LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KTSM) – After a 41-30 loss to UMass on Saturday to open the season, New Mexico State is looking for its offensive identity as the Aggies prepare to host Western Illinois on Saturday.

NMSU moved the ball at will at times vs. the Minutemen, racking up 470 total yards of offense, but three turnovers doomed the Aggies to the defeat.

Postgame, head coach Jerry Kill talked ad nauseum about finding an offensive identity for his team, while Diego Pavia and Monte Watkins stressed the importance of utilizing the Aggies’ talented skill players.

“We have to say this is what we are going to hang our hat on and this is who we are going to be and we didn’t do that tonight,” Kill said. “If you look at Alabama, you know who they are. We have some guys. We have to figure out how to utilize everyone and get people where they need to be.”

Backup quarterback Eli Stowers was used in the first half as part of a run-heavy package specifically designed for him. Stowers didn’t throw a pass, but he rushed four times for 30 yards and the Aggies scored an 80-yard touchdown (Watkins) while he was in the game.

Pavia, the starter who threw three touchdown passes to go along with his three turnovers, said on Saturday that NMSU has to find more ways to utilize Stowers’ athleticism, even if he’s not throwing the ball.

“He’s an athlete for sure. We have to get him on the field in different packages. He’s too good of an athlete to be sitting on the bench,” Pavia said. “We have to do more inside zone. We knew that from last year and we have the same guys up front. We have to trust it more. We need to throw it more on first down. I feel like they knew it was coming. But at the same time, we have to execute every single play. We were out of the huddle slow. We just have to get things figured out.”

NMSU’s running backs had just 15 carries on Saturday with Watkins gaining 95 yards on his two carries, including an 80-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that tied the game at 7-7.

“We have to lessen the turnovers and get our personnel that we need on the field at the times we needed them and make plays,” Watkins said. “If everybody does their assignment, we make big plays.”

NMSU will look to find a better balance and an identity on Saturday when it hosts Western Illinois at 7 p.m. at Aggie Memorial Stadium.