The New Mexico State Aggies are coming off a historic season in which they made it to, and won, a bowl game for the first time in 57 years. The Aggies finished the season fifth in the Sun Belt, with an overall record of 7-6, and a 4-4 record in conference play.
The Aggies are hoping to build on their success from last season and make back-to-back bowl game appearances for the first time since the 1959–1960 seasons. After losing three starters on offense — wide receiver Jaleel Scott, running back Larry Rose and quarterback Tyler Rogers — the team has some important spots to fill.
“We didn’t lose a lot of guys on offense, but the guys we lost were key players,” said head football coach Doug Martin at the Aggies media day event held on July 28. “I’m not as worried replacing the talent [of the players] as I am the leadership.”
One returning offensive player to watch out for is running back Jason Huntley. Last season in the Arizona Bowl, Huntley returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, showing off the speed he possesses. Martin expressed excitement about Huntley’s return, as well as the return of running back Royce Caldwell, who missed last season due to academic issues.
As for the defensive side of the ball, Martin seems enthusiastic. This season, there are nine returning starters and some solid players filling the positions that were lost. Martin realizes that with a new quarterback the offense could struggle early in the season. He plans to rely on his defense to keep the team in games for the first few weeks of the season.
The Wyoming Cowboys are going to be a challenge for the Aggies in the upcoming season opener. Martin speaks very highly of their defense and expects them to be one of the top three teams in the Mountain West Conference this season.
With the team coming off a historic 2017 season, the Aggies appear hopeful that the excitement will carry over to this season and draw bigger crowds to their home games. The big crowds should give them a competitive edge over their opponents.
“The fans that went to the bowl game, I mean, that was historic and set a record there for the Arizona Bowl and I think it’s carrying over to this season and I certainly hope it does,” Martin said.
The New Mexico State Aggies open up their season this Saturday, Aug. 25, against the Wyoming Cowboys at Aggie Memorial with kickoff set for 8 p.m. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN and will be a good test for the Aggies and they can prove that they have turned the corner and that last season was not just a fluke.