For Roger Grant, today's a chance to bat a thousand.
For his Utah State football team, there's as much chance for danger as there is for good at noon today when the Aggies play their second-to-last home game at Romney Stadium against the 0-8 New Mexico State Aggies."There's no margin for error on our schedule," says USU Coach Chuck Shelton. Indeed, the Aggies have only won two games, partly because of that schedule that was loaded at the beginning of the season, so they've got to win the ones they're supposed to, and this fits the latter category.
"There's a lot of hope with four games remaining," says Shelton. "We've a chance to have a good year, but that evaporates with the next defeat."
After a strong win over UNLV, Shelton wondered about a possible letdown for this New Mexico State team that has lost 25 straight games. "We practiced well again," he shrugs. "That's the only (way to) judge I have."
For Grant, New Mexico State offers at least a possibility of breaking the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Grant has 810 yards on the books through seven games, leaving him needing 190 for a four-figure total.
He averages 115.71 a game, second in the league to San Jose's Sheldon Canley (118.5) but 12th in the nation.
Grant has had games of 292 (against Long Beach) and 197 (at Fresno), and he had 162 playing only about three-quarters of the UNLV game last week.
Were Grant to get his average today, he'd move to No. 10 on the Aggie single-season rushing list. With four games left, he has a decent shot at moving into third (Rick Parros, 1,236).
New Mexico State is coming off a game where it surrendered 312 yards to Tulsa running back Mark Brus.
"I would suspect," says NMSU Coach Jim Hess, "that Grant is figuring on having an NCAA record, as many yards as he might gain."
Grant, low-key about such things, makes no predictions, just says it's a possibility.
"The rushing stats are bad, and they're embarrassing," Hess continues. "We've never been anywhere people have rushed quite like they have this year on us. There is improvement by individuals, not necessarily team improvement. I don't see nearly enough to stop Grant.
"And the other guy (Floyd Foreman) is very good, very fast," Hess adds.
Aggie offensive coordinator Pat Behrns expects to see a nine-man defensive front at times from New Mexico State to stop the rush, since it's done that in past games.
That would put the pass in vogue. Tulsa did nothing but run. Utah State has a diverse passing attack from quarterback Ron Lopez, who'll throw to tight ends, fullbacks and wideouts.
Lopez threw for 348 yards against league leader San Jose State and could have license to unleash on New Mexico State, which totals six interceptions and isn't much on sacks.