Game 5: Miners Open League Play at East Carolina
Sept. 24, 2012
THE BASIC FACTS
- UTEP opens its eighth season of Conference USA play at East Carolina on Saturday.
- The Miners are 22-34 versus C-USA opponents since joining the league for the 2005 season.
- UTEP is 16-12 in C-USA home games and 6-22 in C-USA road games.
- The Miners haven't won more than one C-USA road game in a season since 2005.
- UTEP is 5-2 in C-USA openers (4-0 home, 1-2 away).
- The Miners have dropped their last two C-USA openers at Houston in 2010 (54-24) and at SMU in 2011 (28-17) after winning five straight.
- UTEP is 2-5 in C-USA road openers with wins at SMU in 2007 (48-45 in overtime) and at Southern Miss in 2008 (40-37 in double overtime).
- East Carolina has never served as UTEP's opening C-USA opponent. The Miners played the Pirates in their third league game in 2007, eighth game in 2008 and sixth game in 2011.
- The Miners will have traveled a total of 5,810 miles (round trip) in two weeks when they return to El Paso following Saturday's game. UTEP played at Wisconsin last week.
- The distance from El Paso to Greenville, N.C. is 1,686 miles, making this the longest road trip for the Miners within C-USA play. Orlando (UCF) is the second-longest trip at 1,512 miles one-way.
- UTEP is 0-17-1 all-time when playing inside the Eastern time zone. The tie came versus West Virginia, 13-13, on Nov. 12, 1949.
- East Carolina is playing its second home game of the season following three straight on the road. The Pirates beat Appalachian State, 35-13, in their home opener on Sept. 1 before 49,023 fans.
- ECU is 163-84-1 (.658) all-time at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
COACH TO CURE MD WEEK
- The UTEP and East Carolina coaching staffs will be wearing Coach to Cure MD patches this week to raise awareness and funding for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research.
- Fans are encouraged to donate online at www.CoachtoCureMD.org or donate $5 by texting CURE to 90999.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
- UTEP dropped to 1-3 on the season with a 37-26 loss at Wisconsin last Saturday.
- The Miners were outscored 21-3 in the second quarter and fell behind 23-6 before stringing together 13 consecutive points to pull within four (23-19) midway through the fourth quarter.
- Wisconsin put the game out of reach with two touchdowns in a span of 15 seconds late in the game.
- Melvin Gordon rushed eight times for 112 yards for the Badgers, who lost starting tailback Montee Ball to a head injury in the second quarter.
- Jared Abbrederis compiled six catches for 147 yards for Wisconsin.
- UTEP QB Nick Lamaison completed 22-of-39 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns.
- Both of Lamaison's TD passes went to Michael Edwards, who finished with seven catches for 151 yards.
- The Miners lost starting strong safety Richard Spencer to a knee injury in the third quarter.
- East Carolina fell 27-6 at North Carolina last Saturday.
- The Pirates trailed 10-6 at the half and were shut out after the break as the Tar Heels put 17 points on the board.
- ECU was limited to 233 yards of offense (124 passing, 109 rushing).
- Shane Carden completed 17-of-30 passes for 124 yards for the Pirates.
- Bryn Renner finished 27-of-43 passing for 321 yards, including two TDs, for North Carolina.
- East Carolina's six second half offensive drives averaged 7.8 yards with none longer than 27 yards.
- LB Jeremy Grove led ECU with nine tackles and was credited with two of the Pirates' six tackles for losses.
UTEP VS. EAST CAROLINA
- Fourth meeting between the schools with the Pirates holding a 2-1 series edge.
- East Carolina topped UTEP in El Paso in 2007 (45-42 in overtime) and in Greenville in 2008 (53-21).
- The Miners beat the Pirates last season in the Sun Bowl (22-17).
- UTEP had beaten every other team in C-USA before breaking through with a victory over ECU on the third try last year.
- East Carolina has one Texas player on its roster in sophomore QB Shane Carden. UTEP has no North Carolina products.
