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Five Questions With NMSU Football Beat Writer Jason Groves

The main man behind NMSU’s football coverage for the Las Cruces Sun-News answers five important questions ahead of the Battle of I-10

NCAA Football: New Mexico State at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Miner Rush: Seems like Coach Martin is really excited to fill 85 scholarships for the first time in a while, do you think that will pay off this year, or is the actual development of depth still ongoing?

Jason Groves: I would lean more to the still developing side regarding depth, but in some positions they are very deep. Most notably the offensive line group, the wide receivers, the linebackers and even at the quarterback position. There is a clear dropoff between the ones and twos in other spots on the roster but it is not the chasm it has been the past three years. You will notice more redshirt freshmen and sophomores up and down the depth chart. Sitting guys was not an option three years ago and the current juniors such as Larry Rose III were forced to play right away as freshmen. That isn’t the case now.

MR: Do you think NMSU could be in a tough spot without either Larry Rose, and/or Tyler Rogers this Saturday, or will guys step up around those positions?

A tough spot indeed. I really liked NMSU’s chances with Larry Rose III, even though there would have been a slim margin for error with a healthy Rose. He hasn’t practiced in two weeks and I doubt he will be in the lineup. I believe Tyler Rogers will play on Saturday as developments in his battery case seem to suggest it’s just a matter of time before the case is dismissed. Rogers has performed well against the Miners and in fall camp, but can he carry a team to victory? I think Rogers needs Rose in the backfield beside him to play at the level necessary to beat quality teams.

MR: Frank Spaziani is well respected in the college football ranks, what has he done or will do to change up the Aggie defense?

For the most part, the scheme is similar, 4-3 and mostly zone coverage with safety help over the top. I will say that the things that stand out the most to me are more zone blitzing and more physicality at the point of attack on the perimeter. My biggest question is if Spaziani has the players up front that can keep a pretty good linebacker group free to make plays because the corners are young.

MR: Teldrick Morgan has had some big days against UTEP, with him now gone, who else does UTEP have to watch for inside the Aggie passing game?

Morgan was a loss, but I think the Aggies are actually better as a group at the wide receiver position. You have watched Aggies games for years and their receivers were often significantly smaller than the defensive backs who were covering them. The Aggies added 6-3 JC receiver Johnathan Boone and his JC teammate Jaleel Scott, who is 6-6 and a red zone target they haven’t had. You also have senior Tyrain Taylor who is their leading returning receiver and slot receiver Royce Caldwell, who is probably the fastest player on the team.

MR: Besides UTEP's run game, what is the other major concern Coach Martin and the Aggies have when matchup with the Miners?

There are a lot of unknowns for both teams I think due, to coaching and scheme changes on both sides. I think the defense knows what is coming for the most part, but I would say the offense taking care of the football against a new scheme is the biggest concern. Aggies can’t afford to give UTEP extra possessions and I believe Rogers will be putting the ball in the air more than usual without Rose.

MR: Prediction?

UTEP 35, NMSU 24