Friday, October 4, 2013
Aggie notes: Cazares turns it up ; Aggies look for consistent ground game; the Lobo O-line
New Mexico State safety Davis Cazares has been on top of his game in recent weeks: two weeks ago against UCLA, Cazares recorded 12 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery; then, last Saturday against San Diego State, he made 14 tackles on the evening.
While Cazares made some good plays in coverage against UCLA, he’s been known as a run defender and he certainly hasn’t disappointed in this area. Listed as a safety, Cazares (who stands at 6-foot, 203 pounds) can resemble the play of a linebacker at times. Last week against San Diego State, he said, the Aggies played him more in the box because of the Aztecs power-rushing approach.
“I think I was in the box quite a bit,” Cazares said, reflecting on the game. “San Diego State is a heavy run offense. And just the way they were lining up got me in the box quite a bit. And then we just did different things to try and get guys closer to the line.”
It will be interesting to see how the Aggies deploy Cazares this weekend against the University of New Mexico's run-heavy approach.
The Aggies struggled to get a running game going last week against San Diego State (recording 40 yards on 27 carries).
Two weeks ago against UCLA, NMSU was much more effective in its rushing attack (187 yards on 47 carries), which was the Aggies best output of the 2013 season.
The Aggies have had a difficult schedule thus far, which could very well contribute to the team’s inconsistencies on the ground. This year the team has 533 yards on 166 carries (3.2-yards-per attempt) total. During spring and fall practices, however, the Aggies showed an ability to run the ball.
It should be pointed out the Aggies had their best rushing effort with freshman King Davis III - a very good runner - starting at quarterback. With that, senior QB Andrew McDonald is an adequate runner and a consistent passer.
When asked about establishing a rushing attack, particularly with McDonald under center, offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon said, “We’ve got to be more physical up front. We’ve got to be more assignment-sharp. Our technique, footwork has got to continue to improve and get better. I know (offensive line) coach (Bart) Miller is really stressing that with them, constantly. And then, you talk about having a playmaker; we need a playmaker at running back. When, you can’t block them all, and the ball’s handed off, and you get back to the line of scrimmage and there’s a safety sitting there, you either got to juke him, or run him over. That’s football. You see it every Saturday. Guys hand the ball to the backs, they don’t block everybody, but the guy makes a guy miss, now it’s a 6-, 7-, 8-yard gain, or a bigger gain. That’s what we lack right now.”
Speaking of rushing attacks, much has been made of New Mexico’s ability to run the ball (the Lobos rank No. 3 nationally by averaging 324.5-yards-per game).
Of course, they have a unique system and some good players carrying the ball (such as senior Kasey Carrier).
But don’t sleep on the unit’s offensive line, which is coached by former Aggie assistant Jason Lenzmeier.
Said Aggie defensive coordinator Davis Elson of the Lobos scheme, “A lot of option elements are in there. But also, just a power, inside running game and that’s where I think they’re really good. Their offensive linemen do a really good job of knocking people off the ball.”
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