Miners Host Houston in Key Early Season C-USA Battle
KICKING OFF: UTEP hosts Houston in the Conference USA opener for both schools ... it is the Miners’ inaugural C-USA game and will be played before a national television (ESPN2) audience ... it marks the first national telecast of a UTEP football game in the Sun Bowl ... ESPN2 was originally slated to carry the Miners’ contest versus Texas Tech on Sept. 13, 2001, but the game was canceled due to the terrorist attack on America the same week ... UTEP was picked to win the Western Division of C-USA in the preseason league coaches’ poll, while Houston was pegged second ... UTEP is attempting to open a season with back-to-back wins for the first time since 1988 ... since World War II (59 seasons of football), the Miners have won their initial two games of the year 11 times (1947, 1948, 1949, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1965, 1969, 1971, 1987, 1988) ... the last time UTEP opened a season with a road victory before moving to 2-0 was in 1956 ... UTEP has parlayed a road win in the opener to a 2-0 mark on four occasions (1956, 1949, 1947, 1940) in 87 years of football.
LAST WEEK: The Miners were idle ... Houston squared its record at 1-1 with a 31-10 victory over Sam Houston State at John O’Quinn Field.
MINERS LEND A HELPING HAND: UTEP athletics has teamed with Sahara Companies and the Rio Trio (Avila’s, Cappetto’s and Jaxon’s restaurants) to provide over 300 tickets to Friday’s game for Hurricane Katrina evacuees now in the El Paso region ... In addition, donations for hurricane victims will be collected at numerous locations around the stadium ... UTEP and other Conference USA schools are participating in the C-USA Relief Fund to help those affected and relocated by the hurricane ... donations will be accepted and distributed to C-USA member institutions Tulane and Southern Miss, as well as the American Red Cross ... UTEP is also making facilities in the Sun Bowl Stadium available for evacuees to shower as needed.
THE SERIES: It has been 57 years since UTEP and Houston have met on the gridiron ... Friday’s game is the third meeting between the schools ... UTEP leads the series 2-0 with victories in 1946 and 1948 ... both previous contests took place in El Paso ... Friday night’s matchup will mark the first time the two schools have met as members of the same conference.
THE LAST MEETING: The date was Sept. 25, 1948 ... Texas Mines caused six turnovers as Fred Wendt and Jim Bowden led the charge over Houston, 35-7, at Kidd Field in El Paso ... 2005 UTEP Hall of Fame inductee Wendt rushed for 166 yards on 10 carries, including a touchdown, as the Miners racked up 242 yards on the ground ... Bowden led the Miners through the air, completing both of his pass attempts for touchdowns of 58 and 24 yards ... Houston was limited to 116 rushing yards on 54 attempts (2.1 ypc) and 96 passing yards (10-for-26, five interceptions) ... Charlie Brown scored Houston’s lone touchdown.
CONFERENCE BEGINNINGS: UTEP begins play in Conference USA -- its third conference in its 88-year history of football -- against Houston on Friday ... the Miners participated in the Borderland Conference from 1935-42, 46-61 and the Western Athletic Conference from 1968-2004 ... UTEP lost its Borderland Conference debut, 20-0, to New Mexico on Sept. 28, 1935 ... UTEP started its WAC tenure with a 44-15 victory over New Mexico on Sept. 21, 1968 ... UTEP is 24-36-1 (15-8-1 Borderland Conference; 9-28 WAC) in conference openers ... the Miners have won their first league game just twice in the last 13 seasons (2000 and 2003).
HOME OPENERS: The Miners are 53-28-4 in home openers ... UTEP is 23-17-2 in home openers in the Sun Bowl ... UTEP is 9-3 in its last 12 home openers ... the Miners have won five of their last six home openers, including last year’s 32-0 blanking of Weber State.
MINERS LOOK TO EXTEND HOME WINNING STREAK: There has been no place like home for the Miners under head coach Mike Price ... UTEP is 5-1 in the Sun Bowl under Price with an average margin of victory of 29 points and two shutouts ... the Miners are riding a four-game home winning streak, their longest since 2000-01 when they reeled off seven straight victories in the Sun Bowl.
BRILES VS. PRICE: Houston’s Art Briles and UTEP’s Mike Price will be meeting for the first time as coaches ... Briles has never faced UTEP and Price has never met Houston.
