Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cincinnati Bearcats 2017: Reviewing the Preview


Cincinnati Bearcats

Final Overview
The schedule does not set up well for a successful first season for Luke Fickell and staff, and the roster needs some help as well. Tommy Tuberville really screwed this place up during his tenure, and so we are looking at a complete reset.
The schedule is fairly brutal for the most part, including three straight road trips in the first half of the season. I would place the over/under for wins at around four, but I would bet on the lower end of that for 2017.

What Really Happened
I pegged Cincinnati for a high end four wins, and they won four games. I had them pegged for a 4th place finish in the AAC East, and they finished in a three way tie for fourth. Win and win. 
The only team that the Bearcats beat that finished with a winning record was Austin Peay, and they are an FCS program. It was an initial reset at 4-8, and there is still a great deal of work to be done by Luke Fickell and staff. That stretch of three straight road games early in the season resulted in a 1-2 mark during that road trip, with the lone win being a 21-17 win over Miami (Ohio).

Temple Owls 2017: Reviewing the Preview


Temple Owls

Final Overview:
It's going to be an interesting go in year one of the Geoff Collins era for the Owls. First thing he will have to do is find a new QB to replace Phillip Walker, and that will not be easy. He also has to replace Dion Dawkins on the line, making matters more difficult.
The defense may have some issues on the edge and in the middle, as both DEs and all three LBs need to be replaced, and losing Hairston at CB is another major hole to fill.
The schedule is not kind late, but it is not impossible, so the win/loss total should be set right around six for the Owls in 2017.

What Really Happened
I had Temple pegged for six wins and a third place finish in the AAC East. Win and win. Temple finished 6-6, and was slotted exactly third in the division. Replacing Phillip Walker was a tough go all season long, as both Logan Marchi and Frank Nutile struggled to gain any consistency throughout the year, as they combined for 20 TD passes and 15 INTs. The Owls allowed 19 sacks, but that was actually an improvement over 2016 by 10. Temple did struggle defensively against the run, which would have been affected by the DE and LB woes I spoke of, as they allowed over 50 yards more rushing per game in 2017 over 2016. They also allowed over 200 yards passing per game, when in 2016, thy held teams to approximately 150 yards passing per game. The Owls finished strong at 3-1, but were just 3-3 over the final half of the season overall. 

UCF Knights 2017: Reviewing the Preview


UCF Knights

Final Overview
The Knights have enough on offense to carry this team if a running game can be found, and some decent receivers present themselves out of this crop. The line should be more than good enough to get the work done in the trenches, and they have a solid kicker as well.
The real issue here will be on defense, where the entire back seven must be rebuilt, save Griffin. If that project cannot get off the ground in the early part of camp and the season, my projections could all be moot. Defense and the run game will be the most major areas of concern here, as is the schedule from 10/7 through 11/14, where the Knights play three road games in four weeks.

What really happened
Not only was that back seven not a concern, UCF had one of the better defenses n the AAC, allowing just 25 points per game, and most of that number was brought upwards by season ending shootout wins against both USF and Memphis. All in all, UCF had one of the greatest turnarounds in two short seasons of any program in history. The Knights, who were 0-12 just two years ago, finished 12-0, and are a NY6 participant, a spot I had reserved for USF, not UCF. At least I had the conference for that spot correct. UCF was projected to finish 2nd in the AAC East in my projection, but they finished first and won the conference championship, leading Scott Frost to take the bigger job at Nebraska after the AAC title game. 

USF Bulls 2017: Reviewing the Preview

When projecting an upcoming season, many publications or individuals fail to go back and see how they did in projecting the season once all is done. We are still heading into bowl season, but it is safe to look back at this point, and see how I did in projecting the conference races last summer. First, we take a look at my AAC projections for 2017. You will first see my final assessment of my preview, followed by an explanation of what actually happened during the season. Here we go!


USF Bulls

Final Overview
USF, in my eyes, is in the best position of any G5 school in 2017 to break into the NY6 bowl lineup. The talent level is loaded, and USF is the absolute favorite to win the AAC. Of course, Houston was in a similar position last fall, and failed, but the Bulls are not dealing with a coach who may or may not be leaving any minute as they begin the Charlie Strong era. The hiring of Strong to replace Willie Taggart was a major move for the Bulls, and the needle is pointing straight up. USF looks like an easy 10 or 11 game winner this fall, and could be favored in all 12 games on the schedule.

