By: Derek Gonzales
The New Mexico State football team will conclude their 2017 edition of spring practice with the Spring Game Saturday at 1 p.m. After finishing last season 3-9 for the second consecutive year, next year’s team will look to become bowl eligible in its last year as a member of the Sun Belt Conference. Here are some headlines and the latest news regarding the team.
Tyler Rogers granted medical redshirt
NMSU will have the services of quarterback Tyler Rogers after the Sun Belt granted the Peoria, Ariz. native a medical redshirt for, making him eligible for the 2017 season. The redshirt stems from the season-ending injury he sustained in 2015 against New Mexico. Since the injury occurred before he played in 30 percent of the team’s games, he was granted the waiver. Returning as a senior, Rogers will be at the top of the team’s depth chart, as he played well in stretches, throwing 16 touchdowns last season. Head Coach Doug Martin has been trying to get backup quarterback Conner Cramer on the field in other roles, so Rogers will be getting a majority if not all the first-team reps going into fall camp in August.
Chase Holbrook returns home
The best statistical quarterback to ever wear an Aggie uniform has returned to the program he once led. Holbrook played for the Aggies from 2006-08 and broke nearly every record in the books, including touchdowns thrown (85), total offense (4,541), career yardage (11,921), and career attempts (1,575). His play under former head coach Hal Mumme made the Aggies and the Air-Raid offense must-see TV during those three seasons. Holbrook now returns to NMSU nearly 10 years later as a coach after spending time at Washington State as an Offensive Quality Control Coordinator. He will be coaching tight ends.
2017 opponents and dates are announced
Not only is the Sun Belt Conference turning its back on NMSU after next season, but they piled it on with a brutal conference schedule for the Aggies this season. Six teams made a bowl game from the SBC last season, and all six are on next year’s slate. Here’s the schedule with last season’s record for those teams.
Sept. 2 at Arizona State (5-7)
Sept. 9 at New Mexico (9-4)
Sept. 16 vs Troy (10-3)
Sept. 23 vs. UTEP (5-7)
Sept. 30 at Arkansas (7-6)
Oct. 7 at Appalachian State (10-3)
Oct. 14 at Georgia Southern (5-7)
Oct. 28 vs. Arkansas State (8-5)
Nov. 4 at Texas State (2-10)
Nov. 18 at Louisiana-Lafayette (6-7)
Nov. 25 vs. Idaho (9-4)
Dec. 2 vs. South Alabama (6-7)
Starting off the season with consecutive road games is the last thing the team needed. Having two rivals and eight conference games takes away the opportunity for NMSU to schedule an FCS opponent, and it hurts a team that needs to jump out to a good start. If they could somehow split those first two games, it could boost the morale going into the home opener. Troy drubbed NMSU each of the last two years, including a 45-7 beat down the last time they visited Aggie Memorial. If the Aggies can pull out two wins in their first eight games, it’s possible for the team to win three out of four to close the year. A bowl bid should be the goal and it is realistic, but the team will have to stay in road games and hopefully squeak one out.