LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — New Mexico State got their first win of the season last week against South Carolina State, and they did so with a walk-on playing quarterback.
Dino Maldonado threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns in the win, becoming the first Aggies quarterback to throw for over 300 yards in his first start since 2007. Even then, the job still belongs to Jonah Johnson (wrist) if healthy.
“Dino [Maldonado] did what we needed him to do in the game,” said Martin. “He didn’t turn the ball over. We were playing a FCS team, which is different than what we are getting ready to play and have been playing. He executed well and did some good things. He’s going to struggle with things because he’s inexperienced and that showed up in the second half of the game. We couldn’t score and they started playing more man and pressuring more.”
Both Johnson and backup quarterback Weston Eget (knee) will practice this week, but their availability for Saturday’s game against Hawaii in uncertain. Martin believes Johnson is closer to returning that Eget, and feels good about what Maldonado accomplished in his first collegiate start with the Aggies.
“The great news is that even if one of those guys [Johnson or Eget] plays, we still know that we have [Maldonado], who can come in,” said Martin. “We will evaluate that in practice this week and see who gives us the best chance to win the football game.”
Johnson has completed 51 percent of his passes for 444 yards and one touchdown this season. He has thrown three interceptions and has led the offense to just 16 points in starts against UTEP, San Diego State and in the first quarter against New Mexico. However, it’s the experience and leadership he brings to the huddle that Marin values most.
“If Jonah is 100 percent healthy, I can just tell you that he gives us the best chance [to win] because of what we are getting ready to face, what he can do, his experience and the athletic ability that he has,” said NMSU head coach Doug Martin. “Those are things that we as a staff have to evaluate and understand who we are playing this week and that the quarterback is going to have to do some things at the line of scrimmage that we didn’t have to do last week.”
Kickoff on Saturday is scheduled for 6 p.m. MT at Aggie Memorial Stadium. This week’s game against Hawaii will be the first of two games against the Rainbow Warriors this season. NMSU will travel to Hawaii on Oct. 23, and is 0-8 all-time against their former WAC foe.