Know The Foe

Know The Foe

Know The Foe :: Aggie Q&A With The Deseret News' Kraig Williams

Know The Foe :: Utah State
Know The Foe is back for the battle of the Aggies. The Utah State Aggies are fresh off a dominating victory over San Jose State and welcome New Mexico State to Logan. The crimson Aggies are fresh off a much needed bye week and are on a five game slide. This week we enlist the help of Kraig Williams who covers Utah State athletics for the Deseret News. You can find an archive Kraig's excellent work here and you can also follow him on Twitter at @DesNewsKraig.

Utah State is off to a 5-2 start and is just one game away from being bowl eligible for a second straight year.  I think everyone knew the Aggies would be good offensively with Chuckie Keeton and Kerwynn Williams anchoring that side of the ball but the defense has been a surprise to those not familiar with USU.  How surprised are you at how good the Aggies' defense is this year?
It's been a surprise to see the defense make this big of a jump in just one year. Most people naturally assumed the defense would take a step back with Bobby Wagner graduating and playing in the NFL, but instead of taking a step back they have just gotten deeper and more athletic across the board. Head coach Gary Andersen made his name as a great defensive coordinator at Utah and adding defensive coordinator Dave Aranda from Hawaii has been a great fit. With Aranda on board the defensive game plans have been really sharp and gotten the most out of the talent on the team.
 
Who have been the biggest standouts for the USU defense this season?
Freshman Kyler Fackrell has to be the defensive MVP so far. Fackrell has gone back-to-back on WAC defensive player of the week honors and has given USU another playmaker at linebacker. The defensive line, led by Al Lapuaho, have been excellent space eaters which has allowed Fackrell, Zach Vigil, Bojay Filimoeatu and the rest of the linebackers the ability to make a lot of plays. In the secondary Will Davis has been a huge improvement at #2 CB and McKade Brady has been making plays from the safety position all over the field.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Vandal Q&A With Vandal Nation

Know The Foe :: Idaho
Know The Foe is back once again and this week the Aggies are in Moscow, Idaho to take on the winless Vandals. Idaho and New Mexico State have had their hopes for a strong season dashed in the early going. The Vandals are coming off a 66-0 slaughter at the hands of North Carolina while New Mexico State is licking its wounds from a 35-14 pasting at the hands of first-year FBS squad UT San Antonio. We've enlisted the help of Sean Kramer from the Idaho Argonaut's outstanding sports blog Vandal Nation to give Aggie fans an idea of what to expect from the winless Vandals. It's Homecoming week for Idaho but don't expect them to be too welcoming to the Aggies. For more coverage of this week's game check out their feature Better Know A Foe

New Mexico State and Idaho are pretty much in the same boat right now.  An offseason filled with high expectations has wilted and given way to an early season full of struggles.  What has been the biggest reason for the lack of success for Idaho thus far?
Everything. Two money games that were not winnable for Idaho played a part. Starting QB Dominique Blackman missing the start against Eastern also played a part, since based on his play so far he could have easily been the difference in that game. The losses to Wyoming and Bowling Green can be pointed at the defense giving up plays and the offensive giving up untimely turnovers. Those are games in which Blackman and the offense were ultimately stellar. Bowling Green jumped out to a quick lead because of big offensive plays, and held on while Idaho was driving to tie thanks to a fumble. Against Wyoming, the Vandals botched an opportunity to go up two touchdowns on the one line yard when Blackman fumbled. Wyoming hit five passing plays over 20 yards, including the 25-yard touchdown in overtime, to win it.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Roadrunner Q&A With The Paisano's Rex Castillo And Stephen Whitaker

Know The Foe :: UT San Antonio
It's time for another edition of Know The Foe. This week we have a pair of guests from The Paisano, the UT San Antonio student newspaper. We've enlisted the help of Rex Castillo, this year's Sports Editor at The Paisano, and Stephen Whitaker, the managing editor of The Paisano and the sports editor last year when the Roadrunners were in their first season of football. Like most we have not seen a single minute of UTSA game film so Rex and Stephen are here to give everyone an idea of what to expect from the Roadrunners in the game on Saturday at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

UTSA is in their second year of playing football, first year playing at the FBS level and have experienced some pretty good success including a five-game winning streak.  Has the early success of the program, particularly this year's 4-0 start, surprised anyone?
It's fair to say the San Antonio community is more proud of the team rather than surprised. When you have a coach like Larry Coker, a proven winner at the University of Miami, the fans can expect excellence out of this team. The 4-6 start wasn't up to anyone's expectations but we see how hard these players work and that they are very capable of winning in the future.

