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CFN Take: UTEP Blown Away By Middle Tennessee
Posted Nov 30, 2013

2013 UTEP Miners Head Coach: Sean Kugler

UTEP Miners

2013 Record: 2-10
9/7 New Mexico L 30-27 OT
9/14 at New Mexico St W 42-21
9/21 UTSA L 32-13
9/28 at Colorado State L 59-42
10/5 Louisiana Tech L 38-35
10/12 Tulsa L 34-20
10/26 at Rice L 45-7
11/2 at Texas A&M L 57-7
11/9 at North Texas L 41-7
11/16 FIU W 33-10
11/23 at Tulane L 45-3
11/30 at Middle Tenn L 48-17
at Middle Tennessee 48, UTEP 17
Basically … Middle Tennessee scored the first 24 points helped by a ten-yard Jeremiah Bryson touchdown run and a 21-yard Marcus Henry scoring grab. UTEP broke up the scoring run with a three-yard Nathan Jeffery dash, but the Blue Raiders responded with a 25-yard Tavarres Jefferson on the way to a 41-7 lead, close out with a six-yard Bryson run early in the third.
- Middle Tennessee Jeremiah Bryson ran 15 times for 120 yards and two scores.
- UTEP RB Nathan Jeffery ran 20 times for 140 yards and two scores.
- Total Yards: Middle Tennessee 629 – UTEP 299
- Middle Tennessee QB Logan Kilgore completed 19-of-27 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns with a pick.

at North Texas 41, UTEP 7
Basically … North Texas destroyed UTEP with its defense, and the special teams helped out with a blocked punt for a score. Antoinne Jimmerson ran for a five-yard score, and Brandin Byrd tore off rushing scores from two and 82 yards out for a 28-0 lead, and then UTEP got on the board late in the third with a 22-yard Jordan Leslie catch. The Mean Green scored the final 13 points of the game with two field goals from Zach Paul and a 42-yard Carlos Harris touchdown catch.
- North Texas RB Brandin Byrd ran 18 times for 202 yards and two touchdowns.
- UTEP ran 42 times for 56 yards. North Texas ran 43 times for 317 yards.
- UTEP QB Mack Leftwich completed 14-of-20 passes for 128 yards with a touchdown and a pick.
- North Texas QB Derek Thompson completed 10-of-24 passes for 154 yards with a score.

at Texas A&M 57, UTEP 7
Basically … It took a little while for the Texas A&M offense to get going, but after a talking to from Johnny Manziel, the O picked up with 55 unanswered points after UTEP took a 7-2 lead on a four-yard Aaron Jones run. Manziel threw four touchdown passes including two to Travis Labhart from 44 and 17 yards out, and he ran for scores from ten and 49 yards away. Trey Williams and Tra Carson each added touchdown runs for the Aggies.
- Johnny Manziel completed 16-of-24 passes for 273 yards and four scores, and he ran seven times for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
- With Jameill Showers out with a shoulder injury, Blaire Sullivan started at quarterback for UTEP, completing 9-of-17 passes for 71 yards and three picks. He added 11 carries for 40 yards.
- A&M outgained UTEP 564 yards to 198 and 33 passing yards to 71.
- UTEP had the ball for over 36 minutes, but it turned the ball over four times. A&M only gave it up once.

Tulsa 34, at UTEP 20
Basically … Cody Green threw touchdown passes to Keevan Lucas and Thomas Roberson in the first half, and he ran for a two-yard score in the fourth as Tulsa got up early and stayed there all game. UTEP made it interesting with a 100-yard kickoff return for a score from Autrey Golden to open up the second half, and Jordan Leslie caught a 71-yard touchdown pass late in the third to pull within seven, but that was as close as it got.
- Did Tulsa ever need this. Cody Green was on, completing 14-of-17 passes for 226 yards and two scores, and Trey Watts steadied the offense with 142 yards on 27 carries. The defense came up with a terrific effort against the high-powered UTEP passing game, and while there was a lot of bending, there wasn’t much breaking. This needs to be the start of a big run for the Golden Hurricane to get the season going, but it’s not going to be easy with a road game at Tulane up next.
- UTEP couldn’t get Jamiell Showers on track. After bombing away over the last several games, he completed 12-of-30 passes for 166 yards with a touchdown and two picks. He ran well, but almost all of his big passing yards came on the 71-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Leslie. Autrey Golden proved once again that he’s a dangerous weapon who needs the ball in his hands after returning yet another kickoff for a score, but the coaching staff will have to get creative. This was a devastating loss with three road games up next and five on the road in the final six.

