The Daily Aggie

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The Daily Aggie :: 10/19/12

The Aggie volleyball team suffered what can only be described as a "bad" loss last night on the road at UT Arlington. The Aggies fell 3-1 to the Mavericks, a team that less than a month ago they handled with relative ease. The Aggies suffered through bad passing much of the evening and even in their lone set victory, a 25-12 romp, the team registered just 10 kills and committed six attack errors. On the evening the Aggies hit just .140 committing 30 attack errors. The Aggies also had just one service ace, five service errors and had six receiving errors (in other words were aced six times) including on match point which unfortunately was a fitting way for the match to end considering the problems the Aggies had in the serve-receive game.

The loss drops the Aggies into a second place tie with Idaho who fell in five sets at Utah State last night. For the moment the Aggies hold the tiebreaker with Idaho but there is still a lot of volleyball to be played. One would figure that the Aggies can't afford to lose more than two more matches the rest of the way if they want to be a top two seed in the WAC Tournament and losses to lower tier teams remove some of the mental edge that you might have over a first-round opponent as a higher seed.

The Aggies will look to rebound on Saturday when they face Louisiana Tech, a team that gave them fits in Las Cruces. The Lady Techsters are winless in conference play losing to Denver 3-1 last night.

The Aggie soccer team in back in action as they face the Texas State Bobcats this afternoon. The Aggies are in last place in the league standings but still have a realistic and legitimate shot at making the tournament. The teams that are immediately above them in the standings are Idaho (4), UTSA (5), San Jose State (6), Texas State (6) and Seattle (7) and number in parenthesis denotes how many points the team has. The Aggies still face Idaho, UTSA, Texas State and Seattle. If the Aggies can find a way to get nine or ten points out of that stretch they'll have a very good chance of making it in as either a six or possibly even a five seed.

Hopefully the Aggies' win over Cal State Bakersfield this past Sunday, a win which saw them break a month-long scoring drought, will propel them to a strong finish.

Today's match is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. (MDT) kickoff. Live Stats will be available via the Texas State athletic website.

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The Daily Aggie :: 10/18/12

The Aggie volleyball team is back in action tonight as they take on the UT Arlington Mavericks. Tonight's match signals the start of the second half of the WAC schedule and there are three teams, Utah State (8-2), New Mexico State (7-2) and Idaho (7-2) all within a half game of each other at the top of the standings. The Aggies and Vandals got some help on Monday from UTSA who went into Logan and swept the UtAgs. That result has been indicative of the parity from top to bottom in the league this season. Just as an example -- The Aggies swept UTSA at home, UTSA swept Utah State in Logan but Utah State swept the New Mexico State in Logan. The Aggies defeated Idaho in five and defeated SJSU in four but SJSU swept Idaho (but lost to UT Arlington) and Idaho swept Utah State in Logan. And then you look at the bottom of the standings and Seattle has just two WAC wins but has gone to five sets with every team in the WAC that's outside of Texas (for some reason all three Texas schools, UTA, UTSA and Texas State have all been able to handle Seattle).

So what does it all mean? It means that the old coaching cliché than any team can beat any other team on any given night is actually true this season in WAC volleyball. If you don't bring your 'A' game, no matter what team you are, there's a good chance you're going to lose. It also means that finishing first or second in league play will be at a premium in order to secure a match against a "lower" seeded team in the first round (although, we would really not want to be the team to have to face Seattle in round one) and it also means that the WAC Volleyball tournament is going to be an absolute free-for-all with any number of teams with a good shot at winning. There is no clear-cut favorite at least as of right now.

As far as the Aggies are concerned, they need to win the WAC tournament to get in to the NCAA tournament. The RPI numbers haven't panned out the way the Aggies had hoped and they're currently hovering just inside the Top 100. It also means that there will be just one team from the WAC making the NCAAs, that being the tournament champion.

