GAME 2: Miners Head to Ole Miss Saturday

Jerel Watkins

Sept. 3, 2012

GAME 2: Ole Miss Game NotesGet Acrobat Reader


-   UTEP plays its first road game of the season on Saturday at Ole Miss.

-   UTEP is facing a non-conference opponent in its road opener for the first time since 2009 (38-12 win at  NM State).

-   The Miners are 3-5 in road openers under coach Mike Price (lost 41-9 at Arizona State in 2004, won 34-17 at NM State in 2005, won 34-27 at San Diego State in 2006, lost 45-31 at Texas Tech in 2007, lost 42-17 at Buffalo in 2008, won 38-12 at NM State in 2009, lost 54-24 at Houston in 2010, lost 28-17 at SMU in 2012).

-   UTEP is playing a road game versus a school from a BCS conference for the 17th time.

-   The Miners are 0-16 all-time in road games versus BCS conference teams (lost 35-3 at Texas Tech in 1998, lost 47-28 at Oregon in 1999, lost 40-7 at Kansas State in 1999, lost 34-21 at Arizona in 1999, lost 55-14 at Oklahoma in 2000, lost 45-17 at Texas A&M in 2000, lost 56-7 at Alabama in 2001, lost 77-17 at Kentucky in 2002, lost 68-0 at Oklahoma in 2002, lost 42-7 at Arizona in 2003, lost 42-14 at Louisville in 2003, lost 41-9 at Arizona State in 2004, lost 45-31 at Texas Tech in 2007, lost 64-7 at Texas in 2009, lost 58-21 at Arkansas in 2010, lost 52-24 at USF in 2011).

-   UTEP is 17-17 in non-conference games under Mike Price (includes three bowls) and 6-9 in road non-conference games.

-   UTEP's overall road record under Price is 15-31, including 7-23 since 2007.

-   The Miners posted two road wins last season (NM State & Tulane) for the first time since 2008.

-   UTEP has won its first road game of the season just three times in the last 22 years (beat NM State 34-17 in 2005, beat San Diego State 34-27 in 2006, beat NM State 38-12 in 2009).  All three victories came under the direction of coach Mike Price.



-   UTEP opened its 95th season of football with a 24-7 loss to fourth-ranked Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl last Saturday.

-   The Miners trailed the Sooners 10-7 heading into the fourth quarter before yielding two late touchdowns.

-   Sophomore RB Nathan Jeffery set a school record for rushing yards in a season opener with 177.

-   UTEP ran for 207 yards but passed for only 48, its second-lowest tally in 98 games of the Mike Price era.

-   The Miners were 0-for-3 on field goal attempts from 45, 31 and 41 yards.

-   UTEP allowed less than 33 points to a Big 12 opponent for the first time in 12 matchups versus teams from the league.

-   Ole Miss christened the Hugh Freeze era by dismantling Central Arkansas, 49-27, in Oxford.

-   Sophomore QB Bo Wallace completed 20-of-24 passes for 264 yards for the Rebels, who piled up 565 yards of offense (330 passing, 235 rushing).

-   Ole Miss sophomore receiver Donte Moncrief contributed eight catches for 104 yards.

-   The Rebels trailed 20-14 at the break before erupting for 35 second-half points.

-   Ole Miss drew 50,544 fans for its opener at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.



-   Second matchup between the Miners and the Rebels.

-   The squads hooked up in the 1967 Sun Bowl, a game won by UTEP 14-7.

-   That represents UTEP's last bowl victory; the Miners are 0-5 since.

-   The Miners outscored the Rebels 14-0 in the fourth quarter to squeeze out the win.

-   UTEP's Billy Stevens was named game MVP after engineering two touchdown drives in a seven-minute span of the final period.

-   The winning score came on a four-yard TD run by Larry McHenry.

-   UTEP is making its second visit to the state of Mississippi on Saturday.  The Miners are 1-0 all-time in the Magnolia State with a 40-37 double overtime triumph at Southern Miss in 2008. 

-   This year's matchup between the Miners and the Rebels came together when a scheduled UTEP game versus New Mexico fell through and both schools were looking for a game.



-   UTEP sophomore TE Katrae Ford and Ole Miss junior WR Ja-Mes Logan were teammates at Westfield High School in Houston.

