UTEP Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
UTEP Miners
Posted Aug 6, 2006

UTEP Miners Preview 2006 - UTEP Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Getting their just due – At the outset of the 2005 season, former Miner linebacker Thomas Howard was the pick du jour as the CUSA defensive player of the year.  A physical specimen with jets and hitting ability, there was no question who stirred the Miners’ defensive drink, right?  Right?!?  Well, by the end of the season, it was clear that Jeremy Jones and Troy Collavo weren’t standing in the huddle to play second fiddle to Howard.  In fact as the year transpired, Jones and Collavo seemingly outplayed their much more hyped teammate, um, ol’ what’s his name?  Well, the tables have turned and Jones and Collavo are now the leaders of a defense that returns nine starters.  Jones led the team with 130 tackles and 14.5 tackles for a loss, while Collavo registered 112 tackles and another 14.5 tackles for a loss.  Yes, that’s right, a combined 242 and 29 tackles for a loss from these two stars.  But, these two have something to prove, namely that the three game collapse at the end of last season was nothing but a West Texas mirage and that no offense is going to go for 35, 40 and 45 in consecutive games this season.  In the Toledo game, it was evident that Jones, Collavo and the Miner defense were outmanned, but for the Miners to win CUSA this fall, this duo has to be that much better than they were in the first nine games of the year.  Free safety Quentin Demps will be a force in the run defense and is one of the best safeties in the nation, but the pressure will be mainly on the shoulders of the linebacker duo to slow down opposing running games.  Only then will they get their just due.

2nd and Seven – Carson’s little brother or Jordan Palmer – you decide – The numbers that Jordan Palmer’s put up the past two years have been typical of QBs within Mike Price’s offenses since he was at Washington State.  Although Palmer had another solid season in 2005, when the Miners had to have a W to seal the CUSA title, Palmer threw eight interceptions in the final three games against UAB, SMU and Toledo.  In crunch time, Palmer faltered.  Sure, he threw for 830 yards and 6 TDs, but the turnovers and the failure to pick up those key wins will trail Palmer until he does.  He’ll have another chance this fall to win that championship, the one that slipped away in 2005.  Then, you can decide what the final legacy of Jordan Palmer will be.

3rd and Three – Second to None? – Although UTEP flies under the proverbial radar much of the time, if Quentin Demps and Joe Fleskoski keep playing at the level they have recently, they’ll blow the cover of the rest of the Miners.  Demps and Fleskoski form one of the best safety duos in CUSA and in the nation.  Demps is a play making demon who may end up being a first day NFL draft pick in the future, while Fleskoski should continue to build on a career that has featured 212 tackles in his first three years.  Both of these star defensive backs are stellar against the run, but they’ll have to be better against the pass, especially if the offense is giving the ball back to opponents as they did late in the season.

4th and One – Momentum Quelled? – What Mike Price has done the last two years has been nothing short of sensational in El Paso.  He was the perfect tonic for a program that needed an adrenaline boost in the worst way, but after two seasons, is the luster still there?  Is that momentum still there that was built up through the Texas Southern win last year?  In some cases, a three game slide at the end of one season turns into a downfall that can’t be stopped the next.  But, that’s where Price is going to be so helpful to these players and this program.  Sure, the final three games of last season were an unmitigated disaster, but this team has talent, experience and even more talent.  This coaching staff is going to have massage the morale of this team to get them to believe that they should win CUSA going away.  If they can, the bump in the road that was last year will be just that, a pit stop on the way to their first CUSA championship.

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UTEP Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 6, 2006
UTEP Preview 2006 - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 6, 2006
UTEP Preview 2006 - Offense
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