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Aggies bringing momentum to Athens

New Mexico State coach Tony Samuel speaks with respect when talking about Georgia.

ATHENS, Ga. - New Mexico State coach Tony Samuel speaks with respect, but not awe, when talking about his team's visit to No. 8 Georgia Saturday.

Buoyed by his Aggies' 24-13 victory over New Mexico Saturday, Samuel has renewed reason to believe his team can compete with the 3-0 Bulldogs.

"We want to go down there, execute and try and win it,'' said Samuel of Saturday's 1 p.m. game at Sanford Stadium. "I know everybody thinks I'm crazy when I say that. We want to win every game.''

It would be difficult for New Mexico State to match the high of last Saturday's win. New Mexico State fans charged the field at Aggie Memorial Stadium and tore down a goal post while the players celebrated at midfield.

The game marked a dramatic reversal in that intrastate rivalry, as last season New Mexico crushed the Aggies 53-0.

Another reason for Georgia to be wary this week: New Mexico State played tough in a 34-24 season-opening loss at South Carolina. That game was tied 3-3 after one quarter. Georgia won at South Carolina 13-7.

In 2000, Georgia shut out the Aggies 37-0 in Sanford Stadium, but in a telephone interview Monday Samuel said this New Mexico State team (1-2) should be better prepared for the test.

"We're young now and we were young then,'' Samuel said. "This team handles itself a little better.''

Against New Mexico, the Aggies were led by freshman quarterback Paul Dombrowski, who led the option offense with  136 yards rushing on 18 carries with one touchdown.

Samuel said sophomore Buck Pierce, who was sidelined last week with a bruised shoulder, is still the starting quarterback, but he says he plans to rotate both players.

"If Buck is ready to go, Buck starts,'' Samuel said. "Buck is our quarterback. We don't have a controversy.''

Pierce has completed 29 of 43 passes for 328 yards and a touchdown, but Dombrowski is the team's leader with 205 yards rushing. Neither quarterback has thrown an interception.

"They both can run and they both can throw,'' Samuel said.

Samuel, 20-39 in his sixth season at New Mexico State, had the following observations about Georgia:

Of quarterback D.J. Shockley, who is out with a broken foot after sharing time with David Greene the first two games: "I know he's a great athlete. We were thinking maybe they were grooming him to take over.''

Of Georgia's offense: "They changed things up and went no-huddle with four receivers (in the 45-7 win over Northwestern State Saturday). We don't know if that was a one-game thing.''

Samuel said Georgia's wide receivers, "that big tailback'' Musa Smith and a "huge'' offense line are strong, but he added "That defense is what really jumps out at you. They can run. I think the defense has to be the heart and soul of that team.''

Charles Odum is the beat writer for Dawg Post in Athens. He has over 20 years of experience covering Georgia football. He can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com

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