Team: UTEP Miners
Conference: Conference USA - West
Location: Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas
2006 Record: 5-7 (3-5)
Coach: Mike Price
|9.8||@ Texas Tech|
|9.15||@ New Mexico State|
In no particular order, 5 players of interest from UTEP:
- Fred Rouse, WR, So.: Rouse originally began his playing career in Tallahassee for Florida State, but after a few indiscretions, he left the team and joined Mike Price's merry Miners. Rouse sat out last year and was injured during the spring. There's no doubting his talent and Price seems to have a knack to getting the ball to his most talented players. Depending on the how his current legal situation shakes out, Rouse could be a real boon for a UTEP offense that lost their quarterback, Jordan Palmer, and all-world wide receiver, Johnny Lee Higgins.
- Quintin Demps, FS, Sr.: If you were to check out Demps wallet, it would probably have "BMF" neatly stitched on the side, but that's because he had a tremendous season for the Miners with 67 tackles and 7, yes that's right, 7 interceptions. Demps will get quite the workout playing Tech, but considering his credentials he's probably up to the task. Demps will play on Sundays after this year, so you may want to casually keep an eye on his play throughout the upcoming year.
- Marcus Thomas, RB, Sr.: I seem to recall last year hearing that Thomas was supposed to be the running back who would be able to make the UTEP offense a little more diversified, but Thomas was just pathetic last year. Of course, it's easy to blame Thomas for the entire team's rushing woes, but Thomas didn't break the 100 yard mark the entire year and only had 5 rushing touchdowns. The offensive line was young so that's part of the problem, however, watching Thomas last year against Tech, I just kept thinking that he wasn't running very hard. Whether Thomas continues to run the ball for UTEP or if they look elsewhere (Terrell Jackson, a transfer from Oregon) the running game has got to make an improvement. Once again, it will be interesting to see if Tech can dominate a relatively weak rushing attack in their 2nd game of the season.
- Jeremy Jones, LB, Sr.: Jones started the first 2 games of the year last year and broke his leg in practice. In those 2 games he has 24 tackles and this year he's been named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List. Jones is a tackling machine and had 130 tackles in 2005 and was active behind the line of scrimmage with 14.5 tackles for a loss. As a group, UTEP's linebacking corp is pretty salty and they all have decent speed. This is going to be interesting for Captain Mike
- Lorne Sam, WR/QB, Sr.: Price has quite a conundrum on his hands here, Palmer left UTEP with almost every passing record on the books, and his replacements are less than inspiring. Sam took a number of snaps last year at quarterback (another Florida State transfer) and competed in the spring for the position, however, Sam is also one of the more talented wide receivers on the team. Sam is more of a running threat than the other quarterbacks and considering how the line played last year, it may not be such a bad idea to go ahead and put Sam behind center. Don't forget that Sam had a 41 yard touchdown throw last year so we know that he's at the very least a capable quarterback, but now Price has to make a decision as to whether or not Sam will be able to help this team as a receiver. Once again, Tech might face a very mobile quarterback, which might lend itself to some interesting foreshadowing for the for the conference games(i.e. Daniels, McGee, Reid, and Meyer).
Key Miner Statistics:
- 312.83 and 370.42: The first number is passing offense which was third in the county, a feat which will probably not repeat itself and the second number is total offense, which means that the Miners rushed for less than 60 yards a game. Pathetic.
- 394.92: Total defense for the year which was 109th in the country, it's never good when your defense gives up more yards than the offense.
- 20.00: Was 2nd in the nation in punt returns behind the golden legs of Johnny Lee Higgins.
- 133.75: Passing efficiency defense which was 84th in the nation, despite the excellent play of Demps.
- 2.08: The Miners were 63rd in the nation in sacks allowed. UTEP's offensive line was a fairly young group and they're probably only going to get better.