2010 Record: (2-10, 1-7 in WAC)
Head Coach: DeWayne Walker (3rd Year at NMSU, 5-21 All-Time)
Last Bowl Game: 1960 Sun Bowl: beat Utah State 20-13
9/10: at Minnesota
9/17: UTEP (2010 result: lost 42-10)
9/24: at San Jose State (2010 result: won 29-27)
10/1: at New Mexico (2010 result: won 16-14)
10/15: Idaho (2010 result: lost 37-14)
10/23: at Hawaii (2010 result: lost 59-24)
10/29: Nevada (2010 result: lost 52-6)
11/5: at Georgia
11/12: Fresno State (2010 result: lost 33-10)
11/19: at BYU
12/3: Utah State (2010 result: lost 27-22)
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 15.7 ppg (last in WAC, 117th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 129.08 yds/game (6th in WAC, 89th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 167.4 yds/game (last in WAC, 99th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 296.5 yds/game (last in WAC, 112th in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 39.5 ppg (last in WAC, 115th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 207.08 yds/game (last in WAC, 110th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 246.3 yds/game (6th in WAC, 103rd in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 453.3 yds/game (7th in WAC, 112th in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: -0.50 per game (7th in WAC, 88th in Nation)
Penalties: 61.8 yds/game (8th in WAC, 102nd in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Matt Christian, Sr (114 of 237 for 1372 yds, 8 TD, 2 INT)
Rushing: RB Kenny Turner, Jr (115 for 461 yds, 4.0 ypc, 2 TD)
Receiving: WR Todd Lee, Sr (24 rec for 280 yds, 3 TD)
Tackles: CB Donyae Coleman, Sr (92)
Sacks: DE Donte Savage, Sr (3)
Interceptions: LB Boyblue Aoelua, Sr (1)
In case you were wondering, that was not a typo up above. It has indeed been a very, very long time since the NMSU Aggies have been to a bowl game. In fact, a lot of you reading this probably had not even been born yet (I know I wasn't). DeWayne Walker was hired to right the ship at NMSU but it's an uphill battle as he's won just five games in two years. The third year is usually when a new coach can start making his mark when he takes over a struggling program as a lot of players have now been in his system for three years and he now has a couple of classes of his own recruits on campus. Is this the year that NMSU takes a step forward? The schedule is certaintly workable for the Aggies. Their opponents had a combined winning percentage of only 46%. Phil Steele has them ranked with the 82nd toughest schedule in the Nation. But on the other hand a team with a 46% winning percentage is still better than the Aggies have been able to muster in the majority of their seasons as their career winning percentage is 43%. Did I mention that the Aggies are the most experienced team in the WAC? I bet that might surprise some. Will the experience help the Aggies but some W's on the board this year? Is Walker headed for another 2 or 3 win season or can they double that or even better this year? We caught up with Sam from the New Mexico State site bleedCRIMSON.net to get his take on the upcoming season.
After finishing 2-10 last season, what are the biggest deficiencies from last year that the Aggies need to correct going into the 2011 season?
When you go 2-10 there are obviously a lot of big deficiencies. The Aggies struggled defensively last season particularly in the pass rush department. The Aggies must get better production from their front four to take some pressure of the linebackers and secondary. On the offensive side of the ball the Aggies are breaking in their fourth offensive coordinator in four seasons and third in three seasons for head coach DeWayne Walker. As is the case with any team it's going to all start with the quarterback position. The Aggies believe they've found their signal caller in sophomore Andrew Manley. He's got all the tools to be successful, a big arm, good accuracy and the coaching staff feels like they've upgraded the playmakers around him. Coach Walker's goal this season is to allow 10 fewer points per game on defense and score 10 more points per game on offense. If they can do that, they should improve on that 2-10 record.
DeWayne Walker is 5-20 since taking over at New Mexico State. Is he on the hot seat and what does he need to do better this year?
He's not on the hot seat quite yet. It's only year three and you can't reverse 100 years of losing in just two years. It has taken some time for him to get in his type of players into the program. That's starting to happen. Last year was really his first recruiting class as he and his staff came in at the tail end of the recruiting period and basically did what they could in about three weeks time. With a second full recruiting class of "his guys" he should start seeing some dividends. Unfortunately for the Aggies, the schedule makers did them no favors with two money games at Minnesota and Georgia (early and late) plus a late addition of BYU to the schedule (thanks to the Cougars' football independence). The Aggies may be improved from a talent standpoint but the schedule might not allow that upgrade to be reflected on the scoreboard. Another two win season will see the fans start to grumble but it's still too early for "hot seat" talk.
