Team preview: New Mexico State

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(All information as of July 1, 2006)


There have been a pair of spectacular about-faces in the NCAA the last decade, including Hawaii rocketing from 0-12 in 1998 to 9-4 in 1999.

That magical season, June Jones took a shipwreck of a football team and transformed it into an ocean liner that cruised to a victory over Oregon State in the Oahu Bowl to complete the best turnaround in NCAA history.

Unfortunately, those eye-popping campaigns don't make travel plans that often, leaving New Mexico State fans with a break-even mentality for 2006.

Second-year head coach Hal Mumme couldn't have known what awaited his Aggies as the program prepared for its maiden voyage through the tricky white-water programs of the WAC. Granted, the Sun Belt Conference is a safer weekend journey. The long distances alone to such league outposts as Boise, Idaho, and Logan, Utah, can kill you.

But 0-12?

That wasn't in the brochure.

Trying to take a 20th-century offense like the option and tweak it into a high-powered passing attack of the new millennium proved too difficult, even for miracle-man Mumme.

The quarterbacks couldn't throw from the seat of their pants as the offensive linemen looked like the first practice session of the Mean Machine in the movie "The Longest Yard."

New Mexico State yielded a staggering 45 sacks for nearly 300 yards in lost offense, not to mention all the knockdowns quarterbacks Royal Gill and Joey Vincent suffered in the long season of transition. Neither will be under center in the fall as Mumme continues to make over an offense that averaged only 16.5 points a game last season.

As much as the offense struggled in its new WAC digs, it wasn't much better on the other side of the football as the Aggies routinely gave up five touchdowns a game.
Mumme must have wondered what he did to deserve such a fate. Still, the 16-year head coach believes better days are ahead.