What really happened
I was not too far off. USF finished second in the AAC East to UCF, so I was one spot off. USF was favored in every game they played in 2017, up until the season finale, when they were a seven point dog to the Knights. Charlie Strong did indeed stick around for year two heading into 2018, so there will be no late distraction there. The only thing stopping the Bulls from my projected double digit win total was a cancelled game against U Mass that led to rescheduling U Conn due to a hurricane, otherwise, we would have been close to calling this one an overall win. 

2017 FBS Conference Power Rankings

Here are the final regular season Conference Power Rankings for FBS football for the 2017 season, based on our PRS Rankings, which are released weekly. We will be readjusting these rankings for bowl season after the national title game has been played. One thing to note is that for the first time in the 13 year history of the PRS rankings, no one conference finished with a negative average for the season!

1. SEC  648.29
2. PAC-12  604.92
3. Big 12 514.6
4. Big 10 506.93
5. ACC 498.29
6. Independents 292.75
7. American 280.92
8. MAC 129
9. Mountain West 64.42
10. Conference USA 55.36
11. Sun Belt 6.92

William Bilo Defensive Player of the Year FBS, FCS, D2 Quarter Finalists

With awards season upon us, we now introduce our first William Bilo Defensive Player of the Year Awards for FBS, FCS, and Division 2 college football. Here are our quarter finalists for each level:

FBS
Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois
Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State
Ja'Von Rolland-Jones, Arkansas State
Matt Boesen, TCU
Joe Dineen, Jr., Kansas
Gerard Avery, Memphis
Roquan Smith, Georgia
Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
Josh Jackson, Iowa
Darious Williams, UAB
Mark Gilbert, Duke
Jalen Davis, Utah State

FCS
Jonathon Peterson, San Diego
Darius Jackson, Jacksonville State
PJ Hall, Sam Houston State
Chris Terrell, Central Arkansas
Jalyn Williams, Prairie View
Rico Kennedy, Morgan State
Matt Uplinger, Yale
Garrett Dolan, Houston Baptist
Mike Basile, Monmouth
Phillip Parham, Lafayette
Jordan Brown, James Madison
Dylan Mabin, Fordham

Division 2
Marcus Martin, Slippery Rock
John Cominsky, Charleston
Kahzin Daniels, Charleston
Jalen Nelson, Charleston
Jake Klinger, Bloomsburg
Brandon Lynch, Virginia State
Dennis Gardeck, Sioux Falls
Garrett Jackson, Adams State
Cory Roberts, Glenville State
Zuril Heldrick, Edinboro
Andrew Benson, Assumption
JR Stevens, Indiana (PA)

Semifinalists will be announced this Friday for both our John Conlon Offensive Players of the Year, and for the William Bilo Defensive Players of the Year!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

As the Coaching Carousel Turns: Volume 8, Oregon Spinning and Other Fun Stuff

Once again, it has been one hell of a week on the coaching carousel. As quick and seamless most searches were the first week or so, things have gotten much more murky at this point for several jobs that have been opened or filled. Here is what we know now:

Oregon
I will start with the most recent opening, that being at Oregon, where Willie Taggart, after much wheeling and dealing, finally decided on a move and left for his "dream job" at Florida State. Of course, when it comes to Taggart, every job has been his "dream job", so take it all in with a massive grain of salt. The reality is that Taggart was not exactly forthcoming, as much as he claims to be, about the entire process, up to and including when he and Rob Mullen first started to converse on the topic. Taggart also took a donor's private plane on a recruiting trip to Phoenix to see a recruit, and turned it into a business meeting with Florida State reps, which is about as classless as it gets.
Here are the current candidates (real or not), and my take on which ones make sense, and which do not:

Mario Cristobal, Oregon OC and Interim Coach
Cristobal was fired at FIU as head coach there for ridiculously mysterious reasons, and it was a huge mistake that the Panther program still has not entirely recovered from. He then went on to work for Nick Saban at Alabama, signing on for the Master Class, before moving on to work under Taggart at Oregon. He has tremendous support from the administration and from the locker room, so I would say that this candidacy has solid footing.

Jim Leavitt, Oregon DC
There may be a few issues here. Leavitt was perfectly content to follow Taggart out of Eugene as the DC at Florida State before realizing that he could be a candidate at Oregon. If I were the administration, and AD Rob Mullens, I would hold that memory dear. He has support, but not like Cristobal.

Greg Schiano, Ohio State DC
Schiano may still be in shell shock from the debacle at Tennessee, and he still may very well be considering his legal options there. That said, Schiano was interviewed last season for this job, and if he is interested, they would still like to have a conversation or two with him. That said, after the Knoxville experience, I see him going back to Ohio State.

