The New Mexico State Aggies (0-6) welcome the Rice Owls (4-2, 3-0) to Aggie Memorial Stadium, Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. This will be the first meeting between the two schools.
You can listen to all the action with the ‘Voice of the Aggies’ Jack Nixon and color analyst Preston Williams beginning at 5 p.m. on KGRT 104 FM. Also catch the action in Spanish with Bob Sherman and Sal Betancourt on Vista 98.7 FM.
AggieVision will produce and distribute the game. The game will be televised live on Comcast New Mexico, CW-El Paso, CSN-Houston Plus and tape delayed on Altitude at 6:30 p.m.
NM State against Schools from Conference USA
Although the Aggies compete with the Rice Owls for the first time on the football field on Oct. 19, NM State has a history with other members of Conference USA. The Aggies played at least one game against eight current C-USA teams including rival UTEP. The Aggies played 90 games against UTEP in a matchup that started in 1914. They hold an overall record of 56-102-4 against C-USA opponents, including the 2013 meeting with UTEP.
NM State played four teams from C-USA when they were members of the Sun Belt Conference: Middle Tennessee State, Florida Atlantic, Florida International and North Texas. They also played Louisiana Tech and UTSA when they were members of the Western Athletic Conference.
Scouting the Owls
Rice is currently 4-2 on the season and 3-0 in conference play. The Owls are averaging 383.2 yards per game, rushing for 200 yards on the ground, while throwing for 183.2 yards a game. Despite a winning record, Rice has been outscored on the season average 25.8 to 26.5 for its opponents. As a team, the Owls are a perfect 17 of 17 in red zone this season and but are converting on just 32 percent of their third down chances.
Offensively, the Owls are led by quarterback Taylor McHargue, who has thrown for 1,009 yards and five touchdowns in 2013, while rushing for 212 yards and two scores. Charles Ross leads the rushing attack with 378 yards and four touchdowns, while Jordan Taylor has a team-best 29 catches for 347 yards and a score.
Defensively, Michael Kutsler leads the team in tackles with 49, while recording 5.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks. The Owls defense has seven interceptions on the season and nine sacks.
NMSU Aggies are Tough Enough to Wear Pink
For the seventh year in a row, the New Mexico State football team will join together with the university, local businesses and the Las Cruces community to raise money for breast cancer research, dedicating the Oct. 19 game against Rice as the “Pink Game.”
In 2007, New Mexico State University, its football team and local supports became pioneers of this type of event, when they dedicated one football game week a year to raising funds and awareness for breast cancer research.
The “NMSU Aggies are Tough Enough to Wear Pink” committee is a volunteer group raising funds on behalf of Cowboys for Cancer Research, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation based in Las Cruces, N.M. Since 2007, more than $2.8 million in cash and in-kind contributions have been presented to C4CR. In 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, TETWP’s combined fundraising efforts for Cowboys for Cancer Research has made “NMSU Aggies are Tough Enough to Wear Pink” the No. 1 TETWP event in the world.
This season, NM State will continue its role as a pioneer in the quest for a cure to breast cancer by wearing pink jerseys.
Co-chairs for 2013 will be Magellia Boston (wife of Athletics Director McKinley Boston), Laura Conniff (former NM State Regent), Lynda Marie Garcia (current NM State student and employee) and Pat Sisbarro (Vice-President and Director of Marketing for the Sisbarro Dealerships).
In a unique opportunity in 2007, the New Mexico State Athletics Department agreed to designate the football game on Sept. 29 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, as a breast cancer awareness initiative and fundraiser. Former NM State coach Hal Mumme and his wife, June, brought together four honorary chairwomen for this event, all with strong ties to New Mexico State University and all cancer survivors.
Betancourt Records First 100-yard Rushing Game
Running back Brandon Betancourt has made the most of his opportunity since being named the starting running back before the UCLA game. In those three games, Betancourt has rushed for 266 yards and a touchdown. In the first three games of the season he had only 37 yards on the gorund.
Against New Mexico, Betancourt recorded his first career 100-yard rushing game, finishing with 139 yards on 23 carries.
On the season, Betancourt has 303 yards and two touchdowns, while catching 13 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Brown Emerging as a Go-To Guy
Wide receiver Jerrel Brown has become a favorite target for the Aggies this season. He currently ranks second on the team in catches with 18 for 295 yards and a touchdown.
