Aggies have solid running game

Well then step right up, the Aggies have that for which you are seeking.

The New Mexico State football team's season is turning into an ecumenical movement. Do you believe in a ground game that moves through defenses like George Patton going through the Whermact?

Well then step right up, the Aggies have that for which you are seeking. In its four victories so far this season, the NMSU offense has rushed for an average of nearly 268 yards per outing. Thanks in large part to a duo that did not play last year, the Aggies have once again found life on the ground.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Paul Dombrowski, who has made three starts due to the injuries of No. 1 QB Buck Pierce, and junior college transfer I-back Eric Higgins have clearly become the pace setters so far this year. Dombrowski, who has allowed the NMSU offense to continue to grow even when Pierce is on the sidelines, is the squad's second-leading rusher with 421 yards on the ground this season. Higgins, who started slow even though he broke the 100-yard barrier against South Carolina in the season opener, has feasted off the holes NMSU's massive offensive line has opened the past three games.

The team's leading rusher with 498 yards, Higgins has grown into his role on the team. During the Aggies' recently-completed home stand, the running back has hit the middle of the line without hesitation; when the big boys up front create an opening, Higgins does not dance, he hits the hole and gets up field. Even without backup Walter Taylor dressing for Saturday's game - the Hobbs native was suspended for a violation of unnamed team rules - the NMSU offense still ran well. Tony Bostic picked up 46 yards and redshirt freshman Keith Mouton - who led the team in rushing against Georgia - has shown he has the skills to help the Aggie offense Are you one who believes in a balanced offense?

Well, NMSU has ya covered. Sure, the Aggies want to stuff the pigskin down people's throats, but with a corps of talented receivers on hand, they've shown an ability to move the ball through the air. Pierce can pass and Dombrowski has improved to the point where Aggie offensive coordinator Barney Cotton is not afraid to put some air into the ball when the backup is in. The freshman QB went 14 for 17 for 174 yards against ULM. Five different players have thrown the ball for NMSU this year: third and fourth string QBs Doug Brady and Carl Scaffidi saw limited action against Georgia and punter Brian Copple completed a pass on a fake field goal Saturday. With Pierce and Dombrowski throwing all but eight of the passes, the Aggies have gone 93-for-157 through the air for 1,188 yards, five touchdowns and just one interception.

On the season, the Ags have rushed for 1,533 yards. In fact, three times this season the Aggies' rushing and passing numbers have been within eight yards of one another. In the UL-Lafayette game NMSU rushed for 204 yards and passed for 209, against South Carolina NMSU rushed for 212 and passed for 207 and against California the Aggies rushed for 169 and passed for 161. Wide receiver H.B. Briscoe leads the team with 373 yards receiving on 24 catches for an average of 15.5 yards per reception. His stalwart colleague P.J. Winston has 20 catches for 294 yards (14.7 per catch) and Chris Lumpkin has really come into his own as a receiver with 14 grabs for 169 yards (12 yards per reception). All right, how about defensive and special teams, are they the cornerstones of your football faith?

Well, under the direction of defensive coordinator Steve Stanard, the Aggie has played well considering that it entered the season with many new faces and with two SEC teams and one Pac-10 program on the schedule in three of the first four games. The Aggies held ULM to a single score last week and in the second half and also had its way with New Mexico and UTEP this season.

As for special teams, NMSU has blocked two field goals already this season, placekicker Dario Aguinga won the Louisiana-Lafayette game with a last-second field goal and return men Winston and Tyrone Gifford have consistently given NMSU good field position.

So will the Aggies make believers out of the rest of the Sun Belt? The next chance comes this weekend at Arkansas State.


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