Walker to bring NMSU to TCF Stadium for first time

DeWayne Walker returns to Minnesota this weekend to coach the Aggies against the Gophers.

Adam Richard

 

This weekend marks the first time in University of Minnesota history that a former player will come back as an opposing head coach. 

DeWayne Walker was a junior college transfer in the 1980 season and was a two-year starting cornerback for the Gophers.  The Pasadena, Calif., native has had a successful coaching career since his days at Minnesota.  He has worked as a defensive backs coach in the NFL for the Patriots, Giants and Redskins and in the NCAA for USC before becoming the defensive coordinator for UCLA in 2006. 

Thinking of his return to Minnesota, Walker reflected on friends that still live in the area and a vacation that he had here three years ago when Tim Brewster was the head coach.

But he quickly shifted focus. âÄúThis is not a vacation.  This is a business trip and weâÄôre going to have our hands full,âÄù he said. 

New Mexico State recruited him in 2008 and Walker accepted the position and began his tenure with the Aggies for the 2009 season. 

New Mexico State has only had four winning seasons since 1967 and hasnâÄôt been to a bowl game since 1960, which is the longest drought in the nation.

WalkerâÄôs first two years havenâÄôt changed that trend âÄî they were 2-10 last season and 3-10 the year before. In his third year, though, he has the most experienced team that he has ever put on the field and his recruiting classes are now ready to see some action. 

The Aggies return several starters on both the offensive line and the defensive front seven, but are entrusting the offense to young, big-armed quarterback Andrew Manley. 

The sophomore won the job over senior Matt Christian. ManleyâÄôs physical abilities showed the most promise in camp for a season in which Walker hopes to improve results and provide optimism for the future at NMSU. 

After a tough first half last week, Manley put up big numbers in the second half. He threw for a total of 362 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Ohio.  Manley will look to continue throwing at a high clip against MinnesotaâÄôs secondary, which allowed a record-setting day to USC wide receiver Robert Woods and quarterback Matt Barkley.  He will likely be the main focus for the Gophers to stop, as the Aggies running game had 23 carries for a dismal 0.3 yards per carry. 

The Gophers are coming off a hard-fought loss on the road to USC in which the MinnesotaâÄôs defense held the Trojans scoreless in the second half.

MarQueis Gray left the game early due to cramps.  He received an IV for hydration in the locker room, but ultimately was unable to return to the game.

Head coach Jerry Kill said that Gray will be healthy and will play against New Mexico State this week.

After true freshman Max ShortellâÄôs nice relief performance Saturday, Kill made a point to eliminate any uncertainty as to who the starter would be this week.

âÄúThere is no QB controversy, weâÄôre not changing anything,âÄù he said Tuesday.

Facing a fast and athletic team like USC should allow for vast improvement for the Gophers this week, as the Aggies donâÄôt play at the same pace as the Trojans. 

âÄúThe game slowed down in the second half for MarQueis,âÄù Kill said. âÄúWeâÄôre more comfortable with being aggressive with him.  WeâÄôre not afraid of that.âÄù

Kill said heâÄôs looking forward to his opening game in TCF Bank Stadium.  âÄúWe went over the tape on Sunday, had a good practice and left the loss behind us,âÄù he said. 

âÄúWeâÄôre prepping this week like itâÄôs the Super Bowl.âÄù