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New Mexico State looks to match last year's win total with victory on Saturday

NMSU quarterback Gavin Frakes hands the ball to NMSU wide receiver Johnathan Brady during the NMSU football game against Hawai'i on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at the Aggie Memorial Stadium.
NMSU quarterback Gavin Frakes hands the ball to NMSU wide receiver Johnathan Brady during the NMSU football game against Hawai'i on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at the Aggie Memorial Stadium.

LAS CRUCES - New Mexico State is in prime position to match its two-win total from last season on Saturday.

The Aggies are coming off a dominating 45-26 win over Hawaii last week, and they host an opponent that has struggled even more than Hawaii.

Florida International travels from Miami to Las Cruces as a 14.5 point underdog and following a 73-0 loss at Western Kentucky last week.

But New Mexico State is hardly in a position to overlook anyone on its schedule, which is why head coach Jerry Kill opened his Tuesday media availability rattling off a laundry list of improvements the Aggies need to make moving forward.

"We have had struggles too, so it's pretty easy to say we got beat 66-7 (at Wisconsin) and came back to win a game," Kill said. "Right now, we have to get some things fixed if we are going to be a good team. We have to put a complete game together."

FIU is 1-2 on the season with an overtime win over FCS school Bryant. Despite last week's shutout, FIU is ahead of New Mexico State in scoring offense at 16.7 points per game and total offense at 292 yards per game in a Air Raid type offense under offensive coordinator David Yost, whose previous two jobs were offensive coordinator positions at Texas Tech and Utah State.

FIU averages 228 passing yards per game and 63 rushing yards per game on 2.3 yards per carry.

"Whether you are playing FIU, Wisconsin or Friends University, it doesn't matter, we just have to get better," Aggies defensive coordinator Nate Dreiling said. "We have to get better at our position, our technique, our fundamentals. If you do that, you will get better.

"(FIU) does a good job spreading it around. They will be a fast tempo team that makes you get set and lined up. ... They have been struggling if you look at the final score, but they are moving the ball. They just have turned the ball over left and right."

FIU is 129th in FBS in total defense, allowing 537 yards per game, 351 yards per game through the air.

"We needed to establish our identity running the ball in the trenches," Aggies receiver Justice Powers said. "It's a little tough playing receiver, but I think it does open the offense a lot more if they are scared of the run, it opens up play action, but we had to establish the run."

The Aggies didn't win their second game last year until the final week of the season against UMass, but if they win on Saturday, they have an open week entering another home game against rival New Mexico on Oct. 14.

"You can't underestimate any team," Powers said. "I think that is how you get beat. We won a game, but it's nothing to be super excited about. It doesn't matter if they lost by 75 points, if they come in on this Saturday and play better than us, we will lose the game."

Jason Groves can be reached at 575-541-5459 or jgroves@lcsun-news.com. Follow him on Twitter @jpgroves.

This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: New Mexico State looks to match last year's win total with victory on Saturday