Saturday, May 27, 2006
AN ABSURDLY PREMATURE ASSESSMENT OF: NEW MEXICO STATE
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SMQ spins the wheel for a hastily-rendered, too-soon look at a random school's prospects for the fall, sans inevitable academic and criminal suspensions, sudden transfers, debilitating injuries and other miscellaneous misfortunes of the long summer
NEW MEXICO STATE
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Drawing attention at last - only for losing and discriminating against Muslims. Thanks, Coach Mumme!
PAST FIVE SEASONS: 20-39 (15-19 Sun Belt/WAC) - 2005: 0-12 (0-8 WAC)
STARTERS BACK, ROUGHLY: 14 (8 Offense, 6 Defense)
WHAT'S CHANGED: In one season, NMSU went from run-of-the-mill, anonymous small-timer to the rock bottom, worst team in the country. That ignominous slide coincided with its joining the WAC, where even Utah State, San Jose State and Idaho were able to look down on the Aggies. This despite Hal Mumme's ongoing revolt against the repressive boundaries of a running game, any running game, which led to school records for pass attempts and completions in a season and completions in a game, but zero wins.
WHAT'S THE SAME: The experience around with Mumme on offense and Woody Widenhofer on defense should begin showing some dividends. Three wideouts who caught more than 30 passes are back, along with a couple others who played plenty in Mumme's multi-receiver schemes, though none had even half of departed senior Paul Dombrowski's 78 catches. Three offensive linemen are also back along with leading rusher Justine Buries and three offensive linemen.
SOME NUMBERS: This is where it gets ugly: NMSU ranked 108th or worse in scoring offense, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense, rushing offense, scoring defense, punt returns, sacks allowed, total defense and tackles for loss, and was dead last at No. 117 in sacks and turnover margin. Every opponent scored 30 points easily until the final two games against San Jose State and Utah State, who had 27 and 24, respectively; the Aggies, meanwhile scored 30 once, in a double OT loss to Idaho in October. On the bright side, the team was sixth in net punting!
NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP: Year Two under Mumme has been good for Valdosta State, Kentucky and Southeastern Louisiana, all of whom made two game improvements after lackluster debuts in his system. None of those teams, though, were so bad in Year One as New Mexico State. A two-game improvement, or three, doesn't equal much, but it's an improvement, regardless, and would at least show the Aggies aren't stagnating in complete hopelessness. And even if they are, well, at least Hal's knows he's always got a home in Alabama high school football if he wants it.
OVERLY OPTIMISTIC POST-SPRING CHATTER: The new quarterback will be Chase Holbrook, a transfer who came with Mumme from Southeastern Louisiana, sat out a year and assumed the reigns of the offense in the Spring. Holbrook was a third-teamer who completed all of seven passes as a freshman behind 4,200-yard, 35 TD slinger Martin Hankins, but brings a knowledge of the system that's being predictably overrated in Las Cruces:
"The Air Raid soared," Widenhofer "had his team bring the heat, confident that his secondary can cover man on man" and, oh:
In-state media relations smack talk! At least something interesting is going on out there.
REASON FOR HOPE: This is not a tremendously successful program, but also not one that's been traditionally at rock bottom; the "Mumme Factor" has worked elsewhere, and has good experience to work with on offense - it's entertainment, if nothing else.
REASON TO BE AFRAID, VERY AFRAID: Obviously. The Aggies were only competitive in two games, against the other two teams in the league competing for "worst in the nation" status.
IF THIS TEAM WERE ANY POP CULTURAL, HISTORICAL, POLITICAL, LITERARY OR OTHERWISE NOTABLE FIGURE, IT WOULD BE... "Futurestock," the episode of Futurama when the delivery company Planet Express is taken over by slick but vapid 1980s stereotype That Guy, a schemer who only looks the part and knows a few appropriate buzzwords. The already terrible but surviving company is run directly into the ground by his inept efforts to grow it (when it's compared to "small and neutral" Switzerland," he scoffs, "We're more like Germany: ambitious and misunderstood"), eventually returning to its original status only after the demise of That Guy and the inevitable restatement of honest priniciples, to the ultimate chagrin of pretty much everyone.
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What are the chances Hal Mumme falls victim to "Bonitis"?
HONESTLY, WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE SCHEDULE, SMQ'S THINKING... 3-9. There are wins coming, there must be, even if it's only by turning the few close ones against fellow bottom-dwellers.
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Previous absurdly premature assessments:
April 3: Central Michigan...April 4: Brigham Young...April 6: Kentucky...April 7: Bowling Green...April 8: Southern Cal...April 11: Rutgers...April 12: Marshall...April 13: Florida State...April 15: San Diego State...April 17: Alabama...April 19: Oregon State...April 20: Buffalo...April 22: NC State...April 23: Arizona ...April 24: Memphis...April 26: Louisiana Tech...Apr il 28: Iowa...April 30: Toledo...May 2: Ohio State...May 3: Mississippi State...May 5: Southern Miss...UL-Lafayette...May 11: Akron...May 13: Michigan State...May 15: Air Force...May 17:Stanford...May 18: Georgia Tech...May 21: Connecticut...May 23: Purdue...May 25: Navy...May 27: UCLA
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