Aggies/Miners Renew Rivalry for 88th Time
Saturday’s game between New Mexico State and UTEP is the 88th meeting between the two schools. This is the Aggies’ first rivalry game of the season with New Mexico to follow, Oct. 9. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. (MT) start at the Sun Bowl, Sept. 18. This season NM State is sitting at 0-1, 0-0 while the Miners are 1-1, 0-1 after beating Prairie View A&M in the season opener and a tough loss to conference rival Houston this past week.
The Aggies are 2-1 in the last three meetings in the series. The last meeting between the two schools in El Paso was back in 2008 when the Aggies beat the Miners, 34-33, earning their first win against the Miners in El Paso since 1994. Quarterback Chase Holbrook threw for 329 yards and five touchdowns, while Chris Williams caught seven passes for 119 yards and Marcus Anderson caught three touchdowns. Both teams racked up a combined 738 yards of total offense that game (366 – NM State and 372 – UTEP). The Miners and Aggies squared off for the first time in 1914, as NM State won 19-0.
You can listen to all the action with the ‘Voice of the Aggies’ Jack Nixon and color analyst Jason Scott beginning at 6 p.m. on KGRT 104 FM. Also catch the action in Spanish with Martin Cortez and Bob Sherman on Vista 98.7 FM.
New Mexico State-UTEP Rivalry
The Aggie football team renews the program’s second longest rivalry with the Miners of Texas-El Paso, Sept. 18, at the Sun Bowl. The game will mark the 88th meeting between the Miners and Aggies with UTEP leading the series, 50-35-2. This will be just the eighth meeting between the two rivals in the last ten years after the two schools played every year from 1935 to 2000. The series took a break in 2003 and 2004.
DeWayne Walker and Mike Price will square off for the second time as head coaches. Before the 2009 meeting, the two had met twice before back in 1996 and 1997, when Walker was an assistant at California and Price was the head coach at Washington State. Last season, after a three hour rain delay the Aggies fell to UTEP, 38-12.
Scouting the Miners
This season the UTEP Miners are 1-1 after a loss to Houston this past week. This will be the Miners second home game of the season, as they defeated Prairie View A&M to open the season. UTEP is 6-4 over the last ten games against the Aggies.
The Miners are scoring 27.5 points per game and are racking up 451.5 yards of total offense. UTEP has also scored 50 percent of the time in the red-zone. The Miner defense is allowing its opponents to score 32.0 points per game, as opponents are recording 467.0 yards of total offense a game.
Individually, the Miners are led by quarterback Trevor Vittatoe. Vittatoe leads the way with 569 passing yards in two games with three touchdown passes. Joe Banyard leads the running backs with 131 yards rushing, averaging 4.5 yards per carry, while Kris Adams has caught nine passes for 162 yards to lead the receivers. The Miners have scored seven touchdowns in their first two games, four rushing and three passing.
Defensively, Isaiah Carter has 16 tackles on the season to lead the Miner defense.
Miscellaneous NM State versus UTEP Notes
· Historically speaking, the Aggies are better off playing in tight games against their I-10 Miner rivals. In the 87 previous meetings between NM State and UTEP, there have been two ties, 36 games decided by seven points or less and 49 games decided by more than eight points. In games decided by seven points or less, New Mexico State owns a 21-15 record against UTEP. In the 49 games decided by more than seven points, the Aggies are just 14-35. Here is a breakdown of the scoring margin in series history:
· NM State’s record against UTEP in games decided by:
o Three points or less: 11-8
o From 1972-85, nine games between the Aggies and the Miners were decided by three points or less, including five straight from 1976-80. In that span between 1972 and 1985, New Mexico State won six of those nine games. The last game in the series that was decided by three points or less was in 2008, a 34-33 New Mexico State victory in El Paso, Texas.
o Four to seven points: 10-7
o Eight to 14 points: 5-10
o 15+ points: 9-25
o Saturday’s game at UTEP will be New Mexico State’s eighth game in school history played, Sept. 18. NM State owns a 3-5 record when playing on this date, but hasn’t had a game on Sept. 18 since a 1999, when the Aggies defeated No. 22 Arizona State 35-7 on the road. In fact, the Aggies have won their last two games on Sept. 18.
