NMSU's offense has 2 answers

NMSU quarterbacks Buck Pierce, left, and Paul Dombrowski give the Aggies a definite plus at the position. Pierce began as the starter last season but injuries forced Dombrowski into the mix. The sophomore set a single-season, quarterback rushing record and also ran for 12 touchdowns.

There were nervous chuckles on the practice field. Gerry Gdowski -- New Mexico State's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach -- laughed but said, "No, no, there's been no talk about that."

Gdowski had just been asked by a member of the media -- with tongue planted firmly in cheek -- if former Aggie assistant and current Nebraska offensive coordinator Barney Cotton had called his former team about a trade: the Cornhuskers could swap a couple of linemen for a quarterback.

Gdowski chuckled at the idea -- trades obviously do not take place on the college scene -- but he made it very clear that even if he could, he would not trade any of the quarterbacks in his charge. That's because the Aggies have a virtual goldmine behind center this season.

NMSU finished 7-5 last year -- the best record for the Aggie program since 1967 -- and in the process discovered that it was loaded with quarterbacks.

Buck Pierce started the season as the main man, but a pair of injuries limited his playing time. Paul Dombrowski stepped into the top spot and started eight games. When the proverbial dust had cleared, the redshirt freshman had set a single-season record for rushing by an Aggie quarterback with 868 yards. He also took the ball across the goal line 12 times.

In his limited playing time, Pierce finished with a QB rating of 154.69 as he completed nearly 64 percent of his passes and had just one interception in 107 attempts.

"We know we have two good quarterbacks and we trust them both," said senior wide receiver Ronshay Jenkins, who hauled in 16 of the quarterbacks' offerings last season for 330 yards. "Whichever one is out there, we know he'll do well."

Head coach Tony Samuel, who brings a 26-42 record into his seventh campaign, was clear when he was questioned about the quarterback situation.

"We have two starting quarterbacks," he said.

Both Pierce, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound fourth-year junior, and Dombrowski, a 6-1, 214-pound third-year sophomore, are scheduled to see a lot of action this year.

"They both know they are going to play," Samuel added.

The two-headed monster that will be the Aggie offense gets its first chance to run amok Sunday at Texas.


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