This is the sixth in a 12-part series that breaks down the Ole Miss Rebels’ football opponents in 2015
By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
By the time the Aggies of New Mexico State reach Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Oct. 10, they will have already logged a trip to the Southeast, and be in the midst of a three-game road stretch.
Such is the life of a Sun Belt Conference team looking to stay afloat in the competitive world of FBS college football.
Doug Martin will lead his Aggies to play the Florida Gators in the season opener on Sept. 5 before they visit Oxford to play the Rebels. Martin’s first season as head coach was in 2013, and the Aggies were just 2-10 for the second straight year in 2014. Trips to play SEC schools are nothing new for the Aggies, who lost 63-7 to LSU last season, the third setback in a 10-game losing streak after opening the year with wins over Cal-Poly and Georgia State.
In both of those victories, the Aggies scored over 30 points. They scored over 30 points three times. Martin, who also acts as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, said that was the key to winning, scoring at least 30 points.
“I really believe that how many times you score 30 points, that’s how many games you’re going to win. That’s just how it works out for any team,” Martin said. “For us to get to that, the turnovers is number one and we’ve got to get the turnover numbers down. I also think we’ve got more playmakers than we’ve ever had. And defensively we’ve got to stop the run, and cause turnovers like we did last year.”
The Aggies have a quality running back in Larry Rose III, who was the Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year in 2014. He rushed for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns. New Mexico State averaged almost 180 yards on the ground per game thanks to his production.
Tyler Rogers, a junior, is back at quarterback for Martin. He had some impressive stats in 2014, like 2,779 yards, 19 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 61.5. The negative: Rogers threw 23 interceptions. New Mexico State only garnered 11 interceptions on defense, and Martin felt like his defense would be better overall this season.
“We’re just bigger this year. The guys that played last year are all bigger now, and I think we can be much better,” he said. “But we’ve still got a lot of work to do on that side of the ball to really get where we want to be. If we can just get to the middle of the pack in the conference defensively, that really gives us a chance to compete.”
There appeared to be a lot of optimism heading into camp for the Aggies even if Martin hasn’t looked at improvement in terms of wins.
“We have to take steps forward, and I don’t really look at it in terms of win totals. I felt like last year, we were capable of winning two or three more games,” Martin said. “I don’t know what the win total for this season is, but I do know that we’re going to be talented enough to compete with anybody that we play, especially within our conference. I think how we develop as a team, character wise, is going to be huge.”