Against New Mexico, Brown led NM State with five catches for a career-high 91 yards. On the season, Brown has caught at least one pass in each of the Aggies’ six games.
For his career, Brown has recorded 43 receptions for 624 yards and three scores, averaging 14.5 yards per catch.
Bowen Leads Aggies in Receiving
Wide receiver Joshua Bowen currently leads the team in all receiving categories this season. He has 26 catches for 253 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 9.7 yards per catch and 42.2 yards per game.
Bowen started the season with a career-high eight catches for 83 yards and his first touchdown reception against Texas. Versus San Diego State, Bowen again led the Aggies with six catches for 66 yards and a score. He has recorded three games this season with at least six catches.
Shapiro a Dual Threat
This season, wide receiver Adam Shapiro has been a dual threat for the Aggies at wide receiver and as a kick returner. On the year, Shapiro has caught 15 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown, while leading the team with 23 kick returns for 451 yards, averaging 19.6 yards per kick return with a long of 29 yards.
Against San Diego State, Shapiro recorded a career-high five catches for 58 yards and his first-career touchdown catch.
For his career, Shapiro is averaging 12.9 yards per reception with 17 catches for 220 yards and a touchdown.
Franklin Back on the Field
Wide receiver Austin Franklin made his return against San Diego State after sitting out the first four games of the season. Franklin caught two passes for 18 yards. Versus New Mexico, Franklin had three catches for 28 yards.
Franklin started all 12 games for the Aggies at wide receiver and as a returner on kickoffs and punts in the 2012 season. Franklin led the team with 74 receptions, 1,245 yards receiving, 16.8 yards per reception, nine touchdowns and 103.8 receiving yards per game. Franklin also led the team in all-purpose yards with 1,627 yards total and averaged 135.6 total yards per game. Franklin was named a first team All-WAC selection and was also named an SI.com Honorable Mention All-American. He was also named a semifinalist for the 2012 Biletnikoff Award.
For his career, Franklin ranks seventh all-time in receiving yards for a career with 1,815.
Cazares Double Digit Count
Safety Davis Cazares has four out of five games this season with double-digit tackle numbers, including a team-high 14 against San Diego State this past weekend.
Cazares recorded 14 tackles, including a game-high 10 solo stops, while adding two interceptions and a fumble recovery, in New Mexico State’s 59-13 loss at No. 13 UCLA. Cazares’ interceptions and fumble recovery were his first in an Aggie uniform.
On the season, Cazares has a team-high 68 tackles, two tackles for a loss, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. For his career, Davis has 190 tackles. He ranks seventh in the nation in total tackles and 15th in solo tackles.
Turnovers on the Rise
In 2013 the defense for NM State has stressed the importance of taking the ball away from its opponents. The Aggie defense has managed to accomplish this feat through its first five games of the season, recording 10 in all, with six interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
In 2012, the Aggies had a total of nine turnovers all season, including five fumble recoveries and four interceptions.
At this point in the season, the Aggies are minus four in the turnover margin category with eight lost fumbles and six interceptions. The Aggies are 60th in the country in passes intercepted.
Defense in the backfield
Getting to the quarterback or tackling your opponent behind the line of scrimmage is a positive play for the defense and this season the Aggies have done just that thru five games of the season. To date, the Aggies have recorded 26 tackles for a loss, including seven sacks.
In 2012, the Aggies had 15 tackles for a loss and five sacks thru five games.
Linebacker Trashaun Nixon ranks first on the team with eight tackles for a loss and 24th in the nation.
New Mexico State is just one of two schools in the country that have a left-footed kicker at both its starting punter (Cayle Chapman-Brown) and starting field goal kicker (Maxwell Johnson). Tennessee is the only other school to have this combination. However, Michael Palardy handles both positions for the Vols.
Wallace and the Streak
Offensive left tackle Davonte Wallace returns for his senior season, anchoring the Aggies’ offensive line. He has started in 42 straight games for the Aggies on the offensive line. Against No. 15 Texas, Wallace recorded four knockdowns. He followed that with three knockdowns against Minnesota. Against UTEP, Wallace had three knockdowns. He recorded two knockdowns against UCLA. On the season, Wallace has 13 knockdowns and has allowed two sacks.
