LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will face New Mexico State for the first time in school history at 4 p.m. Saturday.
The Aggies (1-1) head to Lexington after a 33-32 rivalry win last week against New Mexico. Former UK quarterback Doug Martin is in his fourth year as coach of the Sun Belt Conference school.
Jason Groves is sports editor at the Las Cruces Sun-News and covers New Mexico State. We caught up with Jason for a Q&A on the Aggies. Let’s get to it.
Q: What did New Mexico State’s rivalry win over New Mexico do for the team?
Jason: Anytime you break a four-game losing streak to the same team, you get some confidence from that. So, they are more confident, especially defensively where they cut UNM’s rushing yardage of 421 yards per game on average during the win streak in half.
Q: New Mexico State has played SEC teams over the years. Have you noticed anything different this week?
Jason: I would say the only thing that is different is most of the teams they have played in my three years covering the team have been pretty elite on one side of the ball or the other. LSU and Florida defensively and Ole Miss offensively. Kentucky seems like a bottom-tier SEC team, but it will still be a big challenge for NMSU.
Q: Who’s one NMSU player to watch on both sides of the ball?
Jason: Quarterback Tyler Rogers leads the team in rushing without injured running back Larry Rose and he has yet to throw an interception. Rodney Butler leads the country in tackles after 24 tackles last week against New Mexico.
Q: Coach Doug Martin is a former UK guy. What has he done for the program?
Jason: I think that’s still to be determined. NMSU will always face financial constraints and this is the first time in a decade NMSU has had 85 scholarship players. You can certainly tell the talent level has increased and they are a much better offensive team with him running the offense. Those are the things that stand out.