The New Mexico State Aggies’ 2019 season begins this Saturday. Football is finally back! The Aggies will begin their season as hefty underdogs in the Pacific Northwest when they take on the No. 23 Washington State University Cougars in Pullman, Washington.
Coming off a 3-9 season, New Mexico State is gearing up for one of its most difficult schedules in recent memory. The Aggies will be playing two of the top football teams in the country in No. 23 Washington State and No. 2 Alabama. NMSU will also play a second SEC opponent in Ole Miss on Nov. 9.
Heading into his seventh year as NMSU’s head coach, Doug Martin says he’s prepared to lead the Aggies through the challenging schedule. In an interview with Andy Morgan for KTSM news, Martin emphasized he’s not looking past any team this year. “I know everyone likes to highlight [power conference games], but San Diego State will be our first home game. They’re a perennial bowl team and Rocky Long does a fantastic job of coaching there. Georgia Southern was a 10-win team last year and they won a bowl game. From top to bottom our schedule is really demanding.”
However, playing three power conference teams has its perks, as NMSU is getting paid a combined $3.8 million for the games against Washington State, Alabama and Ole Miss.
As for the Aggies’ starting lineup on offense, redshirt sophomore Josh Adkins will be returning as the starting quarterback. Last year, Adkins threw for over 2,500 yards with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. These are impressive stats for a freshman quarterback.
Another key player for the Aggies on offense is senior running back Jason Huntley. Huntley ran for over 500 yards last season and put on an incredible special teams performance by accumulating 600 kickoff return yards and scoring three times in the process.
One player to keep an eye on this year is wide receiver Tony Nicholson, a Baylor graduate transfer. Nicholson finished his career at Baylor with 34 receptions and an average of 8.4 yards per reception. It remains unclear whether Nicholson will play a key role for the Aggies, but if he is successful at creating a deep threat down the field, the Aggies could put up stellar numbers on offense this year.
In terms of defense, New Mexico State has plenty of good playmakers including a duo of talented defensive linemen in Cedric Wilcots II and Roy Lopez, both seniors. Senior linebacker Javahn Fergurson will also be playing a massive defensive role for the Aggies this year. The six-foot-one, 230-pound linebacker is an experienced player, and finished last season with 131 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
Last year, the Aggies only played three games in which they held their opponents to under 200 rushing yards, so if the team is going to have success this year defensively, it will have to start with Fergurson and the defensive line shutting down the rush.
With such a tough schedule ahead, qualifying for a bowl game will be a difficult task for the Aggies; however, the tough competition opens up opportunities for some historic upsets and an exciting year for the New Mexico State Aggie football program.
Kickoff for tomorrow’s game against Washington State is set for 8 p.m. MDT.