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Arkansas State at New Mexico State: Keys to Victory

By Emory Hunt
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Both teams boast strong offensive attacks, so we should be for a typical entertaining game in the Sun Belt Conference.

Arkansas State travels out to Las Cruces, N.M. to take on the New Mexico State Aggies is a key Sun Belt Conference matchup. It’s key for the Red Wolves because they are trying to widen the lead in the conference. And for the Aggies, a win puts them closer to obtaining bowl eligibility; somewhere they haven’t been since 1960. Both teams boast strong offensive attacks, so we should be for a typical entertaining game in the Sun Belt Conference.

Keys to Victory: Arkansas State

Game Starts at 7pm: It’ll be important for the Red Wolves to get off to a great start against a hungry Aggie squad. The worst thing you can do is sleepwalking into a ball game that you feel as though, on paper, you should win. It’s critical for a team like Arkansas State to take the wind out of the sails of any hopes the Aggies have of pulling off the upset quickly, and swiftly. So that means that when the game kicks off, the Red Wolves better be ready to play.

Work the Body: There is an opportunity here for the Red Wolves to get things rolling early on the ground. The Aggies have been very generous against the run this season and if you’re Arkansas State, you don’t have to get cute; you can just be effective by keeping it simple and leaning on that defensive line of the Aggies. The strength of this Aggie defense is in the secondary. They do a great job of playing the ball; so tilting a bit more toward the run game would be a smart move this week.

Pack of Angry Wolves: What was highly impressive last week against the Ragin Cajuns was the non-stop pressure the Red Wolves were able to bring throughout the game. Senior edge rusher Ja’Von Rolland-Jones played like a man possessed last week building a home in the Cajuns backfield. Arkansas State finished that game with 5 sacks on the evening and should look to make life miserable for NMSU QB Tyler Rogers all night long.

Keys to Victory: New Mexico State

Play Your Game: This is what has been different about this NMSU team this year; they don’t care who you are, they won’t switch up who they are for anyone. They do a great job of sustaining drives and generating chunk plays on both ends of offense. They can’t be hesitant to push the ball vertically downfield, and dancing with the person you brought to the party could go a long way in helping the Aggies have some early success in this ball game.

Lull the Wolves to Sleep: I just mentioned that the Aggies do a great job in sustaining drives. That’s how you wear down a defense and allow your own defense time on the sidelines to make adjustments. You can speed it up to slow it down, get into the right playcall and run your offense. You can also turn their greatest strength and turn it into a weakness by forcing those pass rushers to become run defenders. All of which can help New Mexico State play keep away from one of the most explosive offenses in the FBS.

Win the Special Teams Battle: I love the saying ‘points add up’. So whenever the Aggies are in scoring position, they have to come away with points. It doesn’t matter if it’s three or seven; you need points to win. Arkansas State plays stellar special teams, and the return game will also have to be big in this one. It’s a strength vs strength battle here as NMSU has enough options to create a half-field for their offense. All three facets of the special teams will have to be excellent in this one.

Key Matchup

New Mexico State WR Jaleel Scott vs Arkansas State CB Blaise Taylor

This is a great matchup between two titans in the Sun Belt Conference. The Aggies need Scott to have his usual stellar performance as much as the Red Wolves need Taylor to force NMSU to go to other options in the passing game.


Look for a great start to this one for the Aggies, but the strength, depth and talent will be too much for them to hold off for 4-quarters.

Arkansas State 35
New Mexico State 17

Emory Hunt - Emory Hunt, "The Czar of the Playbook", is a former UL Ragin' Cajun running back nw covering the Sun Belt for Southern Pigskin. His other work can be found at Twitter: @FBallGameplan