-   UTEP senior James Robinson (redshirting this season) and Ole Miss junior Pierce Burton both played offensive line at City College of San Francisco before transferring to FBS schools, but were not on the roster at the same time.

-   Ole Miss has a total of seven Texas players on its 2012 roster.  UTEP has no Mississippi products.


UTEP vs. the SEC

-   The Miners are 1-6 against SEC opponents since the formation of the league for the 1932 season.

-   UTEP is 1-0 against Ole Miss, 0-2 versus Tennessee, 0-1 against Alabama, 0-1 versus Arkansas, 0-1 against Kentucky and 0-1 versus LSU.

-   UTEP is 0-6 all-time in road games versus SEC competition.

-   The Miners have been outscored by a combined 311-64 in the six road games.

-   In its last road game versus an SEC opponent, UTEP was outscored 37-7 over the final three periods en route to a 58-21 loss at Arkansas on Nov. 13, 2010.

-   The 21 points marked the most scored by the Miners against an SEC team.



-   The crowd of 40,137 was the largest for a UTEP home game since Sept. 20, 2008 versus NM State (42,930), and the best attendance for a season opener in the Sun Bowl since Sept. 1, 2007 versus New Mexico (43,326).

-   The blocked punt return for a touchdown by Nathan Jeffery in the first quarter was the third by a UTEP player in the Mike Price era, and the first since Adrian James did so at Tulane last season.  Nate Draughon had a punt return for a touchdown versus New Mexico in 2005.

-   UTEP's first quarter TD marked the first lead UTEP enjoyed in the three-game series versus OU and ended a string of 89 consecutive points scored by the Sooners.

-   The blocked field goal in the second quarter by Horace Miller was the first by a Miner player since Will Osolinsky achieved the feat against Southern Miss in 2007.

-   Only once previously in the Mike Price era has UTEP missed its first three field goal attempts in a game.  The first such occurrence was at Tulsa in 2004 when the Miners were 0-for-4 on field goals, misfiring from 37, 51, 33 and 56 yards.

-   Nathan Jeffery became the 14th Miner back to rush for 100+ yards in a season opener since 1950, joining Reeves Tevis (1955), Charles Bradshaw (1959), Leroy Johnson (1967), Robbie Rogers (1970), Mike Belew (1974), Robert Elliott (1976), Kevin Ward (1983), John Harvey (1987 & 1988), Patrick Bailey (1991), Toraino Singleton (1994), Paul Smith (1999), Howard Jackson (2002) and Donald Buckram (2009).

-   Jeffery set a school record for rushing yards in a season opener, eclipsing the 164 by Robert Elliott versus UT Arlington in 1976.

-   UTEP failed to reach 100 yards passing for just the fourth time in 98 games under coach Mike Price.  The other such occurrences came versus New Mexico in 2007 (81), New Mexico State in 2008 (95) and Texas in 2009 (44).

-   UTEP did not score an offensive touchdown for just the second time under Mike Price.  The first such instance came in a 21-6 loss at UAB in 2010.

-   The Miners played a turnover-free game for the first time since Nov. 6, 2010 versus SMU, and for the 17th time under Price (12-5 record).

-   UTEP rushed for 200+ yards in a season opener for the 11th time since 1965 (1969, 1974, 1976, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1991, 2002, 2010), and for the first time in an opener against an FBS opponent since 1991 (349 yards versus New Mexico).

-   The 12 tackles for Josh Fely were a career high and he led the team in stops for the second time.  The first occasion was versus Houston last season when he was credited with nine tackles.

-   Ian Campbell punted eight times for 367 yards, a 45.9-yard average.   That included a 14-yard punt in the second quarter.  Campbell averaged 50.4 yards on his other seven punts that night.

-   UTEP had seven pass completions to seven different receivers.

-   First-time starters for UTEP in the opener were RG Kyle Brown & WR Malcolm Trail on offense and SAM LB Aubrey Alexius, Mike LB A.J. Ropati & LCB Darren Woodard on defense.

-   UTEP dropped to 41-49-5 in season openers and 32-18-3 in season openers in El Paso.



-   Through week one, UTEP holds national top-50 statistical rankings in punt returns (17th, 18.2 avg.), sacks (tied for 20th, 3.0 avg.), net punting (29th, 39.6 avg.), rushing offense (36th, 207.0 ypg), tackles for losses (48th, 6.0 avg.) and turnover margin (tied for 49th, 0.00).

