2008 UTEP Preview |
2008 UTEP Offense
2008 UTEP Defense |
2008 UTEP Depth
2007 UTEP Preview |
2006 CFN UTEP Preview
Head coach: Mike Price
5th year: 25-23
27th year overall: 154-145
Off. 22, Def. 21, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 20
Ten Best Miner Players
2. WR Jeff Moturi, Jr.
3. C Robby Felix, Sr.
4. PK Jose Martinez, Sr.
5. S Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith, Jr.
6. LB Adam Vincent, Sr.
7. CB Cornelius Brown, Jr.
8. RB Terrell Jackson, Sr.
9. TE Jamar Hunt. Sr.
10. LT Mike Aguayo, Jr.
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2008 Record: 0-0
Sept. 6 Texas
Sept. 13 OPEN DATE
Sept. 20 New Mexico State
Sept. 27 UCF
Oct. 4 at Southern Miss
Oct. 11 Tulane
Oct. 18 at Tulsa
Oct. 25 OPEN DATE
Nov. 1 Rice
Nov. 8 at UL Lafayette
Nov. 15 SMU
Nov. 22 at Houston
Nov. 29 at East Carolina
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2007 Record: 4-8
Sept. 1 New
Mexico W 10-6
Sept. 8 at
Texas Tech L 45-21
Sept. 29 at
SMU W 48-45 OT
Tulsa W 48-47
E Carolina L 45-42 OT
Southern Miss L 56-30
UCF L 36-20
Mike Price entering must-win territory this season?
2007 Fun Stats:
While UTEP appreciates its head coach, a third losing season in-a-row
would surely make things uncomfortable around El Paso. Price quickly
raised expectations with back-to-back eight-win seasons when he arrived,
but wasn’t able to keep the momentum going in 2006 and 2007. The Miners’
problems in close games and inability to win late in the year have
become scathing indictments of a coaching staff that needs to answer the
call in 2008. If the school has any chance of reversing the recent
decline, it’ll have to find a bunch of answers on defense and learn how
to finish strong.
While the Miner offense will move the ball, the defense will labor to
stop opponents from the FBS. Since that formula hasn’t worked in the
last two seasons, why should anyone expect different results in 2008?
The Trevor Vittatoe-to-Jeff Moturi connection will again be electric and
the running game will be fine even without Marcus Thomas, but until UTEP
proves it can make late-game stops, it’s the west Texas version of
What to watch for on offense:
Who else is going to step up at wide receiver? The pitch-and-catch combo
of Trevor Vittatoe to Jeff Moturi is already the best in Conference USA,
but even it will sputter if someone doesn’t adequately replace Lorne
Sam, Joe West, and Fred Rouse. The Miners are loaded with good athletes
at wide receiver, but not one that caught more than five passes a year
ago. The onus falls on unknowns, such as Tufick Shadrawy, Kris Adams,
and Pierce Hunter, to make opponents pay for tilting the defense in
What to watch for on defense: Osia Lewis’ new 3-3-5 scheme. Playing
to its strength, UTEP is taking a lineman off the field and replacing
him with a miner, or a hybrid of a safety and a linebacker. The Miners
just don’t attract enough stoppers up front to go with a traditional
set, opting instead for a smaller, faster D that’ll look to bring
pressure from every angle imaginable. Considering how putrid the defense
was a year, allowing 37 points a game, what’s the harm in trying
This team will be far better if …the pass defense makes even modest
improvement. It’ll be a joint venture that also includes the pass rush,
but the secondary has to make more stops at critical moments than it has
the last two years. If you participate in enough shootouts, you’re bound
to get plunked often, something UTEP knows all
too well. No matter how good the offense is, allowing 301 yards a game
through the air is a recipe for losing seasons.
The Schedule: Considering UTEP's recent problems over the second
half of the season, it's vital to get off to a hot start. Good luck with
that getting the East's two best teams, UCF and Southern Miss, along
with Texas and an odd, tougher-than-it-looks opener at Buffalo. Throw in
a mid-October road trip to Tulsa, and things could get ugly. As far as
the second half, it eases up somewhat getting Rice a week off, but there
are three road games in the final including trips to Houston and East
Carolina to close.
Best Offensive Player: Sophomore QB Trevor Vittatoe. A year ago,
the program was scratching its head over the successor to all-time
leading passer Jordan Palmer. Less than a year later, it has its
quarterback of the future. And instead of just replacing Palmer, he’s
already surpassed him in many ways, limiting his turnovers and
ratcheting up his play in close games. After throwing for 25 touchdowns
and just seven picks, the best is yet to come for Vittatoe.
Best Defensive Player: Junior S Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith. With
Quentin Demps out of eligibility and Braxton Amy out on medical leave,
Smith is poised to become the new star of the defensive backfield. A
well-rounded athlete at 6-2 and 205 pounds, he packs a punch as a run
defender and holds up well in coverage. In his first full season, he was
second to Amy with 93 tackles, adding a couple of picks and seven passes
Key player to a successful season: Sophomore miner Anthony
Morrow. The new defense was designed with Amy in mind, but he’s done for
the year with an ACL tear. That puts an immense amount of pressure on
Morrow to deliver, filling the lane on running plays and supporting a
leaky pass defense. While physically, he has the talent to make plays,
adjusting to a new position and an expanded role could take time.
The season will be a success if ... the Miners reach .500 for the
first time in three years. The program has to think in terms of small
steps, considering the state of the defense and recent trend. It’s a
pivotal season for UTEP and head coach Mike Price, who cannot afford
another campaign without tangible signs of progress.
Key game: Aug. 28 at Buffalo. What better way to clear out
the stench from last season’s 0-6 finish than by beating an improving
Bull program on the road? A crisp performance here might be just what
the Miners need to hang with Texas for a quarter or two a week later.
Plus, if UTEP has any hope of a bowl game, it must come through whenever
a winnable game is on the schedule.
- Rushing yards per game: Opponents 202.9 yards – UTEP 147.7 yards
- Punt return average: UTEP 13.6 yards – Opponents 7.9 yards
- Sacks: Opponents 24 for 238 yards – UTEP 16 for 119 yards