If you checked out this week's interview with head coach Mike Jordan, you know that the coaching staff is a little concerned with certain rotations in their lineup and that changes will likely be made this week. There have been a few instances this season where the Aggies have gotten stuck in a bad rotation and been unable to get out of it, the home match in the first set against Louisiana Tech is a prime example. The Aggies were up 20-11 but got stuck in a bad rotation and LA Tech came all the way back to win. In Saturday's loss to Texas State the same thing happened with Meredith Hays and Desiree Scott stuck in the back row and the Aggies unable to close out a 23-20 lead which would have given them a 3-1 victory. Instead the Bobcats clawed back, took set four 26-24 and went on to win the match 3-2.

It will be interesting to see what the lineup changes will be. Tonight's match is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. (MDT) first serve with streaming video available via the UTA athletic website.

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The Daily Aggie :: 10/12/12

The Aggie volleyball team moved back into a tie for first place last night thanks to a 3-0 (26-24, 25-19, 25-21) sweep of visiting UTSA. The Aggies played well for long stretches during the match and were able to overpower the Roadrunners. The Aggies held UTSA to just a .050 hitting percentage and kept McKenzie Adams under wraps the entire match. Adams finished with eight kills but also had seven attack errors and had a negative hitting percentage most of the match.

The Aggie middles were key in this match along with freshman Nathalie Castellanos. The trio of middles combined for 14 of the Aggies' 41 kills and redshirt freshman Gwen Murphy had one of the best nights of her young career finishing with five kills on seven swings for a .714 hitting percentage. Murphy destroyed a couple of overpasses by UTSA and also had three block assists and a pair of digs.

We talked a little bit about UTSA's digging prowess yesterday and they didn't disappoint in that respect finishing with 56 digs in three sets, an average of 18.66 per set. However, we really felt like the Aggies did a good job of staying patient in the match and did a good job of digging balls as well finishing with 46 digs, an average of 15.33 digs per set.

It all added up to an impressive sweep, although it was not without some tense moments as the Aggies had to stave off UTSA in set one, leading 18-13 but then falling behind 22-21 before winning in extra points. The Aggies then had to rally from down seven early in set two trailing 12-5. The Aggies had two big runs on serve, one by Stephanie Ziegler followed immediately by Ciara Brown. Then in set three the Aggies led 7-0 and 14-3 but allowed UTSA to get to within three at 20-17 before finishing off set three.

The Aggies are back in action on Saturday night when they take on Texas State on AggieVision.

The Aggie soccer team returns to action this afternoon as they host Denver. The Pioneers are the first ranked opponent that the Aggies have faced in the program's history as they sit at No. 24 in the Soccer America rankings.

Denver has not lost since their opening match and are riding a 13-match unbeaten streak. Meanwhile the Aggies have struggled all season long to put the ball in the back of the net and as a result have seen some frustrating one-goal losses.

Despite the severe scoring drought, Coach Quinn believes that his team is very close to putting it all together on the offensive side of the ball citing the team's ability to do it in practice but needing to bring it into game time.

The good news for the Aggies is that their defense is stout and can and has kept them in games all season long. The Aggies' goal of reaching the WAC tournament are still well within reach. There are five teams all within four points of each other vying for the last couple of spots in the tournament. The Aggies can make a statement today with a win over Denver and they can also vault themselves right back into the thick of the race if they can pick up the win.

Today's match is scheduled for a 3:00 p.m. (MDT) kickoff and with streaming video available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

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The Daily Aggie :: 10/11/12

The Aggie volleyball team is back in action at home tonight against UTSA. The Roadrunners bring a hot streak into the Pan Am having won six of their past seven matches and are just a game behind the Aggies in third place in the league. The Roadrunners are led by junior outside hitter McKenzie Adams who is averaging 4.10 kills per set, second in the league behind Idaho's Allison Baker and ahead of the Aggies' own Meredith Hays (4.06 k/s). The Roadrunners also boast the player with the league's second best attack percentage in freshman middle Kylie Schott who is hitting .364 this season.