- The Miners do have three players from Maryland on their roster in junior DL Horace Miller (Baltimore), senior DB Derrick Morgan (Germantown) and freshman DB Terrance Williams (Baltimore). Germantown is 249 miles from Greenville and Baltimore is 260 miles away.
- UTEP junior OL David Grubaugh and ECU junior LB Gabriel Woullard both started their collegiate careers at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif.
- UTEP has played four games in its football history where Ruffin McNeill, current head coach of the East Carolina Pirates, was on the opposing sideline. On Oct. 23, 1999, McNeill was defensive coordinator at Fresno State when the Bulldogs topped the Miners 24-23 in overtime. McNeill was on the Texas Tech staff when the Red Raiders knocked off UTEP during the 2006 (38-35 in overtime) and 2007 (45-31) seasons. McNeill also coached against the Miners last season in El Paso, with his Pirates coming up on the short end of a 22-17 score.
UTEP VS. C-USA'S EASTERN DIVISION
- UTEP is kicking off its C-USA slate versus an Eastern Division team for the second time, including a 58-13 home win over UCF to christen league play in 2008.
- UTEP's all-time record versus the C-USA Eastern Division is 7-16. The Miners are 15-18 versus the Western Division.
- UTEP is 2-8 in road games versus C-USA Eastern Division teams with wins at UAB in 2006 (36-17) and Southern Miss in 2008 (40-37 in double overtime). The Miners have lost their last five away games to Eastern Division squads.
UTEP vs. WISCONSIN NOTABLES
- The Miners had three sacks in the first half after totaling three versus Oklahoma, one at Ole Miss and three versus NM State. The last time UTEP had three or more sacks in a half was last season against Colorado State (five in the second half).
- The UTEP offense has committed one turnover in four games, a Carson Meger interception in the second quarter at Ole Miss on Sept. 8.
- UTEP drops to 0-17 all-time in road games versus BCS conference teams.
- The 26 points were the third-most scored by the Miners in 17 road games versus BCS conference schools. UTEP scored 31 points at Texas Tech in 2007 and 28 at Oregon in 1999.
- The 11-point margin of defeat was the slimmest in the 17 road games versus BCS teams. Previous smallest
margin was 13 points (34-21) at Arizona in 1999.
- UTEP is 0-2 all-time versus Big Ten Conference teams.
- The crowd of 79,806 was the fifth-largest to witness a game involving UTEP.
IN THE RANKINGS
- Through the games of Sept. 22, UTEP held national top-50 statistical rankings in turnover margin (tied for 24th, 1.00), net punting (28th, 40.1 avg.) and sacks (34th, 2.5 avg.).
- Individually, Horace Miller was tied for 21st in sacks (1.0 avg.), Ian Campbell was 36th in punting (42.7 avg.), Michael Edwards was 32nd in all-purpose yardage (134.5 avg.) & 43rd in receiving yards per game (81.3), and Richard Spencer was tied for 47th in tackles (9.0 avg.).
- UTEP is tied for first in C-USA in turnover margin (1.00), second in sacks (10), third in punt returns (10.9 avg.), fourth in scoring defense (29.2 ppg), and fifth in pass defense (232.0 ypg), total defense (447.5 ypg), net punting (40.1 avg.) & pass efficiency (124.1).
- Horace Miller is tied for first in C-USA in sacks (1.0 avg.), Michael Edwards is second in all-purpose yardage (134.5 avg.) & third in punt return average (7.9), Drew Thomas is tied for second in fumble recoveries (0.5 avg.), Richard Spencer is tied for second in fumble recoveries (0.5 avg.) & tied for fifth in forced fumbles (0.5 avg.), Nick Lamaison is fourth in passing efficiency (126.9) and Ian Campbell is fifth in punting (42.7 avg.).
