Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pre-Season Preview: New Mexico State Aggies

2009 Record: 3-10 (1-7 in WAC)
2009 Bowl: N/A
Final 2009 AP Ranking: Not Ranked
Head Coach: DeWayne Walker (3-10 at New Mexico St, 3-11 Overall)
Non-Conference Schedule: San Diego State (9/11), @ UTEP (9/18), @ Kansas (9/25), New Mexico (10/9),

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 11.5 points per game (last in WAC, last in Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 144 (7th in WAC)
Passing Yards/Game: 87 (last in WAC, 118th in Nation)
Total Yards/Game: 229 (last in WAC, last in Nation) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 31.6 points per game (6th in WAC, 101st in Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 220 (8th in WAC, 114th in Nation)
Passing Yards/Game: 202 (5th in WAC)
Total Yards/Game: 423 (6th in WAC, 103rd in Nation)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: -0.77 per game (7th in WAC)
Penalties: 45 yards per game (2nd in WAC)

Returning Starters
Defense: 7

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Jeff Fleming, Jr (87 of 172 for 789 yds, 4 TD, 12 INT, 268 yds rushing)
Passing: QB Trevor Walls, Soph (46 of 94 for 352 yds, 2 TD, 5 INT)
Rushing: RB Seth Smith, Jr (246 carries for 1016 yds, 1 TD, 4.1 ypc, 78 ypg)
Receiving: WR Marcus Allen, Sr (26 rec, 308 yds, 2 TD, 2.4 rec/game)
Receiving: WR Todd Lee, Jr (28 rec, 280 yds, 1 TD, 2.3 rec/game)
Tackles: DB Stephen Hatchett, Sr (98)
Sacks: DE Pierre Fils, Jr (6); DE Donte Savage, Jr (5)
Interceptions: DB Davon House, Sr (3)

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Lindy's: Not Ranked
Mark Schlabach: Not Ranked
Rivals: Not Ranked
Scout: Not Ranked
Sporting News: #100
Sports Illustrated: Not Ranked
Athlon Sports: #117

2010 Pre-Season WAC Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #9

New Mexico State had a lot of trouble scoring points last year as they only averaged 11.5 ppg. They were 118th in the Nation in passing yardage, ahead of only Army and Navy. They also ranked last in the nation in total yardage. To say they struggled offensively would be the understatement of the year. They also lost their last 7 games down the stretch last year although 2 of them were against ranked teams. The Aggies last posted a winning record when they went 7-5 in 2002. With a second year coach in place is this the year that they can start to rebuild their program or will their wait be longer? We reached out to Sam from to get his thoughts on this team from the WAC.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team?

The major strengths of the Aggies are their run game and the secondary.  The running game was the only part of the offense last season that clicked with Seth Smith rushing for over 1,000 yards.  The Aggies add JUCO All-American Kenny Turner to the backfield and that duo will hopefully wreak havoc on opposing defenses. The Aggie secondary was the strongest unit on the ballclub last season and was led by First Team All-WAC selection Davon House.  House returns for his season season and the entire secondary is back.

The biggest weakness for the Aggies is their lack of depth.

Looking at the schedule who will be the first major test and why?

The first major test on the schedule will be the first game of the year against San Diego St.  These two teams are fairly evenly matched, both programs enter year two under new head coaches and these two teams played last season with SDSU pulling away late in a game that head coach DeWayne Walker felt they probably could have won.

What team on the schedule do you fear the most?

I don't know that the feeling is necessarily fear but Aggie fans have certainly come to dread facing Boise State. They've dominated the WAC since joining and they're the program that every other school in the WAC is trying to catch.  They've also run roughshod over the Aggies winning by scores of 56-6, 40-28, 58-0, 49-0 and 42-7.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

While most of the attention in the secondary goes to Davon House (and deservedly so), Alphonso Powell gets overlooked a bit.  He finished the 2009 season with 72 tackles, 41 solo and 31 assisted and had a sack and an interception.  He's one of the reasons that the Aggie secondary was the team's best unit last season allowing opponents to complete just 53.6 percent of their pass attempts.

