UCLA-New Mexico State Preview: Looking at the Aggies' Defense

The Bruins should have no trouble running away from the Aggies on Saturday. None. - Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

After picking up a solid win against Nevada, followed by a huge win against Nebraska on the road, the Bruins are flying high and will need to remain focused when they take on a New Mexico State program that really should not threaten UCLA at all. With the Aggies just over the horizon, we preview this weekend's opponent, beginning with a look at the Aggies' defensive unit.

So, with New Mexico State coming up next week, it gives UCLA fans the opportunity to see how terrible a football team can become in the hands of someone with no business being a head coach. And remember folks, there were many clueless retards in the Bruin fan base clamoring for DeWayne Walker, the man who couldn't even hack it at lowly New Mexico State. It's actually a shame that Walker has departed, since his well-known inability to stop the spread would have been made for easy work for Brett Hundley and Noel Mazzone's offense (side note: 13-9 looks a lot less impressive when you remember that Walker's defense shut down John David Booty and an offense ran by . . . Lane Kiffin . . . just sayin'). At first glance, the Aggies are 0-3, having lost to Texas, Minnesota, and UTEP by a combined score of 142-49. Also, and this is kind of an important stat: New Mexico State has not beaten a Division I-A opponent since November 2011, when they beat a lackluster Fresno State team in the dying days of the Pat Hill era.

So, in contrast to the storied and proud Nebraska Cornhuskers, New Mexico State is well, to be blunt, one of the worst, if not the worst, programs in Division I-A. Anything short of a dominant victory for UCLA will be a disappointment.

Why? A look at the defensive statistics tells you that UCLA's high-powered offense should have no trouble smashing this former DeWayner Walker aside. So far, the Aggies are surrendering 47.3 points per game (and gave up 39.4 per game in 2012, when they finished 1-11 - the only win coming over Sac State in the season opener). Their defense against the run basically doesn't exist, having surrendered 331.3 yards per game (although, to be fair, that could be due to the fact that the offense is so anemic, the defense is constantly on the field -- remember those feelings Bruin fans?). Against the air assault, they fair slightly better, giving up only 245.3 yards per game (although that could be a function of offenses not needing to pass after getting up early -- or the fact they have faced QBs with far less talent than Hundley). Overall, they give up 576.4 yards per game, which so far has included a Texas team so mediocre that it could spell the end for Mack Brown, a meh Minnesota team, and LOL-lame UTEP.

Their leading tackler? Senior free safety Davis Cazares from Bishop Amat. Second leading tackler? Senior cornerback Darien Johnson, also from Bishop Amat. Cool to see local kids be their top dogs, but when the free safety and a cornerback are the leading tacklers, it tells you that the ball carrier is having an easy time slicing through their defensive front-seven (especially when considered in tandem with the total number of yards per game surrendered on the ground). So, Saturday should be a chance for the Bruins to really establish the ground game and feed a healthy number of carries to Jordon James and Paul Perkins.

Despite these terrible numbers, there's one thing that does stand out, which if the trend continues, will have Bruin fans pulling their hair out during the first quarter. For whatever reason, the Aggies come out of the gate strong -- in the opening quarter of their three losses this year, they've only surrendered 17 points total (while themselves scoring 14). So, give credit to the kids in this sad program for that -- they can hang around for a quarter. And, if UCLA is only up by one TD after one quarter, to quote our very own alum Jaleel White, don't fret. By the second quarter, the Aggies run out of steam, being smoked 45-14 in the second, doing slightly better in the third (31-7), and just getting pummeled in the final quarter, being outscored 49-7. So, don't be surprised if the Bruins (given our own propensities) start slow but come on strong by the second quarter.

Now, our own colleague Bill Connelly is a bit more optimistic for the Aggies in his season preview:

NMSU probably won't be very good in 2013 -- I'll say that out front -- but there's always reason for optimism in the offseason.

Okay, not that much more optimistic:

New Mexico State is going to be better in 2013.

Don't ask me how much better, because I don't know. NMSU only once ranked better than 119th in the F/+ rankings during Walker's tenure (109th and 4-9 with an experienced squad in 2011) and played worse than three of four FBS newcomers in 2012. So "improvement" could mean making a run at bowl eligibility with wins over teams like UTEP, Abilene Christian, FAU, and Idaho (and hey, maybe an upset of visiting Minnesota or Boston College); or it could simply mean 2-10 and 120th.

In other words, with the defensive unit these guys are putting out on Saturday, anything short of a 600+ yard, 30+ point victory will mean UCLA did not play up to its potential, in what should amount to a complete beat-down of a pitiful defensive unit.

And with that, your defensive preview for this Saturday's game against New Mexico State wraps up. Fire away in the comment thread with your thoughts, opinions, takes, etc. on the New Meixco State defense that Hundley and Co. will take on this Saturday.

GO BRUINS

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