Ags Mouton leaves team

New Mexico State running back Keith Mouton won't make the trip to The Volunteer State this weekend with the Aggies for their Sun Belt Conference game with Middle Tennessee. In fact, the 5-foot-7, 177 pound third-year sophomore will not take to the field with NMSU again. Head coach Tony Samuel confirmed after practice Wednesday that Mouton has left the team.

Head coach Tony Samuel confirmed after practice Wednesday that running back Keith Mouton has left the team.

"He's gone," the coach said. "That was a mutual thing." The Katy, Texas native was seen speaking on his cell phone as he left the field Saturday, moments after the Aggies lost 35-31 at home against Idaho in a game that saw NMSU fall after holding a 28-0 lead in the third quarter.

Minutes later Mouton was observed taking part in a small altercation with a teammate.

Samuel said, though, that what occurred Saturday did not lead to the player's departure. "That really had nothing to do with it," he said.

Mouton redshirted as a true freshman in 2001 and then carried the ball 26 times for 124 yards last year. He had 144 yards rushing on 26 carries in the Aggies' first two games this year, but had just four carries for four yards in the next two outings and did not play Saturday against Idaho. Efforts to reach Mouton were unsuccessful.

On the mend:

Starting I-back Eric Higgins did not suit up for the Idaho game but has practiced with the team this week. Samuel said that he did not know if the senior, who has lingering hip problems, would play Saturday at Middle Tennessee. "He's really day-to-day right now," Samuel admitted. "We don't know right now if he'll play."

Despite missing two games so far this season, Higgins is NMSU's third-leading rusher with 153 yards on the ground.

Sun Belt success:

NMSU is 9-4 in Sun Belt Conference games all time. Before last weekend's loss to Idaho, the Aggies had won four-straight league openers, dating back to the Big West Conference. A win Saturday at Middle Tennessee would give the Aggies six-straight victories in conference road openers. The streak started with NMSU's 48-45 win at Nevada in 1998.

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