UTEP/HOUSTON CONNECTIONS: UTEP’s assistant head coach and offensive line coach Lawrence Livingston, Sr. and Houston’s inside linebacker coach Alan Weddell were on staff together at Texas A&M in 1998-99 ... UTEP has six players from Houston on its roster (Chris Francies, Cypress Falls H.S.; Brandon Jackson, Booker T. Washington H.S.; Chris Moore, Jersey Village H.S.; Alex Obomese, Westbury H.S.; Fred Patton, North Shore H.S.; Joe Ward, Madison H.S.) and five more from the Houston area (Braxton Amy, Richmond/Foster H.S.; Tim Ford, Tomball/Tomball H.S.; Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr., Sweeny/Sweeny H.S.; James Olalekan, Texas City/Texas City H.S.; Marshall Sanford, Lake Jackson/Brazoswood H.S.) ... Patton was teammates with Houston’s Willie Gaston at Houston North Shore ... Moore attended Houston Jersey Village with current Cougars Kade Lane, Freddy Adams and Kris Knigge ... Olalekan and Houston’s Roy Swan and James Fitch are graduates of Texas City H.S. ... Obomese and Houston’s B.J. Kemp were teammates at Houston Westbury ... Sanford and Houston’s Garret Hagemeier are graduates of Brazoswood H.S. in Lake Jackson, Texas ... Colby Meek and Houston’s Jason Wagner played on the offensive line together at Keller H.S. in Keller, Texas.
AMONG THE NATION'S LEADERS: Tyler Ebell: 52nd-all purpose (132.0 ypg), 100th-rushing (63.0 ypg); Jordan Palmer: 25th-passing efficiency (156.2), 79th-total offense (180.0 ypg); Josh Ferguson: tied 4th-interceptions (1.0 ipg); Jason McQuay: tied 4th-interceptions (1.0 ipg); Thomas Howard: tied 4th-interceptions; Ryan Hotchkiss: 13th-punting (44.5 ypp); Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr.: 9th-punt returns (23.5 ypr); Reagan Schneider: tied 11th-field goals (2.0 per game), 52nd-scoring (10.0 ppg).
THE NO RUN ZONE: UTEP enters the Houston game with the nation’s top-ranked rushing defense ... the Miners yielded minus-17 yards rushing against New Mexico State in the opener ... that total rates third-best in school history and marked only the fourth time UTEP has limited an opponent to negative rushing yardage ... the last time UTEP held a foe to negative rushing yardage was on Oct. 22, 1966 versus San Jose State (school record -106 yards on the ground) ... UTEP also allowed minus-13 yards rushing to Arizona State (9/17/66) the same season.
NCAA TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense: 89th (97.0); Passing Offense: 72nd (204.0); Total Offense: 92nd (301.0); Scoring Offense: 30th (34.0); Rushing Defense: 1st (minus-17.0); Passing Efficiency Defense: 36th (109.3); Total Defense: 45th (330.0); Scoring Defense: 35th (17.0); Net Punting: 12th (40.2); Punt Returns: 6th (23.5); Kickoff Returns: 82nd (18.0); Turnover Margin: 3rd (plus-3.0); Pass Defense: 112th (347.0); Passing Efficiency: 50th (133.43).
WE'LL TAKE THAT: Under Mike Price, UTEP is 9-1 when having equal or fewer turnovers than its opponents ... the Miners opened the season plus-three in turnover margin (one fumble lost; one fumble recovered, three passes intercepted) in the 34-17 victory over New Mexico State ... UTEP was 4-1 with plus takeaways, 4-0 with equal turnovers and 0-3 with more turnovers than its opponents in 2004 ... UTEP finished the year plus-two in turnover margin ... UTEP has not had consecutive seasons with a positive turnover margin since 1987-88-89 ... since the 1950 season (55 years) UTEP has registered a positive turnover margin on 17 occasions.
THOMAS C-USA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Senior linebacker Thomas Howard was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in UTEP’s 34-17 win at New Mexico State ... Howard registered 10 tackles (five solo), two tackles for losses (12 yards), a sack (nine yards), an interception (20 yards), two pass breakups and a fumble recovery against the Aggies ... he moved into eighth place on the UTEP career list with 29 tackles for losses, as well as a tie for 11th place on the sack list with 11.
GOOD START FOR PALMER: Jordan Palmer opened the season by registering the fourth-highest single-game passing rating of his collegiate career ... Palmer completed 57.7 percent (15-for-26) of his attempts for 187 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for a rating of 156.18 ... Palmer had ratings of 233.24 against SMU, 179.16 at San Jose State and 176.87 at Louisiana Tech last season.
