This is one of the biggest pillow fights of the college football season in any league, and is a game that New Mexico must win in order to help the Mountain West reach BCS status. Losing to New Mexico State is not a good start, and losing two years in a row is even worse.
We all know about last year with New Mexico State needing snack food for their players which were provided by boosters, because the athletic department was in such dire straights for some cash. First glance it is hard to see why DeWayne Walker took this job as a head coach, but as people say in the coaching world never turn down your first chance to be a head coach. Technically Walker did that when Karl Dorrell was fired prior to the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl, but that was a temporary stint. He then headed east to Las Cruces in 2009 for his first head coaching gig.
Back to the preview of the Aggies. Well to be kind they were not very good, but were just better then their rival New Mexico as they won last years game. It is somewhat sad that in the Rivals team preview of New Mexico State that they highlight their punting game as a positive.
A real positive for New Mexico State is running back Seth Smith who ran just over 1,000 yard but only had one touchdown all year. He was able to run behind an experienced and very large offensive line, but this year only two of the five return. However, even with only two returning the Aggies brought in JUCO plyaer Aundre McGaskey who is a beast at 6'6" and 304 pounds. Durring early fall practices McGaskey along side returnee Sioeli Fakalata have been anchoring the line and have been running the ball to that side with great success. While the running game is the strength the passing game is what really needs work. No, they really need work. In 2009 the Aggies were 9th in the WAC in passing yards and118th in the country while only being able to throw for 87 yards a game. Even Air Force who rarely throws the ball passed for more yards then the Aggies.
Even though Jeff Flemming is returning and was last years quarterback his job is now way safe. There will be a quarterback battle between Flemming and JUCO transfer
Matt Christian. A starter will not be named until a week before their season opener. The offense must find some sort of passing attack so teams do not stuff the box against Smith in the running game. The WAC is weak enough that if the Aggies do get to at least in the top 60 nationally they could parlay that into a longshot of a bowl berth.
The defense was not much better overall as they were also below the 100 mark nationally in total defense. The bright spot for the defense is defensive backfield that has Davon House who may be the best defensive back in the WAC and another potential all-WAC defender in Jonte Green. Even with those two the pass defense was only able to manage to be in the top 50 in the nation, but some of that could be due to opposing teams running the ball after they get a big lead.
The defense brings in three new linebackers which is a negative for a rushing attack that was ranked in the 70's, so unless these three new players are studs the rush defense might get even worse this year. While the WAC is nothing special outside of Boise State, Nevada, and to a lesser extent Fresno State the Aggies are still near the bottom of the league
Below is coach DeWayne Walkers post practice analysis after day one.