New Mexico State Aggies vs Alabama Crimson Tide Game Preview

Game time: 3:00 PM Central, Saturday September 7th
Location: Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
Weather: 95 degrees and sunny, probably
Line: Alabama -54
TV: SEC Network
 
It’s a little bit embarrassing to see a betting line that high, but Alabama is Alabama, and the Aggies just spent last Saturday getting waxed by 51 points that would likely lose to Alabama by at least a couple of touchdowns.
We’ve known since this game was scheduled a year and a half ago that it was very likely to be a lopsided contest that would involve Alabama football treating New Mexico State similar to the way that New Mexico State basketball makes Northern New Mexico look on the hardcourt.
The massive struggles the Aggies displayed against Washington State this past weekend weren’t necessarily unexpected outside of the magnitude to which they appeared.
The Cougars are designed to be a quick-hit offense that forces defenses to either focus on rushing the passer and hope coverage holds up or be amazing in coverage and get just enough pressure to not get beat underneath by a million papercuts.
The Aggies achieved neither of these. That the offense still managed 317 yards is a minor miracle.
The first two drives that saw the Aggies come a missed kick shy of 10 points and rack up 116 yards in 16 plays (7.3 yards per play) are an indicator of what this offense is capable of with a more comfortable and confident Josh Adkins under center.
He completed eight of his first nine passes and was really finding a rhythm until Wazzu got a lead and could start pinning their ears back for the pass. Jason Huntley showed flashes with 8o yards on 12 touches.
This week’s realistic goal? Beat the spread. Are the Aggies capable of beating the Crimson Tide? Of course not. Are they capable of losing less badly than they did last week? There’s definitely a chance.
There will be little this week in terms of statistically measurable progress, but here are some things I’d like to see:
Payton Theisler is a four-year starter at punter for the Aggies, and Saturday was the eighth time in the last nine games that he punted at least four times and couldn’t crack a 39 yard-per-punt average.
In his career, the Aggies are 5-6 when he punts three times or fewer, and 8-20 otherwise. They are 9-8 when he averages at least 41.5 yards per punt and 4-18 when he doesn’t.
Arbitrary endpoints are fun and all, but it makes sense that (technically) the Aggies are 14-14 when their punter either stays on the bench or plays and plays well, and 12-38 when neither of those is true. Seeing progress in the latter would be awfully nice, starting with no punts under 30 yards for the first time in a while.
Consistent execution from the receivers would be helpful as well. The struggle will be unavoidable this week, but creating the habit of not making things worse with any alligator-arm action (running before catching, etc) would go a long way to making the remainder of the season look more positive and possible.

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