- East Carolina rates 33rd nationally in rushing defense (117.5 ypg), 41st in kickoff returns (22.9 avg.), 47th in net punting (38.7 avg.), 47th in sacks (2.3 avg.) and 50th in tackles for losses (6.3 avg.).
- The Pirates are first in C-USA in rushing defense (117.5 ypg), third in scoring defense (25.5 ppg), total defense (430.2 ypg) & sacks (nine), fourth in kickoff returns (22.9 avg.) and fifth in punt returns (9.3 avg.).
- Mike Price is in his ninth year as UTEP's head coach (46-55 record) and 31st year as a collegiate head coach (175-177 mark).
- Price is tied with Mike Brumbelow for the second-most wins by a UTEP coach with 46. Mack Saxon ranks first with 66 victories.
- 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 (254 victories), Texas' Mack Brown (230), Nevada's Chris Ault (228), South Carolina's Steve Spurrier (201) and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly (191).
- Price is coaching in his 102nd 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.
- 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 21 career starts.
- On defense, UTEP has two players with 20+ career starts in FS DeShawn Grayson (30) and 3 Tech Germard Reed (24).
- UTEP averages 6-4, 302 pounds across the starting offensive line and 6-2, 268 pounds across the starting defensive line.
- Two Miners have been tabbed Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week. Sophomore RB Nathan Jeffery was named on Sept. 3 following his performance against Oklahoma and senior QB Nick Lamaison earned the honor on Sept. 17 after his play against NM State.
- Six Miners have registered their first career receptions in 2012. Freshman WR Felix Neboh was the latest after recording one catch for seven yards at Wisconsin. Sophomore TE Katrae Ford, sophomore WR Jim Jones and freshman RB LaQuintus Dowell each registered their first career receptions against NM State and freshman WR Autrey Golden and sophomore WR Ian Hamilton recorded their first career catches against Ole Miss and Oklahoma, respectively.
- UTEP scored its first rushing touchdown of the season in the first quarter versus NM State on a one-yard run by Josh Bell. The last time the Miners scored their first rushing TD in the third game of the season or later was in 2003 when they did so in the fourth game at Louisville. It was also Bell's first career touchdown.
- Bell is the first UTEP player to register multiple rushing touchdowns in a game since Leilyon Myers versus Tulsa on Nov. 19, 2011.
- Three different players have led the Miners in rushing in four games: Nathan Jeffery versus Oklahoma (177 yards), Autrey Golden at Ole Miss (52 yards) & versus NM State (69 yards), and Xay Williams at Wisconsin (53 yards).
- After producing just three points in their first four red zone trips of the 2012 campaign, the Miners have converted six of seven trips into 37 points. The Miners were two-for-two against Wisconsin, scoring 10 points, and the Miners scored four times for 27 points in five trips against NM State.
- The Miners found a way to move the chains in the fourth quarter at Wisconsin, converting 4-of-6 third down chances. UTEP was 1-for-12 on third down in the first three periods.
LOOKING GOOD LESLIE
- Sophomore WR Jordan Leslie became the first UTEP receiver to record touchdown catches in consecutive games since 2010 after scoring twice against NM State.
- Leslie posted a career-high 147 yards receiving versus NMSU. His previous high was 119 yards versus Tulsa on Nov. 19, 2011.
- Of Leslie's 19 receptions, 14 have gone for first downs and two have resulted in touchdowns. Four catches were over 20 yards and two were over 30.
- Leslie has compiled 287 receiving yards in 2012, averaging 15.1 yards per catch and 71.8 yards per contest. He compiled 430 yards in 12 contests during his freshman campaign.
- The TD catch by Leslie against NMSU was his first in the Sun Bowl. His previous three all came in road games (Ole Miss, 2012; Rice and UCF, 2011).
- Senior QB Nick Lamaison has thrown 127 passes this season with no interceptions.
- Lamaison has thrown for 559 yards in the last two games, his most in a two-game stretch as a Miner.
