Know The Foe

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Know The Foe

Miner Q&A With Miner Rush's Alex Nicolas

There was a lot of optimism for UTEP heading into the season, coming off a bowl appearance last season. After an 0-2 start and more importantly the loss of Aaron Jones for the season, what are UTEP fans thinking right now?

The main thing fans are thinking right now is DO NOT lose to NMSU.

Most could be halfway off the ledge after the past two weeks, and the news this week, but the fact is UTEP was expected to start 0-2 after two tough P5 opponents on the road, although losing Aaron Jones was not part of that plan.

A loss to NMSU and I don’t know if I will visit a UTEP message board until the middle of basketball season, things could get ugly in El Paso if that happens. UTEP has two chances to prove they can still compete in the C-USA West before C-USA play starts, and I hope most fans haven't gave up on the season yet.

With Jones out, who needs to step up for UTEP not just on Saturday but for the rest of the season?

This is sort of thinking outside of the box, but the offensive line and the entire defense has to step up without Jones.

UTEP will go with a running back by committee approach, and the offensive line which is already a strong point for UTEP has to continue its positive growth not only in the run game, but in pass protection as well.

The defense needs to shore up their woes in the secondary, as right now the defense is UTEP’s biggest concern going forward.  Just like last year, UTEP’s defense has to be able to win a game or two in C-USA play. 

Those two units are keys to UTEP's new approach to the 2015 season.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Miner Q&A With Miner Rush's Alex Nicolas

Know The Foe :: UTEP

UTEP picked up a season-opening win over Washington State but hasn’t played since then. Do you think that’s an advantage or disadvantage considering the Aggies have played three games in that same time span?
I think it’s a mixture of both. Giving Tim Floyd pretty much a full week prepare is a huge advantage for the Miners, though sometime info overload could also be a bad thing. UTEP went through a timed scrimmage on Thursday, and with the intensity of a Tim Floyd practice I think the Miners will be ready mentally, but the Aggies definitely are battle tested and have a slight edge in that regard having played 120 minutes of game action.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Warhawk Q&A With Warhawk Report

UL Monroe is having a down year at 3-7. The season started out well with the team going 3-1 early but six straight losses have eliminated the Warhawks from postseason contention. What has been the biggest reason for the six game slide? Aside from the losses at Arkansas State and Kentucky, all of the others have one-possession losses.
Football is often said to be a game of inches, and the Warhawks have fully experienced that this season. 18 points is the total point difference over the past four games. Some of the woes have been to injuries, while the bulk of the issues has just been lack of execution and bad offensive line play. All of last season saw the offensive line allow just 27 sacks; through 10 games, the line has surrendered 41. This has really made the offense one dimensional with 5th year senior Pete Thomas having to throw the ball an average of 44 times per game over the past four contest, compared to senior running back Centarius Donald rushing for just 47 yards per game over the same span.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Tiger Q&A With The Times-Picayune's Jim Kleinpeter

Know The Foe :: LSU
This week the Aggie football team takes their 2-2 record south to Baton Rouge, LA where they will face an angry LSU Tiger football team. LSU is coming off a loss at home to Mississippi State and is looking to get right against an inferior Aggie squad. We've enlisted the help of LSU beat writer Jim Kleinpeter from The Times-Picayune to give Aggie fans a quick look at what to expect from the Tigers on Saturday.

LSU is coming off a loss to Mississippi State last week in which they fell behind early. Slow starts have been a little bit of a theme is three of the four games they’ve played this season. What has been the primary reason for the slow starts?
LSU's offensive line was supposed to be the strength of the team. The tackles have played well, the middle three not so much. Senior center Elliott Porter was suspended for the first two games and the lineup has been juggled. Porter will be playing his third game and the Tigers should show some improvement here. LSU is inexperienced at all three of the main skill positions. They aren't going to do much if the O-line struggles too.

LSU has two quarterbacks, sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris. It sounds like Jennings will get the start but how quickly do you think we will see Harris, particularly given the spark he gave to the offense in the Mississippi State game?
LSU coach Les Miles has pledged that Jennings will start but Harris will play more. He played only 14 of 74 snaps last week and produced two touchdowns. Jennings is safer, he'll make fewer mistakes, but also fewer plays. Harris is a freshman who probably can't handle the burden of being the starter right now. I'm thinking Jennings will get the first two series, or the first quarter. Harris the 2nd quarter and they'll go from there. A 50-50 split is likely.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Miner Q&A With Miner Rush's Alex Nicholas

Know The Foe :: UTEP
This week the Aggie football team travels to the Sun Bowl in El Paso to take on the UTEP Miners in the Battle of I-10. The Miners are 1-1 with a victory over UNM and a narrow loss to Texas Tech. We've recruited Alex Nicolas from MinerRush.com to answer a few questions about the new-look Miners and find out what Aggie fans can expect from the team on Saturday..