This will also be a battle of the second and third best teams in conference play in opponent hitting percentage with UTSA holding opponents to a .143 percentage and the Aggies just behind at .147. Both teams are decent blocking teams with the Aggies averaging 2.72 blocks per set and UTSA averaging 2.52 blocks per set. The one thing to watch for tonight from UTSA is they are by far the league's best floor defense team by numbers averaging 20.44 digs per set, over four digs per set better than the next best team and seven digs per set better than the Aggies. That's an incredible number and if there's one thing the Aggies have struggled a bit with this season it's teams that dig the ball well. It tends to frustrate the Aggie hitters who then become a little impatient causing them to take bad swings. (UTSA's overall season stats in digs per set, 18.73, puts them at third best in the country).

The key tonight will be for the Aggies to stay patient offensively and understand that a lot of their swings, even good swings, may not find the floor. If the Aggies can pass well tonight (another tough challenge with UTSA third in the WAC, league play only, in service aces per set at 1.44) then they can get their middles, Preslie Alexander and Desiree Scott, involved which will help keep things open for Meredith Hays, Lauren Loerch and Bradley Nash on the pins.

First serve is set for 7:00 p.m. with the match being televised on AggieVision and streaming online via ESPN3.com.

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The Daily Aggie :: 10/08/12

Another tough weekend for the Aggie football team resulted in a loss to Idaho, 28-16. The loss sets the table for the scenario which we outlined prior to the UNM game, one in which the Aggies may not win another game the rest of the season. We certainly hope that's not the case but the way the team is playing at this moment, it's hard to see them beating any of the teams remaining on the schedule and certainly not any of the teams in the next five-game stretch.

The good news for the team is that they've got a bye week this weekend and that will give the team a couple of weeks to try to put the pieces back together and fix what's broken, namely, the stagnating offense. For the third consecutive game the Aggies have been held to ten points or fewer for much of the game while the opponent builds a seemingly unsurmountable lead. For the second straight week the Aggie offense has turned the ball over at a prolific rate, four more this weekend against Idaho and a total of ten turnovers over the course of the last three games. You'd be hard pressed to find any team that could win three games committing ten turnovers but in the case of a team with a struggling offense, struggling defense and struggling special teams, those errors are magnified.

For the second straight week the turning point of the game was a turnover on special teams. For the second straight week Austin Franklin muffed a punt and for the second straight week the opposing team recovered and scored on the very next play. For the second straight week that play sent the Aggies spiraling downward.

Much like the game against UTSA, Idaho had not shown the ability to do much but it was that turnover and a short field that sparked their offense.

The Aggie defense actually played decently, probably well enough to win, had the offense not fallen flat again. The Aggies turned the ball over deep in their own end three times and the Vandals capitalized to the tune of 17 points. The three other scoring drives, Idaho was forced to go the length of the field and settled for field goals.

Unless the Aggies can solve their offensive woes in the next two weeks, it's going to be a long stretch to the end of the season. The teams remaining on the schedule are all pretty solid defensive teams with good offenses (Auburn excluded but they're a different animal entirely). Utah State is a Top 20 defense statistically (16th), San Jose State is second in the nation in sacks (the Aggies are allowing 3.5 sacks per game), BYU's defense is a Top 5 defense, Auburn's defense is... well an SEC defense and Louisiana Tech's defense isn't great but their offense more than makes up for it.

Facing that stretch of teams will be a daunting task but hopefully the bye week will give the Aggies a chance to really work on fixing the offense. Otherwise, it could be the ugliest five-game stretch in Aggie football history.