In 2012, Wallace earned second team All-WAC honors for the second straight season. He became the first offensive lineman since the 2003 and 2004 season to earn back-to-back all-conference awards. He was a vital part of the Aggies pass protection that allowed wide receiver Austin Franklin to earn All-America honors.
Wallace also helped quarterback Andrew Manley throw for 2,764 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2012, as he ranked 47th in the nation in passing. The 2,764 passing yards by Manley is sixth all-time in a single season, while the 18 touchdown passes rank tied for seventh in a single season.
Local New Mexicans Heavily Represented on 2013 Roster
The 2013 New Mexico State football team is well represented with players from the Land of Enchantment. The roster features 20 players in all from New Mexico, including six from Las Cruces and 10 from the surrounding Albuquerque area.
Local players expected to contribute to the squad this season include wide receivers Joshua Bowen and Adam Shapiro, running backs Brandon Betancourt and Xavier Hall, kicker Brock Baca, offensive lineman Abram Holland and defensive lineman Matt Ramondo.
NM State joins Sun Belt in Football Only Starting 2014
New Mexico State University and its athletics department announced in the spring of 2013 that an invitation has been extended and accepted to join the Sun Belt Conference as a football-only member. This move is pending NM State Board of Regents approval. NM State will begin competition in the Sun Belt in the fall of 2014.
There is no question that the Sun Belt Conference is a league on the rise in football. The conference finished with its most non-conference wins in league history in 2012 and also sent a record four teams to bowl games. The conference also finished the 2012 season with its best-ever average computer ranking – finishing ahead of Conference USA and the Mountain West. The league also had two wins over top-25 ranked opponents and Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State won their respective bowl games.
Chapman-Brown named to Ray Guy Watch List
Punter Cayle Chapman-Brown was named to the Ray Guy Award Preseason Watch list for the best punter in the nation.
In the first game of the 2013 season, Chapman-Brown punted the ball nine times for an average of 39.3 yards per punt with a long of 47 yards. Against Minnesota in game two, Chapman-Brown booted the ball five times for an average of 48.8 with a long of 73 yards. His 73-yard punt is the fifth longest punt in school history. Versus UTEP, Chapman-Brown booted the ball five times for 225 yards, averaging 45 yards a punt, with a long of 66. Against UCLA, Chapman-Brown punted the ball twice for 73 yards, averaging 36.5 yards a kick. Versus New Mexico, Chapman-Brown recorded his best yards per punt average of the season, 51.8 yards a punt with a long of 70.
On the season, Chapman-Brown is averaging 43.5 yards a punt, ranking him 27th in the nation and second among Independent football schools.
Ume-Ezeoke named to 2013 Rimington Trophy Watch List
Junior center Valerian Ume-Ezeoke has been named to the Rimington Trophy 2013 Spring Watch List. The list includes 17 returning players from the 2012 Watch List. In all, there are 44 players on the Watch List.
Ume-Ezeoke recorded six knockdowns against No. 15 Texas to open the 2013 season. He followed that with five knockdowns against Minnesota. Two games later, Ume-Ezeoke had a team-high five knockdowns. On the season, he has tallied 18.5 knockdowns and received just two penalties.
Ume-Ezeoke played in all 12 games for the Aggies in 2012, starting at the center position. He recorded 44 knockdowns and allowed no sacks during the season. He was a vital part of the Aggies pass protection that allowed wide receiver Austin Franklin to earn All-America honors. Ume-Ezeoke also helped quarterback Andrew Manley throw for 2,764 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2012, as he ranked 47th in the nation in passing. The 2,764 passing yards by Manley is sixth all-time in a single season, while the 18 touchdown passes rank tied for seventh in a single season. Ume-Ezeoke was named an Academic All-WAC selection and a 2012 Capital One Academic All-District VII first team member for his work in the classroom.
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 five of the season:
Guard Andy Cunningham led the Aggies with 8.5 knockdowns against New Mexico.
House, Green, Rogers and Harris Playing in the NFL
The Aggies currently have five 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 Aggie 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. In 2013, Jeremy Harris was selected in the seventh round of the draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Aggies on Twitter
The Aggie Athletics department has a Twitter account where media and fans can get all their in-game scores at www.twitter.com/nmstateaggies.