UTEP is off to a 1-1 start with a win over rival UNM and a tough home loss against Texas Tech. How are Miner fans feeling about this team after two games?
I think the prospects of a turnaround season are starting to be felt, but majority of the message boards and fans realize there is still work to do with this group.  The Texas Tech game clearly shows this team is headed in the right direction, and a small buzz is starting to build in El Paso about the guys after the strong efforts.  This game coming up against NMSU will be watched and judged closely by Miner fans for further indication that this team is for real. 

It looks like the Miners have really bought into Coach Kugler’s philosophy and they look to be a hard-nosed type team. What has been the biggest difference for UTEP through two games this year that was missing last year?
Confidence in the schemes and the little things off the field that help the preparation for on field production is what you can really attribute. You absolutely right, the players are buying in and part of buying into Kugler's system is the small things, like paying attention in meetings, focus in practice, and finding the will to work hard in the weight room are a few things that were missing last year during the coaching transition.

There is just a different mental approach from the team that is obvious from practice to even pre-game warm-ups and its encouraging to see these guys buying into Kugler's philosophy because Kugler is one hell of a football coach.  Continue Reading This Post >>

NCAA Tournament :: bleedCrimson.net Q&A With The Mountain West Connection

bleedCrimson.net: Xavier Thames is the player most people know about for San Diego State but who else makes this team go?
Matthew Bain/Mountain West Connection: J.J. O'Brien. Looking at the stats, you'd almost wonder why O'Brien starts for SDSU, much less why Steve Fisher labeled him as one of his favorite players of all time. He gets the Aztecs 8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists in about 28 minutes per game. But he does so much that doesn't show up on the stats sheet that makes him probably the most important player out on the floor. He's SDSU's best on-ball defender and oftentimes matches up against the opponent's best scorer--and most of the time he shuts them down. For instance, J.J. Avila of Colorado State, whom NMSU fans know all-too-well from his 29-point performance against the Aggies, shot 4-17 for 9 points when the Rams came to Viejas. Why? Because O'Brien guarded him most of the night. O'Brien is also the best switcher on defense, which SDSU does quite often. He makes things happen without ever touching the ball.

bc.net: It looks like Dwayne Polee II has had a very good second half of the season, what’s been the key to his emergence?
MWC: Confidence. Polee played a grand total of zero minutes against Arizona and a whopping six minutes against Kansas. But Polee broke out for 15 points and five rebounds in SDSU's loss at Wyoming, and I think Fisher realized what a lot of fans had thought for a while: this guy can play. He's a feisty defender, with six games with three or more steals. Behind Xavier Thames, Polee is SDSU's most dynamic scorer: in his last five games, Polee has scored 26 from inside the 3-point line, 24 from long range and eight from the free throw line. He's feeling it right now and he immediately gives his teammates that energy when he gets off the bench to the roar of the crowd. Fisher doesn't even see Polee as a bench player anymore, even though he won the MWC Sixth Man of the Year. He told the media at the MWC Tournament that Polee is his "sixth starter."  Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Bruin Q&A With The Daily Bruin's Andrew Erickson

Know The Foe :: UCLA
Know The Foe is back this week as the Aggies head to Pasadena to the historic Rose Bowl to take on the 13th ranked UCLA Bruins. The boys from Westwood are coming off a massive comeback against Nebraska in Lincoln and are looking to avoid a letdown against the winless Aggies. We've enlisted the help of Andrew Erickson from The Daily Bruin, UCLA's student newspaper to help give Aggie fans an idea of what they can expect to see from UCLA on Saturday. You can find more of Andrew's work on the Daily Bruin's sports page.

