to keep a secret
Editor's note: This is the sixth in a series of 12 articles on Hawaii's opponents for the 2005 football season. Tomorrow: San Jose State.
Hal Mumme must be a fan of the late country crooner Charlie Rich -- or at least of one of the Silver Fox's biggest hits, "Behind Closed Doors."
Mumme's making sure no one knows what goes on at his New Mexico State practices. He closed the workouts this week to fans, media and spies in anticipation of the season opener against rival Texas-El Paso on Sept. 3.
Not that Mumme is paranoid. The former UTEP assistant just knows what a big game the Aggies-Miners matchup is, and if he has any tricks up his sleeves, he doesn't want them slipping across the state line.
The former Kentucky head coach has had a lot on his mind lately, and not all of it is about him ushering the Aggies into the Western Athletic Conference in his first season at Las Cruces. Mumme is involved in a lawsuit against the NCAA and Kentucky, filed by his Wildcats assistant, Claude Bassett, and having to do with the school's knowledge of recruiting violations during Mumme's tenure.
Mumme is an expert in reclamation projects and building programs from the ground up, like he did at Southeastern Louisiana. He hopes to turn around the Aggies the way he did Kentucky (minus the NCAA problems), Valdosta State and Iowa Wesleyan.
He does it via the passing lanes. Mumme calls his offense the "Air Raid" attack, and in its second year of existence last season, his Southeastern Louisiana crew led NCAA Division I-AA with 408 passing yards per game and 537 in total offense.
The Aggies' pilot will be junior college transfer Royal Gill (6-feet-5, 220 pounds), getting the nod last week after a close competition with Joey Vincent.
"(Royal is) really picking up the offense well," Mumme said. "Joey is an important part of our team and I don't look at him as a second-team guy, he's more of a 1B. I have confidence in him if we had to go to him."
The rest of the offense returns nearly intact, with wideouts Brandon Allen and Tim Tolbert, tight end Jeremy Weeks and slotback Paul Dombrowski. Dombrowski played some quarterback last year, and may be the team's best all-around athlete.
Muammar Ali returns at running back after going for a team-high 561 yards last fall.
Four starters on the offensive line are back, led by 6-1, 348-pound guard Nick Cole.
Free Safety Matt Griebel was in on 91 stops last year and leads the six returning starters on defense. Both cornerbacks, Gill Byrd and Shukree Shabazz, are among them.
The run defense might be questionable with the loss of four starters in the front seven. Solid linebacker Jimmy Cottrell (6-0, 237) is back, though, and he's led NMSU in tackles all three years he's been an Aggie.
Junior Brad Evans will likely kick and punt.
Mumme, who was a wide receiver at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, barnstormed the state as soon as he was hired. He reassured the Aggie faithful that 45-0 losses to UTEP, and 38-3 defeats to New Mexico -- last year's scores -- are a thing of the past. If they aren't, Mumme could be heading to his next fixer-upper sooner than he wants.
New Mexico State Aggies
Multiple, one back
5-6 (4-3 Sun Belt)
Hal Mumme (97-64-1, 0-0 at NMSU)
||at North Texas
||at New Mexico
||at Louisiana Tech
||at Boise State
||at San Jose State