Matt Ruhle, Baylor
He was interviewed last season, and was considered a strong candidate before landing at Baylor to clean up the mother mess of all messes in Waco. He signed a seven year deal there, so I would say his candidacy is a long shot, at best.

PJ Fleck, Minnesota
Again, Fleck interviewed for the job last year, and lost out to Taggart. Offensively, I am not certain that his philosophy meshes well with the Oregon roster, but things can change. He also just signed a two year extension with the Gophers, so again, this looks long shot to me.

Jim McElwain, Fired at Florida
Some have told me that McElwain was the guy that Oregon really wanted last year when they hired Taggart, but he refused and returned to the Gators, where that relationship imploded this year. He still could be considered, as he had strong backing for the job last year. Still, the way he spurned them then, followed by getting canned by Florida is not a great look. I still give this an average chance of happening.

Justin Wilcox, California
Wilcox has strong family ties in Eugene and with the Ducks. It is very rare to have a coach leave one PAC-12 school for another, so that could be an issue. Wilcox did a solid job at Cal this season, and would be viewed as many as a no brainer choice for the job, but would he bail on Cal now, to coach a rival in the same division of the same conference? I say this is an average shot, but less likely in reality.

Kevin Sumlin, Fired at Texas A&M
Sumlin makes a ton of sense for the Ducks, as his offensive philosophy would fit perfectly with what the Ducks like to do. He was the initial name attached to this job when rumors began circling around Taggart, and he was neck deep in the UCF job search, before suddenly pulling out. Sumlin to Oregon makes perfect sense in every way here, so I would stamp his candidacy as high level.

Jeff Tedford, Fresno State
Tedford has ties to Oregon as well, and nobody can deny what he pulled off in one season at Fresno State. The issue here would be his overall age, first of all, and his desire to get this job, and then his final days at Cal need to be examined before any power school would reach out to him again. I say this has an average to high chance.

Mike Leach, Washington State
There is virtually zero chance of this happening, and would be a basic pipe dream. While there has been talk of Leach leaving Pullman after Bill Moos left for Nebraska, this move would even be zany by Leach standards.

Bryan Harsin, Boise State
Harsin was really into this job last year, and did indeed interview for it. He could be the dark horse of the group, but would they make this move right before Oregon/Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl? That could add some saltiness to the mess.

Neal Brown, Troy
A severe outside shot guy who could be waiting for his chance in the SEC. His philosophy fits, but he has never been a west coast guy.

Jason Candle, Toledo
He was really invested in the UCF search that ended up going to Josh Heupel. He could be a very interesting fit here.

Mike Norvell, Memphis
Memphis just locked him down with a nice contract extension, but with PAC-12 ties at Arizona State, Oregon would be wise to reach out anyway.

Lane Kiffin, FAU
Extensive PAC-12 experience, and after his Nick Saban studies, blew up at FAU. This could be crazy, but just crazy enough to work.

More on this job as news starts becoming available...

SMU
With Chad Morris off to Arkansas, it's time now to look at who could be in play at SMU. Morris is looking to take a ton of his current staff with him to the Razorbacks, so let us examine who could fit with the Mustangs...

Jeff Traylor, SMU Interim Coach
Traylor will get an audition for the full time job as he coaches the Mustangs in the Frisco Bowl this month. As part of the current staff, he could be a choice for continuity.

Todd Graham, Fired at Arizona State
Has strong ties to the region, and coached at Rice, where he won enough to move on before David Bailiff derailed the program. Graham is off finishing second in the PAC-12, and at 7-5, was still fired in one of the more bizarre moves this year.

Seth Litrell, North Texas
Did a solid job as OC at North Carolina before moving on to resurrect success at North Texas. He won the CUSA West this season, and a move to SMU would be a huge boost in both money and resources. His Texas ties are rock solid.

Other early names could end up being Neal Brown of Troy, Blake Anderson of Arkansas State, Colby Carthel of Texas A&M Commerce, Willie Simmons of Prairie View, or Steve Campbell at Central Arkansas.
If SMU wants a big splash, they could work on Clemson's Brent Venables, as they also hired Morris away from the Tigers staff.

Kent State
The last word on this job was that Bob Nielson was being honed in on as a front runner for this job. Neilson is the current coach at South Dakota, where his team just lost to Sam Houston State in the FCS playoffs. He had previously coached at Western Illinois. Over the last 72 hours, there has been nothing at all on this job, other than Nielson saying that he is still the head coach at South Dakota.