The Aggie volleyball and soccer teams were also in action over the weekend. The Aggies defeated San Jose State 3-1 on Saturday night while the soccer team continued to struggle offensively posting a 1-0 loss at Louisiana Tech. It's now been almost 640 minutes since the Aggies last scored a goal, the span of nearly six and a half matches. Simply put, the Aggies haven't scored in almost a month. It's the longest streak in the program's history. We're unsure why there's been such a dearth of goals for the Aggies, however, what we saw in yesterday's match was the Aggies' inability to maintain possession of the ball, particularly once they got into the final third of the field.

As is the case with the football team, things don't get any easier for the soccer team. They host Denver, who just a week and a half ago was ranked No. 18 (apparently getting a win and a tie is enough to completely drop you out of a Top 25 poll). Denver hasn't lost since their opening match, an unbeaten streak of 13 matches. The Aggies get their shot at the Pioneers on Friday afternoon. Then on Sunday the Aggies host CSU Bakersfield.

Aggie volleyball also returns home and they'll host a pair of Texas schools in UTSA and Texas State. These two teams are one and two games behind the Aggies in the WAC standings respectively. Needless to say this is another big week for the Aggies as they try to keep pace with Utah State who is currently a half game ahead of the Aggies and in first place.

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The Daily Aggie :: 10/06/12

It's Gameday! The Aggie football team is on the road this week as they look to snap their four game skid. The team takes on the Idaho Vandals, a team whose struggles on the field rival those of the Aggies. This is a matchup between two teams currently headed in the wrong direction. The question for the Aggies is can they made the necessary adjustments to their gameplan and play calling to open up things for their offense? Aside from a 49 point showing against Sacramento State in the season opener, the Aggie offense has looked pedestrian since the second half against Ohio which is also the last time the Aggie run game looked decent.

The last three games have seen the Aggies fall behind and never really be able to catch up and for the Aggies to only put up a combined 28 points against UNM and UTSA was unthinkable heading into the season. In fact, only four teams over the past two seasons have scored fewer points against those two teams than the Aggies and what's even more troubling is that none of those teams were FBS and some of them were not even Division I teams.

So enter the Vandals who likewise have had struggles keeping teams off the scoreboard. No team has scored fewer than 21 points against Idaho this season. Can the Aggies take advantage and get their offense back on track? Idaho has been susceptible to the big play this season and this is once again a situation where the Aggie wide receivers should have a matchup advantage over the opposing secondary. Idaho has given up 34 pass completions of 15+ yards and 18 pass completions of 25+ yards. The issue is whether or not the Aggies can protect Andrew Manley long enough for him to get the ball to the wide receivers. Idaho loves to blitz and gets into the backfield pretty frequently. They've got 28 tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hurries and nine sacks. This presents a problem for the Aggies. They've given up 19 quarterback sacks through just five games and teams have hurried Manley five times and the opposing defense have 33 tackles for loss against the Aggies. Protection today will be the biggest key for the Aggie offense.

Defensively the Aggies have a big task ahead of them. The Vandals are led by quarterback Dominique Blackman and according to our scouting report from Vandal Nation, Blackman likes to get the ball out of his hands quickly. He's very accurate throwing short passing, something that has really plagued the Aggie defense since the UTEP game. The Aggies have played soft coverage and teams have made them pay. Idaho loves to throw the ball on first down completing 50-of-69 (72.5 percent) for 428 yards, nearly eight yards per completion. Can the Aggie defense stop the short and intermediate passing game of the Vandals? This will be another big key to today's game because both teams are atrocious running the ball (119th and 120th in FBS).

This game is the Aggies' last best chance for a win for the next six weeks and if they can pull out a victory it will give them a tiny bit of confidence heading into next week's game versus Utah State. If they don't win, they may not win another game the rest of the season.

This is going to be an interesting game and the meetings between these two teams are always entertaining. We think the Aggies will do just enough to pull out the win -- NMSU 21, Idaho 17.

