Football Head Coach Sean Kugler Hires Offensive and Defensive Coordinators
Patrick Higgins, who was a member of the UTEP football staff from 1998-2003 under Charlie Bailey and Gary Nord, returned to the Sun City a decade later as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Higgins has coached in 10 bowl games previously - 2000 Humanitarian Bowl, 2005-2009 Las Vegas Bowl, 2010 New Mexico Bowl, 2011 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, 2013 Heart of Dallas Bowl and 2014 New Mexico Bowl. He has also coached 17 players who have signed NFL contracts.
The 2014 Miners rushed for 200+ yards in seven games and 300+ yards on four occasions. Aaron Jones compiled 1,321 yards on the ground, fourth-most in a season in school history. UTEP rates second nationally in time of possession (34:58).
Quarterback Jameill Showers was steady, throwing just six interceptions all season behind an offensive line that has yielded 13 sacks in 13 games. He signed a free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys this summer. Ian Hamilton led the receiving corps with 579 yards, while running backs Jones (293) and Autrey Golden (263) have both compiled 200+ yards through the air.
UTEP scored 35 points or more in four of its first five games in 2013 before being dealt a series of crippling injuries. In a span of three weeks the Miners lost their starting left guard (Jerel Watkins), quarterback (Showers), and fullback (Darrin Laufasa), as well as Jones, who was on pace to lead the nation in freshman rushing yardage. The losses proved to be too much to overcome as UTEP was held to a touchdown or less in four of the last six outings.
UTEP averaged 31.2 points and 415.2 yards in six games at full strength on offense, as Showers accounted for 15 touchdowns (11 passing/four rushing) and Jones set a school freshman record with 811 yards on the ground.
Before making his way back to El Paso, Higgins spent two seasons at Purdue (2011-12), coaching the wide receivers and acting as the Boilermakers' interim head coach for the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
He was also Purdue's interim offensive coordinator for the final three games of the 2012 regular season with Nord sidelined due to a back injury.
Antavian Edison and Gary Bush combined to account for 15 of Purdue's 30 touchdown receptions in 2012. Edison earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors. O.J. Ross ranked third in the league in receptions per game (5.1), and Edison was fifth (4.5).
In 2011, Justin Siller led the Boilermakers with 50 catches, and Edison had a team-high 584 receiving yards. Purdue capped the seven-win campaign with a 37-32 win over Western Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Higgins served as the outside receivers coach and special teams coordinator at BYU from 2005-10. The Cougars posted a 56-21 during that time with six bowl appearances, four bowl wins and two outright Mountain West Conference titles.
In 2005, BYU ranked sixth nationally in passing offense (310.1 ypg), 13th in total offense (462.4 ypg) and 24th in scoring offense (33.0 ppg). In 2006, the Cougars finished 11-2 overall and 8-0 in the Mountain West Conference, rating fourth in the country in passing offense (323.5 ypg) and total offense (465.5 ypg) and fifth in scoring offense (36.8 ppg). BYU was also 11-2 (8-0 MWC) in 2007, ranking 14th in the FBS in passing offense (298.4 ypg) and 25th in total offense (442.8 ypg).
The Cougars put together a 10-3 campaign in 2008, averaging 310.4 yards passing (sixth in the nation), 444.8 yards of offense (16th) and 34.2 points (20th). Austin Collie led the country in receiving that year with 118.3 yards per game, and also rated 12th in kickoff returns (27.5 avg.). He is BYU's all-time leading receiver (3,255 yards), earned All-America honors as a junior and was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. BYU was 11-2 in 2009 behind another dominant offense that averaged 35.5 ppg (11th in the FBS), 281.5 yards passing (17th) and 427.2 yards of offense (21st).
BYU led the nation in third-down conversion percentage in 2009 (.556), finished second in 2008 (.557) and 2006 (.560), and ranked no lower than 21st among all FBS teams in the category during Higgins' six seasons. BYU was also ninth in the nation in kickoff returns in 2008 (24.6 avg.), and 20th in punt returns in 2006 (12.9 avg.). The Cougars were 17th in kickoff returns in 2007 (23.8 avg.).
Higgins spent the 2004 season at Louisiana Tech, where he was tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.
With Higgins as offensive coordinator, UTEP scored 30-plus points 16 times and 40 or more on eight occasions in a four-year span (2000-03). The 2000 Miners won the WAC title and ranked 22nd nationally in scoring offense (32.3 ppg), 27th in passing offense (248.2 ypg) and 36th in total offense (407.5 ypg). Quarterback Rocky Perez was eighth in the nation in passing efficiency (147.14), and Lee Mays was eighth in receiving (99.8 ypg). Brian Natkin was a unanimous All-America choice after leading all tight ends nationally with 64 catches for 787 yards. Natkin is currently a member of the UTEP staff.
Higgins previously was the Miners' wide receivers coach in 1998 and 1999. He worked with 22 All-WAC performers during his first stint in El Paso.
A native of Pendleton, N.Y., Higgins came to UTEP from Columbia University in New York City, where he had worked as running backs coach in 1997.
From 1994-96, Higgins was the offensive coordinator and special teams coach at Shepherd College, an NCAA Division II institution in Shepherdstown, W. Va. He was also responsible for coaching the Rams' quarterbacks and receivers. In 1994 and 1996 the Rams finished among the top-16 teams in the country in total offense.
Higgins has also seen duty as a head coach at St. Andrews Prep in Savannah, Ga. in 1993. He also coached college ball at St. Cloud State in St. Cloud, Minn. (wide receivers 1988), Quincy University in Quincy, Ill. (offensive coordinator 1990, defensive coordinator 1991) and William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa (head coach 1992).
He earned his bachelor's degree in Chemistry, with a minor in Biology, from William Penn College in 1986. He received his master's degree in Exercise Physiology from St. Cloud State in 1989.