Potent Aggies Hope To Catch Broncos Napping

New Mexico State is eager to prove themselves against the Broncos this Sunday in Las Cruces. This game is very similiar to past contests against UTEP and San Jose State, and a strong effort by the Aggies will catapult the program forward.

Coach Hal Mumme was hired to revitalize the New Mexico State football program.  In just his second year, he has done that.  While the Aggies are 2-3 (with losses to New Mexico, UTEP and Idaho, all within a touchdown and a conversion), Mumme has the New Mexico State offense in high gear.


If a team can accumulate 500 yards per game of total offense, that's an impressive feat.  This team averages that!  New Mexico State is passing for an incredible 422 yards per game.  Quarterback Chase Holbrook is enjoying a fine season, having completed 167 of 253 passes for 2,053 yards and 16 touchdowns.  His completion percentage stands at 66 percent and he's only been intercepted five times.  He's dangerous from every spot on the field; backed up on his own four, he hooked up Chris Williams for a 96-yard touchdown.


Holbrook has six main targets that will see considerable action Sunday.  Chris Williams and Nick Cleaver are both big play threats—Williams averages 16.2 yards per catch (33 receptions for 535 yards and four touchdowns) while Cleaver nets 17 per catch (20 for 341 and three scores).  A.J. Harris (31 catches for 366 and two TD's) and Derek Dubois (27 for 360 yards and four touchdowns) will also be big challenges for the Bronco secondary.  Jeremiah Williams has been utilized extensively out of the backfield, grabbing 21 passes for 172 and two touchdowns.  C Buckner (18 for 135) is another of Holbrook's main targets.  Chris Williams is third in the WAC in receiving, Harris is fifth, Dubois is seventh and Jeremiah Williams is ninth.


The team is vulnerable in that they have lost 169 yards rushing in five games, or an average of 34 yards per game.  This indicates a breakdown in blocking assignments that results in either sacks or tackles for loss.  New Mexico State has given up 19 sacks already this season.  Boise State will need to exploit this weakness to hold the high-powered Aggie attack in check.  Another vulnerability is that the Aggies have fumbled 14 times in the five games, and have lost 10 of them.


Overall, New Mexico State is averaging 80.6 yards rushing after taking those losses into account, which is last in the WAC.  Jeremiah Williams and Justine Buries have both been effective, with Williams sporting a 5.2 yards per carry average and 248 total yards and Buries totaling 143.  Clearly, Mumme uses the run mostly to keep defenses honest.


The Aggies are outscoring opponents by an average of 33 to 27.  They are third in the WAC in scoring behind Boise State (39.3 points per game) and Hawai'i (35.6).


The defense allows 107 yards rushing per game while giving up 261 yards per game passing.  New Mexico State is last in the league in the latter category.  They allow an average of 16.3 yards per catch, a very porous number that reveals the possibilities for deep passes against the Aggie secondary.  Overall, that adds up to 368.4 yards per game for Aggie opponents. 


Chris Williams is the top kickoff returner with seven for 193 yards, number one in the WAC.  He also handles punts for the Aggies but he's had limited opportunity thus far.  Williams has returned two punts for 63 yards this season.  He's obviously dangerous in the open field.


Jared Kaufman gives Coach Mumme a weapon on the few occasions that defenses have been able to stop the New Mexico State offense.  Kaufman averages 45.2 yards per punt with good hang time.  Kaufman leads the league in net punting while Boise State's Kyle Stringer is second.  It will be challenging for the Broncos to set up punt returns.


Matt Pratt has connected on just 2 of 5 field goals and is18-22 on extra point tries.  Three of Pratt's field goals have been blocked already this season.


New Mexico State is a second half team, dominating opponents 73-30 in the last 30 minutes.  In the third quarter, the Aggies are outscoring their opposition 32-0.


This is a young team that has bought into what Mumme is selling.  They've gained some confidence with a couple of lopsided wins over Division I-AA teams and have had a shot to beat the three I-A squads.  In the Moscow game, two touchdowns against the Vandals were called back because of penalties yet they still were within a touchdown and two-point conversion of sending the game into overtime.


Mumme has brought talent to Las Cruces, and for this reason they are a dangerous team.  The matchup with Boise State represents an incredible opportunity for New Mexico State to establish itself for the future.  The team has generated excitement within the community, averaging over 20,000 fans this season.  You can bet that number will be up considerably this Sunday for a game against #19 Boise State that will be nationally televised on ESPN.  The home crowd will bring the "Overrated" cheer with them into the stadium, eager to bring it out at the first opportunity against the Broncos.  Boise State must grab the lead early on this team and not let up.  This is the first of several trap games for the Broncos, and they must be ready for the Aggies.   

The Sunday night game will be televised nationally on ESPN. Kickoff is set for 6:05 P.M.

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