NM State Opens 2012 against Sacramento State, Thursday
New Mexico State football will open the 2012 season on Thursday, Aug. 30 against FCS school Sacramento State. This will be the first meeting between the two schools. Kickoff is set for 6:07 p.m. in Aggie Memorial Stadium.
Since 2000 the Aggies are 2-10 in season openers. At home, NM State holds a 2-4 record with both wins coming against SE Louisiana in 2006 and 2007. On the road, the Aggies are 0-6 since 2000.
You can listen to all the action with the 'Voice of the Aggies' Jack Nixon and color analyst Jason Scott beginning at 5 p.m. on KRGT 104 FM. Also catch the action in Spanish with Martin Cortez and Bob Sherman on Vista 98.7 FM
The game will be televised by Aggie Vision around the state of New Mexico on Comcast but will be tape delayed in Las Cruces, and carried on Altitude, ESPN3 and ESPN GamePlan. Play-by-play man Glen Cerny and color analyst Danny Knee bring you all the action.
Scouting Sacramento State
Sacramento State ended the 2011 season at 4-7 overall and tied for sixth with a 3-5 Big Sky Conference record.
The Hornets averaged 23.7 points per game in 2011. As a team, Sac State averaged 164.5 yards rushing and 176.0 yard per game passing, totaling 340.5 yards of total offense a contest.
Quarterback Garrett Safron is slated to be the Hornets' starter in 2012. Last season, Safron played in five games, completing 42.1 percent of his passes for 394 yards and three touchdowns. Morris Norrise returns as Sac State's leading wide receiver, after catching 38 passes for 471 yards averaging 12.4 yards per catch. Running back Sam McCowan is the lead returning running back, averaging 27.9 yards per game in 2011.
Defensively, linebacker Todd Davis leads the defense after recording a team-high 96 tackles in 2011.
NM State against FCS Schools
The Aggies do have a history of playing FCS programs. In fact, the Aggies are 40-25-1 all-time against Championship Subdivision programs. The last FCS school NM State played was Prairie View A&M, on Sept. 12, 2009, winning 21-18 in Las Cruces.
The Aggies last lost to a Championship Subdivision team in overtime in 1997 at home against Cal Poly, 38-35. Northern Arizona is the FCS program that NM State has faced the most. The Aggies hold a 17-7-1 record over the Lumberjacks with the first game played in 1930 and the last in the series in 1982.
Manley Back in 2012
Quarterback Andrew Manley returns to the field in 2012 after suffering a season-ending injury in 2011 against UTEP. In three games, Manley threw for 892 yards on 62-of-109 passing and six touchdowns, completing 56 percent of his pass attempts. In the Aggies' opening game of the season against Ohio (Sept. 3), Manley threw for a career-high 362 yards and two touchdowns, including a career-long pass of 54 yards. He then led the Aggies to the school's first ever win over a Big Ten opponent at Minnesota (Sept. 10) 28-21. Manley completed 20-of-31 for 288 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Against I-10 rival UTEP, Manley passed for 242 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-37.
Bateman and Franklin Anchor Wide Receiver Corps
The NM State wide receiver corps are led by two veterans in Kemonte Bateman and Austin Franklin. The two wide receivers combined for 938 yards on 62 catches and seven touchdowns in 2011.
Bateman played in all 13 games for the Aggies in 2011 at wide receiver, and also returned punts. He recorded 28 catches for 414 yards and four touchdowns; returning four punts on the year as well. Bateman caught a career-long 69-yard pass from Matt Christian against Nevada, part of a career-high 74 yards on the day.
Franklin saw action in all 13 games for NM State in 2011 at wide receiver and as a returner of kickoffs and punts. He grabbed 34 receptions for 524 yards and three touchdowns on the season, including 22 yards rushing on four carries. Franklin also returned three kicks for 103 yards including a long of 54. He registered a career-high eight receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown at BYU.
Bateman and Franklin will be joined by fellow wide receivers Jerrel Brown, Marcus Williams, Kevan Walker and Joseph Matthews in 2012. Brown played in 12 games in 2011, catching six passes for 79 yards and a touchdown, while Matthews saw action in 12 games as well.