UL-Lafayette
Brent Pry (DC Penn State), Matt Canada (OC, LSU), and Doug Nussmeier are the latest names out of the Ragin' Cajuns hunt, and this job has been a popular one at that. Look for Lance Guidry of McNeese State to be in on this as well. Expect other names that are involved at other schools to get in on this as well, like Steve Campbell of Central Arkansas, Willie Simmons of Prairie View, and Colby Carthel of Texas A&M Commerce. This will take some time to sort through.

South Alabama
The two primary players at USA appear to be Will Healy of Austin Peay, who would be the youngest coach in FBS football at 32 years old, and Chip Lindsey, the OC at Auburn. I would expect these two names to be the finalists in Mobile.

Tennessee
It would appear the Phil Fulmer has settled on a trio of finalists that would be very non-Gruden like for the Tennessee fan base. He is looking at Georgia DC Mel Tucker, Alabama DC Josh Pruitt, and Auburn DC Kevin Steele. These appear to be the finalists, but remember that Pruitt was telling people that he had intended on taking the Mississippi State job that ended up going to Joe Moorhead. Stay tuned.

UTEP
It would appear that KC Keeler of Sam Houston State is still the number one candidate, but Sam Houston State is still right in the thick of an FCS title hunt, so until the Bearkats are eliminated, stay tuned.

More news later!


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

John Conlon National Offensive Player of the Year: FBS 2017

If you have been reading this blog for any period of time, you know that this is the time of year where I start naming my annual All-Bilo teams. That will still be happening in the days ahead. Today, it is my pleasure to name the quarter finalists for a brand new award, the John Conlon National FBS Offensive Player of the Year. Here are my selections for quarter finalists:

Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
McKenzie Milton, UCF
Drew Lock, Missouri
Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Jonathon Taylor, Wisconsin
Devin Singletary, Florida Atlantic
James Washington, Oklahoma State
Anthony Miller, Memphis
Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
Diontae Johnson, Toledo

Here are my quarter finalists for the John Conlon National FCS Offensive Player of the Year Award:

Jeremiah Briscoe, Sam Houston State
Chris Streveler, South Dakota
Devlin Hodges, Samford
Taryn Christion, South Dakota State
Dominick Bragalone, Lehigh
De'Lance Turner, Alcorn State
Ryan Fulse, Wagner
Zane Dudek, Yale
Nathan Stewart, Sam Houston State
Jaelon Acklin, Western Illinois
Jesper Horsted, Princeton
Davion Davis, Sam Houston State

And finally, here are my quarter finalists for the John Conlon D2 Offensive Player of the Year Award:

Luis Perez, Texas A&M Commerce
Connor Jessup, Shepherd
Tanner Garry, Slippery Rock
Amir Hall, Bowie State
Marc Jones, Gannon
Robert Chesson, Bowie State
Walter Fletcher, Edinboro
Trenton Cannon, Virginia State
Austin Ryan, Bentley
Jalen Tolliver, Arkansas-Monticello
Weston Carr, Azusa Pacific
Marcus Johnson, Slippery Rock

Stay tuned tomorrow, as I introduce our William Bilo Defensive Player of the Year Quarter Finalists!

In Review: 2017 Charlotte 49ers (#127)



What Went Wrong
This incredibly young football program is still paining to gain any traction in FBS football. I still wonder aloud why this program is playing FBS football at all, especially when the Power Five and ESPN has so much sway over things that G5 football is largely becoming more of an afterthought than ever.
Brad Lambert was thought to be on his way out the door as head coach at the end of the season, but he made some staff changes, and will be given one more season to work it all out.
The passing game for the 49ers was a mess. They averaged just 136.9 yards passing per game, and a QBR of just 91.35 as a football team. Not great. Hasaan Klugh's QBR was marginally hire than the team average at just over 96, but he tossed 13 INTs to just 10 TD passes. No single receiver caught more than 31 passes, and a deep threat was merely a dream.
The 49ers defense really fell off as well, as they picked up just 50 TFLs this season, while allowing 78, and that is a sizable gap. The defensive unit also only picked up 11 sacks all season as well, while the offense allowed 22.
The secondary was a hot mess as well, picking off just two passes all season, while allowing 248.8 yards passing per game, and the defense as a while allowed 205.83 yards rushing per game. Charlotte rushed for just 13 TDs on the year, but allowed 26 rushing TDs, and also allowed 18 passing TDs against their almost non-existent two team INTs. Not one player defended more than five passes as well on the season.
The field goal unit was also abysmal, hitting just 4/13 FGs all season long. Three different kickers attempted FGs, all with negative results.

