Thursday, November 1, 2012
New Mexico State Preview
How many of us looked at our magnetic preseason schedule our realtor or financial planner sent and thought there was any way possible we enter New Mexico State week at 1-7? 0-6 in SEC play? Dead last in the conference in scoring offense, rushing defense, total offense, interceptions, 3rd down conversions, sacks against, first downs, and turnover margin? Dangerously close to last in many more statistical categories? Who would have thought our defensive front, a group we thought was at least two deep with potentially dominant talent has all but entered witness protection mode? Who would have predicted Johnathan Wallace would start as a true freshman? Who will claim they saw a loss at Vanderbilt? Our only victory an overtime thriller to...La Monroe? Beyond being 1-7, who thought we'd only be competitive in half of our games (Clemson, Monroe, LSU, Vanderbilt)...and really the only thing competitive about Vandy was the final score. How many thought Sammie Coates would catch 4 passes to this point...Mike Blakely get but 22 touches...Emory Blake have more receptions than every other receiver on the team combined? Kris Frost play no role? Brian VanGorder look hapless against the spread? Scott Loeffler look hapless in totality?
I had higher expectations for this team. I believed a physical offensive line, a punishing fullback, a trio of running backs, a coordinator willing to adapt to his personnel would provide enough success to allow Kiehl Frazier to blossom as the season progressed. I was far from being accurate. Defensively, I expected the secondary to be monumentally improved, to challenge WRs all over the football field, to play with confidence and poise and to be ball-hawks. The defensive line I thought would wear on offensive lines, would wreak havoc on QBs, would attack and create a new line of scrimmage. They have been my greatest disappointment defensively. I thought Coach VanGorder would demand excellence, be creative, and if nothing else...devise a scheme to stop the run. It hasn't happened.
It's been a disaster and it makes me sick. It makes me sick because I know how hard the kids work, and I understand the fine line between being a successful team and being a team that's laughable. I played on both. It makes me sick because I expected more from players that arrived on campus as some the most prized recruits in the nation. I expect coaches to push, develop, lead, mentor, put them in the best position to be successful, discipline, and adapt to the talent they've brought in. But more than any of that, I expect players to play with passion, with an appreciation of the uniform they wear, the people they represent, to have pride in the privilege to don the orange and blue, to approach each and every game with a tenacious, take no prisoners mindset prompting play so aggressive no one could ever question their level of desire. Texas A&M made me question that commitment.
New Mexico State is terrible. Their closest loss is 8 points to Idaho and only victory was in week one to Sacramento State. This game is not about New Mexico State...it's solely about Auburn. Can they play with pride? Can they play mistake free? Can they play with consistency? Can they stop the run, force a turnover, have any semblance of production from the quarterback position, tackle? Surely this is the week to have some success.
New Mexico State-17