Aggies clash in second scrimmage

The Aggie offense scored four touchdowns and kicked three field goals in 14 possessions Saturday night at Aggie Memorial Stadium. It was NMSU's second preseason scrimmage of the 2003 season.

New Mexico State head coach Tony Samuel felt his squad made some improvements Saturday in the team's second scrimmage of fall camp. "I thought the pace of the offense was good early on, we kept the ball off the ground, I thought we got some good production out of running backs," Samuel said. "We're making progress. We still have work to do. The energy level is good."

Offensively, the Aggies were sharp early on as running backs Muammar Ali and Tony Joseph got a majority of the work. Joseph ran 14 times for 79 yards, while Ali had 52 yards on seven carries in the scrimmage under the lights at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

"Tony is becoming more consistent," Samuel said. "Muammar gives us a good speed guy. And he's making progress." Said quarterback Buck Pierce: "Our young backs are coming along. They work hard and tonight they did really well in the scrimmage."

Pierce himself completed 5 of 11 passes for 74 yards, while Paul Dombrowski completed 4 of 10 for 35 yards. Pierce and Dombrowski are both battling for the starting spot the QB position.

"I thought as a whole our offense did all right," Pierce said. "Our timing can still be better. I had a little too much on a couple of throws and that was a bit disappointing. But we have some time to work on things and I think we will get there.

Our receivers are doing a good job, the offensive line is coming along as well." Said Samuel: "The offensive line is getting there. They are working hard. Cole Leslie at tackle is coming along. He's only been here a couple of weeks. "I think he can be pretty good."

Senior Chris Lumpkin led the receivers in catches with three, while Jared Quick and Ronshay Jenkins had catches for big yards. Jenkins caught a 39-yard pass, while Quick caught two passes for 68 yards. "We've got a variety of options at receiver," Pierce said. "Those guys are doing a good job." On defense, first-year coordinator Ross Els said the defense needs to work on the little things to become a better defense.

"I think we are going to be a physical defense, we just need to keep working on things like the play-action fake and making sure we stay on our assignments," he said. "Our defensive line is coming along. We're healthy there. We still have a battle for a lot of positions, especially in the secondary. But that has brought out the best in a lot of people.

"Our linebacker situation is good. We have experience there and I really think our backups at that position are making a lot of progress." Samuel felt the secondary has made a lot of progress, particularly the safety positions. "I think our guys at safety have improved and I think we are close to finding our starters there," he said.

NMSU returns to practice today and for the next two weeks will have just one practice as schools starts Monday. The Aggies play at Texas on Aug. 31.

"The next week will be very important as we start to prepare for Texas," the seventh-year head coach said. "We need to get some good work in and see some improvement in all phases of the game."

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