What Went Right
It certainly was not in fan support, as Charlotte never drew as many as 20,000 fans to a single home game all season. The lone win all season did, however, come against a resurgent UAB football team, and that was the bright spot.
As bad as the offense was, the 49ers still rushed for over 166 yards per game, with Klugh providing most of the scoring with nine rushing scores. Benny LeMay and Aaron McCallister both averaged over five yards per carry.
Senior Punter Arthur Hart was rock solid as well for a guy who so much was asked of. He averaged 43.47 yards per punt on 7.1 punts per game.

What Does the Future Hold?
Lambert gets one more season to try and get this football team on the rails again, but this team fell off miserably from any progress made in 2016 after a four win season. The needle is pointing the wrong way at this point, and so the battle is all uphill.
Tough games loom at home and on the road in non con play, as the 49ers get Fordham and Appalachian State at home, while they get an improving U Mass and Tennessee on the road. I would say Lambert making it back for another go after 2018 has long odds.

In Review: 2017 Oregon State Beavers (#128)


What Went Wrong
If not for Kansas, Oregon State would have been the worst Power Five program in the nation in 2017. Gary Anderson quit on the team mid-season, because, quite frankly, he did a terrible job with this program. He bemoaned his staff's deficiencies to reporters instead of dealing with them himself, given that he is the guy who hired those staffers. He never seemed t be comfortable leading this program, and he very well may not coach for some time on any Power Five level job, if he does ever again.
On the field, the Beavers were a mess. Jake Luton gave them hope early at QB, but when he went down, Darrell Garretson could not get it done, averaging just 146.5 yards per game, and completing just 57.9% of his passes. It may have gone better, but Marcus McMaryion was chased out of the program, and transferred to Fresno State, where he ended up starting for a division winning football team. Bad decisions...
Ryan Nall, the best player on the offensive side of the football was only limited to 15 carries per game, and that was a shockingly bad decision when it came to game planning, and not one receiver caught as many as 35 passes for the season.
Defensively, the Beavers were abysmal, allowing 43 points per game. No one player finished with more than six TFLs for the season, and the Beavers finished with just 50 total TFLs. The Beavers also only finished with seven INTs for the season, while allowing 12, and no one player had more than four PBUs.
There was little help from the field goal unit either, as Jordan Choukair hit on just 12/19 FG attempts, or just 63.2%.
The punting unit was not much better. Nick Porebski and Alex Brand combined to average just 38 yards per punt on the season, which completely screwed their defense.

What Went Right
There really was only one thing that went collectively right, and that was the play of Nall. Nall rushed for 861 yards for a terrible football team, and he had a knack for the big play, but when he was the only skill player that showed up to work every single week, he literally had nothing to work with.

What Does the Future Hold?
Former Beaver QB Jonathon Smith has returned to Corvallis after working with Chris Peterson in Washington as the OC for the Huskies. His return has generated a ton of buzz for the program, but the reality is that he has not been a head coach at any level, and he has a massive mountain of doom ahead of him in trying to not rebuild this program, but build it from scratch. With Oregon right down the road, the facilities and resources still pale by comparison in Corvallis, and he is way behind the ball in recruiting. The Beavers open at Ohio State next season, but winnable games against Southern Utah and Nevada come after. One thing to remember is that Oregon State has not been great against FCS Big Sky teams as of late, so that SUU game looms larger than it should.

Monday, December 4, 2017

In Review: 2017 Kansas Jayhawks



We have already reviewed our #130 ranked team in our PRS Rankings with UTEP, and now move on to Kansas, who comes in at #129. Kansas gets the distinction of being the biggest Power 5 dumpster fire brewing in the nation once again in 2017, and the program is going absolutely nowhere with David Beaty in charge, which led to him not actually being fired, because someone in the administration just likes him so darned much. Blah, blah, blah...

