Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Conference USA 2010-UTEP Miners
2009 Record: 4-8 (3-5)
Head Coach: Mike Price (7th season, 34-38...163-160)
Offensive Coordinator: Bob Connelly (3rd season) and Aaron Price (3rd season)
Defensive Coordinator: Andre Patterson (1st season)
2009 Bowl Game: None, and it's 5 seasons and counting
Offense: UTEP seems to be a two trick pony on offense. The top weapon is TB Donald Buckram, who is one of the best backs in the nation. What makes him even more scary this season than last is that he has bulked up without losing any speed for 2010. He should be more effective hitting the holes and will be a force to contend with all over the field. Wepaon number 2 is QB Trevor Vittatoe. Vittatoe is just over 1400 yards from becoming the school's all time leading passer. However, he had surgery this offseason and had some off-field issues, so it'll be interesting to see how he responds. Kris Adams is the lone returning starting WR, and he was a huge let down in 2009. The left side of the line needs to be replaced.
Defense: UEP ranked 110th in the nation in total defense last season, and Andre Patterson is being tasked to fix the problem. The main issue is that the Miners could not stop the run in 2009, giving up 200.8 yards per game on the ground. The 3-3-5 has been scrapped for a more traditional 4-3 look., but DE Robert Soleyjacks is the only returning starting lineman, so depth is a major issue. Anthony Morrow and Royzell Smith return to give the Miners experience in the LB corps, but they have to be better than before. Braxton Amy is the lone returnee in the secondary, so again, depth is a problem, and considering that UTEP gave up 246 yards per game through the air, this is not encouraging.
Special Teams: JC transfer Dakota Warren is going to handle both the PK and punter jobs in 2010. He did not enroll for the spring, so he is going into fall camp cold turkey.
Wins: 9/4 Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 9/18 New Mexico State, 9/25 Memphis, 10/2 @ New Mexico, 10/9 Rice, 10/23 Tulane
Toss Up Games: 10/16 @ UAB, 10/30 @ Marshall
Losses: 9/10 @ Houston, 11/6 SMU, 11/13 @ Arkansas, 11/20 @ Tulsa
The end of the season will be brutal. The last month is stacked with losses. Despite the lack of depth, this schedule is front loaded with cupcakes, so if UTEP can steal a win or two (possible in the wacky CUSA) The Miners could actually slip into a bowl unexpectedly.
Outlook: Everything depends on development on defense, and finding some quality targets for Vittatoe. He is a quality QB, but he does not have many toys to play with. Buckram is a future NFL guy, and he will be depended on to keep the pressure off of the developing passing game. The outlook is not entirely bleak, but a lot of things have to happen to make this a succesful season, and it's all within reach.