Today's game is scheduled for a 3:00 p.m. (MDT) kickoff and can be seen on Altitude and streaming online via ESPN3 and Aggie Access (subscription required)

The Aggie volleyball team looks to bounce back from a stunning sweep at the hands of Utah State on Thursday night. The Aggies face an improving San Jose State squad which is 4-3 in WAC play with a sweep of Idaho this season.

The Aggies dropped to second place with their loss on Thursday and now need to win this game to try to keep pace with USU as well as try to stay ahead of Idaho and UTSA who are both just a game behind in the loss column.

Tonight's match is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. (MDT) first serve and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces and streaming online via Aggie Access (subscription required).

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The Daily Aggie :: 10/04/12

The Aggie volleyball team is back in action tonight as they take on Utah State in a battle of the Aggies. Utah State sits right behind the Aggies in the WAC standings at 5-1 while the Aggies are 5-0. A win by New Mexico State would give them at least for the time being a two match lead in the standings, a third of the way through the conference slate.

Winning every conference match is always a goal for every team but for New Mexico State it has become almost a must. The first batch of RPI ratings came out on Monday and much to our surprise the Aggies were 99th in the RPI. That is well outside the range that is considered at-large territory (somewhere in the 30 to 50 range is where you're shooting for). Despite what appeared on the face of it to be a solid schedule and despite no truly "bad" losses (teams ranked lower than RPI 150), the Aggies have not gotten the kind of help they'd hoped for from their opponents, particularly the ones they've beaten. The Aggies' best win to date is still their opening weekend win over Wichita State (RPI 54). Unfortunately the Aggies' other wins over North Dakota State, Cincinnati, Northern Illinois have not carried the kind of weight they'd hoped for with those teams struggling this season to a combined 21-31 record and RPIs of 143, 144 and 106 respectively.

The Aggies have one more shot at a Top 100 RPI victory before the conference tournament and that will be against Rio Grande Rival New Mexico. The Lobos are 15-4 overall and have an RPI of 63 which is bolstered by a win over Colorado State.

The Aggies won't get any help from their WAC slate as they're the highest rated RPI team in the conference at 99. The next closest are UTSA (130), Utah State (133), Idaho (139), Texas State (142) and Denver (163). The remaining teams are hovering around the 200 mark or worse with Louisiana Tech dragging everyone down with an RPI ranking of 309th out of 330 teams.

Unfortunately scheduling can be a crapshoot and you just never know how good or bad a team may end up being. Unfortunately for the Aggies what looked like a really strong non-conference schedule has turned into one that won't get them into the NCAA tournament without winning the WAC's autobid. It would certainly be a different story had they picked up a couple of wins in their matches against Colorado State, Pepperdine and Northwestern.

Back to Utah State. The UtAgs have given the Aggies some trouble over the course the two teams' time together in the WAC and this season will of course be the last time they meet (at least for a while) as conference foes. Utah State has actually won three of the past four meetings between the two clubs but prior to that the Aggies held a nine-game winning streak in the series.

USU are led by the trio of Josselyn White (2.97 k/s), Shay Sorensen (2.93 k/s) and Rachel Orr (2.88 k/s). Utah State is very balanced on offense and are also very solid defensively. The team averages three blocks per set and 13.95 digs per set led by Ashlan Rogers' 4.04 digs per set.

This should be a very entertaining match tonight and as we said, it's a big time opportunity for the Aggies to solidify their hold on the WAC lead.

The match is slated for a 7:00 p.m. (MDT) start and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces with streaming audio available via Aggie Access (subscription required) with Jay Sanderson giving the play-by-play call.

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The Daily Aggie :: 10/01/12

We've turned the page on September and with the dawn of the October hopefully a new beginning for a couple of Aggie teams who suffered through a tough month. The Aggie football and soccer teams in particular did not fare well in the ninth month of the year with the football team going winless in the month of September and the soccer team won just once, right at the beginning of the month, ended the month of September on a 551 minute scoreless drought which included yesterday's 1-0 loss to San Jose State in overtime.

