Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Filler #8: New Mexico State

So we're done celebrating Memorial Day weekend here in northern Nevada and it actually snowed in a few places. This is usually the time when I make some contrived reference to Nevada weather and how unpredictable it is, but I'm too cold and too angry right now to do that. Instead, I'll just have to console myself with the merciful end of the Slog Through Red October, which is finally within typing distance.

New Mexico State Aggies

Remember back when I alluded to the Lobos as only the second-worst team in the state of New Mexico historically? Of course you do. As you can guess, these poor dopes are the first-worst. Between the Aggies, Lobos and their neighbors in El Paso, there's just something about being along the Rio Grande that seems to doom your football program to have a losing overall record and little postseason success.


Scoring: 15.7 points per game (117th)
Rushing: 129.1 yards per game (89th)
Passing: 167.4 yards per game (99th)
Total: 296.5 yards per game (112th)
1st Downs: 16.9 per game (102nd)
3rd Down Conversions: 30.0% (118th)
Red Zone Conversions: 79.2% (84th)


Scoring: 39.5 points per game (115th)
Rushing: 207.1 yards per game (110th)
Passing: 246.3 yards per game (t-103rd)
Total: 453.3 yards per game (112th)
Sacks: 9.0 (119th)
Tackles for Loss: 42.0 (119th)
Turnover Margin: -6 (t-86th)

Special Teams

Touchbacks: 1 (t-113th)
Kickoff Returns: 24.4 yards per return (17th)
Punts: 37.0 yards per punt (116th)
Punt Returns: 5.9 yards per return (95th)

Some Numbers to Ponder: 1,410 and 16 - Total kickoff return yards and number of kickoff returns of 30 or more yards, respectively, for senior-to-be return specialist and wide receiver Taveon Rogers last year, the latter of which was the most of any player in the country; 16-58 - The Aggies' overall record since joining the WAC in 2005, the conference's worst record in that time frame; 50 and 5 - Number of years and months, as of today, which have passed since the last time New Mexico State played in a bowl game, a 20-13 win over Utah State in the Sun Bowl.

Just how long ago was the Aggies' last bowl appearance? It was New Year's Eve of 1960 -- gas was 31 cents a gallon, the United Nations had only 99 members and Ralph Macchio's glorious conception was still nearly a year away. Oh, and New Mexico State had just completed a perfect 11-0 season in which they finished ranked 17th in the Associated Press poll. It's at this point that facts like those cease to be amusing bits of trivia and they instead become sad, strange testaments to the longest running absence between bowl appearances in college football history.

When Hal Mumme was brought to Las Cruces in 2005, he quickly gained notoriety for engineering insanely productive passing offenses, still managing to lose a ton of games in spite of said offenses and looking vaguely like a coked out Michael Douglas with a towel fetish. Then DeWayne Walker replaced him in 2009, and he's trying out the quaint tactic of building up a balanced offense coupled with a sound defense. We make fun of teams like New Mexico State all the time on here, but given that Walker has already shown more tact and class in two years than Mumme ever showed in twice that time, we have no problem wishing him luck.

For many new head coaches, the third year is about the time when real, tangible improvements start to get reflected in the win and loss columns. And to the Aggies' credit, they return enough players on both sides of the ball to warrant such positive thoughts. Seven starters each on offense and defense return, and the only departing player of real note productivity-wise is NFL draft pick Davon House at corner. This was a team whose inexperience at key positions showed all throughout last year, and gained enough experience to warrant (nonetheless cautious) optimism for a few more wins in 2011.

Well that's that. The Slog Through Red October is finally complete, and now the more intriguing WAC summaries can begin. So grab your custom gang-appointed vests and artfully tussle up your hair for next week's entry on Hawai'i.

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