-   Individually, Nathan Jeffery is eighth in rushing (177.0 ypg) & 13th in all-purpose yardage (219.0 ypg), Ian Campbell is 15th in punting (45.9 avg.), DeAndre Little & Germard Reed are tied for 20th in sacks (1.0 avg.), Josh Fely is tied for 25th in tackles (12.0 avg.), and Michael Edwards is 28th in punt returns (12.5 avg.) & tied for 45th in kickoff returns (19.5 avg.).

-   UTEP leads Conference USA in rushing offense and rates third in punt returns, turnover margin & sacks.

-   Jeffery leads C-USA in rushing & ranks second in all-purpose yards, Edwards is second in punt returns, DeShawn Grayson is tied for second in pass breakups (2.0 avg.), Aubrey Alexius & Greg Watkins are tied for third in forced fumbles (1.0 avg.), and Reed & Little are tied for third in sacks.



-   UTEP's 2012 captains are OL Eloy Atkinson (offense), DB DeShawn Grayson (defense) and DB Adrian James (special teams).


Mike Price

-   Mike Price is in his ninth year as UTEP's head coach (45-53 record) and 31st year as a collegiate head coach (174-175 mark).

-   Price is the third-winningest coach in UTEP history with 45 victories.  Mack Saxon ranks first (66 wins) and Mike Brumbelow rates second (46 wins).

-   Price and Mike Brumbelow are the only coaches in school history to lead the Miners to three bowl games.

-   Price is the sixth-winningest active head coach in the FBS behind Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer (251 victories), Texas' Mack Brown (228), Nevada's Chris Ault (227), South Carolina's Steve Spurrier (198) and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly (188).

-   Price is coaching in his 350th career game on Saturday and his 99th at UTEP.  Only Mack Saxon (118) has coached more games with the Miners.

-   Price and Saxon (13 seasons) are the only men to coach the Miners for more than seven seasons.

-   Price is coaching against Ole Miss for the first time.

-   Price is 0-2 all-time when coaching against SEC opponents (0-1 at UTEP).  His 1994 Washington State Cougars dropped a 10-9 decision at Tennessee.


Coaching Changes

-   New to the UTEP staff in 2012 are offensive line coach Brian Natkin, tight ends coach Chad Raymond and safeties coach Tom Williams.

-   Natkin played for the Miners from 1997-2000 and became UTEP's only unanimous All-American in 2000.  He led all tight ends nationally with 64 catches for 787 yards that year.

-   Raymond was also a member of Mike Price's staff as a program coordinator from 2008-10.

-   Williams was the head coach at Yale from 2009-11 and was also a defensive assistant with the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars from 2007-08.


The Roster

-   UTEP's 101-man roster includes 21 seniors, 17 juniors, 22 sophomores and 41 freshmen (10 redshirts/31 true freshmen).

-   UTEP has 43 returning lettermen (20 offense/20 defense/three special teams).

-   Center Eloy Atkinson leads all offensive players with 18 career starts.

-   The bulk of UTEP's offensive starting experience is in the line with Atkinson, LT Brander Craighead (13 starts), LG Jerel Watkins (12) and RT James Nelson (nine).

-   On defense, UTEP has two players with 20+ career starts in FS DeShawn Grayson (27) and 3 Tech Germard Reed (21).

-   UTEP averages 6-4, 302 pounds across the starting offensive line and 6-2, 268 pounds across the starting defensive line.




-   Sophomore Nathan Jeffery ran for 177 yards versus Oklahoma, setting a school record for rushing yards in an opener.   The total included a career-long 71-yard carry.  It marked the fourth-longest run of the Mike Price era, with all four coming in the last two campaigns (2010, 2011).  No player had a run of 70 yards or more in Price's first seven seasons.

-   Jeffery's 71-yard run is the longest by a UTEP underclassman since freshman Jon Schaper posted a 74-yard TD scamper against BCS power Alabama in 2001.

-   Jeffery compiled 219 all-purpose yards. As a team, the Miners registered just 255 yards of offense.

-   Freshmen Laquintus Dowell (3-7), Autrey Golden (1-3) and Xay Williams (5-16) were responsible for nine of UTEP's remaining 15 carries.