PALMER AND PASSING RECORDS: Jordan Palmer’s three touchdown passes at New Mexico State bumped his career tally to 36 ... the total is second in school history behind 51 by Billy Stevens (1965-67) ... Palmer went past Brooks Dawson (34; 1966-68) and Sammy Garza (35; 1983-86) against the Aggies ... Palmer also has 4,173 passing yards (sixth best), 326 completions (sixth best) and 590 attempts (ninth best) ... all three records stand a chance at falling in 2005 with him needing 2,312 yards to tie Stevens, 157 completions to catch Garza and 353 attempts to match Stevens.
PALMER AND TOTAL OFFENSE RECORDS: With a strong season Jordan Palmer could become the school’s career total offense leader this fall ... he has recorded 4,259 career yards (4,173 passing; 86 rushing) to rank eighth, 1,797 yards behind leader Sammy Garza (1983-86) ... he is also responsible for 41 touchdowns, which ranks fifth best in school history ... Billy Stevens (1965-67) holds the record with 56.
A FEW MORE PALMER TIDBITS: Jordan Palmer looks to become the first Miner quarterback to lead the team in passing for consecutive years since the 1990 and 1991 seasons when Mike Perez threw for 1,920 and 1,913 yards, respectably ... Palmer has also made 13 consecutive starts for the Miners, with UTEP posting a 9-4 mark in those games.
SPEAKING OF STREAKS: Senior Chris Francies continues to be one of the most consistent pass catchers in the country ... entering the Houston game, he has posted a reception in 34 consecutive games ... the run is third-longest in the country behind Wyoming’s Jovon Bouknight (38 games) and Bowling Green’s Charles Sharon (37 games).
TAKING ON A BIGGER ROLE IN 2005: UTEP’s tight ends -- Jake Sears (two for 25 yards), Casey Mauch, Jamar Hunt (one for six yards, TD) and Josh Chamois (one for seven yards) -- caught four passes for 38 yards and one touchdown in the Miners’ victory at New Mexico State ... the unit accounted for 23.5 percent of the team’s receptions ... in 2004, UTEP’s tight ends averaged 2.3 catches per game and 12.2 percent of the team’s receptions on the year.
FOLLOWING IN HIS BROTHER’S FOOTSTEPS: Freshman tight end Jamar Hunt’s first reception as a Miner was a memorable one -- a six-yard scoring strike from Jordan Palmer at NMSU ... the catch matched Hunt’s older brother Justin Hunt’s (2000-04) first collegiate reception -- a six-yard TD from Wesley Phillips in 2001 against San Jose State ... the elder Hunt -- also a tight end -- caught 22 balls for 196 yards and two touchdowns in his career at UTEP ... Hunt is the third brother to play for the Miners, as Brett Hunt lettered as a starter on the offensive line from 1997-99.
KICKING IT UP A NOTCH: Reagan Schneider now ranks tied for fifth in school annals with 66 career point after touchdowns, eighth with 120 career kicking points and 10th with 18 field goals ... Schneider has also converted on his last 56 PAT tries ... his 10 points at New Mexico State marked the fifth time in his career that he has scored 10 points or more ... Schneider connected on 42 and 43-yard field goals versus the Aggies, making him 10-for-13 (.769) on attempts of 40 yards or more over the last two seasons ... during the same span Schneider is 7-for-10 (.700) on attempts from less than 40 yards ... he misfired on a 24-yard try at NMSU.
GET THAT GUY THE BALL: Considering his 4.18 speed in the 40, UTEP will be looking to get the ball into the hands of Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. any way it can in 2005 ... however, for only the third time in 26 career games, Higgins went without a reception against New Mexico State ... Higgins also did not have catches versus Cal Poly in 2003 and Weber State last season ... the Miners continue to find ways to get Higgins the ball ... against New Mexico State he did have a rush for six yards and two punt returns for 47 yards, including a 41-yarder on his first career attempt ... Higgins was a deep back on the kickoff return team as well.
ROTATING RETURNERS: UTEP rotated its returnees on the punt return unit in the opener at New Mexico State ... Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. ran back the first one for 41 yards ... on the next punt, Tyler Ebell was back deep ... it was Josh Ferguson’s turn for the third punt of the day ... Higgins had a second return for six yards later in the game.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Senior Tyler Ebell returned to the end zone at New Mexico State for the first time since rushing for a touchdown against Arizona on Oct. 11, 2003 -- his sophomore year at UCLA ... his first TD as a Miner came on a 28-yard strike from Jordan Palmer, marking his first-ever scoring reception ... Ebell caught three passes (tied for the second-best output of his career) for a career-best 46 yards versus the Aggies ... he had another 30-yard reception and a two-yard run wiped off the board due to holding penalties ... Ebell’s pinball-like movements have earned him spots on the kickoff return team (one return for 23 yards) and on punt returns.
