2017 New Mexico State Aggies Preview

So this is it, huh?

You did your best to make it work, but the university decided that it was tired of you leeching off their support structure and loitering around without doing anything that they really perceived as productive.

Sure, you made some hay for yourself as the go-to party planner no matter the crowd, and sure you’ve got some truly devoted followers, but the verdict has been handed down.

But guess what, world, this guy’s got his own plans! He’s going to put together the greatest friends-help-him-study-his-ass-off montage this side of 2003 and say to the school that dumped him “Screw you! I’m graduating instead!”

Yes, you are correct, I am hoping with every fiber of my being that the New Mexico State Aggies are the Van WIlder of the 2017 college football season.

2016 was a bit of a blur

It would be inaccurate to make that comparison before now. Last season the Aggies were a 3-9 team that went 2-2 in one possession games, the last of which (at South Alabama) I was physically present to see. It would be accurate to describe them as a team that was “multiple little somethings away from 5-7”.

One of those somethings was Larry Rose III, who admitted at Sun Belt media days last month that he was never truly all the way healthy and all the way confident in his abilities last season. Thanks to that, the offense was a bit polarized – the passing game didn’t really do anything well except the big play (and even that wasn’t great), and the run game did just about everything well except the big play.

Of course, a limited ability to hit the big play (the passing game was more explosive than the run game, but overall still ranked 82nd) was made even more problematic by the fact that the defense… *squints at last season’s stats* was very good at leaning on Rodney Butler to generate havoc and lead a defense that excelled in short yardage run situations, but did literally nothing else well.

You’d be shocked to know that a team that has a hard time with giving up big plays on defense and a hard time getting them on offense struggles to get or stay ahead in close games against equal opponents, and struggles to not eventually get left in the dust by better teams.

Larry Rose rushed for 584 yards on 6.4 yards per carry in the Aggies’ last five games, including 170 in that season finale against South Alabama. Conner Cramer rushed for 110 in that same game and 184 total in the season’s last two games. Imagine what those two could do in a game where they weren’t having to play catch up?

Tyler Rogers went 11-for-18 for 175 yards and two touchdowns in the first half against Kentucky in a game the Aggies didn’t trail for good until Rogers’ second INT occurred in the red zone with 13 minutes left.

2017 is going to be the greatest success montage of… well, 2017

This year numerous signs are pointing up. The offense wasn’t great last year, but there were numerous flashes that should become a lot more with a full year of a healthy Larry Rose and one more go with… probably Tyler Rogers, but Nick Jeanty and Cramer have shown flashes of being dangerous as well.

The defense is bound to improve with the combination of JUCO supporting troops and the existing roster getting another year older, and if you watched their games against Kentucky, Georgia Southern or South Alabama, you know that this defense could merely be less bad, let alone good, and it would take the Aggies a long way.

If you tell me that the Aggies are going to beat Arizona State, Arkansas or Appalachian State on the road, both I and numerous other NMSU supporters will slap you, but the rest of the schedule is a beautiful thing.

They play at home against UTEP and on the road against Texas State, two teams that are definitely not as good as they are. They play at home against Idaho, Louisiana-Lafayette and South Alabama, who project anywhere between a little bit better and a little bit worse than the Aggies. They play at New Mexico and Georgia Southern, games which are winnable with just a little progress in every facet of the roster.

This roster is smeared with games that fall into either “winnable now” or “winnable with just a few breaks.” Texas State is still young. UTEP just lost their Larry Rose and returns few starters from a bad run defense. South Alabama has similar issues (in addition to being generally bipolar and bad on the road). Idaho isn’t bad but they’re replacing a lot of starters, as is New Mexico – especially on defense.

Have I mentioned Larry Rose yet? He is easily one of the top ten returning running backs in the country, and he’s playing in a conference that is not known for stopping the run. He’s probably going to set the school and possibly the conference records for career rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, and he’s liable to drag the Aggies into a bowl game in the process.

Record: 6-6 (L, W, L, W, L, W, W, L, L, L, W, W)

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