By: Derek Gonzales
The New Mexico State football team will return to Aggie Memorial Stadium to continue Sun Belt Conference play against the Texas State Bobcats Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. The Aggies will keep pushing towards improving on last season’s three-win total, though most cannot help but feel disappointed that the team will not have a bowl bid to show for the improved team that took the field this year. Here are a few things to look forward to this Saturday and in their last two games against Appalachian State and South Alabama.
Larry Rose is chasing his third 1,000-yard season
Even after missing the first three games of the season due to injury, Larry Rose III has a chance to get his third 1,000-yard season, which would keep him on pace with former Aggie running back Denvis Manns as the only two running backs in Aggie history to have four 1,000 yard seasons. To reach that plateau, Rose will need to average 158 yards per game through the last four games of the season, which seems like a stretch, until you realize that Rose averaged 179 yards per game last season in a four-game stretch that included Texas State. If he does it, it will be safe to assume that the Aggies tack on another win on two onto this season’s total.
Field Goal/ PAT Kicking
Sooner or later, head coach Doug Martin is going to have to make a decision on sophomore kicker Parker Davidson. The highly-touted Texas native has struggled mightily all season, and these final three games will determine whether Martin will move into 2017 with Davidson keeping his job. The good news is that Davidson’s issue is mental and not because he lacks the talent to be an FBS placekicker. Hopefully he is solid the rest of the year and gives himself and Aggie fans confidence going into next Fall.
Defense continues to improve
The NMSU defense is clearly better than it has been at any point during the Martin era in Las Cruces. The team will lose the nation’s leading tackler in senior Rodney Butler, and defensive lineman Noah Brown, but should return every other defensive starter next season. Defensive Coordinator Frank Spaziani has not addressed his future with the program, but continuity would be nice with next season’s senior class having had three different defensive coordinators. Having held Georgia Southern to 22 points and Texas A&M to 38 points (taking away two punt-return touchdowns), the defense has shown the grown it needed to have this year, so they will have the opportunity to be a middle-of-the-pack unit statistically in the Sun Belt in 2017, and more of the same in the last three games will do a lot on the recruiting trail and hopefully convince Spaziani to stick around and continue to work his magic.
Offense needs to find its groove
The offensive side of the ball has been a disappointment for a majority of the season, only averaging 23.9 points per game, which is good for 7th in the conference. With coach Martin being only one of six head coaches in FBS who is also the offensive coordinator, the expectation coming into the year was that the offense would carry the team, and they have underperformed, especially against Georgia Southern, where the defense was fantastic and the offense only mustered up 19 points. Wide receivers have struggled to get open, and the offensive line has struggled to protect Tyler Rogers, which can be due to the youth at both tackle positions and injuries along the time. Martin preaches a 30-point a game threshold, and the Aggie offense should strive for that in these last three games, especially with two of them being at home.