Former collegiate head coach Scott Stoker is in his third season as the Miners' defensive coordinator.
The Miners improved dramatically on defense this past season. They dropped their points allowed per game from 39.3 in 2013 to 28.1. UTEP is also yielding 368.1 yards per game, compared to 468.3 the year before. The Miners also increased their season totals in all defensive categories -- tackles for losses (from 45 to 76), sacks (13 to 26), interceptions (three to 11), pass break-ups (30 to 40), quarterback hurries (12 to 40) and forced fumbles (nine to 14).
On Oct. 25 at UTSA, the Miners put together perhaps the most complete defensive performance in school history. They not only blanked the Roadrunners 34-0, but allowed two first downs (fewest in school history in the modern era) and 70 yards (third-fewest in program history). The UTEP stop troops opened the contest by forcing seven consecutive three-and-outs.
After giving up 35 points to Old Dominion on Oct. 11, the Miners surrendered 21 or fewer in five of the last seven games, including against Utah State in the New Mexico Bowl.
Stoker also coached the team's linebackers, including Alvin Jones and Anthony Puente who ranked second and fourth respectively on the team in tackles in 2014. Jones had the second-most tackles for losses on the team with nine. Jones garnered All-Conference USA Freshman team honors, while Puente was recognized as a All-C-USA honorable mention.
Stoker faced a difficult situation in 2013, taking over at UTEP during the summer and installing a 4-2-5 scheme without the benefit of spring ball. The Miners also relied heavily on players who were untested at the Division I level. UTEP's top two tacklers (Devin Cockrell and Dashone Smith) were freshmen. In all, seven of the top 10 tacklers hadn't started a game for the Miners prior to the 2013 season. UTEP's top two defensive linemen, James Davidson and Horace Miller, signed NFL free agent contracts with Cincinnati and Seattle respectively in the spring of 2014. Miller is currently playing for the Oakland Raiders.
Stoker came to El Paso from Sam Houston State University, where he served as defensive coordinator from 2009-12. The Bearkats captured Southland Conference titles with back-to-back berths in the FCS championship game in 2011 and 2012.
In 2012 SHSU led the Southland in rushing defense (98.5 ypg), total defense (333.5 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (151.6), while ranking sixth nationally in rushing defense. The Bearkats had the conference leader in tackles for losses (senior linebacker Darius Taylor) and pass break-ups (senior defensive backs Robert Shaw and Dax Swanson).
In 2011, Stoker was instrumental in Sam Houston State fashioning a 14-1 mark. He was named the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision "Defensive Coordinator of the Year" by FootballScoop.com.
The 2011 Bearkats held national top-five rankings in rushing defense (first, 72.9 ypg), scoring defense (second, 14.9 ppg), turnover margin (second, 1.87), total defense (third, 279.9 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (fourth, 99.20), while pacing the conference in all five categories. Swanson was third in the FCS in interceptions with 0.5 per game.
Stoker's 2010 unit rated eighth nationally in rushing defense (100.1 ypg) and 17th in sacks (2.7 avg.).
While at Sam Houston State, he coached 14 defensive players who combined to earn 22 All-Conference honors. Safety Darnell Taylor was appointed the Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012. Taylor, along with defensive lineman J.T. Cleveland and Swanson, have garnered All-American accolades.
Stoker was the head coach at his alma mater, Northwestern State, from 2002-08. He compiled a 43-38 record, and led the Demons to the 2004 Southland Conference co-championship and two NCAA Division I playoff appearances (2002 & 2004).
His teams broke close to 50 school records (23 offensive, 10 defensive, 13 special teams), as well as set five NCAA records and 10 Southland Conference standards. Three of his teams ranked in the top-15 nationally in total defense and rushing defense, rating second in both categories in 2004. Stoker was also identified as one of the nation's top 10 recruiters by American Football Coaches Monthly.
He worked as an assistant coach at McNeese State from 1994-2002. Six of the teams earned national playoff berths, including reaching the 1995 national semifinals and playing in the 1997 championship game. Stoker was the Cowboys' offensive coordinator in 1999, and defensive coordinator from 2000-01.
A native of Alexandria, La., he is the son of Butch Stoker, a highly-successful coach at Alexandria High School for four decades. Scott Stoker was an All-State quarterback for Alexandria before continuing his playing career at Northwestern State. He led the Demons to the 1988 Southland Conference championship and an NCAA playoff berth. He finished his college career (1986-89) with a school-record 4,801 passing yards and 5,059 yards of total offense.
Stoker and his wife, Kim, have three children - Jennifer, Carlie and Zoe.