It should be noted that one team at New Mexico State did have a great September and that team was Aggie cross country. The women recorded two first place finishes and fifth place finish while the men recorded two second place finishes and a sixth place finish.

The Aggie volleyball team was also fairly successful in the month of September going 7-4, however, even the spikers weren't immune to some poor play in September. The Aggies lost at UTEP this past Wednesday, their first loss in the I-10 rivalry series since 2004 spanning 14 matches. The Aggies also suffered through some uneven play throughout the month. The Aggies had strong first sets against both Pepperdine and Colorado State winning 25-16 and 25-19 respectively but dropped the next three sets to lose both matches. The Aggies were also pushed to five sets by Seattle (actually losing the first two against the Redhawks before rallying for three straight) and Idaho (winning the first two, losing the next two then winning the fifth), they also lost a 20-11 lead in the first set against Louisiana Tech but went on to win the next three sets. Despite the ups and downs there were certainly more ups than downs for the Aggie volleyball team as they wrapped up the month with a strong showing against Denver on Saturday. The Aggies have a showdown with Utah State in Logan on Thursday night as well as a trip to San Jose against an improved Spartan club.

Aggie football looks to bounce back after another disappointing loss. The Aggies fell 35-14 to UT San Antonio in the Tough Enough To Wear Pink game on Saturday night. The Aggies were looking good early on, the first two drives saw the Aggies play aggressively on both sides of the ball and the Aggies held a 7-0 lead and had just forced a Roadrunner punt. Austin Franklin went back to receive the punt, waved everyone off and called for a fair catch. The ball hit the ground and softly bounced sideways where Franklin tried to pick up the ball but was unable to corral the pigskin and UTSA jumped on the live ball and recovered it. The Roadrunners scored on the very next possession and the entire complexion of the game turned in favor of the Aggies. Had Franklin just let that ball go and the Aggie offense been able to take over, there's a good chance the Aggies would have gone down and scored. Their previous possession had shown a lot of diversity, good play calling and had pretty much kept UTSA's defense off-balance. Instead, the Roadrunners took the momentum and never let go.

One thing is clear about this Aggie football team. Much like the 2010 version of the club, this year's version is very fragile from a mental standpoint. It seems like one bad play snowballs into a multitude of bad plays and the Aggies just aren't able to recover. The 2010 team suffered from this problem as well. The other issue the Aggies are having is on offense. It seems like when the opposing defense decides to turn up the heat from quarterback pressuring standpoint, the Aggie offensive line isn't able to protect Andrew Manley and the offensive production drops precipitously.

This week the Aggies travel to Moscow, Idaho to take on the Vandals who much like the Aggies are really struggling. This represents the Aggies' best chance for a win for the next month and a half as the Aggies will start their brutal five-game gauntlet following the trip to Moscow. The next five opponents are 16-7 overall and you'd never guess but the team with the worst record of those five is Auburn at 1-3. The WAC trio of Utah State, Louisiana Tech and San Jose State is 12-2 (and five points away from being undefeated), you read that right, 12-2. In fact, if you remove New Mexico State and Idaho (a combined 1-9) from the WAC, the league is a ridiculous 19-4.

The Aggies really need to win this game on Idaho or the scenario which we described back on September 17th could very well become a reality.

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The Daily Aggie :: 09/29/12

It's Gameday! The Aggie volleyball and football teams are back in action and both are looking to reverse course after losing against bitter rivals. The Aggie football team is actually looking to reverse a three game losing streak that includes back to back losses to rivals, 41-28 at UTEP and a very disappointing 27-14 loss at home against New Mexico this past Saturday.

Aggie volleyball meanwhile will look to bounce back after an ultra-rare rivalry loss to UTEP on Wednesday night. The Aggies lost to the Miners for the first time in 14 meetings, a streak dating back to 2004.

