New Mexico State Aggies: College Football Season Preview
Only three U.S. colleges bear the nickname "Aggies", and two of them play in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).
After Hal Mumme went 11-38 through four brutal seasons at the helm of New Mexico State, DeWayne Walker was brought in to restore some pride in the program.
Walker enters his third season, dragging a dismal 5-20 record (ouch). Las Cruces is no recruiting hotbed, and Walker has struggled to sell the struggling program to prospects. After all, once you tire of turning over rocks to look for scorpions, boredom inevitably sets in.
Think of these stats before you begin complaining about your own college team: from 2000-2009, the Aggies went just 37-83—good enough to earn 108th place—the dregs of college football.
New Mexico State has only had four winning seasons since 1967! That is beyond ridiculous.
And it does not stop there.
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This is by far the worst team in America in terms of bowl appearances: NMSU's last bowl appearance was in 1960.
Wow, wow, wait. 1960?!
That Sun Bowl match up came against Utah State, of all teams—the "other" Aggies of the WAC.
New Mexico State have only gone bowling three times in the history of the program, which began in 1893.
NMSU lost only 17 lettermen this offseason, returning 45 players.
Nine starters are back on offense and seven return on defense. WR Taveon Rodgers is the only All-WAC caliber performer on offense.
Kenny Turner is solid in the H-Back role, and if the offensive line can improve, the offense could get the ball moving.
After a No. 112 ranking last season, however, any optimism surrounding the offense has to be tempered.
I could care less if this is the best squad in years—you can’t win games without moving the ball and controlling the clock.
The Aggies seem incapable of doing either.
Starting from Scratch
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The Aggies have been on the cusp of a five-win season since 2005.
However, in that time they have suffered through seasons of: zero, four, four, three, three, and two-win seasons, which is about as much to brag about as Adam Dunn's current batting average.
Chase Holbrook was a rare shinning light in that dour six-year run, posting solid seasons from ’06-’08 as the Aggies starting QB.
In Holbrook's best season, he complete 69% of his passes with 301 YPG.
This year, quarterback duties will be shared by Matt Christian—who started a season ago (1,372 yards 8-2 TD/INT), and Andrew Manley—who was dinged up last season.
A young, inexperienced sophomore, Manley has good size for a QB (6'3", 215), and is the future at the position, whereas the senior Christian is on the way out.
The defense ranked 112th a season ago, allowing 453 YPG.
But with seven starters back, and former UCLA defensive coordinator Walker as head coach, the numbers should not get worse. Jonte Green and Donyae Coleman are two solid corners that will do their best to improve the 111th ranked run defense (207 YPG).
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The schedule is difficult, even by New Mexico State's low standards.
Ohio, Minnesota, and UTEP present early-season challenges. The Aggies run the risk of being blown out in all three games. A late-season match up against BYU has the potential to be nightmare-inducing.
Can this team win a single game?
Well, they have knocked off New Mexico, Utah State, or San Jose State over the course of the past two seasons.
The problem is those three teams have all improved, and New Mexico State must travel to UNM and SJSU before hosting Utah State in the season finale.
That USU game may be important, since it could be the Aggies' final chance to win a game in 2011.
I feel that the Aggies have the talent to avoid that terrible thought.
But that awful nightmare might just occur in Las Cruces.
Predicted Finish: 0-13, 0-7
Predicted Bowl: None
Predicted order of finish in WAC: Eighth