bleedCrimson.net: UCLA is off to a 2-0 start to the season with wins over Nevada and a big time come from behind win in Lincoln over Nebraska. What has been the key to the fast start?
Andrew Erickson: The key for the Bruins has been the ability to shake off their mediocre first half performances and establish themselves as a third quarter team. Against Nevada, UCLA led 17-13 at the break. At Nebraska, they trailed 21-10, yet it wasn’t very long into the third quarter in both contests that they had the momentum clearly in their favor. So far, UCLA has outscored opponents 48-0 in the third quarter, a sign that it hasn’t exactly been fast starts that have been able to secure the Bruins’ 2-0 start.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Miner Q&A With Miner Rush's Alex Nicholas

Know The Foe :: UTEP
This week the Aggie football team hosts the UTEP Miners in the Battle of I-10. Like New Mexico State, UTEP has a new head coach and a new philosophy. The Miners are 0-1 after a 42-35 overtime loss to fellow rival New Mexico. We've recruited Alex Nicolas from MinerRush.com to answer a few questions about the new-look Miners and find out what Aggie fans can expect from the team on Saturday..

bleedCrimson.net: The Miners are 0-1 under new head coach Sean Kugler but the Miners could very easily be 1-0. What is your initial impression of the new-look Miners?
MinerRush.com: Well for one as an offense the Miners are not going to sling the ball around 50+ times a game anymore, the offense has a more NFL like look and feel, and Offensive Coordinator Patrick Higgins is going to pound the rock.  But the culture is also changing, Kugler is bringing a blue collar, physical,  disciplined feel and a bully type attitude.  Kuglers attention to detail is remarkable, and how hard we played against UNM, shows me they are buying in to Kugler and are playing hard for him.  Defensively the Miners are still trying to find their identity but I like the young guys they have and I really think UTEP is lucky to have Scott Stoker calling the shots on D.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Gopher Q&A With Minnesota Daily's Jack Satzinger

Know The Foe :: Minnesota

The Aggies host a familiar Big Ten foe this weekend as they take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Gophers turned a close game against UNLV into a rout thanks to a third quarter pick-six. In this week's edition of Know The Foe we've enlisted the help of the Minnesota Daily's Jack Satzinger to give Aggie fans an idea of what to expect on Saturday when the two teams take the field. You can see more of Jack's fine work at his Minnesota Daily's archive and you can also follow him on Twitter @JackSatzinger

bleedCrimson.net: Two years ago New Mexico State went to Minnesota and pulled off a shocking upset of the Gophers. How much do you think that still weighs on the remaining players and coaches and will that provide any extra motivation for them in this game or have they moved past that?
Jack Satzinger: I think they've really moved past the loss from two seasons ago. That was Jerry Kill's first home game as Minnesota head coach and the team has jumped from three to six wins under him in two years. The majority of the programs's key players from that game have graduated -- there are only five seniors that start. Still, senior defensive lineman said that they've "prepared mentally and physically so it won't happen again."

bc.net: Minnesota is coming off a 51-23 blowout win over UNLV in which the team's defense and special teams scored three touchdowns. What impressed you about the team's play in the first game and what concerned you about the team's play in the first game?
JS: Something that really impressed me about the team in their 51-23 win over UNLV is the playmaking ability in the secondary. There was a pick-six by Briean Boddy-Calhoun, who was filling in for junior Derrick Wells at cornerback. Wells is most likely going to be back for Saturday's game, so we'll get a full dose of how deep the secondary is. An area of concern for Minnesota is the linebacking corps. They return zero starters from last season and had a lot of trouble defending short passes against UNLV.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Bobcat Q&A With The San Marcos Daily Record's Tyler Mayforth

Know The Foe :: Texas State
Know The Foe is back for the final time in the 2012 season and for the final time ever for a WAC football conference game. The Aggies head to San Marcos, Texas for their first ever meeting against the Bobcats. Not only is this the final WAC conference football game ever, it's a battle for last place as the Aggies can avoid sitting alone in the basement with a season-finale win. This week we enlist the help of Tyler Mayforth who covers Texas State athletics for the San Marcos Daily Record. You can follow him on Twitter at @smdrtyler.

Texas State had a tough loss against UTSA, the big rivalry game this past Saturday. What's been the mood around the football team this week? Have they been able to move past the loss or do you think there may be a little bit of a lingering effect come Saturday?
Texas State is still smarting after its embarrassing loss to UTSA last week. It was a game the Bobcats thought they would win going away, but that wasn't the case. A lot of the players have a chip on the shoulders from it, especially guys who are seniors or live in San Antonio. It's possible there could be a lingering effect and could be a 'hangover' for Texas State.  Continue Reading This Post >>