UTEP, NM State To Tangle for 90th Time on Saturday
EL PASO -- UTEP and New Mexico State will meet for the 90th time on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Sun Bowl.
THE BASIC FACTS
- UTEP hosts NM State in the 90th matchup of the I-10 rivalry series.
- The series is the longest running in UTEP football history.
- The winner of the game takes possession of a pair of traveling trophies, the silver spade and the brass spittoon.
- UTEP is pursuing a fourth straight win over NMSU. The Miners haven't beaten the Aggies four consecutive times since a run of six victories in a row from 1986-91.
- The Miners are seeking their first home win of the season after dropping a 24-7 decision to fourth-ranked Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl on Sept. 1.
- UTEP seeks to avoid its first 0-3 start since 2008.
- Following Saturday's game, UTEP will be on the road for three of its next four contests, including back-to-back away games at Wisconsin (Sept. 22) and East Carolina (Sept. 29).
HOW THEY GOT HERE
- UTEP dropped to 0-2 with a 28-10 loss at Ole Miss on Sept. 8.
- The Miners fell behind 21-0 at the half and couldn't get closer than 11 points (21-10) after the break.
- With starting tailback Nathan Jeffery (groin) sidelined, UTEP was limited to 37 yards rushing on 30 carries.
- Nick Lamaison completed 21-of-33 passes for 213 yards for the Miners, but was sacked five times.
- Ole Miss accumulated 538 yards of offense (332 rushing, 206 passing), including 18 plays of 10+ yards.
- Bo Wallace completed 15-of-22 passes for 174 yards and three TDs for the Rebels, and Jeff Scott rushed 13 times for 113 yards.
- NM State's record was squared at 1-1 with a 51-24 setback at Ohio.
- The Aggies were outscored 30-10 in the second half after trailing by a touchdown (21-14) through two quarters.
- NMSU yielded 584 yards to the Bobcats (293 rushing, 291 passing) as Ohio's Beau Blankenship rushed for 168 yards.
- NMSU QB Andrew Manley was 12-for-24 passing for 132 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
- Ohio held NMSU to 206 yards while posting nine tackles for losses and seven sacks.
UTEP vs. NM STATE
- UTEP leads the series 52-35-2.
- The Miners hold a 35-16-1 advantage in games played in El Paso.
- UTEP has won 18 of the last 27 games between the rivals in the Sun Bowl.
- The home team has been the victor in 11 of the last 15 games.
- The winning team has scored 30 points or more in 10 of the last 12 meetings.
- UTEP is 6-2 against NMSU under coach Mike Price.
- Last year the Miners put together a 16-10 win in Las Cruces, as Dakota Warren kicked three field goals and a 60-yard run by Joe Banyard off a fake punt spurred UTEP's lone touchdown drive of the game.
- UTEP held NMSU to 258 yards in last year's meeting (242 passing, 16 rushing).
- The 258 yards were the fewest by NMSU at home versus UTEP since 1991.
- The Miners' 16-10 win at NMSU last season represented its first on the road when scoring fewer than 20 points since a 12-7 triumph at Wyoming in 1971.
- UTEP junior OL Brander Craighead and NMSU senior DL Donte Savage both played at Fork Union Military Academy.
- UTEP sophomore WR Ian Hamilton and NMSU senior WR Kemonte' Bateman both started their college careers at Pasadena City College.
- UTEP senior OL James Martin and NMSU senior TE David Quiroga were teammates at Ayala High School in Chino Hills, Calif.
- UTEP senior OL James Nelson, UTEP senior K Dakota Warren, NMSU junior DL Kalvin Cruz, NMSU junior LB Trashaun Nixon and NMSU senior K Tyler Stampler all played at Ventura JC before transferring into FBS programs.
- Nixon is the younger brother of former UTEP cornerback Travaun Nixon (2010-11).
- NM State has a total of 14 Texas players on its 2012 roster, including three native El Pasoans -- freshman DB Kedeem Thomas-Davis (El Dorado HS), freshman LB Matthew Heard (Andress HS) and junior OL Davonte Wallace (Irvin HS). UTEP has no New Mexico products.
- NMSU head coach DeWayne Walker and UTEP defensive coordinator Andre Patterson were on the New England Patriots' staff together in 1997.