The Last Time against the Miners
Following a three-hour weather delay, the New Mexico State football team struggled against UTEP and fell to the Miners, 38-12, Sept. 19, at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces, N.M. The Aggies’ two-game win streak over the I-10 rivals was snapped with the loss.
Weather delays are not a common occurrence for the Aggies, and the last one was a 48-3 win over Western New Mexico, Sept. 6, 2003.
Before the delay, the Aggies trailed 7-0 after UTEP took advantage of an interception to convert the mistake into the first score of the game.
When play resumed, the Miners posted a 14-0 lead at the break following an 11-play, 92-yard drive with two minutes to play in the half.
Defensively, sophomore defensive end Pierre Fils led the Aggies with two sacks and both occurred in the last drive of the half.
The NM State running game had a solid showing in the first half with an 85-41 advantage on the ground. Junior running back Seth Smith tallied a game-high 43 rushing yards.
Midway through the third quarter, the Miners increased their lead to 17-0 with a 29-yard field goal. The Aggie offense hurt its cause with the second pick of the game that UTEP turned into seven points for a 24-0 advantage. On the next drive, NM State miscues continued to hamper the team and the Aggies fumbled the ball on their own 17-yard line. The Miners capitalized on the turnover and had a 31-0 lead through three quarters.
NM State began the fourth quarter with a senior running back Marquell Colston 1-yard touchdown run that capped off a six-play, 65-yard drive. Smith setup the score with a 53-yard run to the seven-yard line.
Redshirt freshman Trevor Walls threw his first career touchdown to junior tight end Kyle Nelson with a five-yard strike with 3:14 left in the game.
NM State vs. UTEP Traveling Trophies
The Aggie football team has renewed the program’s second longest rivalry with the Miners of UTEP every year since 1914. The Miners and Aggies have met 87 times with UTEP leading the series 50-35-2. From 1935 to 2000 the two teams met every year until the streak was broken in 2001 and again in 2003 when no games between the schools were played. Over the course of the 87-year football rivalry between neighboring New Mexico State University and the University of Texas-El Paso, two traveling trophies have been created to honor the series victor:
The Silver Spade
Since 1955, the winner of the New Mexico State versus UTEP football game has taken home the Silver Spade, a replica prospector’s shovel. The origin of the Silver Spade dates back to 1947, when an old prospector’s shovel was unearthed in an abandoned mine in the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces. The whereabouts of the original spade are a mystery, but the current spade (on which are engraved the score of each year’s Aggie-Miner game) has been traded between the two schools since 1955. The relevance of the spade may be due to the fact that at the time of its discovery, the tool was related to the major field of study at both universities—agriculture at New Mexico A&M, and mining and metallurgy at the College of Mines.
The Brass Spittoon
The newer of the two traveling trophies in the New Mexico State - UTEP series is the 18-year-old Brass Spittoon, formally titled the Mayor’s Cup. The Brass Spittoon came into existence in 1982, when former Las Cruces Mayor David Steinborn and former El Paso Mayor Jonathan Rogers agreed to present an additional trophy to the winner of the storied Aggie-Miner football rivalry.
Allen Comes Alive
Wide receiver Marcus Allen started his senior season off on the right foot against San Diego State. Allen caught four passes for 114 yards, a career high. He also tallied a career-long touchdown catch of 58 yards in the third quarter of the game.
Currently, Allen ranks second in the WAC in reception yards per game and 11th in the nation. Last season, Allen’s game high for reception yards was 82, against Idaho in the opening game of the season, He also recorded his season-long reception of 34 yards against the Vandals as well.
For his career, Allen has now caught 30 passes for 422 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 14.1 yards per catch and 35.2 yards per game.
