NMSU set to tangle with No. 23 Washington State

NMSU

LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) – The New Mexico State football team opens the 2019 season on the road, under the lights and against a nationally ranked Power-Five opponent, taking on No. 23 Washington State at 8 p.m. (MT) Saturday, Aug. 25, inside Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash.

HOW TO WATCH
Aggie fans can watch the game via the Pac-12 Networks. Saturday night’s contest will air on both the Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Washington. Check to see if your current provider carries Pac-12 Networks.

LISTEN UP
Fans can also listen to every Aggie football game this season via the Aggie Sports Network. NM State Athletics/US Bank Hall of Famer Jack Nixon mans the play-by-play duties, and Cory Lucas provides analysis. 

The broadcast can be heard on NM State’s flagship station 99.5 FM KXPZ or on TuneIn. Additional radio affiliates include:

Alamagordo – 103.7 FM KNMZ
Albuquerque – 1150 AM KNMM
Carlsbad – 1240 AM KAMQ
El Paso – 1380 AM KHEY
Gallup – 1230 AM, 94.9 FM KYVA
Las Vegas – 107.1 FM KMDS

All ABOUT THE AGGIES
The 2019 campaign marks the Aggies’ seventh under head coach Doug Martin. Martin and NM State are looking to win both their first season opener and home opener since 2014. The Aggies began that year with two straight victories, defeating Cal Poly in the opener at home, 28-10, before going on the road to beat Georgia State, 34-31.

NM State returns 17 starters from last year’s squad, including eight on the offensive side of the football. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Adkins is expected to lead the Aggie offense, earning the nod after taking over the starting role four games into last season. Senior running back Jason Huntley, who led the nation with three kickoff return touchdowns a year ago, will provide explosiveness in different facets of the game for the Aggies.

The defense brings back nine starters, paced by redshirt senior linebacker Javahn Fergurson, the nation’s reigning leader in tackles per game. Senior defensive lineman Roy Lopez returns after collecting a team-high 12.5 tackles for loss last year.

Senior placekicker Dylan Brown will man field-goal and kickoff responsibilities. The native of Chandler, Ariz., connected on 10-of-15 attempts last season, including a career-long make of 49 yards.

QB1
NM State redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Adkins was named to the Wuerffel Trophy watch list entering 2019. 
 
The Wuerffel Trophy, recognized as “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service,” is presented each February. Named after 1996 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel from the University of Florida, the Wuerffel Trophy is awarded to the FBS player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.
 
Adkins made his debut last season with the Aggies at Utah State and saw action against New Mexico at home before making his first start at UTEP. The Spring Branch, Texas, native, finished the year with 13 passing touchdowns for 2,563 yards.

His 222 pass completions were good for ninth best in program history for a single season while his 2,563 passing yards was good for 10th most in a single season. In addition, his 256.3 yards per game was good for seventh on the single-season program record list. His three games of 300-plus passing yards tied him for fifth most in the careers category while his seven games of 200-plus passing yards is tied for 14th on the all-time list.

THE ALL-AMERICAN
Senior halfback Jason Huntley, a Phil Steele fourth-team All-American last season, has racked up a bevy of preseason accolades entering the 2019 campaign.

Huntley was named to the watch list for the 2019 Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, which recognizes the top offensive player in Division I football from the state of Texas.

It is the second watch list that Huntley has appeared in this preseason. He was first named to the 2019 Paul Hornung Award Watch List, which is given annually to the most versatile player in college football.

The native of Arlington, Texas, rushed for 505 yards and seven touchdowns while recording 529 receiving yards for three scores one season ago. As a return specialist, he led the nation with three kickoff return touchdowns, finishing the year with 1,632 all-purpose yards en route to becoming the third running back in program history to earn All-America honors.

TACKLE MACHINE
Redshirt senior linebacker Javahn Fergurson, the nation’s leader in tackles per game last season, has the attention of some of the country’s top talent evaluators heading into the 2019 campaign.

Fergurson was named to the Senior Bowl watch list. The Senior Bowl, the premier annual college all-star game for the nation’s top upperclassmen, will be played Jan. 29, 2020, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.

Fergurson started all ten games he played in last year, leading the entire country in tackles per game (13.2). He finished the year with 132 total tackles (42 solo, 90 assisted), recording double-figure tackles in eight of the ten games he played in.

The native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, racked up 15+ tackles in four games, including a career-high 22 tackles vs. New Mexico (9/15). He was second on the team in sacks with 5.5, including a season-high two sacks vs. New Mexico.

SCOUTING THE COUGARS
Washington State, led by head coach Mike Leach, enters the 2019 season ranked No. 23 in the nation after having one the most successful campaigns in program history. The Cougars won a school record-setting 11 games last year, finishing the 2018 season ranked No. 10 in both the Associated Press Poll and Coaches Poll.

Then-quarterback Gardner Minshew, the Pac-12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year and All-Pac-12 First Team honoree, led Washington State to bowl-game eligibility and an invite to the Alamo Bowl. Minshew threw for two touchdowns and rushed for a score, leading the Cougars to a 28-26 win over Iowa State.

Minshew, who led the country in passing yards per game (367.6), is now graduated, however, leaving the Cougars’ offense in the hands of seven returning starters, including four on the offensive line that blocked for 24 rushing touchdowns.

Key returners include halfback Max Borghi, who tied the Washington State single-season freshman record with 12 total touchdowns. Seven wideouts with 20+ receptions last season are back, led by Tay Martin and Easop Winston Jr., who each caught eight touchdowns. Dezmon Patmon also returns after catching five touchdown and 61 passes for 816 yards a season ago.

Defensively, the Cougars return two of their top three tacklers from a year ago, as well as eight players who recorded multiple sacks last season. Cornerback Marcus Strong returns after leading the team with three interceptions.

CONNECTIONS
Aggie quarterbacks coach Chase Holbrook spent the 2016 season at Washington State in an offensive quality control position, working under Leach.

The Cougars’ offensive line coach Mason Miller worked in the same capacity at NM State for four seasons (2005-08) under former Aggie head coach Hal Mumme. 

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