UTEP vs. OLE MISS NOTABLES
- UTEP is 0-7 since the start of the 2010 season when attempting 40 or more passes in a game.
- The 37 yards rushing were the fewest for UTEP since posting 30 in the second game of the 2011 season at SMU.
- The Miners have scored 10 points or fewer in their first two games of the season for the first time since 1980 when they opened with losses at Texas Tech (35-7) and New Mexico State (6-3).
- UTEP recovered three fumbles for the first time since Sept. 27, 2008 against UCF (four fumble recoveries). The three fumble recoveries tied for the third-top total of the Mike Price era.
- UTEP hasn't lost a fumble in back-to-back games to open a season for the first time since 2009, and for the third time in the last 19 seasons (2006, 2009, 2012).
- One turnover in two games matches the best two-game start of the Mike Price era. UTEP also had one turnover in its first two games of the 2009 campaign.
- UTEP dropped to 0-17 all-time on the road versus BCS conference teams and 1-7 all-time against the SEC. The victory was over Ole Miss in the 1967 Sun Bowl, 17-14.
- The 28 points were the fewest yielded by UTEP in a road game versus a BCS conference opponent (previous low 34 at Arizona in 1999).
IN THE RANKINGS
- Through the games of Sept. 8, UTEP held national top-50 statistical rankings in net punting (17th, 41.5 avg.), punt returns (28th, 14.0 avg.), turnover margin (32nd, 1.00) and sacks (tied for 47th, 2.0 avg.).
- Individually, Ian Campbell was 21st in punting (44.5 avg.), Josh Fely was tied for 37th in tackles (10.5 avg.) and Michael Edwards was 42nd in punt returns (8.6 avg.).
- UTEP is tied for second in C-USA in sacks (four) and third in pass defense (214.0 ypg), punting (41.5 avg.), punt returns (18.2 avg.), scoring defense (26.0 ppg) & turnover margin (1.00).
- Richard Spencer is tied for first in C-USA in fumble recoveries (1.0 avg.), Edwards is second in punt returns (13.6 avg.) & third in kickoff returns (18.2 avg.), and Aubrey Alexius and Spencer are tied for third in fumbles forced (0.5 avg.).
- UTEP's 2012 captains are OL Eloy Atkinson (offense), DB DeShawn Grayson (defense) and DB Adrian James (special teams).
- Mike Price is in his ninth year as UTEP's head coach (45-54 record) and 31st year as a collegiate head coach (174-176 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 (253 victories), Texas' Mack Brown (229), Nevada's Chris Ault (227), South Carolina's Steve Spurrier (199) and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly (189).
- Price is coaching in his 100th game at UTEP on Saturday. 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.
UTEP IN THE SUN BOWL
- UTEP is in its 50th season playing in the Sun Bowl.
- The Miners have posted an all-time mark of 122-155-3 in the venue, which opened in 1963.
- UTEP is 30-19 in the Sun Bowl under coach Mike Price.
- UTEP has won 11 of its last 17 games in the Sun Bowl.
- UTEP is 11-6 in non-conference home games in the Price era.
- 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.
- 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 19 career starts.
- On defense, UTEP has two players with 20+ career starts in FS DeShawn Grayson (28) and 3 Tech Germard Reed (22).
- UTEP averages 6-4, 302 pounds across the starting offensive line and 6-2, 268 pounds across the starting defensive line.
- First-time starters for the Miners at Ole Miss were TE Craig Wenrick and RB Xay Williams.
FRESHMAN PICKS UP THE RUN
- Autrey Golden became the fourth freshman to lead UTEP in rushing in a game during the Mike Price era with 52 yards. The other players were Donald Buckram at Marshall in 2006 (33 yards), Vernon Frazier versus UCF in 2008 (73 yards) and Nathan Jeffery at USF in 2011 (39 yards).
Lamaison Bounces back
- The 21 pass completions by Nick Lamaison tied the second-top total of his career. He completed 24 passes against Stony Brook last year and 21 versus Southern Miss a year ago.
- Lamaison registered the fourth 200-yard passing game of his UTEP career, but the Miners are 1-3 in those games.