Christian has Successful Debut
Quarterback Matt Christian made his Aggie debut against San Diego State and showed why he was named the starting quarterback. Christian passed for 223 yards on 17-of-34, including two touchdowns. He also completed 50 percent of his pass attempts.
Only one time last season did the Aggies pass for more than Christian’s 223 yards and that was against Idaho in the season opener.
Christian also tallied 35 yards rushing in the game, averaging 3.9 yards per carry, with a long of 22 yards. His two touchdown passes were more than the Aggies’ totaled in their first three games of the season in 2009.
He currently ranks sixth in the passing yards per game in the WAC.
The Lineman Chart
The offensive line is a position in the game of football that has no stats or glory but could possibly be one of the most important positions on the field. Let’s take a look at the grade sheet for the NM State offensive line in week one of the season.
Turner Shows his Talent
Junior College All-American Kenny Turner shined light on his abilities this past weekend against San Diego State. Although he rushed for just 43 yards on 10 attempts, Turner averaged 4.3 yards a carry and recorded his first touchdown of his Aggie career on an 18-yard run in the first quarter of play. It was just the second rushing attempted for Turner in the game.
Turner ranks 10th in the WAC in rushing yards per game after the Aggies’ first game of the season.
Turner came to NM State from Fullerton College, were he was a junior college All-American and Southern California Football Association Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2009, helping his team to a 10-1 record. In just one season with the Hornets, Turner rushed for 1,513 yards on 236 carries, scoring 15 touchdowns on the ground in 2009. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry and 126.1 yards rushing a game. He was also second on the team with 29 receptions for 337 yards and three touchdowns. Turner’s 18 touchdowns led the team and also helped him lead the team in scoring with 108 points on the season.
Boyblue a Hard Hitter in the Middle
Middle linebacker Boyblue Aoelua had a career night against San Diego State this past week, recording a career-high 16 tackles and two tackles for a loss of three yards. Before Saturday’s game, Aoelua had a total of eight tackles in two seasons with NM State.
He currently ranks first in the WAC in tackles per game and second in the nation. For his career, Aoelua has tallied 24 tackles, two tackles of a loss and a fumble recovery. He also recorded a kickoff return of eight yards back in 2008.
Aoelua has a long line of middle linebackers to follow at NM State, including Jimmy Cottrell and Donte Floyd in recent years, both of which led the Aggies in tackles and ranked in the top 10 nationally for tackles in a season. Cottrell was the nation’s leading tackler in 2005.
Powell and Coleman a Safe Team
The one-two punch of safeties Alphonso Powell and Donyae Coleman showed why they will be a force for the Aggies’ secondary this season. Against San Diego State, the two combined for 27 tackles (Powell – 14 and Coleman – 13).
Powell’s 14 tackles was a career high and just the second time in his career that he has recorded double-digit tackles in a single game. His previous high was 12 tackles against Utah State in 2009. For his career, Powell has 157 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, one sack, three interceptions and a forced fumble.
Coleman also recorded a career high in tackles against San Diego State as well as he first double-digit tackle game of his career. His previous high was three against Hawai’i in 2009, which was also his first game playing in the secondary for the Aggies after moving from the offensive side of the ball. He now has 20 tackles in his career.
Powell and Coleman rank second and third in the WAC, respectively, for tackles in a game and third and seventh nationally.
Lee Catches Second against the Aztecs
There is something about playing San Diego State that sparks wide receiver Todd Lee. During his career with NM State, Lee has played against San Diego State twice and recorded both of his career touchdown catches against the Aztecs. Ironically, both touchdowns were 16-yard receptions. For his career, Lee has 355 yards receiving on 38 receptions.
Lee also had a chance to run the ball against the Aztecs, recording a career-high 22-yard run.
Passing Game Opens Up
Last season the Aggies were a run first, pass second team, recording 1,840 yards on the ground and 1,141 yards through the air. After its first game of the season, NM State looks to be opening up the passing game a little more in 2010.