During the 4-0 start, what has been the common thread in the victories (i.e. the Roadrunners won because they did "this" well)
Talking with the players and Coach Larry Coker, they both give tons of credit to the offensive line and special teams. The offensive line has matured as a group and blocked much better than last year. That has allowed quarterback Eric Soza more time to find open receivers and the running backs bigger holes to run through. Special teams has also become a great weapon for the Runners this season. Sean Ianno, place kicker, hit a 52 yard game winning field goal against South Alabama for the Runners first road win in program history. Kick returner Kenny Harrison has developed in a huge threat, and given the Runners offense great starting position consistently.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Lobo Q&A With Andrew Bolte

Know The Foe :: UNM
Know The Foe is back again this week for the Rio Grande Rivalry between New Mexico State (1-2) and New Mexico (1-2). This week we have a special guest, Lobo fan and Twitter comrade Andrew Bolte. Andrew (@albolte) howls at the moon 140 characters at a time on Twitter, and is a former contributor at Avoiding the Drop. He also writes the occasional college basketball game recap at The Mid-Majority, even though New Mexico is technically not part of The Mid-Majority. We definitely encourage you to read some of Andrew's recaps from last year's 800 Games Project.

I think we can all agree that the Mike Locksley era was an unmitigated disaster for the Lobo football program.  Now that Bob Davie has taken over the program, what has the general feeling been around the program and community?
The general feeling around the program and community is one of measured excitement. Our long national nightmare (okay, regional nightmare) that was the Mike Locksley era is over, and Bob Davie is just enough of a brand name that fans aren't complaining as vociferously as they did when Mike Locksley was hired over more attractive names in 2009.

What's been the general attitude towards Bob Davie as the new head coach? Are fans taking a wait and see approach or have they jumped in with both feet (so to speak)?
Fans are willing to give Bob Davie every opportunity to succeed so long as he doesn't embarrass the community and university with off-field controversies - but New Mexico has normally adopted a wait-and-see approach with football. Over 28,000 fans came out for New Mexico's home opener against Southern - a win against New Mexico State may allow for similar numbers when Boise State comes calling in a week's time. Compared to the end of the Mike Locksley era, though, even 28,000 fans is a remarkable crowd for New Mexico football.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Miner Q&A With Miner Rush's Anthony Salom

Know The Foe :: UTEP
This week the Aggie football team heads to El Paso to take on the Miners in the Battle of I-10. UTEP is off to an 0-2 start but don't let their record fool you. They might be one of the best 0-2 team s in the country having battled into the fourth quarter against Oklahoma and Ole Miss. We've recruited Anthony Salom from MinerRush.com to answer a few questions about UTEP and find out what Aggie fans can expect from the Miner football team on Saturday..

The Miners are 0-2 to start the season but this might be the best 0-2 Miner team I've ever seen.  There's a lot to be said about being in the game in the fourth quarter against a pair of BCS teams.  What's the general feeling about this year's team after the first two game?
I'd say that there is a general feeling of disappointment amongst the fan base, for how these two games ended. I would venture to say that some of the players would share that sentiment as well. The team has played extremely well, in stretches, against two very good opponents. They've put themselves in a position, especially against Oklahoma, to potentially knock off a big time BCS opponent. However, mistakes eventually led to the unfavorable outcomes, and that's just something that needs to be corrected. We just simply can't give games away by making mistakes at crucial times.

All that said, this team is exactly where we thought they'd be. No one expected us to beat Oklahoma, and while we felt we'd have a chance against Ole Miss, no one expected us to beat them either. So, we're here at 0-2, and its just time to get things in gear. We've seen some bright spots that we can build on, and we've also got some areas that need improvement. Overall, the defense is playing great, and we've got a stud in Nathan Jeffery. If the offense can put it together, as a whole, we've still got an opportunity to make some noise this season.   Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Bobcat Q&A With The Post's Jim Ryan

Know The Foe :: Ohio
bleedCrimson.net's Know The Foe segment is back for its fifth season. This week the Aggie football team heads to Athens, Ohio to take on the Bobcats who are fresh off a victory over Penn State. We've recruited Jim Ryan, the assistant sports editor for The Post, Ohio University's outstanding student newspaper to answer a few questions about the Bobcat football team and to find out what the Aggies might be able to expect on Saturday. For more Ohio coverage leading into Saturday’s game, follow @ThePostSports and @Jimryan015 on Twitter, and check for updates on The Post.

Ohio is coming off arguably the biggest victory for the team under head coach Frank Solich and was certainly one of the most notable victories for any team in week one this year.  What's the mood been around practice this week and is there any chance that the Bobcats are maybe looking past the Aggies a little bit considering they just beat Penn State and they handled NMSU pretty easily last season?
Without debate, Saturday’s win against Penn State was one of the most prominent in the program’s history. Ohio dominated the second half and impressed a lot of people with its composure down the stretch. But the Bobcats’ staff was quick to say they weren’t surprised by the win. They didn’t view Ohio as an underdog leading into the game.