THE receiving corps
- Seven players registered a reception in UTEP's game versus Oklahoma. Six registered at least two receptions.
- The TD catch by Jordan Leslie in the third quarter of the Ole Miss game was the third of his career, with all coming in road games. Leslie also had TD receptions at Rice and UCF last season.
- Leslie's 80 yards in receptions at Ole Miss was his second-best career effort. He recorded 119 yards versus Tulsa in 2011.
- A week after failing to register a reception against Oklahoma for the first time in his career, senior WR Mike Edwards had a career-best nine catches against Ole Miss. He had two contests with seven receptions in 2011.
- Edwards' 88 yards receiving against the Rebels marked his second-best career-effort. He registered 187 yards at Rice last season.
- Freshman RB Autrey Golden recorded two receptions for 21 yards at Ole Miss.
- DB Richard Spencer was credited with a career-high 13 tackles at Ole Miss. His previous best was nine stops versus Southern Miss in 2011.
- The two fumble recoveries by Richard Spencer versus the Rebels were a career best and the most by a UTEP player since Chris Moore also had two at Rice in 2007.
- The Miners are making good adjustments out of the locker room. UTEP has only yielded three points in the third quarter this season, recovering a pair of fumbles and giving up a total of 232 yards in the period.
- For the third time of the Mike Price era, UTEP has forced at least two fumbles in consecutive contests. The Miners also did so in 2004 (four at San Jose State, 10/30 & two versus Rice, 11/13) and
2011 (two at SMU, 9/10 & three at NM State, 9/17).
- UTEP has been swarming to the ball, with 10 different players contributing at least eight tackles on the year. Five of those individuals have reached double figures in stops, in the form of Josh Fely (21), Richard Spencer (18), DeShawn Grayson (16), Aubrey Alexius (12) and Gage Sharp (11).
- The Miners' frenzied approach of flocking to the ball carrier has resulted in seven fumbles by the opposition. That figure is the most through two games since 1989 (10).
- For the second straight season, UTEP has kept the opposition to fewer than 30 points in each of the first two games. It marks the initial time since a four-year streak (1986-89) and the third occasion since 1960 that the Miners have achieved the feat in consecutive years. Current UTEP Director of Athletics Bob Stull was the head coach for the Orange and Blue from 1986-88. UTEP also had a three-year stretch (1963-65).
- UTEP is vying to hold its foes below 30 points through the initial three tilts of the year for a second consecutive campaign. If the Miners are successful at keeping NM State from cracking the 30's, it would be the first time since the 1950's that they accomplished the task. The Orange and Blue strung together four straight seasons with the feat (1955-58) during that dominant defensive era.
- UTEP registered a sack at Ole Miss (9/8), bringing its seasonal sum to four. That figure ties as the third-most to this point in a campaign during the Mike Price era. The Miners piled up 12 sacks through two games in 2005 while tallying six in 2004 and a quartet in 2008.
PATTERSON's STOP TROOPS
- In 27 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.
CAMPBELL RETURNS AS SPECIAL TEAMS STANDOUT
- Punter Ian Campbell was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award last year.
- Campbell punted seven times for 301 yards at Ole Miss, including four that landed inside the Rebel 20-yard line. It marks the first time since 2006 (Ryan Hotchkiss versus SMU) and the second time under Mike Price that a punter has landed four punts inside the 20.
- Campbell's long of 67 yards against Oklahoma tied for his third-best career effort. Campbell's long was a 72-yard boot versus Rice in 2010. The California native has already had four punts over 50 yards in 2012. He recorded 18 in 2011 and 17 in 2010.
VALADEZ HAS A CAREER NIGHT
- Sophomore Steven Valadez kicked his first career PAT against Ole Miss. Valadez also made his second career field goal attempt, giving the San Antonio native four of the Miners' 10 points against Ole Miss.
Veterans return for punt and kick returns
- Senior WR Mike Edwards registered three kickoff returns for a career-best 52 yards at Ole Miss. His kickoff yardage exceeded his total for the entire 2011 season (37).
- Junior TE Kevin Perry had one kickoff return for 18 yards versus the Rebels. It was the second attempt of his career. Perry registered a kickoff return for 10 yards in the Miners' 2011 season opener versus Stony Brook.
- 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.