Warriors prepared for new-look Aggies


POSTED: Friday, November 13, 2009

When Ron Lee pops in video of New Mexico State's defense, the Aggies' new helmet logos aren't the only changes that catch the eye of the Hawaii offensive coordinator.

New Mexico State visits Aloha Stadium tomorrow, bringing DeWayne Walker to the islands for the first time as the Aggies head coach.

In contrast to previous coach Hal Mumme, known primarily for his wide-open passing offenses, Walker brought a background in defense to Las Cruces, N.M. His previous jobs included three years as defensive coordinator at UCLA, along with three stints with NFL teams and a one-year stay at USC, all spent coaching defensive backs.




NEW MEXICO STATE (3-6, 1-3) AT HAWAII (3-6, 1-5)

        When: Tomorrow, 5:05 p.m.

Where: Aloha Stadium


TV: PPV, Dig. Ch. 255


Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM




With the coaching change has come a new approach to defense that hasn't gone unnoticed in the Warriors' preparations.

“;Very different from the past,”; Lee said. “;They're playing a lot more aggressive defense, pressure, a lot of man coverage, blitzes. In the past they were rushing three and dropping eight, that kind of stuff. Now they don't do that. Now they're aggressive, they come after you, more attacking.”;

Hawaii (3-6, 1-5 Western Athletic Conference) has sliced through the Aggies defenses since New Mexico State (3-6, 1-3) joined the WAC in 2005. Colt Brennan and Greg Alexander combined to complete close to 71 percent of their passes, averaging about 390 yards and five touchdowns in those four meetings.

The Aggies enter tomorrow's matchup second in the WAC in pass defense, and cornerbacks Davon House and Jonte Green are tied for the league lead with seven passes broken up. Defensive end Pierre Fils leads the Aggies with six sacks.

“;They have good athletes and it's going to be a battle,”; UH quarterback Bryant Moniz said. “;They do their assignments and they have good corners and they're going to make it hard for us.”;

Still, with the transition comes some growing pains, and the Aggies come to town on a three-game losing streak in which they've been outscored 124-10. They've had two weeks to recuperate from a 45-0 loss at Ohio State and scout the Warriors, who are coming off a remarkably balanced offensive performance in last week's win over Utah State.

“;I think it's important to finish the year out strong. Especially with the defense that's been playing pretty respectable,”; Walker said. “;I think it's important to continue to build this defense to be one of the better defenses in our conference.”;

Whether the Hawaii offense will have all of its weapons available remains in question. Wide receiver Jovonte Taylor did not practice this week while receiving treatment for a staph infection in his arm. Safety Spencer Smith had a similar ailment last week and started in the secondary after being cleared.

Taylor has hit his stride of late, catching eight passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games, and UH head coach Greg McMackin said he's planning on the junior being back for the game.

Joe Avery and Craig Bell rotated at Z receiver yesterday. Royce Pollard appeared ready to make his comeback this week from a leg injury, but didn't participate in team periods yesterday. Lee said junior Mike Tinoco could also contribute if needed.


Red Raiders represented

Along with UH's contingent of Kahuku graduates, New Mexico State has three former Red Raiders on its roster.

Ka'ua Adolpho is listed as the backup defensive lineman. He is joined by freshman defensive back B.J. Adolpho and sophomore defensive tackle David Niumatalolo.

Kamehameha graduate Kawika Shook is a backup defensive end and has 15 tackles, including a sack, this season.


Return of Jones?

As Hawaii works to keep alive its bowl hopes, SMU is one win away from becoming bowl eligible with three to play. The Mustangs (5-4, 4-1 Conference USA) face UTEP tomorrow and former UH head coach June Jones is eyeing a return to the islands.

“;We're going to go to Hawaii if we win,”; Jones was quoted as saying by the Dallas Morning News yesterday.

The Sheraton Hawaii Bowl's contract with Conference USA calls for a “;preferred selection team”; to represent the league in the game. SMU's last bowl appearance was the 1984 Aloha Bowl.