What Went Wrong
It all started when David Beaty wasn't fired at the end of the 2016 season, continued on through 2017, and was told he would be back in 2018. Let me tell you now that we will be right back around this spot this time next year.
Once again, Kansas could not settle in on one QB, and played two, and neither could pass a 1:1 ratio on TDs to INTs. Peyton Bender was the best they had at 10:10, while Carter Stanley finished at 4:7.That's not turning the dial in the passing game for Kansas. Khalil Herbert probably should have been the feature back, but again, they gave a large amount of carries to three different backs, even though Hebert was the lone back that averaged over five yards per carry. Still, Beaty found it in his heart to dole out 141 carries to Taylor Martin and Dom Williams, neither of which broke the 3.5 yards per carry barrier.
Only one receiver caught more than 30 passes, and only two caught as many as 30. In total, the Jayhawks combined for 14 TD receptions as a team, while allowing 31.
Kansas had no issue with making plays behind the line on runs, but when it came to sacks, Kansas was fairly below average at pressuring QBs on passing play. Daniel Wise was the only player to finish with five or more sacks in 2017, as he finished with seven. Nobody else generated more than 2.5.
Pass defense was a mess as well when it came to generating turnovers, as Kansas managed just four INTs as a team all season. Only one player managed more than five PBUs as well.
The defense, which was not terrible every week (more on that shortly), was not given any gifts by the punting game, as the Jayhawks averaged just 39.47 yards per punt on the season.

What Went Right
When you go 1-11, it is hard to find the light at the end of the tunnel. In the case of Kansas, where the program has been down so long, it makes it even tougher.
While not great, the passing game did manage to generate some yards between the 20s, averaging 226.4 yards per game. Now, someone needs to step up and take the job, and give them some stability under center. Bender and Stanley both return. Steven Sims, Jr. needs to decide if he is coming back, but he is the default receiver to go to in that passing game, as he caught 59 passes on the season and caught six TDs. Someone needs to develop as a credible deep threat to make this passing game go.
Herbert needs to be the guy at RB moving forward as well. He ran for 663 yards, and averaged over five yards per carry.
If the line can develop on offense, all other things can start to move forward, but you cannot allow over two sacks per game and 7.67 TFLs per game and succeed on any real level.
Defensively, some improvements were evident at times, but giving up 31 TDs to just four INTs on the season makes those improvements harder to recognize. The team did improve by 62 yards per game against the run, however. Joe Dineen, Jr and Daniel Wise had terrific seasons on the whole, as did Dorance Armstrong, Jr. That group combined for 50 TFLs on the year. Hasan Defense gave them some effort as well, as he finished with nine PBUs.
The field goal unit was solid as well, as Gabriel Rui, a junior, hit 17/20 FG attempts on the season. He should return as a senior in 2018.

What Does the Future Hold?
Beaty returns in 2018, for better or for worse. Kansas has the revenue and resources to do better than what they have done under him, and so better options should be out there, but Kansas has to prove that they want all in on football, and that they are no longer satisfied with being a basketball school. There are some decent pieces coming back next fall, and there should be opportunities to improve. A 4-8 season next year would be reason to celebrate. The non con schedule is manageable with games against Nicholls State, Central Michigan, and Rutgers. The Jayhawks just have to go get those wins.

In Review: 2017 UTEP Miners




When you are the lone winless team in the nation, playing in the Conference USA West Division, no less, things obviously went wrong in every way. Sean Kugler, who was largely thought to be on the hot seat entering the season, never made it past the midway point of the year, and resigned. Here's a look at what went wrong, a look at anything that can be derived as right, and what the future seems to hold for UTEP football...

What Went Wrong
Everything. Sean Kugler, who two years ago had UTEP heading in an upward trajectory with Aaron Jones at RB, never could find the key to the formula to keep things moving up after Jones left early for the Green Bay Packers. The run game was a point of negative emphasis, as the Miners averaged just over 95 yards rushing per game this season, and freshman Joshua Fields led the team with just 362 yards on the season. As a team, the Miners rushed for just 3.32 yards per carry, and scored just eight rushing TDs on the year. If you were expecting anything better from the passing game, well, that was a disappointment for you as well, as the MIners averaged just 134 yards passing per gameand as a team, threw just seven TD passes to 14 INTs. Miners QBs completed just 45.5% of their passes, and the offense scored over 20 points just twice all season, and averaged just 11.8 points per game.
Defensively, the Miners allowed 36.8 points per game. It could have been much worse, but it wasn't a stellar year there either. Teams rushed for 234 yards per game against UTEP, and only Alvin Jones seemed to be able to get into backfields to make plays, as he finished with 10.5 TFLs. Nobody else finished with more than 4.5. The UTEP defense generated just 0.92 sacks per game, while they allowed 2.08. UTEP also only generated six INTs all season, while allowing 14.
ooking for help from your field goal unit? Yeah, same story, as the Miners connected on just 3/7 FG attempts all season long.
Attendance also tanked, as the Miners drew over 20,000 for a home game just twice all season long, against Arizona and against Western Kentucky. Only 16,597 fans showed up for the home finale against Louisiana Tech, but that beats the 11,411 people that caught them on the road against Middle Tennessee.

