New Mexico State coach DeWayne Walker doesn’t want to compare his tenure with that of his predecessor, Hal Mumme, but he thinks its important to note that despite a 3-10 record in Walker's first season, the Aggies actually showed progress.
“At the end of the day, you want to be optimistic about everything,” Walker said. “I know when I compare our first year to coach Mumme’s first year, that’s a positive when you’re looking for positives. Basically, we matched his fourth year with the same record in our first year. Not that you want to compare records and all that, but from a positive standpoint you have to try to grab onto something.”
Accentuating the positives is Walker’s goal as he heads into his second spring season in early April. His Aggies started the 2009 season 3-3, but lost their final seven games and most weren’t even close. The Aggies ranked last in the country in total offense and scoring offense and ranked in the 100s in total and scoring defense. What started out as a promising season turned disastrous by mid-October.
“I thought we probably could have won at least two or three more games, but it is what it is,” Walker said. “We’re going to move forward. The most important thing is I feel we have a foundation and we have a team and that was probably the most important element of it, even more so than wins at the end of the day.”
Walker has brought in help on both sides of the ball through recruiting and transfers, but he said the biggest key to turning the Aggies' fortunes around would be the senior class. New Mexico State is a senior-laden team that includes 11 senior starters. Walker said despite the struggles last season, those players bought in and will be counted on to keep the team moving in the right direction.
“With the senior group we have coming back, they believe in our blueprint, in our vision and I think these seniors, they’re excited about continuing to work to change this program,” Walker said. “The one reason I’m optimistic is I think this senior class is a for-real senior class and I’m really anxious to see this class take this team over and try to do something that really hasn’t been done here for a while.”
New Mexico State hasn’t exactly had a lot of success during its history. It hasn’t had a winning season since 2002 (7-5) and has only had nine winning seasons since 1960. That 1960 campaign was the Aggies' finest when coach Warren B. Woodson led them to an 11-0 season and a 20-13 win over Utah State in the Sun Bowl. It was the last bowl berth for the Aggies, giving them the longest bowl-less streak in the country.
“With this team being together for a year now and with the foundation and understanding of my coaching style, we have for the most part our scheme’s in place, I think it’s going to be interesting to see,” Walker said. “We feel like we’ve established a football team even though we made some adjustments on the staff. We feel like our staff is stronger. We feel like our football team is stronger. I think this is the year where we’re going to find out where we are and how much we can close the gap from Year 1 to Year 2.”