- The 22 pass completions by Nick Lamaison at Wisconsin marks the second-top total for his career. He registered 21 for the third time against NMSU. His career-best was 24 completions against Stony Brook last year.
- Nick Lamaison set a UTEP high with four touchdown passes against NM State (previous high three on three occasions last season).
- Lamaison recorded the second 300-yard passing game of his career versus NM State (first was 365 yards versus Stony Brook on Sept. 3, 2011).
- Lamaison registered five passes longer than 30 yards against NMSU, including a 36-yard scoring toss to Michael Edwards on UTEP's final TD drive.
- Lamaison orchestrated four scoring drives covering over 60 yards versus NMSU.
FRESHMEN GAIN GROUND
- The touchdown run by freshman RB Xay Williams in the third quarter at Wisconsin was the first of his career. He is the first UTEP freshman to post a rushing score since Nathan Jeffery did so against Houston on Sept. 29, 2011.
- Williams rushed for a season-high 53 yards versus the Badgers. It marked the fifth-most rushing yards by a freshman in the Mike Price era (2004-present).
- Freshman RB Autrey Golden ran for 52 and 69 yards respectively versus Ole Miss and NM State. Those totals rate sixth and third among freshmen running backs under Mike Price.
- Freshman RB LaQuintus Dowell ran five times for 36 yards against NM State. It marks the 12th-best effort by a freshman in the Mike Price era.
EDWARDS-LAMAISON COMBINATION REVIVED
- After failing to register a reception against Oklahoma for the first time in his career, senior WR Michael Edwards had a career-best nine catches against Ole Miss and followed with a five reception, 86-yard contest against NM State and a team-high seven receptions for 151 yards at Wisconsin.
- The 62-yard touchdown pass from Nick Lamaison to Edwards in the fourth quarter versus the Badgers marked the third time that the combination has hooked up for a score of 50 yards or more. The other such occurrences came last year at Rice (74 yards & 50 yards).
- Edwards recorded his second career 100-yard receiving game at Wisconsin (187 yards at Rice last season).
- Edwards scored a touchdown for the second straight week in the first quarter at Wisconsin off a 39-yard pass from Nick Lamaison. It marks the first time that Edwards has reached the end zone in consecutive games since joining the Miners for the 2011 season.
- Edwards has the three longest pass receptions for the Miners this season -- 62 at Wisconsin, 39 at Wisconsin and 36 versus NM State.
- Edwards became the second Miner in 2012 to score a TD in consecutive games at Wisconsin. Jordan Leslie also reached paydirt in back-to-back contests (at Ole Miss and NM State). Kris Adams was the last UTEP wide receiver prior to this season to acomplish the feat. He did so against Tulane and Marshall in 2010 (tight end Craig Wenrick had touchdown receptions in back-to-back games versus Houston and Tulane last season).
The TIGHT ENDS
- Sophomore Craig Wenrick was the only tight end with a reception against Wisconsin.
- Junior Kevin Perry registered the second touchdown reception of his career in the first quarter, and the first by a UTEP tight end in nine games, against NM State.
- Sophomore Craig Wenrick added a touchdown catch in the third quarter versus NMSU, giving the Miners multiple tight ends with touchdown receptions in a game for the first time since Oct. 18, 2008 at Tulsa (Elijah Goldtrap & Jamar Hunt one each).
- UTEP has proven to have a quality game plan early on. Opponents have been held to 16 points in the opening period while tallying 314 yards. The Miners are also making good adjustments at the half. Foes have scored 10 points with 426 yards in the third quarter.
- Opponents have put points on the board in just 17 of 52 drives on the year. They have gained 35 yards or fewer in 29 of the drives, with almost half of those (15) failing to amount for more than 10 yards.
- UTEP has been swarming to the ball, with 12 different players contributing at least 10 tackles on the year. Three have at least 30, in the form of Richard Spencer (36), Josh Fely (31) and DeShawn Grayson (31).