Clay Leads Running Back Committee
The NM State running game will be a big part of the Aggie offense in 2012. This season, senior running back Robert Clay leads a talented group. Clay played in nine games for the Aggies in 2011 at running back and on special teams.
On the season, Clay rushed for 133 yards on 42 carries and a touchdown. He also caught four passes for 57 yards. On special teams he returned five kicks for 53 yards and tallied nine tackles. His best game at running back came at Minnesota, where he rushed for 97 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, helping the Aggies defeat their first ever Big Ten opponent. Clay also caught two passes for 34 yards against the Gophers. Against Louisiana Tech, Clay returned a career-high four kickoffs for 42 yards.
The Aggies will also rely heavily on running backs Akeelie Mustafa, Tiger Powell and Germi Morrison to handle the run game work load in 2012.
LaVoy Makes Move to D-Line
Alex LaVoy was a starting linebacker for the Aggies in 2011. Over the offseason, LaVoy made the move from linebacker to defensive end for the 2012 season. LaVoy's speed and strength will be a great compliment to Donte Savage, who plays on the opposite end of the line.
In 2011, LaVoy started at middle linebacker for the Aggies, playing nine games, missing four games due to injury. He recorded 36 tackles on the season, including 1.5 tackles for a loss. LaVoy collected a season-high eight tackles in his first career start as an Aggie against Ohio.
Wallace and Kersten Set to Lead the O-Line
The offensive line is a major factor in the Aggies' offensive success in 2012, as NM State looks to establish the run game more and protect starting quarterback Andrew Manley. Tackle Davonte Wallace and guard Andrew Kersten lead this group in the trenches.
Wallace and Kersten helped the Aggies rush for 1,625 yards and 16 touchdowns, while the NM State passing game threw for 3,550 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2011. They blocked for Matt Christian who led the team with 2,158 yards passing and 15 touchdowns, and blocked for the team's leading rusher in Kenny Turner, who recorded 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. The NM State offense ranked No. 27 in the nation in passing offense and No. 47 in total offense.
Wallace was named a second team All-WAC selection, becoming the first offensive lineman since 2008 to garner an all-conference award. He recorded 52 knockdowns on the season and allowed just five sacks, while committing five penalties. Wallace has made 25 consecutive starts during his two seasons with NM State.
Kersten tallied 49 knockdowns and allowed just one sack. He recorded two games with double-digit knockdowns, 10 against Idaho and a season-high 12 versus Hawai'i.
Savage Makes his Return
Senior defensive end Donte Savage is back for his final year as an Aggie after sitting the 2011 season.
As a junior, Savage played in 12 games for NM State in 2010, recording 36 tackles, 19 solo efforts, three sacks, two forced fumbles, two pass break-ups and a quarterback hurry. His best game of the season came against in-state rival New Mexico, when he recorded a season-high nine tackles, four for a loss, two forced fumbles, two pass break-ups and two sacks. He was named WAC Defensive Player of the Week.
For his career, Savage has 100 tackles, 21 for a loss, four forced fumbles, two recovered fumbles and a blocked kick. Savage looks to make his mark on the sack record book. He currently has 11 for his career and needs five to break into the top-5 all-time.
Stampler Looks to Move up Record Books
Place kicker Tyler Stampler has already etched his name in the record books at NM State but this season could be a record breaking year for him. He currently ranks seventh in field goals made (23) and attempted (31), eighth in PATs made (52) and attempted (57) and 10th in PAT percentage (.912)
Stampler handled the field goal and extra point duties for the Aggies in 2011. On the season, Stampler was 34-of-38 on point after attempts, hitting this first 25 of the season and 7-of-12 on field goal attempts, with a long of 39 yards. He also scored 55 points on the season and has elapsed the 100 point mark for his career.
Bonilla Back at Linebacker
Linebacker Bryan Bonilla is the Aggies' leading tackler from 2011. He started for the Aggies at linebacker in all 13 games in 2011, and played on special teams. He recorded 71 tackles on the season, including 1.5 for a loss, a sack and two pass break-ups.
For his career, Bonilla has 82 tackles and a sack.
