Offensive coordinator on solid ground

Gerry Gdowski is NMSU's new offensive coordinator with the departure of Barney Cotton to Nebraska. The Aggies are claiming a smooth transition since Gdowski helped call plays last year.

He has spent the better part of spring and summer hobbled by a severe ankle injury -- he fell off a ladder. But while he was off his feet, New Mexico State offensive coordinator Gerry Gdowski didn't stop working.

Now he can walk with an ace bandage on his ankle, and he's ready to tackle his first season as the Aggies offensive coordinator.

Gdowski rose to the position when former Aggie coordinator Barney Cotton was hired away by his alma mater, Nebraska. The quarterbacks coach, and former Cornhusker himself, stepped into Cotton's role without a hitch.

"Gerry really helped Barney call a lot of the plays," head coach Tony Samuel said. "He was very involved in the offense."

So the play-calling package remains virtually the same.

Gdowski is a quiet tactician compared to Cotton's practice-field demeanor, which can best be described in understated fashion as passionate.

"We know that things are going to be pretty much the same," said senior wide receiver Ronshay Jenkins, who then grinned and added, "coach Cotton hollered a little bit more."

Gdowski's happy to be back on his feet but also extremely pleased with the fact that he has two athletic quarterbacks with experience to run the offense.

"We are so lucky to have the talent we have," he said.

The coach also noted that third-string signal caller Joey Vincent has been turning heads in practice as well.

"We're a three-quarterback team and not everyone has that kind of depth," he said.

Gdowski knows a thing or two about the life of a quarterback. While behind center for Nebraska, Gdowski led the Cornhuskers to the Fiesta and Orange bowls. He lettered from 1987 to 1989 and finished his college career with several school records fallen in his wake. In 1989, he set the school record for touchdowns in a game (six against Iowa State), in a season (32) and passing efficiency in a season (177.3 rating). He was the Big Eight Conference first-team quarterback and was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the eighth round.

But as the coordinator on offense -- a position he also had at South Dakota State -- he has to concentrate on more than his talented stable of quarterbacks. He has to help direct every facet of the offense.

"Gerry knows a lot, he's been so involved in the offense anyway," Samuel said. "We know he's going to do a good job."


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