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

Seth Smith is the best offensive player on the team.  He rushed for 1,016 yards last season and was the first 1,000 yard backer for the Aggies since 2000.  He was a workhorse for the Aggies last season but oddly enough, he only scored one rushing touchdown, something that will hopefully not happen again this season.

Who is the biggest impact player on the defense?

Hands down it's Davon House.  House was the only Aggie to be named to the WAC's postseason All-WAC Teams (First or Second) as he was a First Team selection as a junior (one of the other First Team DBs was Boise State's Kyle Wilson who was drafted in the first round of this year's NFL Draft).  House had three interceptions, one fumble recovery, 68 tackles, 13 pass break ups and 16 passes defended.  He also returned an interception and a fumble for touchdowns.

What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach it's full capability?

On offense it's wide receiver Marcus Allen.  The Aggies lacked a big play threat in the passing game last season and the Allen enters his senior season as the guy the Aggies will be looking to for that big play ability. Allen led the team in receiving yardage last season with 308 yards and he scored two touchdowns. Coaches and fans are hoping he'll flourish in his senior season.

On defense BJ Adolpho will need to be big for the Aggies at the linebacker spot. The Aggies lost the core of their linebacking corps (four players, 261 of the team's 907 tackles) to graduation. Adolpho will be a sophomore this season and with huge holes in the linebacking corps, the Aggies really need him to step into the starting lineup.

Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

The biggest offensive newcomer for New Mexico State in 2010 won't ever see action on the field.  That's because the biggest newcomer on offense is first year offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar. The Aggie offense was, for lack of a better word, anemic in 2009.  They averaged a league worst 11.5 points per game and could never get anything going through the air as they threw for just 1,141 yards (third worst in the nation), threw just six touchdowns passes (second worst in the nation) and 18 interceptions (second most in the nation). That last number should make you cringe considering the Aggies only averaged 20 pass attempts per game. Aggie fans hope that Dunbar can do two things, one find a quarterback who can lead the offense and two utilize the players he's got to score some points.

As far as players go, the biggest offseason addition is JUCO All-American running back Kenny Turner. Turner was a high school teammate of Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson but had his football career sidetracked by a second-degree felony charge for aggravated battery that saw him serve five years in prison. Turner has turned his life around and after spending last season at Fullerton College, he rushed for 1,513 yards on 236 carries and scored 15 rushing touchdowns.  He should add a lot to an already solid running game.

Wide receiver Taveon Burk is another newcomer that the Aggies hope will have a huge impact this season. The JUCO transfer ran a 10.6 100m and gives the Aggies a deep threat/speed guy that they didn't have last season.  His impact will of course depend on the Aggies settling on a quarterback who can get him the ball.

Who is the top defensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

On defense, the biggest newcomer for the Aggies is Frank Padilla.  He's a JUCO linebacker who the Aggies want to come in and have an immediate impact.  As was mentioned a little earlier, the Aggie linebacking corps was the bulk of the Aggies' defensive production and nearly all of that production graduated.  Padilla is projected to be the starter at the 'mike' position.

Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?

I'm always optimistic about the Aggies' chances every season but I think 6-6 is an attainable goal.  The start of the season will be brutal as the first six games are San Diego St., at rival UTEP, at Kansas, home to Boise State (who should be a preseason Top 5 pick), home against in-state rival New Mexico and then on the road to face Fresno State.  If the Aggies can somehow get through the first six games at 3-3, they'll have a decent shot at finishing the season at .500 or better.  The biggest determining factor will be the Aggies' ability to stay healthy and fresh. This is where their biggest weakness, lack of depth, comes into play.  The Aggies play all 12 games in 12 weeks, no byes.  If injuries start to mount, it could turn season two of the Walker era into a long one.

Follow New Mexico State sports at and follow them on Twitter @AgsBleedCrimson.

Next Up: Missouri Tigers

2010 Previews
Big East- Cincinnati Bearcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, West Virginia Mountaineers
Big Ten- Michigan WolverinesMinnesota Golden Gophers, Northwestern Wildcats, Purdue Boilermakers
Conference USA- Houston CougarsTulane Green Wave, UTEP Miners
MAC- Buffalo Bulls, Temple Owls
Mountain West- Utah Utes
Pac-10- Oregon Ducks, USC Trojans, Washington Huskies
Sun Belt- Troy Trojans


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