Pierce anxious for Aggie opener

New Mexico State quarterback Buck Pierce is eager and ready to go for Saturday's season opener at Arkansas.

After missing all of spring practice recuperating from a broken right ankle, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior will start Saturday against the Razorbacks.

"I just have to stay poised and focused," Pierce said. "It's going to be a challenge going up against Arkansas. They have great athletes."

Pierce is expected to get a majority of the snaps Saturday, although junior quarterback Paul Dombrowski will get his share of time under center.

"Buck has had a tremendous offseason," Aggies head coach Tony Samuel said. "He has been making good decisions and he is playing with a lot of confidence. But Paul will play some as well. He's had a good fall camp."

Last year against Arkansas, Pierce played one of his best game of the season. He completed 19 of 26 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns.

"Buck Pierce is a good quarterback," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "He makes sound decisions and he's very accurate. Last year he showed a lot of poise against us and he really tested our defense. He's a big concern for our team."

Arkansas will have to replace all four starters in its secondary from last year. Pierce said he expects Arkansas to blitz more to take of the pressure off the secondary.

"I have to be ready for some different things from last year's game," Pierce said. "We'll have to adjust some on offense."

Pierce, who has thrown for 2,674 yards and rushed for 554 more in his career, said he feels the Aggies can have some success on offense on Saturday.

The Aggies will have two new starters on the offensive line in left guard Justin Shopbell and center Mike Martinez. The Aggies will also depend on a host of receivers that will be playing extensively for the first time at that position, including sophomore Tim Tolbert, junior Anthony Lonon and senior Preston Williams.

"Things have been going well in practice, but game time is something different and the new guys will have to react and adjust," Pierce said.

•••
— Several true freshman could find some playing time for NMSU this weekend including Mayfield receiver Jeremy Lawson and Rio Rancho defensive end Brandon McKinney.

— The Aggies haven't won a season opener since 1999 when they beat New Mexico Highland 73-7. New Mexico State hasn't opened the season with a win on the road since 1981 when they beat Texas-El Paso 14-7.

— Arkansas is 20-0 in non-conference regular season games under coach Houston Nutt.


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