Opponent Preview — New Mexico State

Over the next six weeks, the Buffalo Sports News will preview Colorado's 2005 opponents. Inside, a look at the New Mexico State Aggies.

New Mexico State Aggies
at Folsom Field • Sept. 10 • 8 p.m. • FSN
Head Coach: Hal Mumme (1st year)
2004 Record: 5-6, 4-3 Sun Belt
Series Record: First meeting

Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: Paul Dombrowski, 12-40-247, 2 INT, 0 TD
Rushing: Muammar Ali, 136-561, 4.1 ypc, 6 TD
Receiving: Paul Dombrowski, 28-392, 14.0 ypr, 4 TD
Tackles: Jimmy Cottrell, 99
Sacks: Dustin Sober, 3-11
Interceptions: Three tied with 2
Punting: Brad Evans, 4/36.8

New Mexico State can scout its first two opponents by watching last December's Houston Bowl, as the Aggies face UTEP before traveling to Boulder for both team's second game. The Aggies will head into August camp with its starting quarterback situation unsettled. What is clear is whomever leads the Aggies from behind center will be running head coach Hal Mumme's wide-open "air raid" offense. Mumme and his entire staff are in their first year in Las Cruces.

NMSU will throw and throw often. Last season, Mumme's Southeastern Louisiana team racked up 408 yards through the air per game. In 1997, Mumme's first year at Kentucky, the Wildcat offense improved from 109th to 6th in Division I. At NMSU, Mumme will work with an offense that returns eight starters, including several experienced receivers, which bodes well for the Aggies, who will usually take the field in multiple-receiver sets. Junior Joey Vincent and juco transfer Royal Gill will vie for the quarterback spot, after former starting QB Paul Dombrowski moved to slot back. The athletic Dombrowski led the Aggies with 170 receiving yards in the team's annual spring game.

Tailback Muammar Ali and fullback David Romaka combined for just under 700 yards a season ago. Offensive lineman Nick Cole — all 6-1, 348 pounds of him — was an all-conference pick in 2004 and is a preseason all-WAC pick in 2005. The senior will anchor a line that returns two other starters, Mike Martinez and Justin Shopbell.

NMSU runs a 3-4, something defensive coordinator, and former Mizzou head coach, Woody Widenhofer kept this spring after the Aggies changed to the scheme midway through the 2004 season. However, under Widenhofer, expect New Mexico State to blitz more in 2005, especially as they get more comfortable in the new defensive look. The Aggie defense had 13 quarterback sacks in one spring scrimmage in April.

The defense is led by all-Sun Belt first-team linebacker Jimmy Cottrell, who could become the first Aggie to lead New Mexico State in tackles four consecutive years. Down lineman Jared Naylor, a senior, is active up front, while veterans Matt Griebel and Shukree Shabazz are solid in the secondary.

Buffalo Outlook: New Mexico State will have nothing to lose when it visits A big 12 team that has played for a conference title three of the past four years. The Aggies' aggressive offense should prove an excellent early season test for the Colorado secondary, which will face other pass-heavy teams Oklahoma State, Kansas and Nebraska later in the season.

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