The 2021 Mountain West tour hasn’t been particularly enjoyable so far for the New Mexico State University football team.
Nevertheless, the tour continues on Saturday evening.
The NMSU (1-5) travel to Reno to face Nevada (3-1), the Aggies’ fifth enemy at MWC in seven games this season. They are winless in the first four downs and the Wolf Pack are perhaps the most balanced team NMSU has faced to date.
“Nevada are an amazing defensive team,” Aggies coach Doug Martin said at this week’s press conference, “and their quarterback (Carson Strong) is an NFL player. He throws it as well as anyone in the country. We’re definitely going to get tested this week, on both sides of the ball. “
So far, the tour has included road trips to San Diego state, New Mexico and San Jose state sandwiched around a home game against Hawaii. The Aggies will play in Hawaii and host the State of Utah before the Mountain West portion of their schedule ends.
NMSU has been an underdog in each of its MWC games. Still, the Aggies, who were 29-point underdogs against the Wolf Pack on Friday, have weathered competition from Mountain West, especially in last week’s 37-31 loss to San Jose State.
“We’re up against some of the best teams in Mountain West,” said Martin, “and we’re still in every game. I felt like we had made some progress against San Jose State, which is a great defensive team. We probably played our best offensive game in a few years and (quarterback) Jonah Johnson played extremely well.
Johnson, a junior transfer, had his best outing as an Aggie against the Spartans, finishing 30 of 44 passes for 300 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He’ll likely need a similar performance if NMSU is to stick with Nevada, who beat Boise State 41-31 last week.
Strong, who is screened as an NFL first-round draft pick, is averaging 304 passing yards per game and throwing eight touchdown passes with just two interceptions this season. The Wolf Pack is averaging 32.25 points per game.
“He’s probably the best passer we’ve seen,” said Martin.
That doesn’t bode well for an NMSU defense that has allowed 12 touchdowns this season, many on explosive plays.
“Our defense has done some good things, but we haven’t been consistent enough in any phase, really, to be as competitive as we want to be,” said Martin. “Our defense will definitely be tested this week, so our offense must respond.”
The Nevada defense gave up its share of yards (355 per game) but forced seven turnovers in four games. Opponents of Wolf Pack are averaging 24 points per game.
GAME INFORMATION: Saturday, 8:30 p.m., CBSSN