What Went Right
Very few things were areas of brightness. Punter Alan Luna was a busy guy, punting 6.6 times per game, and averaged over 44 yards per attempts. You have to start somewhere, but he is a senior, and will need replacing next fall. Fields and Quardez Wadley showed some promise in small doses, and could use a bump from a new coaching staff and scheme to make the most of their talents in the run game. Kalon Beverly and Nik Needham, both of which should be seniors next fall, were both decent in pass defense, combining for 16 PBUs.

What Does the Future Hold? 
Finding a coach is the top priority at this moment for the Miners. Mike Price came in as the interim, but had little effect on the program, and will not stick around for the full time gig. As of this moment, Sam Houston State coach KC Keeler is the front runner, but no deal has been done yet.
The schedule should not be terrible out of conference next fall, as UTEP has non con games against UNLV, Northern Arizona, and New Mexico State, which all represent opportunities for wins, but this program has to start building from rock bottom, as that is where they have currently reached.

Final Regular Season FBS PRS Rankings

Sunday, December 3, 2017
Rank Points Team Record Opponent
1 2793 Oklahoma  12-1 Def. Texas Christian 41-17
2 2711 Central Florida  12-0 Def. Memphis 62-55 2 OT's
3 2607 Wisconsin  12-1 Lost to Ohio State 27-21
4 2484 Georgia  12-1 Def. Auburn 28-7
5 2443 Clemson  12-1 Def. Miami (FL) 38-3
6 2395 Ohio State  11-2 Def. Wisconsin 27-21
7 2294 Alabama  11-1 Regular Season Over
8 2162 Penn State  10-2 Regular Season Over
9 2106 Southern California  11-2 Def. Stanford 31-28
10 2038 Toledo  11-2 Def. Akron 45-28
11 1899 Memphis  10-2 Lost to Central Florida 62-55 2 OT's
12T 1849 Oklahoma State  9-3 Regular Season Over
12T 1849 Washington  10-2 Regular Season Over
14 1792 Boise State  10-3 Def. Fresno State 17-14
15 1776 Florida Atlantic  10-3 Def. North Texas 41-17
16 1726 Troy  10-2 Def. Arkansas State 32-25
17 1695 Auburn  10-3 Lost to Georgia 28-7
18 1674 Texas Christian  10-3 Lost to Oklahoma 41-17
19 1671 San Diego State  10-2 Regular Season Over
20 1628 Miami (FL)  10-2 Lost to Clemson 38-3
21 1613 South Florida  9-2 Regular Season Over
22 1586 Notre Dame  9-3 Regular Season Over
23 1474 Northwestern  9-3 Regular Season Over
24 1453 Stanford  9-4 Lost to Southern California 31-28
25 1401 Virginia Tech  9-3 Regular Season Over
26 1343 Michigan State  9-3 Regular Season Over
27 1304 Louisiana State  9-3 Regular Season Over
28 1280 Washington State  9-3 Regular Season Over
29 1188 North Texas  9-4 Lost to Florida Atlantic 41-17
30 1154 Fresno State  9-4 Lost to Boise State 17-14
31 1116 Ohio  8-4 Regular Season Over
32 1106 Louisville  8-4 Regular Season Over
33 1099 Michigan  8-4 Regular Season Over
34 1085 Appalachian State  8-4 Def. Louisiana-Lafayette 63-14
35 1034 Army  8-3 Bye
36 1014 Central Michigan  8-4 Regular Season Over
37 986 Northern Illinois  8-4 Regular Season Over
38 961 Southern Mississippi  8-4 Regular Season Over
39 940 North Carolina State  8-4 Regular Season Over
40 926 Mississippi State  8-4 Regular Season Over
41 880 Alabama-Birmingham  8-4 Regular Season Over
42 876 Arkansas State  7-4 Lost to Troy 32-25
43 801 Florida International  8-4 Def. Massachusetts 63-45
44 797 South Carolina  8-4 Regular Season Over
45 791 Iowa  7-5 Regular Season Over
46 783 Arizona  7-5 Regular Season Over
47 751 Marshall  7-5 Regular Season Over
48T 691 Arizona State  7-5 Regular Season Over
48T 691 Missouri  7-5 Regular Season Over
50 656 Boston College  7-5 Regular Season Over
