New Mexico State
The Aggies enter the season with their fourth offensive coordinator in the past four years. The team hired former Kent State head coach Doug Martin in late March to replace Mike Dunbar.
By: Athlon Sports | 6/4/11, 10:56 AM EDT
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#119 New Mexico State
HEAD COACH: Mike MacIntyre, 1-12 (1 year) | OFF. COORDINATOR: John DeFilippo | DEF. COORDINATOR: Kent Baer
The Aggies enter the season with their fourth offensive coordinator in the past four years. The team hired former Kent State head coach Doug Martin in late March to replace Mike Dunbar. Martin will run a spread — three- and four-wide receiver sets, single-back formations with an H-back.
Expect the Aggie offense to feature short passes — five to seven yards within the line of scrimmage — and to set up the run off the passing game.
NMSU has ranked near the bottom of the country in most offensive categories the past two years. Ironically, the one area where the team appears relatively set is at quarterback. Senior Matt Christian is a steady player with average mobility, while sophomore hot-shot Andrew Manley is a big body (6'4", 225 pounds) with a strong arm. Manley will likely play at some point this season, if not in the team’s opener against Ohio.
Last year’s leading rusher, Kenny Turner, will line up at H-back, getting carries while also motioning into the slot as a wide receiver. Junior running back Robert Clay is a between-the-tackles pounder.
The Aggies return senior offensive tackle Aundre McGaskey to anchor the right side of the line. Senior Sioeli Fakalata played guard last year but could slide over to center in 2010. A handful of newcomers will push for playing time, led by junior college transfer Andrew Kersten.
It was a domino affect on the defensive side of the ball last year. The Aggies didn’t win one-on-one matchups on the line. The lack of a push up front allowed their undersized linebackers to get swallowed in the running game and forced their secondary to cover opposing receivers for too long. The result was nine sacks total, 207.1 rushing yards and 39.5 points allowed per contest. In short, the front-seven needs to play better.
It starts at defensive end, where Donte Savage and Pierre Fils regressed last year after respectable sophomore seasons. Both are undersized but athletic and need to use their speed and burst to their advantage. Fils, though, could see more time at tackle.
Linebacker Alexander LaVoy was brought in this offseason and will push middle linebacker Boyblue Aoelua, who was good against the run last season but a step slow in pass coverage. Weak-side linebacker B.J. Adolpho has potential and could be in for a good junior season.
The secondary brought in reinforcements and could be a team strength. It will help if cornerback Jonte Green realizes his potential and safety George Callender stays injury free.
Tyler Stampler had a decent season as the team’s placekicker, lacking a huge leg but remaining accurate. Punter Jake Capraro needs to boot it better. Taveon Rogers was a dangerous return man last season and should reclaim his role.
The Aggies should be better in 2011 — they really can’t get any worse. Coach DeWayne Walker is a worker and, despite being outmatched from a talent standpoint on most Saturdays, his teams remain in line and play hard.
The key to the season will be the play up front along the offensive and defensive lines. NMSU will need to stay healthy on the offensive side of the ball and record more than nine sacks on defense. The Aggies will also rely on the continued development of Manley, who looks to be the real deal at quarterback.
But even if the defense improves and the offense adjusts quickly to Martin’s scheme, it’s tough to see the Aggies making too much of a move in the WAC.