NOT MISSING A BEAT: UTEP’s new punter, junior transfer Ryan Hotchkiss, has picked up where four-year starter Bryce Benekos (2001-04) left off ... Hotchkiss averaged 44.5 yards on six punts in the opener at New Mexico State, landing two inside the 20 yard line ... his excellent elevation on his punts also resulted in two fair catches ... Benekos averaged 44.1 yards per punt in each of his last two seasons with the Miners and was in two NFL training camps (Green Bay, Oakland) earlier this year ... Benekos ranked seventh in the country in punting in 2004 ... Hotchkiss is presently 13th nationally after one game.
MINEO IS THE MAN: Senior Chris Mineo has recorded 172 tackles (72 solo) during his career including 25.0 tackles for losses (93 yards) and 13 sacks (68 yards) ... his sack total ranks fifth in the career record books behind current NFL veteran Brian Young (14.5, fourth) and Melvin Besses (15.0, third) ... Gonzalo Floyd holds the record with 20.0 sacks from 1990-91, 93 ... Mineo has also recorded an interception (17 yards, TD), broken up a pass, recovered five fumbles and forced three fumbles during his career.
DEFENSIVE CAREER HIGHS AT NMSU: Jeremy Jones for tackles (12) ... Thomas Howard for interceptions (one; tie), fumble recoveries (one; tie) and pass breakups (two) .. Troy Collavo for tackles (seven; tie) ... Nate Draughon for pass breakups (one; tie) ... Joe Fleskoski for TFLs (one; tie), sacks (one; tie) and forced fumbles (one) ... Chris Mineo for sacks (2.5) ... Tony Barnes for tackles (four), TFLs (one) and sacks (one) ... Alex Obomese for sacks (1.5) ... Quintin Demps for passes defended (two) ... Tevita Fifita for passes defended (two).
OFFENSIVE CAREER HIGHS AT NMSU: Tyler Ebell for receving yards (46) and touchdown receptions (one) ... Jake Sears for receptions (two; tie) ... Matt Austin for receptions (two; tie) ... Josh Chamois for receptions (one; tie) and receiving yards (seven) ... Jordan Palmer for rushing touchdowns (one; tie).
STARTING EXPERIENCE: Chris Francies and Chris Mineo have both started 31 games to tie for the lead among active UTEP players ... Robbie Felix (center), James Riley (right guard), Luis Espinosa (right tackle) and Tyler Ebell (tailback) made their first career starts for the UTEP offense at New Mexico State ... Troy Collavo (MIKE linebacker), Jeremy Jones (WILL linebacker) and Josh Ferguson (right cornerback) appeared in the starting lineup for the first time on the UTEP defense at NMSU.
GETTING OFF TO A GOOD START: UTEP has outscored opponents 113-59 in the first quarter under Mike Price ... the Miners have allowed an average of 4.5 points in the opening period under Price ... UTEP has surrendered just 22 points in the first quarter in its last six games (3.7 ppg) ... the Miners have allowed just one touchdown in the first quarter in their last five outings.
GRIZZLED VETERANS: Offensive linemen Jose Garcia and Josh House are both in their sixth year with the UTEP football program ... both came to UTEP in the fall of 2000 and attended preseason training camp in Socorro, N.M. before taking on “gray shirt” status ... they redshirted during the 2001 campaign ... Garcia and House have started 23 and 13 games for the Miners, respectively ... House has gained 50 pounds since coming to UTEP and earned honorable mention All-Conference honors in 2004, his first year as a starter.
THE GRADUATE: DL Tevita Fifita earned his bachelor’s degree in communication in December and is working on his master’s degree in public administration ... Fifita has played in 29 games for the Miners, making four starts ... he is listed as a reserve right end in the depth chart for the Houston game.
EBELL TIME: Former UCLA standout Tyler Ebell made his highly-anticipated Miner debut on Sept. 3 at New Mexico State ... he will have one year of eligibility with the Miners after redshirting his freshman year (2001) with the Bruins ... Ebell rushed for 1,495 yards and 12 touchdowns in two seasons at UCLA (2002-03) before sitting out last season per NCAA transfer rules ... the native of Ventura, Calif., was a Parade and PrepStar All-American as a prep, setting national records for rushing yardage (4,495) and rushing touchdowns (64) as a senior ... he is one of three former prep All-Americans on the 2005 Miner roster ... the others are junior quarterback/wide receiver Lorne Sam (PrepStar All-American) and sophomore running back Marcus Thomas (Parade All-American) ... Sam is sitting out this season after transferring from Florida State, and will have two years of eligibility at UTEP beginning in 2006.