Louisiana Tech 38, at UTEP 35
Basically … Kenneth Dixon ran for a nine-yard touchdown to give Louisiana Tech the lead for good, and Blake Martin’s 62-yard touchdown dash helped build the lead in the first half, but it got close. The Bulldogs were up 24-7, but Jamiell Showers threw three touchdown passes including two to Jordan Leslie from 28 and 65 yards out, and he hit Craig Wenrick for a six-yard score to pull within three with just over a minute to play. Tech recovered the onside kick and survived.
- With the team sputtering and the offense inconsistent, Louisiana Tech turned to Kenneth Dixon. Underutilized early on this year, he ran 25 times for 200 yards and a score to steady the attack. There’s no downfield passing game, and the offense almost blew a good early lead, but this was a big, big road win for Skip Holtz.
- Jamiell Showers couldn’t seem to break free. He ran for a score and threw for three more, but it wasn’t until the second half before he got hot. The running game wasn’t bad with Aaron Jones running for 121 yards on 18 carries, but the defense couldn’t hold up when Louisiana Tech started getting its ground game into a groove.

at Colorado State 59, UTEP 42
Basically … In a game of massive scoring runs, Colorado State held a 28-7 at halftime lead helped by two Garrett Grayson touchdown passes, and then UTEP came out of the locker room roaring. Jamiell Showers hit Jordan Leslie for a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the half and followed it up with a 48-yard scoring play to Leslie and a one-yard touchdown run to tie it. And then it was Colorado State’s turn scoring 24 straight points with Grayson running for a one-yard score and finding Rashard Higgins for a 56-yard touchdown run. Kapri Bibbs put the game away on his third rushing score of the day, but Showers made his fifth touchdown pass of the game with no time left on the clock to make the final score look a little better.
- After dealing with the Alabama defense, the Colorado State offense went crazy. Garrett Grayson threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a score, while Kapri Bibbs tore off 147 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries. The Ram attack did whatever it wanted.
- The Miner defense might have been a disaster, but the offense showed it could explode any time. There but for the grace of Johnny Manziel, Jamiell Showers would be the star of the Texas A&M offense, and he showed off some of his skills throwing for 365 yards and five scores while running for a touchdown. However, the offense went flat for long stretches, and Colorado State took advantage.
- There wasn’t much defense from either side, but Colorado State DE Shaquil Barrett destroyed the UTEP offensive front with 13 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles.
- The Miners have to find some semblance of defense in a big hurry after getting ripped apart in three of the first four games. The offense is there, but it doesn’t matter if the D can’t come up with any meaningful stops. Louisiana Tech and Tulsa are up next.

UTSA 32, at UTEP 13
Basically … UTSA started out the scoring with a 29-yard touchdown run and overcame an ensuing kickoff for a score from Autry Golden and a 10-7 deficit with a 18-point second quarter to take the lead for good. Eric Soza threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Cole Hubble, and Kam Jones added a 28-yard touchdown run. UTEP’s offense didn’t get in the end zone, settling for two short field goals from Jay Mattox.
- The UTSA defense was brilliant. LB Drew Douglas led the way with 12 tackles, and while there wasn’t any real pass rush, the secondary held up well. Every time the defense needed a key stop, it got it.
- Jamiell Showers couldn’t move the offense. The UTEP quarterback completed 17-of-31 passes for 119 yards, but none of his plays worked deep and he didn’t come through on two fourth down plays. UTEP just couldn’t find anything that worked.
- This is how it was supposed to work for UTSA. Eric Soza didn’t have to do much except hit the easy throws, completing 18-of-24 passes for 204 yards and a score. He spread the ball around perfectly connecting with 12 different receivers.
- The UTEP defense was fine. It didn’t come up with any game-changing plays, and it didn’t do enough to disrupt the midrange passing game, but it wasn’t at fault. The Miner offense went nowhere.

UTEP 42, at New Mexico State 21, Sept. 14
Basically … With the game tied at 21 after a 72-yard Brandon Betancourt touchdown catch for NMSU, UTEP scored 21 unanswered points with LaQuintus Dowell 54-yard dash and Darrin Laufasa scoring dashes from 17 and 45 yards out. NMSU scored on three big pass plays, but four turnovers were disastrous with UTEP’s Dashone Smith picking off two throws.
- UTEP controlled everything with a great offensive balance, holding on to the ball for almost 42 minutes. Former Texas A&M QB Jamiel Showers was terrific, completing 18-of-28 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown, but it was a total team effort with big run after big run and enough key pass plays to blow up in the second half.
- On the downside, the NMSU defense couldn’t get off the field. However, the stats were impressive. Clint Barnard came up with 20 tackles and Davis Cazares made 16 stops with a forced fumble.
- Where was the UTEP secondary? New Mexico State threw for 299 yards and bombed away with massive quick strikes. UTEP might have controlled the clock, but the corners let the Aggies get deep way too easily.
- The Aggies quarterbacks can ball. Still working with the two-QB experiment, Andrew McDonald hit 7-of-11 passes for 156 yards and two scores with a pick, while King Davis III completed 7-of-14 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown, and he ran for 31 yards.