That all being said, the Bobcats are far from overlooking this week’s game, nor are they dwelling on their week one win. The only remaining talk of the weekend, really, is from the media. Ohio coach Frank Solich stressed in a news conference Monday that every team on the Bobcats’ schedule has the potential to walk away with a win, and taking an opponent too lightly will come back to bite them. I haven’t heard last year’s season-opener mentioned once this week.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Cougar Q&A With KSL.com's Landon Walters

Know The Foe :: BYU
Know The Foe is back as the Aggies step out of conference to take on the BYU Cougars for the first time ever. The Cougars are 7-3 but will be without their starting QB Riley Nelson this week. We've enlisted the help of KSL.com contributor Landon Walters to give Aggie fans an idea of how Nelson's absence might impact the game as well as a look at the rest of the Cougar team.

BYU is 7-3 on the season and has really rebounded after the rough early game against rival Utah.  What's been the biggest key for the Cougars in bouncing back from that loss?
I think that there are multiple reasons BYU rebounded after that blowout loss to Utah. For starters, the team was embarrassed at their performance in that game. But more substantial reasons include playing teams with defenses that aren't as good as BYU faced in the first five weeks of the season (including Central Florida and Utah State in the weeks after the Utah game). For the most part, the Cougars have done things that are help to win games. Things like keeping the penalties down and also staying close in turnover margin is helping. But, the main reasons for the improvement would be a balanced offense and the emergence of legitimate offensive playmakers. In the seven games since the Utah loss, BYU has passed for over 200 yards and rushed for over 200 yards in the same game five different times, with the exceptions being against UCF and TCU. Extending drives with third down conversions has also been key.   Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Bulldog Q&A With Bulldog Bounce

Know The Foe :: Fresno State
Know The Foe is back to preview the Fresno State Bulldogs who invade Aggie Memorial Stadium on Saturday. The Aggies are 0-17 against the Bulldogs but feel like this is the year they can break that streak. We've enlisted the help of Fresno State blog Bulldog Bounce to give Aggie fans a look at the Bulldogs and what to expect on Saturday.

The Bulldogs are 3-6 on the season, 2-2 in the WAC and it's been a bit of an up and down season for the Bulldogs.  What's been the biggest issue for the Bulldogs through the first nine games?
There's no easy answer for this one -- it's almost a "how did we get here" mentality among the educated fans. The defense has obviously been lacking most of the season (last interception came in Game 2 at nebraska). The lack of turnovers created, combined with a knack for giving up far too many big plays (which has been well stated by Pat Hill) is a dangerous formula for this team to follow. While there's no point in looking back at what we don't have, it's hard not to wonder how much different things would have been had safety Phillip Thomas (possibly the best defensive player in the WAC) not been lost for the season two days before the opener. Fresno State has also been without another of its standouts, safety Derron Smith, since Game 3. Replacing Thomas and Smith at safety have been Terrance Dennis, Zak Hill (Pat's youngest son) and Cristin Wilson. Dennis and Wilson had never played a live snap before this season.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Bulldoga Q&A With ESPN.com/DawgNation's David Ching

Know The Foe :: Georgia
It's time for another edition of Know The Foe. The Aggies step out of conference play this week as they head between the hedges to take on the Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are coming off a hard fought victory over archrival Florida in the game formerly known as The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (damn political correctness). We've enlisted the help of ESPN.com and DawgNation writer David Ching to give Aggie fans a look at what to expect from a suddenly depleted backfield as well as what the Aggies can expect from a scary Georgia defense and what the Aggies might be able to do to spring the upset.

After starting out 0-2 the Bulldogs have really rebounded quite well posting six straight victories.  What's been the biggest difference in the past six games (all wins) versus the first two games (both losses)?
Well the first thing is that the level of competition was much more manageable. Boise State is undefeated and South Carolina has only lost once, so that was a pretty difficult way to start the season. Georgia really should have won the South Carolina game in my opinion. They made a bunch of dumb mistakes that cost them the game, but really played better than the Gamecocks with the exception of a few particularly sloppy plays. They've really been sloppy all season, but have been substantially more talented than the teams they've played since then, so the mistakes weren't as costly.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Know The Foe :: Wolf Pack Q&A With The Reno Gazette-Journal's Chris Murray

Know The Foe :: Nevada
Know The Foe is back this week and with the Aggies hosting Nevada on Saturday for Homecoming, we've enlisted the help of Chris Murray from the Reno Gazette-Journal. Chris covers Pack football and basketball and his blog is one of the best in the business and his coverage of the WAC will be sorely missed when the Wolf Pack jump ship to the Mountain West next season.

After starting out 1-3 (albeit against some very very good competition) the Wolf Pack seem to have really found their groove.  Two outstanding defensive performances against UNLV and UNM (two horrendous teams but still...) gave way to a solid all-around performance against Fresno State.  What's been the biggest reason for the current three game winning streak?
The biggest difference has been the schedule. In addition to playing three really good teams (Oregon, Boise State, Texas Tech), Nevada was on the road for its first four games. Getting back home against some poor opponents has helped heal the wounds. But Nevada's defense also has been greatly improved, especially on pass defense. The Wolf Pack also has zeroed in on one quarterback (freshman Cody Fajardo) rather than toggling back and forth at the position. But mostly it's been the schedule.  Continue Reading This Post >>