Aggies Coach Impressed By Youthful Razorbacks

FAYETTEVILLE -- New Mexico State coach Tony Samuel wondered where the graduation-weakened Arkansas team he'd been reading about was on Saturday night.

The Razorbacks, with 18 new starters, decimated the Aggies 63-13.

"First of all, their defensive front was better than the one we saw last year," Samuel said. "I know they're young, but they put good pressure on our quarterbacks and created turnovers. Of course, (Matt) Jones always scares you, and he has nice complementary receivers -- especially Marcus Monk."

Samuel might caution future Arkansas opponents not to dwell on the Hogs' age and supposed lack of experience.

"I know they've got one starter back (on offense), but a lot of those guys I kept seeing on film (from last year)," Samuel said.

Samuel wasn't even offended Arkansas scored its last touchdown with five seconds remaining on a four-yard run by Kyle Dickerson.

"They've gotta do what they've gotta do," Samuel said. "I never hold it against a team for trying to get better. They've got Texas next week. They don't have time to worry about hurting our feelings."

NMSU quarterback Buck Pierce, who played in the Aggies' 66-7 loss to Texas in last season's opener, sounded as if he'd like to watch the UT-UA tussle this Saturday.

"I hope Arkansas puts it to them," Pierce said. "You've got two offenses that rely on their quarterback. It will come down to the defensive side of the ball."

Pierce indicated New Mexico State was outmanned on both sides of the ball Saturday night.

"Arkansas has extremely talented players," he said. "They're athletic at all positions, especially offensively. We were relying on some freshmen at key positions, and it's a big adjustment to go from high school to playing a Southeastern Conference team."

It didn't help New Mexico State that three of its players -- running backs Tony Joseph and Muammar Ali and defensive end Chris Sneed -- were suspended indefinitely for violating team rules.

Joseph and Sneed were indicted this past week in a district court on a felony charge of forgery, for allegedly passing fake $20 bills. Ali's situation was unrelated.

Several Aggies players said the suspensions were not a big factor because the players knew about them all week, but Samuel admitted they were a factor.

"We did leave some pretty damn good players behind," he said. "They're out until further notice."

Samuel pressed freshman I-back Justine Buries of Mesquite, Texas, into service and he played creditably with 12 carries for 40 yards and one catch for six yards.

"Justine is going to be a great back," Pierce said. "But this was his first start. It's tough."

Another freshman, Brandon McKinney of Rio Rancho, N.M., filled in for Sneed at an under-sized 240 pounds.

"The biggest crowd I ever played for before was 4,000 at Rio Rancho," McKinney said. "This crowd was amazing. I think we're better than we showed tonight; we just kind of didn't execute."

Aggies linebacker Jimmy Cottrell (seven tackles) said, "Arkansas schemed us really well. They didn't run inside too much, but they got outside and used their speed. Last year they were more about power. This year they got us to commit one way and then cut back on us."

Samuel credited Arkansas' receivers with good ability to run after they caught the ball.

But Pierce seemed puzzled at NMSU's lack of resistance during a 42-7 first-half blitz by the Razorbacks.

"Our guys were just in low gear," he said. "We looked slow. We just didn't execute. We'll fix it, but we kind of need a sense of urgency because next week we play a pretty good Cal team (at California)."

Buries, recruited only by North Texas among Texas schools but seemingly a plum for New Mexico State, said, "We were not fighting back in the second quarter. We were just taking the blows."

Buries said Arkansas did not throw NMSU a lot of different looks on defense.

"They were just real fast," he said.

Aggies free safety Matt Griebel, who gave up a touchdown pass to Chris Baker, said, "The guy just ran by me. We never settled into our game. Arkansas didn't do anything different from what we've practiced for three months."

Griebel said the Aggies didn't want to give up the final touchdown, but he said, "Everybody is playing to win. No hard feelings."

Cottrell, asked if he was offended by the tack-on touchdown, said, "Yes and no. They could always kneel there. But you can't ask players not to play hard."

Samuel said he'd hoped to throw the ball a litle bit more (than the 26 passes the Aggies attempted).

"We were short of running backs," he said.

Samuel also said the Aggies tackled poorly at times.

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