For those that don't follow the WAC that closely...tell us a little about the best players on this team.
On offense the best returning players are probably quarterback Andrew Manley, running back Kenny Turner and wide receiver/kick returner Taveon Rogers. Manley has been given the keys to the kingdom so to speak after the coaches felt he performed the best out of the quarterbacks in the spring. Turner played injured most of last season and was never really able to fully showcase his talent. He did lead the team in rushing with 461 yards and two touchdowns and he'll also see some time in the H-back position this fall in new offensive coordinator Doug Martin's system. Taveon Rogers was the biggest bright spot on the offensive/special teams side of the ball last year. He showed the ability to have big kickoff returns, he set the single season record for kickoff yardage with 1,410 yards and briefly held the single season NCAA record for kick return yardage before fellow WAC returner Kerwynn Williams (Utah State) broke the record in the final game of the season at Boise State and finished with 1,444 yards. Rogers started to see more time at wide receiver and is a big play threat. Expect to see him get the ball thrown his way a lot more this coming season.
On defense, the best players coming back are probably defensive backs Jonte Green and Donyae Coleman who both have big shoes to fill in replacing NFL draftee Davon House (Green Bay). Green had a bit of an inconsistent year according to the coaching staff but he still managed to finish with 74 tackles, including 46 solo tackles. He was targeted a lot more last year with House locking down the opposing team's best receiver. Coleman led the Aggies in total tackles (92) and solo tackles (47) and the duo will be the key to the Aggies' secondary.
Who are some newcomers that can come in and immediately help this year?
Two players, both JUCOs and both on defense to watch for this fall are LB Alexander Lavoy and DE Sean Brown. Lavoy will be a big key to beefing up a linebacking corps that didn't play up to the level of expectations from the coaching staff last year. Brown is a 6'5" DE who should help generate a pass rush for the Aggies. Last year New Mexico State recorded just 11 sacks. By comparison, the 2009 Aggie defense recorded 21 sacks and Pierre Fils, now a senior, had seven sacks in 2009.
On offense, Kemonte Bateman is a JUCO wide receiver that the Aggies feel can help give their passion game some more pop.
Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games for New Mexico State this year?
It's kind of cliché but the most important game for the Aggies is their season/home opener against Ohio. Much like last season's opener against San Diego State, this is a chance for the Aggies to go up against a good fellow mid-major program, albeit one that has had considerably more recent success than New Mexico State. If the Aggies can win this game, it could really set the tone for the rest of the season. Ohio is an established program with a disciplined team run by former Nebraska head coach Frank Solich. This is a game where Ohio will certainly not beat themselves which means it will be incumbent upon the Aggies to play good ball. It's also a chance to showcase their new offense and hopefully their much improved defense.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
As we mentioned earlier, the schedule makers did the Aggies no favors this year. After the home opener agains Ohio, the Aggies travel to Minnesota and while the Golden Gophers struggled mightily last year even losing to an FCS team, they have a new head coach and can't possibly be as bad as they were last year. The Aggies then come back to host I-10 rival UTEP, those games are always a battle, then back-to-back road games at San Jose State (looking for revenge for the last second loss to New Mexico State last year), at in-state rival New Mexico (one of the games the Aggie might actually be favored in), then it's home to Idaho, at Hawai'i (who some people are talking about possibly running the table this year), hosting Nevada (sans Colin Kaepernick), then a brutal body bag game at Georgia, then home to Fresno State, then to Provo to take on BYU, then at Lousiana Tech and home against Utah State.
Above all else, regardless of wins and losses, the Aggies need to be competitive throughout their games. The Aggies were competitive for one, two and three quarters a lot of times last year but a play or two here and there wouldn't go their way and it seemed like the avalanche would start and the end result would be a lopsided final score.
That being said, the Aggies might only be favored in two games, at New Mexico and at San Jose State or they might be favored in none since those two games are on the road. Four or five wins out of this schedule would be a major major success and that should be the goal for fans to shoot for.
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2011 Team Previews