For the volleyball team a win would keep them atop the WAC standings where they currently sit alone with a 4-0 record. Utah State and UT San Antonio sit just behind the Aggies at 4-1 and 3-1 respectively with USU at UT Arlington and UTSA at Idaho.

The Aggies are hosting Denver, an old conference foe who is now a new conference foe. The two teams squared off back in the Sun Belt. The Aggies have won eight in a row in the series but the two teams have not faced each other since 2004.

Denver is led by junior opposite Colleen King leads the Pioneers with 139 kills through 14 matches, averaging 2.84 kills per set. She is one of four Pioneers to average at least two kills per set. The Pioneers are also a very good blocking team averaging 2.72 blocks per set with middle blocker Faimie Kingsley leading the way.

The Aggies will definitely need to bring their 'A' game to the court today against the Pioneers.

First serve is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. (MDT) and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces and streaming online via Aggie Access (subscription required) with new play-by-play man Jay Sanderson calling the action.

The Aggie football team will take the field at 6:00 p.m. (MDT) against first year WAC foe UT San Antonio. This is a tale of two teams, two programs that are seemingly on different trajectories. The Aggies have been playing football for over 100 years and yet have not seen much success since 1960 (the team's last bowl win). UTSA has been playing football for just 14 games (just a little over a season and a third) and yet comes into the game riding a wave of confidence and a five game win streak dating back to last year. The Aggies are on a three game losing streak and are doing some serious soul searching after last week's loss to a not-very-good UNM club.

Other dissimilarities include the two programs' futures. The Aggies have no conference after this year while UTSA is bound for Conference USA after just one season in the WAC.

In reality this is a statement game for the Aggies moreso than UTSA. This is a game that the Aggies need to come out and prove to everyone that they are better than they've been showing and also that they're better than a team that's just 14 games into its existence. The Aggies would also like to avoid being a historical footnote -- i.e. UTSA's first conference victory and first victory over a full-fledged FBS team (South Alabama, UTSA's first win this year, is in their first year of FBS status).

So what do the Aggies need to do to avoid another loss? First and foremost the Aggies need to be aggressive. We really thought that last week the Aggies played tentatively and passively on offense. They didn't attack a secondary which came in with several injuries to key players. Their defense played soft coverage on wide receivers which for the second straight week proved to be a strategy that the opposition was more than willing to take advantage of.

Second, the Aggies absolutely have to cut down on the self-inflicted mistakes. Penalties and turnovers have killed the Aggies in their three losses to Ohio, UTEP and New Mexico. Against Ohio it was an Andrew Manley pick-six that got the downward spiral started. Against UTEP, Manley threw an interception on the very first drive and against UNM it was a pair of fumbles on drives that very much looked like they would result in touchdowns. For all the competitiveness that the Aggies have shown over the last couple of seasons, this is still not a team that is good enough to overcome its own mistakes and still win.

UTSA presents a unique challenge in that it's hard to gauge just how good this team really is. The majority of their victories have come against lesser competition and yet at the same time, a win is a win. The Roadrunners present multiple problems for the Aggies on offense. They are the very definition of a balanced offense averaging right around 200 yards per game through the air as well as 200 yards per game on the ground. And to say that the Roadrunners like to spread the ball around would be a ginormous understatement. Fifteen different UTSA players have caught a pass this season and of those 15, seven of them have caught a touchdown pass. In fact, no Roadrunner player has more than one touchdown catch. There is literally no way to know which player to target. It will be a huge task for a shaky Aggie secondary. And then there's the ground component. We've been told that the Roadrunners run some option. That will be an issue. The Aggies have not fared well against teams that run any variation of the option nor have they been particularly successful against mobile quarterbacks (see Nevada's Colin Kaepernick and Utah State's Chuckie Keeton as examples).