Secondary has a New Look and with Experience
The defensive secondary is filled with new faces this season as all four starters from last season have graduated. Junior Darien Johnson and junior transfer Cameron Fuller will anchor the outside for the Aggies, while juniors Justin Smith and George Callender look to hold down the safety positions.
Junior college transfer Dele Junaid and returner Jeremy Harris will also see plenty of action, while returns Davis Cazares and Samuel Oyenuga look to also see time on the field.
Johnson recorded 40 tackles, three for a loss, a sack and two pass break-ups in 2011, while Harris collected 27 tackles on the year and two pass break ups. Smith tallied 28 tackles, with 14 solo efforts. Smith saw his first real action of the season against Hawai'i as he recorded six tackles. Callender played in six games for the Aggies at safety and on special teams. He tallied five tackles on the season with a season-high of two against UTEP (Sept.17). He also returned one kick on the season.
Introducing New Teams in the WAC
The WAC welcomes in two new football members in 2012. Texas State and UTSA will be on the Aggies' schedule this season. It will be the first time in program history that the Aggies face either school on the gridiron.
NM State Ranked Fourth by Coaches and Fifth by Media
The Aggie football team was selected to finish fourth in the 2012 Western Athletic Conference (WAC) football coaches poll and fifth in the media polls, released at the WAC Football Media Days. The Aggies received 22 points in the coaches' poll and 95 points in the media poll.
In 2011, the Aggies were picked to finish eighth by the coaches and in the media poll, NM State finished the 2011 campaign with a 4-9 overall record and 2-5 conference record. This year's ranking is the highest preseason ranking in both polls for NM State since joining the WAC in 2005.
In the media poll, Louisiana Tech received 193 points and 25 first-place votes from media members from around the nation. Utah State was picked second after garnering 164 points and the remaining three first-place votes. San Jose State finished third with 130 points while Idaho was selected fourth with 102 points followed by New Mexico State (95), Texas State (57) and UTSA (43).
In the coaches' poll, Louisiana Tech received 36 points from the seven WAC coaches. Utah State was in second with 31 points followed by San Jose State with 24. New Mexico State was selected fourth with 22 points followed by Idaho with 17 points. Newcomers Texas State (10) and UTSA (7) were sixth and seventh, respectively.
Additions to the Staff in 2012
The Aggies welcome four new coaches to the staff in 2012. Jerry McManus takes over as offensive coordinator for the departed Doug Martin, while David Elson will handle the defensive coordinator duties after the retirement of Dale Lindsey. Both McManus and Elson have several years at the college level as top assistants, while Elson holds head coaching experience.
Brad Bedell comes to NM State as the new offensive line coach, while Romeo Bandison will oversee the defensive line. Bedell and Bandison each have professional football playing experience, while Bandison has coached at top programs like Boise State and Colorado.
Honors in 2011
The New Mexico State football team received several honors after the 2011 football season both for on-the-field accomplishments and in the classroom. Taveon Rogers was selected as a third team Yahoo Sports and honorable mention Pro Football Weekly All-American teams. Five players including Rogers, Donyae Coleman, Davonte Wallace, Jonte Green and Kenny Turner all garnered All-WAC honors, the most all-conference picks since joining the WAC. Valerian Ume-Ezeoke was also named to the Rivals.com Freshman All-WAC team. Defensive lineman David Niumatalolo was selected as CoSIDA Academic All-American, the team's first Academic All-American since 1999. The Aggies also landed 16 players on the Academic All-WAC list.
House, Green and Rogers Playing in the NFL
The Aggies currently have three players in the NFL. Defensive back Davon House who was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, becoming the first Aggies to be drafted since 2003. In 2012, defensive back Jonte Green was selected in the sixth round by the Detroit Lions, while wide receiver/kick returner Taveon Rogers was signed as a free agent by the Cincinnati Bengals. Rogers has since moved to defensive back.
Aggies on Twitter
The Aggie Athletics department has a Twitter account where media and fans can get all your in-game scores at www.twitter.com/nmstateaggies. Head Coach DeWayne Walker also has a twitter account for all the latest football news, as media and fans can go to www.twitter.com/dwalkerfootball.