October 11, 2009

Signs of Progress Emerge

The NMSU Aggie football team continues to improve from game to game and its a trend that Aggie fans hopes continues. With the defense improving, coach Walker sounded very optimistic following Saturday nights win over Utah State. And the optimism wasn't just on the defensive side of the ball, but the overall play of the Aggies.


"Well that's the way we want to try to form our football team. We want to try to run the ball, play solid special teams and play great defense. I was really proud of how our team came together tonight,"coach Walker said in the post game interview.


Going into Saturday's game against Utah State, the Aggies rank in the top 4 in scoring defense (25.6), rushing defense (146.2), passing defense (169.2) and total defense (315.4). In fact, the Aggies lead the WAC in passing defense and are second in total defense.


Nationally, after the win over Utah State, the Aggies rank 20th in passing defense and 46th in total defense. At this time last year, the Aggie defense ranked last in the WAC and fifth in scoring defense. The Aggies are giving up 76.6 yards less on the ground per game in 2009.


A key ingredient in Saturdays night win was the ability to stop the Utags on several 3rd-down conversion attempts. The Utags were only successful on 5 of 17 attempts on the night.


"This offense (Utah State) is very explosive. I knew coming in that these guys were going to be really tough to stop and I'm just really happy with how the defense played tonight" said coach Walker.


In the red zone, the Utags came in ranked in the top-20 nationally. The NMSU Aggie defense held up to their own on the night allowing the Utags to go 2 for 3 in the red zone. The NMSU Aggies were a perfect 4 for 4 in the red zone. This turned out to be the winning difference in the end.


All in all, this NMSU Aggie football team continues to surprise a few of us that what we were all hoping to see this season was just improvement from week to week. Coach Walker and his staff, and of course the Aggie football players, have not only surprised us, but they've impressed us with their gutsy performance in getting this team to .500 with a 3-3 record about halfway through the season.


Sure there are glaring areas of improvement to be made, such as the play at the quarterback position and the play of the wide-receivers.


It's obvious this team lacks the play making abilities of last years team or players such as Chris Williams, A.J. Harris, and Chase Holbrook. Aggie fans got used to seeing the combination of Holbrook to Williams or Holbrook to Harris for long, exciting touchdowns. But those players are now distant memories for Aggie fans, but one thing is certain, with the way this team is improving from week to week, the future looks very promising with more and more wins sure to come their way.


Look for coach Walker and staff to focus their recruiting efforts at the skilled positions come NLI day. Hopefully, they'll be able to land that "go to" wide receiver or that "laser arm" quarterback that everyone so desperately wants in their offensive backfield.


It goes without saying that there are still some gaps to be filled on the defensive side of the ball as well.


Six games into the 2009 season and signs of progress are evident. Aggie fans are encouraged by the progress being made and the effort and heart that this Aggie football team puts out on the field on Saturdays.


A truer test as to how well this team does against a mid-level WAC team comes this Saturday as the Aggies take on the Bulldogs of La Tech in Ruston, LA. Game time is set for 2:00pm MT.


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