51 644 Colorado State  7-5 Regular Season Over
52 641 Wake Forest  7-5 Regular Season Over
53 632 West Virginia  7-5 Regular Season Over
54 630 Southern Methodist  7-5 Regular Season Over
55 624 Iowa State  7-5 Regular Season Over
56 564 Oregon  7-5 Regular Season Over
57 555 Kansas State  7-5 Regular Season Over
58 547 Navy  6-5 Bye
59 515 Houston  7-4 Regular Season Over
60 478 Texas A&M  7-5 Regular Season Over
61 458 Kentucky  7-5 Regular Season Over
62 445 Wyoming  7-5 Regular Season Over
63 440 Texas  6-6 Regular Season Over
64 391 New Mexico State  6-6 Def. South Alabama 22-17
65 330 Texas-San Antonio  6-5 Regular Season Over
66 319 UCLA  6-6 Regular Season Over
67 267 Western Michigan  6-6 Regular Season Over
68 254 Georgia State  6-5 Lost to Idaho 24-10
69 237 Texas Tech  6-6 Regular Season Over
70 234 Akron  7-6 Lost to Toledo 45-28
71 219 Utah State  6-6 Regular Season Over
72T 203 Buffalo  6-6 Regular Season Over
72T 203 Middle Tennessee State  6-6 Regular Season Over
74 200 Florida State  6-6 Def. Louisiana-Monroe 42-10
75 184 Utah  6-6 Regular Season Over
76 128 Mississippi  6-6 Regular Season Over
77 125 Western Kentucky  6-6 Regular Season Over
78 109 Duke  6-6 Regular Season Over
79 96 Eastern Michigan  5-7 Regular Season Over
80 68 Louisiana Tech  6-6 Regular Season Over
81 48 Temple  6-6 Regular Season Over
82 24 Virginia  6-6 Regular Season Over
83 -22 Purdue  6-6 Regular Season Over
84 -61 Georgia Tech  5-6 Regular Season Over
85 -143 Air Force  5-7 Regular Season Over
86 -144 Minnesota  5-7 Regular Season Over
87 -187 Indiana  5-7 Regular Season Over
88 -189 Nevada-Las Vegas  5-7 Regular Season Over
89 -195 Colorado  5-7 Regular Season Over
90 -210 California  5-7 Regular Season Over
91 -233 Tulane  5-7 Regular Season Over
92 -234 Miami (OH)  5-7 Regular Season Over
93 -255 Louisiana-Lafayette  5-7 Lost to Appalachian State 63-14
94 -307 Vanderbilt  5-7 Regular Season Over
95 -364 Florida  4-7 Regular Season Over
96 -373 Pittsburgh  5-7 Regular Season Over
97 -378 Louisiana-Monroe  4-8 Lost to Florida State 42-10
98 -465 Old Dominion  5-7 Regular Season Over
99 -569 Nebraska  4-8 Regular Season Over
100 -685 Idaho  4-8 Def. Georgia State 24-10
101 -687 South Alabama  4-8 Lost to New Mexico State 22-17
102 -693 Arkansas  4-8 Regular Season Over
103 -725 Syracuse  4-8 Regular Season Over
104 -730 Maryland  4-8 Regular Season Over
105 -767 Massachusetts  4-8 Lost to Florida International 63-45
106 -806 Cincinnati  4-8 Regular Season Over
107 -815 Tennessee  4-8 Regular Season Over
108 -873 Rutgers  4-8 Regular Season Over
109 -897 Brigham Young  4-9 Regular Season Over
110 -921 Nevada-Reno  3-9 Regular Season Over
111 -961 Hawaii  3-9 Regular Season Over
112 -990 Coastal Carolina  3-9 Def. Georgia Southern 28-17
113 -1000 Georgia Southern  2-10 Lost to Coastal Carolina 28-17
114 -1013 North Carolina  3-9 Regular Season Over
115 -1096 Tulsa  2-10 Regular Season Over
116 -1124 New Mexico  3-9 Regular Season Over
117 -1145 East Carolina  3-9 Regular Season Over
118 -1148 Connecticut  3-9 Regular Season Over
119 -1348 Bowling Green State  2-10 Regular Season Over
120 -1458 Illinois  2-10 Regular Season Over
121 -1509 Texas State  2-10 Regular Season Over
122 -1606 Kent State  2-10 Regular Season Over
123 -1647 Baylor  1-11 Regular Season Over
124 -1686 Ball State  2-10 Regular Season Over
125 -1689 Rice  1-11 Regular Season Over
126 -1814 San Jose State  2-11 Regular Season Over
127 -1853 Charlotte  1-11 Regular Season Over
128 -1955 Oregon State  1-11 Regular Season Over
129 -2011 Kansas  1-11 Regular Season Over
130 -2301 Texas-El Paso  0-12 Regular Season Over