-   The Miners registered 207 rushing yards against Oklahoma. UTEP has had eight contests with over 200 yards since 2010.  From 2004-09, the Miners registered just 10 contests with 200+ yards rushing.


THE receiving corps

-   Seven players registered a reception in UTEP's game versus Oklahoma.

-   Junior tight end Kevin Perry led all receivers with 13 yards. It marks the fifth-fewest yards by a leading receiver in a game in the modern era.  It is the fewest since Nov. 19, 1983 when the Miners had no receptions against Weber State.  Coincidentally, Mike Price was in his third season as the Weber State head coach.




-   For the first time since 2005 and the second occasion of the Mike Price era, UTEP registered three sacks while also tallying at least eight hurries last week.  Both opponents hailed from the state of Oklahoma in the form of the Sooners (9/1/12) & Tulsa (11/5/05).

-   UTEP forced two fumbles and posted a trio of sacks against Oklahoma (9/1/12), matching the best effort in both categories in a season opener since the lidlifter at Buffalo (8/28/08).

-   Eight quarterback hurries were credited to the stop troops versus Oklahoma (9/1/12), which doubles the effort through the first four games of 2011.

-   UTEP has now posted eight hurries or more four times during the defensive tenure of Andre Patterson. The Miners notched five such games during the previous six seasons.

-   UTEP is in search of three straight multiple-sack contests for the first time since stringing together four such games in 2008.  The Miners had a pair against UCF in the 2011 season finale (11/25) while generating three vs. Oklahoma (9/1/12).



-   In 26 games since Andre Patterson took over as UTEP's defensive coordinator, UTEP has yielded 24 points or fewer on 14 occasions.  The Miners had surrendered 24 points or less 13 times in 48 games over the previous four seasons prior to Patterson's arrival.

-   The Miners have also limited opponents to under 300 yards of offense seven times under Patterson, a feat they achieved six times in the previous four years.

-   UTEP's defensive balance under Patterson is evidenced by the fact that the Miners haven't had a 100-tackle player in back-to-back years for the first time since the evolution of the statistic in 1969.  UTEP had at least one 100-tackle performer in 25 straight seasons from 1985-2009.




-   Punter Ian Campbell was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award last year.

-   Campbell's long of 67 yards against Oklahoma ties for his third-best career effort. Campbell's long was a 72-yard boot versus Rice in 2010.


Veterans return for punt and kick returns

-   Sophomore RB Nathan Jeffery was UTEP's primary kickoff returner against Oklahoma.

-   Jeffery registered one kickoff return for 20 yards and a blocked punt return for a touchdown against Oklahoma.

-   Senior WR Mike Edwards registered four punt returns for 50 yards and two kickoff returns for 39 yards against Oklahoma. His kickoff yardage exceeded his total for the entire 2011 season (37).


2011 Rewind

-   UTEP finished 5-7 overall and 2-6 in Conference USA, fifth place in the league's Western Division.

-   The Miners were playing for bowl eligibility in each of their last two games but lost at home to Tulsa (57-28) and on the road to UCF (31-14).

-   UTEP was 3-3 at home and 2-4 on the road.

-   UTEP ranked fourth in the country in kickoff returns (26.4 avg.) and sixth in net punting (40.5 avg.).

-   The Miners averaged 154.9 yards rushing per game, their high water mark of the Mike Price era.

-   UTEP tied for fourth nationally in offensive plays of 70+ yards (four), tied for sixth in plays of 60+ yards (seven) and tied for 17th in plays of 50+ yards (nine).

    - UTEP returns players who accounted for 13.8 percent (258-of-1,866) of the team's rushing yards last season, 88.2 percent (2,387-of-2,707) of the passing yards and 60.2 percent (1,630-of-2,707) of the receiving yards.

-   On defense, UTEP returns 60.7 percent (516-of-850) of its tackle production from 2011, 87 percent (20-of-23) of its sacks, 65.8 percent (39.5-of-60) of its tackles for losses, 61 percent (25-of-41) of its pass break-ups and 50 percent (6-of-12) of its interceptions.       

-                 UTEP returns its regular punter (Ian Campbell), field goal kicker (Dakota Warren) and kickoff man (Steven Valadez), as well as players who accounted for 30.3 percent (391-of-1,291) of the kickoff return yards and 37.3 percent (82-of-220) of the punt return yards.



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