- Opponents have had problems holding onto the ball in 2012. Foes have fumbled nine times this year. That figure ties for the third-most during coach Mike Price's tenure through four games. Opponents had 11 fumbles to this point in 2008 while checking in with 10 in 2004 and nine in 2009.
BRINGING THE PRESSURE
- Senior DL Horace Miller recorded the second multiple sack game of his career at Wisconsin. He also had two sacks versus Colorado State on Oct. 22 of last year.
- Horace Miller has four sacks in as many games, putting him on a record-setting pace in 2012. The single-season school standard for sacks is 11.0, set by Melvin Besses in 1979. Last year Miller finished with five sacks to lead the squad.
- UTEP has been getting to the quarterback often in 2012. The Miners have tallied 10 sacks on the season, aided by a trio of three-sack contests. It marks the fifth time that UTEP has reached double figures in the category through four games in the Mike Price era. Other seasons were 2005 (16), 2006 (11) and 2004 & 2008 (10).
- UTEP has posted back-to-back three sack games. It marks the first time that the Miners have registered at least three sacks in consecutive contests since achieving the feat in 2008.
- The last time UTEP strung together at least three straight games with a trio of sacks was at the onset of the 2005 campaign. The Miners had efforts of eight, four & three sacks to start the season that year.
- The three total sacks at Wisconsin represents the second-highest total for the Miners in a road game since Andre Patterson took over as defensive coordinator for the 2010 season. UTEP registered six sacks at NM State on Sept. 17, 2011.
MINERS TAKE IT AWAY
- For the second time this season, UTEP had a player with multiple takeaways in a game as Drew Thomas posted an interception and a fumble recovery at Wisconsin. Richard Spencer had two fumble recoveries at Ole Miss on Sept. 8.
- Richard Spencer has tallied an interception, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in four games this season.
- Drew Thomas was credited with eight tackles at Wisconsin, eclipsing his previous career high of six stops four times.
- Including the season-high 10 pass break-ups against NM State (9/15/22), the Miners have been credited with 20 on the campaign. That is the second-highest sum through four games during the Mike Price era, only trailing the efforts of the 2005 squad (22).
CAMPBELL RETURNS AS SPECIAL TEAMS STANDOUT
- Punter Ian Campbell was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award last year.
- Campbell has punted 27 times for 1,154 yards to average 42.7 yards per attempt in 2012.
- Campbell punted seven times for 301 yards at Ole Miss, including four that landed inside the Rebel 20-yard line. It marked the first time since 2006 (Ryan Hotchkiss versus SMU) and the second time under Mike Price that a punter landed four punts inside the 20.
- Campbell's long punt 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 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 made two field goals from 40+ yards (45 yards in the second quarter, 43 in the fourth quarter) at Wisconsin. Valadez is 3-for-4 from 40+ yards in a Miner uniform including a 46-yarder versus East Carolina last season.
- Valadez is the first UTEP kicker to make a pair of field goals from 40+ yards in a game since Dakota Warren at Tulane on Oct. 15, 2011.
- The last Miner to make two field goals from 43 yards or more in a game was Warren versus Memphis on Sept. 25, 2010 (57 and 50 yards).
- Valadez made five PATs against NM State a week after connecting on his first career PAT against Ole Miss.
- Valadez kicked off seven times for 439 yards versus the Aggies, including six touchbacks.
NOTABLES IN THE RETURN AREAS
- Senior WR Mike Edwards registered three kickoff returns for a career-best 52 yards at Ole Miss. In 2012, he has registered 107 yards on six kickoff returns.
- Edwards also has 10 punt returns for a total of 79 yards.
- RB Autrey Golden has five kickoff returns for 112 yards, including four for 66 yards at Wisconsin.
- Golden registered his first career kickoff return for 46 yards in the Miners' win against NM State. The true freshman compiled 115 all-purpose yards in the contest. So far Golden has tallied 263 all-purpose yards, the third-highest on the squad.
- Golden is averaging 22.4 yards per kickoff return, best on the squad.
- 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.