Know Your Foe: A Q&A with NMSU's Michael Yazcko

The Eagles are on the warpath this Saturday, and they are facing an opponent who may be unworthy competition. After a huge upset win last Saturday, Boston College is on the verge of bowling. New Mexico State, whose season has been less than vainglorious, is not expected to put up much of a fight -- even NMSU’s fans are not expecting much of a game. I had the chance to interview Michael Yazcko, sports writer for NMSU Round Up, host of Guns Up on KRUX 91.5 (Fridays at 2 p.m. MTN) and play-by play announcer for NMSU Football on KRUX. Michael gave me a bird’s eye view of New Mexico State’s football program.

(Note: Bold words represent The Gavel; regular font represents New Mexico State Round Up.)

How would you describe New Mexico State’s football season this year? Was it, and has it been up to your expectations?

I honestly expected a little better results of our football program, especially against weaker opponents like SDSU, Rice, UTEP, New Mexico and any others.  I had no expectations to win against national powerhouses like Texas and UCLA or the Minnesota Golden Gophers. However in those games we did have a few bright spots in individual player performances.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved for the Aggies to catch some of those big teams slippin’ and sneak away with the victory, but I just don’t think our depth chart is deep enough to compete with those caliber of programs.

Coming off from some huge losses to some average teams, like New Mexico, Texas and Rice, what is the general consensus about the game versus Boston College this Saturday?

The only advantage we have coming into this game is that our head coach Doug Martin was the offensive coordinator of Boston College last year. Therefore he has intimate knowledge of many players on the team.  That will only take NM State so far, though.

Boston College has a history of taking its players to the next level (NFL) so despite any heroic attempts in play calling from Martin, I suspect that we will eventually be overcome by the lack of depth and talent on our roster.

One thing you have to understand about NMSU is that we’ve had difficulty maintaining any consistency in coaching over the last several years.  An example of that would be last year's head coach Dewayne Walker, leaving to work for the Jacksonville Jaguars after taking the team to a 1-11 season right before signing day.

After many conversations with Doug Martin, I have faith in him to be able to build a program that can compete on the Sun Belt level, but I anticipate it taking several years of getting players that he personally recruited into the program.

My personal opinion on the game is that I will be excited to see BC in action, but I just get excited any time I get to see an actual competent and competitive program in action.

Will New Mexico’s quarterback McDonald, who is averaging about 200 yards per game, be able to break down Boston College’s defense?

As a 32-year-old sports writer, radio personality, play-by-play commentator, analyst and cigarette smoker, I think the Aggies would be better off with ME behind the line.  I at least know how to read defenses.  I know I am often critical of McDonald’s performances, but having thrown more interceptions than touchdowns is a red flag.  Especially when you are only averaging 200 yards per game, and those yards I can credit WR Austin Franklin with his impressive yards after catch numbers.

How are you expecting the Aggies defense, who has been letting up a lot of points, to face off against BC’s star running back Andre Williams, who has been an absolute stud this season?

Two words: Tonya Harding. Some crazy person hitting Williams in the knee with a crowbar is about the only way the Aggies can slow him down. Seriously though, Doug Martin and the defense has actually had success slowing down and even stopping “starting” running backs. However things seem to fall apart when a “Change of Pace” running back, or a backup comes in. If you look back to the game against San Diego State University, their starting running back Adam Muema was only able to gain 25 yards on 10 attempts. However, once they changed the pace of the game by putting in youngster Donne Pumphrey, a small speedy back who was the opposite of Muema, Pumphrey finished the game with 171 yards on 19 attempts and 3 TDs.

Are there any fun game day traditions that New Mexico State participates in?

Honestly, I grew up outside of South Bend, Indiana, which allowed me to attend Notre Dame games, Michigan Wolverines games and Purdue games. I then moved to South Carolina and Georgia, which allowed me to catch the Gamecocks in action, as well as UGA and of course the Florida-Georgia game. I have never seen such a sorry state of tailgating in my life as I have in Las Cruces, NM.

I did a piece earlier in the year, as I moved through the parking lots, trying to interview the most extreme tailgaters and biggest Aggie fans. To my surprise our tailgating scene looked like an RV park, with a bunch of families secluded from each other having their own private picnics.  Even the student tailgate section was laughable as the most active and friendliest people there were international students who didn’t even have football in their countries of origin.

There is, however, the “Aggie” walk, where team members, alumni and faculty all grimly walk to the stadium together.

What’s your prediction for the game?

I find it incredibly difficult to root for a team that NO ONE believes in. I wish it weren’t the case, however it’s sad but true. I think all year Aggie Memorial Stadium was half full in the rivalry game against University of Texas-El Paso, but that’s only because it was half UTEP fans. There is very little student support on campus of the football program. I personally try to look positively at things and remain hopeful.  That being said, my prediction is that the Aggies may pull it off against BC, if a catastrophic event such as a meteor hits Aggie Memorial at halftime. Otherwise my prediction is BC 48, NMSU 14.

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