1,000-YARD CLUB: Barring injury, UTEP will likely have four receivers with over 1,000 yards in their careers at season’s end ... senior Chris Francies (1,292 yards) and junior Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. (1,062 yards) have already joined the 1,000-yard club ... senior Jayson Boyd has 780 yards, with 611 coming at UTEP (he also played at Oregon State in 2002) ... junior Chris Marrow has tallied 819 yards ... all four of the aforementioned wideouts have had 100-yard games at UTEP ... Boyd reeled in a career-high seven catches for 140 yards in the EV1.net Houston Bowl last season ... he finished the 2004 season with 17 catches for 353 yards over the last three games (117.7 ypg) ... Francies posted 104 yards receiving versus Rice in 2002 ... Higgins has had three 100-yard performances, including a personal best 126 yards against Louisiana Tech in 2003 ... Marrow registered 116 yards against Weber State a year ago.
QB NO QUESTION MARK: UTEP entered the 2005 season with an established quarterback for the first time since 2000, when Rocky Perez was the clear-cut starter ... Jordan Palmer started all 12 contests a year ago, throwing for 2,818 yards and 26 touchdowns ... the last time UTEP returned a 2,000-yard passer was 1990, when senior Howard Gasser was coming off a 2,586-yard campaign ... Palmer became only the second Miner sophomore to pass for 2,000 yards in 2004, joining Billy Stevens who achieved this feat in 1965 (3,032 yards) ... Palmer threw for over 300 yards in each of the last three games in 2005, a school-record streak ... he owns four career 300-yard games, tying him for third place in school history (Brooks Dawson is second with six).
WHERE’S THE BEEF? IN THE O-LINE: UTEP’s depth chart for the Houston game features four projected starters in the offensive line who weigh 300 pounds ... left guard Jose Garcia is 320 pounds, right tackle Luis Espinosa is 305, left tackle Josh House is 300 and right guard James Riley is 300 ... UTEP has never opened a season with at least four starting O-linemen weighing 300 pounds ... UTEP’s projected starting O-line for the Houston game averages 6-3 and 300 pounds.
HOWARD AMONG NATION’S FINEST: Senior linebacker Thomas Howard was recently named the preseason Defensive Player of the Year in the state of Texas by Dave Campbell’s magazine ... it marks the first time in the 46-year history of the prestigious publication that UTEP has had a preseason player of the year on either side of the ball ... a Lubbock native, Howard came to UTEP as a walk-on defensive back in 2001 ... at the time he weighed 195 pounds, now he’s up to 240 ... his father, Thomas Howard Sr., was also a linebacker who enjoyed a lengthy NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Cardinals ... Thomas Howard Jr. has posted 221 tackles in 37 games for the Miners, including 29 for losses and 11 sacks ... he ranks eighth in school history with 29 tackles for losses behind Elroy Stoglin, Pete Shufelt and Michael Comer (31.0, tied for fifth) ... he ranks tied for 11th with 11 career sacks as well ... Howard tied Chris Mineo for the team lead in sacks last season with eight ... the sack total is tied for fourth place on the Miner seasonal chart ... he also had 14 stops for losses in 2004 (tied for ninth place in school annals).
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Free safety Quintin Demps made quite an impact as a freshman last season ... he contributed 58 tackles, two interceptions and four pass break-ups while starting all 11 games he appeared in ... he was tabbed the co-WAC Freshman of the Year and a freshman All-America by three agencies (Football Writers Association of America, Scripps, The Sporting News) ... Demps showed a flair for making big plays ... his forced fumble in the second overtime sealed the Miners’ 35-28 win over Rice in the Sun Bowl ... he also had a 51-yard fumble recovery for a score against Boise State, and a 43-yard interception for a TD versus SMU ... Demps joined LB Thomas Howard and DL Chris Mineo as All-Texas defensive selections by Dave Campbell’s preseason magazine.
CONGRATULATIONS: Five Miners were awarded scholarships on Aug. 20, including three seniors ... they are freshman WR Dustin Bell (Dallas, Texas), senior WR Jacob Gonzales (San Antonio, Texas), senior LB Gabe Macias (El Paso, Texas), junior DB Bryant Tisdale (Clearwater, Fla.) and senior OL Jordan Tubig (San Antonio, Texas).