Defensively, Coach Walker has said that UTSA is pretty vanilla, however, they are well coached and fundamentally sound. Once again, it would stand to reason that the Aggies have a matchup advantage at wide receiver. The Aggies really need to exploit that advantage. We'd also love to see more involvement of the tight ends Perris Scoggins and our favorite, Trevor Walls. The Aggies got both invoiced on the touchdown drive in the first half against UNM but that has been the extend of their involvement in the offense this season. The duo has five catches this season, four of them came in the game last week.

The Aggie ground game also needs to get "ungrounded". We hope to see much more of Tiger Powell in the game tomorrow. We really feel like he's the Aggies' best shot at establishing a strong run game. He got just one touch last game but had been starting to run with some confidence, particularly in the first half against Ohio. If the Aggies are going to be insistent on trying to establish a power run game (between the tackles) then it would behoove them to use the running back who looks like a small offensive lineman. If Powell can get some tough yards on the ground then that might open things up for the Aggies' quicker, shiftier backs, Germi Morrison, Akeelie Mustafa and Robert Clay.

These next two games against UTSA and Idaho represent the Aggies' best chances for wins the remainder of the season (save for the final game of the year against Texas State). If they can win today they can head to Idaho with a little bit of confidence and have a shot at entering the middle of the season at .500. However, if they lose today, not only will they have lost four straight heading into Idaho, they will have lost back-to-back games against teams that heading into the year, should have (at least on paper) been able to be marked down as "W's."

The first ten minutes of this game are critical. If the Aggies win the coin toss and take the ball first, we want to see them attack the Roadrunners through the air. Take an early shot deep down the field. Test their coverage and in particular see how they're going to defend Austin Franklin. On defense, what we don't want to see is the Aggie secondary playing 10 to 12 yards off the receivers. It would be a big mistake for them to do that, particularly against a team that has shown no hesitation in spreading the ball around. They're already going to find the open receiver, don't make it easy on them by giving them a six to eight yard head start off the line of scrimmage.

After a rough couple of weeks thanks to a pair of rivalry losses, we think the Aggies will rebound, make the necessary adjustments and just simply start playing to their potential.

We're predicting a 35-17 victory for the Aggies in this game. Unfortunately, our predictions over the last two weeks have been horrendously wrong. Hopefully the Aggies will make us (and themselves) look good today.

Game time is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. (MDT) and can be seen on AggieVision as well as streaming online on ESPN3.com and can be heard over the airwaves on the Aggie Sports Network and streaming online via Aggie Access (subscription required).

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The Daily Aggie :: 09/28/12

The Aggie soccer team is back in action this afternoon as they kick off WAC play by hosting defending conference champion Utah State. The Aggies have played Utah State three times and are still winless against the UtAgs. In fact, the Aggies have yet to score a goal against Utah State losing 3-0, 3-0 and 2-0. Obviously it will be a huge task for New Mexico State today but we really do feel that the Aggies are on the verge of breaking out in a big way. Yes, the team has scored just four goals this season but they've been playing better offensively and their defense has been rock solid.

This is an Aggie squad that at the beginning of the season had a little chip on their shoulders about being picked to finish eighth. Hopefully, despite the tough non-conference, the Aggies still have that chip and will come out this afternoon and play like that. For the Aggies they're 0-0-0 starting today and the results of the non-conference no longer matter. It's all about looking ahead and qualifying for the WAC tournament.

If the Aggies can come out of this weekend with no fewer than two points it will be a successful weekend for the club. Our guess for this team is that they can play with both clubs coming in and that while certainly six points (two wins) is not out of the question, four (a win and a tie) would be a fantastic result and a great way to send a message to the rest of the league that the Aggies will be a team to contend with in the WAC.

This is also just the Aggies' fourth home date this season and they are also looking for their first win in the new Aggie Soccer Complex. It would be great to see them do it against Utah State.

Today's match is scheduled to kick off at 3:00 p.m. (MDT) with streaming video available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

Here's a video story from Stephanie Flores at NMSU's KRWG News 22

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