pass plays to close out the second quarter - quarterback David Ash hitting John Harris from 54-yards out and then Ash finding speedster Daje Johnson over the middle for a 66-yard catch and run.

Unfortunately for the Aggies, however, it was a sign of things to come, as the Longhorns blew things open from there.

Of course, Texas' size, speed and depth clearly played a factor as the game moved along. The Aggies could have gotten fatigued, and with fatigue can come breakdowns such as some of the ones we saw defensively.

And lets not forget, Texas really didn't know a whole lot about the Aggies coming into the contest. Again, it's Week 1 of the college football season, and NMSU was breaking in new schemes on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

McDonald did not play last year (even if he should have) and at no point did the Aggies roll out that style of offense in 2012. Ditto for the defense, which has an entirely different look. It took a first half to adjust, and Texas' thoroughbreds clearly took control from there.

The question is, what Aggie team will we see going forward? The one from the first half, that played with the No. 15 team in the country, or the one from the final two quarters, which looked susceptible to the big play?

Next Saturday Minnesota comes to town, and the following weekend will see UTEP visit Las Cruces. Perhaps the Aggies can compete against a BCS team, or beat a regional rival. Perhaps they can grab a benchmark win in the process.

But there won't be any more surprises either. Over the next two weeks we'll find out a lot more about the Aggies, than we did in Week 1.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg


Anonymous said...

Last year, CDW couldn't get the team to play 4 quarters.
That ugly 2012 monster kept creeping in during the 2nd half.

I did not see the game but, did compliment Coach Martin and his staff...for the 1st half of play.

Looking forward to watching NMSU get down & dirty with the gophers on Saturday!


Anonymous said...

One of your best write ups as it pertains to Aggie Football.
Not sure what to make of the HUGE drop in effort with 2 min left in half all the way thru til end of game. Namely on the defensive side of the ball. It can't be fatigue in the 1st half. I think the biggest obstacle for these coaches is getting the returning senior starters to NOT be ok with failure without effort.

Anonymous said...

Seems that the Aggies were actually beating the Longhorns for most of the first half. Texas was trying different approaches to the short, systematic, control game. Then.....They figured out we couldn't stay with them in the long game. albeit a higher risk approach, Speed was in their corner and we had no answer. That was the begining of the end. Lets hope this achilles heal is not our undoing!

Anonymous said...

Jefe is right.
Those returning players don't know how to play hard for 4 full quarters!!

Coach Martin and staff have to change that mentallity in the locker room and fast.
If the team can play 4Q's, we will win some games and scare some people!

Teddy said...

Playing hard has nothing to do with it. The Aggies played hard every snap.

Texas figured out the Aggies schemes and adjusted. From there, they're ability and depth took over.

Anonymous said...

I saw the final stats and Tra Colwell did not show up.
Ramondo had limited playing time and Davis Cazares was playing both sides of the ball??

Can you elaborate? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Teddy Now let's see how much football you know. I gave you props earlier but if you don't think that there was a lack of effort in the secondary, please review Ash TD run. Watch it real speed then go back and slow it down. After watching that play, please tell me what scheme caused that TD? I'm giving them credit because if it isn't lack of effort, then its lack of skill. I think 2 players who should have made that easy play have some skill, they lack the will and desire it takes to play 60min. But you tell me.

Anonymous said...

I was in shock that the Aggies played ball during the first half....and then the team I have lamented over that past ten years showed up. Like years past, this team has a lot of quit in them.

For me, the most disappointing group was the secondary. The Aggie secondary cannot tackle and puts themselves out of position...even when they are originally in position to make a play. Check out the ESPN highlights...there are a couple examples of this shown:

Teddy said...

Colwell still getting adjusted to playing WR. Could take field this week.

I believe Ramondo should be playing more. I believe he doesn't fit what coaching staff wants to do (they run a 1-gap technique up front, he's more of a 2-gap lineman). Still, think they have to get him on field more often.

Cazares' rushing yardage came on fake punt.

As for the secondary, there were coverage breakdowns throughout the evening. Ash's run was mind-boggling. Not saying it's a good thing, I'm just saying I think the Aggies as a whole played hard throughout the night and schematically things broke down on them throughout second half. Believe on Ash's run they were in man coverage, backs turned to ball carrier, somehow he went untouched for TD.

Anonymous said...

Colwell injured his shoulder. He will not play.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Ramondo getting in there more. Even to spell the starter. Secondary for being seniors, have terrible technique, they are guessing instead of making correct reads which is lack of knowledge of the play book, their bad tackling is directly related to effort and as a result they take wrong angles. And finally do not finish. The Ash TD run Both SS and CB were face up to QB on the sideline. There are no excuses for mutiple mental breakdowns or effort from D1 players. Plus it is such a DOWNER with plays like that. Gotta pick it up bigtime.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't playing 4 quarters; it was not having backups who could play when the starters were getting gassed. No one player on the TU roster who wouldn't be a starter for NMSU. Aggies did well. Just need to play competition that's more their speed.

If the Aggies don't show up against UNM and UTEP in either half, then you might as well right them off. For myself, I think the Aggies have a great shot of beating either or both of those teams.