MINERS PICKED FIRST: UTEP is projected to finish first in the Western Division of Conference USA this season, based on a preseason poll of league head coaches ... the Miners received 68 votes, more than any other C-USA school ... Southern Miss, the preseason favorite in the Eastern Division, was second with 64 votes ... rounding out the Western Division are Houston (59 votes), Tulane (46), Tulsa (31), Rice (27) and SMU (21).
WATCH LISTS: Seven Miners have been named to watch lists for various post-season awards ... senior LB Thomas Howard is on watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski Award, presented to the nation’s top defensive player; the Rotary Lombardi Award, presented to the top interior lineman; and the Dick Butkus Award, presented to the top linebacker ... senior DL Chris Mineo is also on the Rotary Lombardi Award list ... junior Jordan Palmer is on the watch list for the Davey O’Brien Award (top quarterback) ... senior Tyler Ebell is on the watch list for the Doak Walker Award (top running back) ... junior Reagan Schneider is on the watch list for the Lou Groza Award (top placekicker) ... junior Alex Obomese is on the watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award (top defensive end) ... junior Ryan Hotchkiss is on the watch list for the Ray Guy Award (top punter).
FROM THE WEIGHT ROOM: UTEP Coach Mike Price says this is the fastest team he has ever coached. The team average in the 40-yard dash is 4.73 seconds (4.95 two years ago), led by junior WR Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr.’s clocking of 4.18 seconds. Other significant 40 times belong to junior DB Nate Draughon (4.29), senior LB Thomas Howard (4.33) and senior RB Tyler Ebell (4.37) ... six Miners achieved vertical jumps of 40 inches or better in winter testing, double the number from the previous year. They are sophomore DB Emeri Spence (44 inches), senior DB Cedric Click (43), Draughon (42), senior WR Jayson Boyd (41), senior DB Marshall Sanford (40.5) and freshman RB Jon Lane (40) ... UTEP’s average standing long jump has increased from 8-5 to 8-10 1/4 in two years, and the average 10-yard dash time has improved from 1.6 seconds to 1.53 seconds. The average vertical jump has increased from 31.8 inches to 33.3 inches over one year ... junior WR David Sutton has the top standing long jump on the team at 10-10.
UTEP ON THE TUBE: Eight Miner games are slated for national television in 2005 ... three will air on ESPN networks and five on CSTV affiliates ... ESPNU televised UTEP’s game at New Mexico State ... the home opener versus Houston (Sept. 16) will be carried on ESPN2, and the game at Tulane (Oct. 14) will be televised by either ESPN or ESPN2 ... CSTV or its affiliate, the i network (formerly PAX), will carry UTEP’s games against New Mexico (Sept. 24), Memphis (Oct. 1), Marshall (Oct. 22), Rice (Oct. 29) and UAB (Nov. 19) ... prior to this season, a total of four UTEP games all-time have aired on national television, including the 2004 EV1.net Houston Bowl on ESPN.
MINER NUGGETS: Mike Price was able to keep his coaching staff together during the offseason, a rarity for UTEP football. It marks the first time since 1987-88 that the Miner staff has remained intact from one season to the next ... two former Miners will be inducted into the UTEP Athletic Hall of Fame on Sept. 23. Fred Carr (1965-67) was one of the greatest linebackers in school history, and went on to play for Green Bay in the NFL (he is a member of the Packer Hall of Fame). Fred Wendt (1942, 1946-48) was the only player in school history to rush for 300 yards in a game, rocketing for 326 yards versus New Mexico State in 1948 ... second-string tailback Matt Austin, an El Paso native, has never started a game for the Miners but still owns 987 career rushing yards ... Mike Price is off to the best 13-game start by a Miner head coach since Mack Saxon (1929-41). Price is 9-4, while Saxon posted a record of 9-2-2 through 13 games.
USELESS STATE OF THE GAME: It has been a while since Houston and UTEP have tangled on the gridiron ... if you are into exacts, here you go ... 20,810 days or 56 years, 11 months and 22 days ... the two teams have combined to play 1,228 total games since the last meeting (UTEP, 220-390-11; (Houston, 308-285-14) ... in 1948, the same year SMU’s Doak Walker won the Heisman Trophy, Richard Feynman improved the Quantum Dynamics Theory and the Polaroid Land Camera hit the market.