The Aggies passed for 223 yards on 17-of-34 and two touchdowns against San Diego State. In 2009, the Aggies passed for more that 223 yards just once and never attempted more than 34 passes in a single game. The Aggies also broke a streak this past weekend by not throwing an interception for the first time in 13 games. The Aggies also threw just six touchdown passes all last season, as NM State took care of a third of that in just its game of the 2010 season.
Nelson also a Threat down Field
Tight end Kyle Nelson caught a career-high tying five passes for 28 yards against San Diego State this past weekend. He caught five passes for 47 yards against Louisiana Tech back in 2008. Nelson’s five catches on Saturday were three more than he caught in any one game in 2009.
For his career, Nelson has 30 catches for 216 yards and a touchdown.
House Named to 2010 Jim Thorpe Watch List
The 2010 Jim Thorpe Award preseason “watch list” includes 35 of the nation’s best defensive backs as the leading candidates for this year’s trophy, including New Mexico State’s senior defensive back Davon House. House becomes the first defensive back at NM State to be named to the Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list.
In 2009, House, a native of Palmdale, Calif., was named a first team All-WAC selection, after leading the league and the Aggies in passes defended and interceptions. House also broke the school record for most interception return yards for a career. He tallied 68 tackles on the season and three interceptions. House recorded two touchdowns on the year, one interception return for a touchdown against Hawai’i (11/14) and the other a fumble recovery and return for a touchdown at Louisiana Tech (10/17). With his fumble return and interception return for touchdowns, House became the first Aggie player to do both during a single season since Gary Jessie accomplished this feat back in the mid-1990s. House also proved to be in the right place at the right time for interceptions in his career. He has nine to his name, which ranks him ninth all-time at NM State. With the 58-yard interception return against Hawai’i, House broke the school record for interception return yardage held for 28 years by James Ferebee (1978-81). House now has 271 interception return yards. House was also named a 2009 Phil Steele’s Postseason All-WAC selection.
The Thorpe Award is one of college football’s most sought after and prestigious awards. It is named after history’s greatest all-around athlete, a man who excelled as a running back, passer and kicker on offense, but also was an awesome defensive back. Recognized in the Pro Football Hall of Fame simply as “The Legend”, Thorpe also played professional baseball and won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon.
Perez Makes Comeback
Senior Brandon Perez returns after an injury sidelined him for the 2009 season. The veteran three-year starter will lead the NM State backfield for the fourth season this season. During his 2008 junior season, Perez played in six games for the Aggies despite suffering from a groin injury most of the year.
A seasoned blocker, Perez carried the ball 20 times for 104 yards while catching four passes for eight yards. Junior Ronald Opetaia who played fullback for the Aggies in 12 games in 2009 will back-up Perez. Opetaia tallied 29-yards receiving on four catches last year and was used primarily as a blocking fullback for running back Seth Smith who was the first Aggie to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season since 2000.
Aggies in the Preseason Picks
The Aggies were selected to finish eighth in the 2010 Western Athletic Conference football coaches and media polls at the WAC Football Media Days. NM State received 81 points in the media poll and 21 points in the coaches’ poll. In 2009, the Aggies were also picked to finish eight by the coaches while the media placed the Aggies ninth in the media poll. NM State finished the 2009 campaign with a 3-10 overall record and 1-7 conference record to tie for eighth in the conference.
In the media poll, Boise State received the number one spot with 42 of the polls’ first-place votes, followed by Nevada (333), who tallied one first-place vote. Fresno State (300) and Idaho (207) took the third and fourth spots, respectively. Louisiana Tech and Utah State received 200 and 196 points. Hawai’i (166), NM State (110) and San Jose State (66) rounded out the voting.
In the coaches’ poll, Boise State received 73 points from the nine WAC coaches while Nevada was close behind with 56 points. Fresno State (52) and Utah State (42) took the third and fourth spots, followed by Hawai’i (39), Idaho (38), Louisiana Tech (31), NM State (21) and San Jose State (17) rounded out the coaches’ poll.