Game Time: 2:30 MT
Location: Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
Line: New Mexico -4.5, O/U 70
TV: AT&T Sports Network
Weather: 81 degrees and sunny
Sorry I didn’t get a chance to write about the San Diego State game, folks. I actually was in a car wreck of my own, not unlike the Aggie offense, so I didn’t see the game. I’ll rewatch it at some point when I’m in the mood for “a learning experience.”
The Aggies got a red-zone turnover on their first defensive stand – and then fumbled the ball right back on their first offensive snap. It’s perhaps a minor miracle that the defense only gave up 31 points when you consider that New Mexico got to start two drives inside the NMSU 30-yard line.
Progress is being made, but it’s rather scant on the horizon. The offense has had success moving the ball, but is having difficulty maintaining possession. They can be productive, but they started with two games where they were overmatched and the turnovers made it worse.
Last week they were only slightly overmatched, but the turnovers tilted the playing field way uphill before they even got started running.
So let’s turn it around in a rivalry game, right? What exactly can we expect in this game?
The Aggies played two games where they got plastered by a ranked Power Five opponent that told us little other than that the Aggies are in no way capable of hanging with that caliber of opponent for more than a few minutes or plays. The Lobos did the same thing last week against Notre Dame.
Their two touchdown runs of 47 and 37 yards accounted for 100% of their points and 25% of their yardage for the whole game, and both didn’t happen until after the Fighting Irish were way ahead. Throw that one in the bin.
Opening weekend against Sam Houston State? Very different story.
In the first half, the Lobos put together nine drives on offense. Four went three and out. Of the other five, one produced a 43-yard touchdown run, and the other four all went inside the SHSU 30-yard line, and all produced points but only one led to a touchdown.
In the second half, UNM had another seven offensive drives, and another three three-and-out drives. Of the other four, one was a first down and then a three-and-out, plus a field goal and two touchdowns – one of which was set up by a 53-yard run, the other of which was set up by a 47-yard pass.
Noticing a trend?
In two games, every single Lobo drive that has produced points has had at least one play of 25+ yards. Clearly, if you can avoid a big play, you can avoid points on the board.
Furthermore, if you can force them to put some plays together, they might also struggle. In two games, UNM is an ugly 5-for-33 on third downs, and they were actually better against Notre Dame than against Sam Houston State.
Tevaka Tuioti will start under center for the Lobos, but who knows if that’s a good thing or not.
Last week was the 11th appearance under center for New Mexico for Tuioti. He went 6-for-13 for 132 yards, with 38 of that coming on the pass that set up that 37-yard touchdown run. He’s only got three career games where he has attempted 10+ passes, completed more than half of them, and thrown for at least 100+ yards.
Last season’s opener against Incarnate Word, where he passed for 321 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. That was his best game by far, and outside of that his career stats are 74-for-153 for 955 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
JUCO transfer Brandt Hughes might not yet be recovered from his shoulder injury, but I’m not sure he’d be a better option. He was only 12-for-29 for 218 yards against Sam Houston before getting injured, and 51 of that came on his third pass attempt of the game.
If Tuioti struggles under center, senior Sheriron Jones might not be the answer either. Last week was Jones’ 13th game under center for the Lobos, and he has just as many games with three interceptions (3) as he does games with no interceptions – he’s averaged an interception every 14 pass attempts and has only attempted more than 20 passes twice.
A successful running game is also in the “to be determined” category. Take out the two touchdown runs against Notre Dame and the Lobos totalled only 138 yards on 44 carries, which is about how it should go.
Ahmari Davis ran for 107 yards on 16 carries against Sam Houston, but 96 of that came on two carries. So in two games New Mexico has run the ball 78 times for 357 yards, but half of that has come on four carries. They’ve also passed for 490 yards, 250 of which has come on six plays. Truly boom or bust.
It’s only two games, but the recipe here appears to be pretty clear. Do not give up extra possessions by giving the ball away, and do not give up big plays, and you are guaranteed to be in this one from wire to wire. Hit a few big plays of your own, and suddenly you’re in great shape.
Prediction: New Mexico State 41, New Mexico 30
Game Time: 2:30 MT