UTEP Preview 2006
Maybe UTEP should find a way to schedule all its games before mid-November.
Depth Chart |
How's this for a bizarre stat? Since 1989, 17 seasons, UTEP is
11-48 in November and 3-28 from November 15th on. Granted, the
Miners stunk in many of those years, and not just in November, but
the last two seasons under Mike Price have to be a bit disturbing.
In 2004, UTEP was enjoying a shocking turnaround season with an 8-2
record going into a final regular season road game against a
mediocre Tulsa team. The Miners lost 37-35, and later lost to
Colorado in the Houston Bowl.
Last season was far worse. At 8-1 and with the Conference USA title,
or at least the West, there for the taking, all UTEP had to do was
win one of its final two games against either UAB or SMU. Neither
team was going anywhere fast, but both beat UTEP before Price's team
got pantsed by Toledo 45-13 in the GMAC Bowl.
Head coach: Mike Price
3rd year: 16-8
25th year overall: 145-130
Off. 22, Def. 22, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 21
Best Miner Players
1. QB Jordan Palmer, Sr.
2. WR Johnnie Lee Higgins, Sr.
3. DE Alex Obomese, Sr.
4. RB Marcus Thomas, Jr.
5. FS Quintin Demps, Jr.
6. LB Jeremy Jones, Sr.
7. LB Troy Collavo, Sr.
8. SS Joe Fleskoski, Sr.
9. C Robby Felix, Soph.
10. DT Zach West, Sr.
at San Diego State
at New Mexico
New Mexico State
2005 Record: 8-4
2005 predicted wins
at N Mexico St
W 44-41 2OT
New Mexico W 21-13
at Memphis L 27-20
Toledo L 45-13
For the second straight season, UTEP is
the best team in Conference USA. There's no question that Price can
coach, and the West is the far, far easier of the two divisions.
Now it's time for the turnaround to be
For all of QB Jordan Palmer's great stats, he imploded over the last few
games having a nightmare of a time with turnovers. The defense somehow
got worse as the year went on despite the emergence of several great
young stars. The special teams were among the best in the conference,
and will be again. The All-Conference USA teams should be loaded with
Miners and several have legitimate pro potential. Yes, talent won't be
The offense was too one-sided last year relying on Palmer's arm way too
much. That's not needed with the emergence of top back Marcus Thomas
(although, the team's 2005 meltdown coincided with when Thomas got hot).
The line gets three starters back, Johnnie Lee Higgins leads an explosive
receiving corps, and the defense can't help but be better with everyone
healthy on the line, one of the best safety tandems in the league in Quintin Demps and Joe Fleskoski, and a linebacking corps that could be
even better despite losing NFLer Thomas Howard. The kicking game should
In other words, there's no excuse for UTEP not to win the Conference USA
title. The program is two full seasons removed from the rock bottom days
and has to be expected to do big things. Of course, even if things go
well, November is lurking just around the corner.
Schedule: So who does UTEP play in November? Rice, at UAB, at
Marshall and Memphis. That's not an easy road, but
Rice is the only game against a West Division foe. The big battles
against Tulsa and Houston, unfortunately, are on the road within six
days of each other. On the plus side, at least for you trend freaks,
those are the last two games in October. There's a nice stretch of four
games in five weeks early on with what has to be seen as the soft part
of the schedule playing New Mexico State, SMU, and Tulane before dealing
with Houston. Texas Tech comes to El Paso for what should be a fun
Senior QB Jordan Palmer. For all his faults and all his interceptions,
he's going to put the UTEP passing records into the stratosphere. He
already owns most of the top marks with 7,489 yards and 62 touchdowns.
Now he'll put them out of reach. More importantly, he has to be a
consistent leader who plays well enough to take his team to a title.
Defensive Player: Senior DE Alex Obomese. The 245-pound senior
projects as a linebacker at the next level with the speed to be an
effective pass rusher and the strength to handle himself well against
the run. He has to handle all the pressure of being a marked man this
season by every opposing blocking scheme.
to a successful season: Palmer. He has the ability to
single-handedly carry the offense. When he's on, the offense can hang
with just about anyone in a shootout. But when he's off, like he was
against Toledo completing 14 of 33 passes, things can get really ugly.
will be a success if ... UTEP wins the Conference USA title. Tulsa might be the league's
best team, but UTEP is hardly going to whither as the second banana
despite away games at Houston and
Tulsa as part of a stretch of four conference road trips in five weeks.
Oct. 21 at Houston. The Cougars have as much firepower as the Miners
with a veteran quarterback of its own in Kevin Kolb. The winner of this
game will have the upper hand in the West Division race with UTEP
getting to face Tulsa on national TV six days later.
- UTEP scoring by quarter: 1st 94, 2nd 92, 3rd 94, 4th 92
- Turnovers: UTEP 34 - Opponents 24
- Interception return average: UTEP 20.4 yards per return (14
interceptions) - Opponents 10.1 yards per return (20 interceptions)
The Last Time
…played in a bowl game…2005 (GMAC Bowl v. Toledo)
…missed a bowl game…2003
…pitched a shutout…2005 (Texas Southern)
…was shutout…2003 (San Diego State)
…scored 50 points…2004 (SMU)
…won a conference title…2000 (share, WAC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2005 (Jordan Palmer)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2004 (Howard Jackson)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2000 (Lee Mays)
…had a first-round draft choice…1968 (LB Fred Carr)
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