New Mexico 42 at UTEP 35, Sept. 7
Basically … New Mexico and UTEP battled into overtime in El Paso, with the Lobos enduring on a 21-yard run from RB Kasey Carrier. It was the fourth touchdown run of the game for Carrier, who delivered a record-setting evening for the visitors.
- Carrier rushed for 291 yards on 41 carries, gashing an overmatched UTEP defense. As a team, the Lobos went for 395 yards and six touchdowns on the ground, completely wearing down the Miners on a hot night.
- Jameill Showers was mediocre in his debut as the UTEP starting quarterback. The Texas A&M transfer completed 15-of-20 throws for only 119 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for a score.
- True freshman RB Aaron Jones was a pleasant surprise for the UTEP offense. In a possible harbinger of things to come, the local recruit raced for a team-high 127 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries.
- Not only did the Lobos win on the road for head coach Bob Davie, but they did so without injured starting QB Cole Gautsche. JUCO transfer Clayton Mitchem stepped in, limited his mistakes and allowed the backs to do the rest.

Spring Analysis

Why To Get Excited … the program has parted ways with Mike Price … finally. It took seven losing seasons for UTEP to move in a new direction, dipping into the alumni base to hire former assistant and offensive lineman Sean Kugler. Kugler brings much-needed youth and enthusiasm to El Paso, as well as a reputation for elevating the performance of his players. The Miners need plenty of elevation to become a factor again in Conference USA.

Why To Be Grouchy … Kugler and the new staff inherit a very weak roster, one sorely lacking in star power. The lone Miner to earn more than honorable mention All-C-USA, P Ian Campbell, has graduated, and a new quarterback has to be developed. The perennially soft defense yielded at least 31 points in five of the final six games of 2012, and eight starters from that unit have since exhausted their eligibility.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … somehow ratcheting up the pass rush. If the Miners have a prayer of compensating for a secondary being rebuilt from the ground up, it’ll have to create more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. UTEP typically houses small and fast athletes that Kugler will want to employ on well-timed blitzes. The onus will be on linemen, such as Horace Miller, Germard Reed and James Davidson, to make life just a little easier on the neophyte back seven.

Non-Conference Games: New Mexico, at New Mexico State, at Colorado State, at Texas A&M
Games Against the East: FIU, at Middle Tennessee
Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Worst Case Record: 4-8
Likely Finish: 6-6

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: New Mexico, at New Mexico State, UTSA, at North Texas, FIU, at Middle Tennessee

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Colorado State, Louisiana Tech, Tulsa, at Rice, at Texas A&M, at Tulane

Schedule Analysis: It’s a new era for the Miners and it could start out with a bang getting New Mexico at home and going on the road to face New Mexico State. With the Conference USA opener against UTSA to follow, a 3-0 start is more than likely before going to Colorado State. And then comes the payback with a brutal stretch of Louisiana Tech, Tulsa and road games against Rice, Texas A&M and North Texas. While there’s a week off before facing the Owls, five of the final six games are on the road closing out at Tulane and Middle Tennessee.

Team Concerns For 2013: New head coach Sean Kugler is in charge of trying to crank up a defense that couldn't make enough plays behind the line and an offense that had problems putting points on the board. The O was able to move the ball a bit with a nice passing game, but not enough drives finished well. The D finished last in the league in tackles for loss, but all four starters are back on the defensive front.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... 2014. It's a small class for Sean Kugler to deal with after a few years of loading up on bodies under Mike Price. Quarterback Mark Leftwich is an interesting option, but he'll likely have to wait in line with the 2011 class of passers maturing. JUCO transfer Nick Gathrite will try to produce for the passing game right away as a key receiver, while JUCOer Jameel Erving and freshman Jaylon Scott will bring the most immediate help at corner.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 84. That Class Was Heavy On ... The Miners have loaded up for the passing game over the past few classes, but the defense needs to finally be addressed a bit more with a talent upgrade. Mike Price went after linemen in 2009, and he’s going to do it again with prospects mostly for the defensive interior. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 99. That Class Was Heavy On ... Quarterbacks. And the replacement for Trevor Vittatoe is … ? There’s hope from the JUCO ranks with the lightning fast Antavius Sims and Nick Lamaison looking to step in and start right away, while 6-4 Blaire Sullivan was brought in to develop for the future. The defense got some instant help with Josh Fely a ready-made JUCO middle linebacker and Zoey Williams a shutdown corner who could see time as a true freshman.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 77. That Class Was Heavy On ... Receivers. The Miners have needed to work on improving the defense for the last several seasons and came up with a big class of defenders last season. The D was hardly ignored this year, especially on the line, but the talent is at receiver eight very big, very interesting prospects signed including Jordan Leslie, Darius Tubbs, and Devin Patterson. These three will be the key to the Miner passing game sooner than later.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 100. That Class Was Heavy On ... defensive linemen. In an attempt to beef up one of the perennially weakest defenses in the country, the Miners are bringing in a couple of speedy rush ends and a tackle with considerable upside. At 6-5 and 250 pounds, Adam Ayala can snap off a sub-5.00 in the forty. If he can add some muscle without losing a step, he has a chance to be an impact player on this defense.

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