Game 6: Miners Seek First Conference Victory at Home Versus SMU
Oct. 1, 2012
THE BASIC FACTS
- UTEP faces SMU in its Conference USA home opener.
- The Miners are 16-12 in C-USA home games since joining the league for the 2005 season.
- UTEP was 1-3 in C-USA home games last season.
- UTEP is 6-1 in C-USA home openers. The lone loss came to Houston, 49-42 a year ago.
- SMU also served as the Miners' opponent in the 2006 C-USA home opener. UTEP won that game 24-21.
- UTEP is 1-1 at home with a loss to fourth-ranked Oklahoma (24-7) and a win over NM State (41-28).
- SMU is playing its second road game of the season, and its first since Sept. 2 (59-24 loss at Baylor). The Mustangs had played three consecutive home games.
- This is SMU's C-USA opener. The Miners are 0-1 in league play following a 28-18 loss at East Carolina last week.
- October has traditionally been UTEP's best month under coach Mike Price with the Miners posting a 19-12 record.
- UTEP is 11-5 in October home games under Price.
- UTEP played the most demanding non-conference schedule in school history and is off to a 1-4 start. The Miners haven't opened 1-5 since 2002.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
- The Miners closed the month of September with a 1-4 record, losing at East Carolina 28-18 last Saturday.
- UTEP led 10-7 late in the first half, but the Pirates scored with 12 seconds remaining to go ahead 14-10 at the break. That started a string of 21 consecutive points for the home team.
- UTEP trimmed a 28-10 deficit to 28-18 on a 96-yard kickoff return by Autrey Golden and ensuing two-point conversion with 4:39 to play. The Miners recovered the onside kick but Nick Lamaison threw his third interception of the day to end the rally.
- Lamaison threw three interceptions, all in the fourth quarter.
- Nathan Jeffery (134 rushing yards) and Michael Edwards (130 receiving yards) accounted for 264 of UTEP's 302 yards of offense (87 percent).
- UTEP finished with 151 yards rushing and 151 yards passing.
- East Carolina tabulated 475 yards of offense, including 217 rushing.
- The Pirates received 258 yards passing from QB Shane Carden and 151 rushing from Vintavious Cooper.
- SMU dropped a second straight home game to 15th-ranked TCU, 24-16, on Sept. 29.
- The game was played in a heavy rainstorm.
- The Mustangs never led after falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter.
- Garrett Gilbert completed 15-of-40 passes for 190 yards for SMU but was intercepted five times, including four times in the second half.
- SMU surrendered just 156 yards of offense to the Horned Frogs. TCU averaged 2.1 yards per play.
- TCU scored 17 points off SMU turnovers, and a 64-yard punt return set up the Horned Frogs' other TD.
- SMU totaled 220 yards of offense.
UTEP VS. SMU
- SMU leads the series 11-8.
- UTEP has won six of the last nine matchups between the schools.
- The Miners are 4-3 versus the Mustangs since joining Conference USA.
- UTEP is 6-4 versus SMU in El Paso.
- The Miners are 6-1 in their last seven games versus SMU in the Sun Bowl.
- UTEP has posted four straight wins over the Mustangs in the Sun Bowl since SMU's last victory in the stadium in 2002.
- UTEP is 4-1 in the Sun Bowl against teams coached by June Jones, including victories over Hawaii in 2000 (39-7) and 2004 (51-20), and SMU in 2008 (36-10) and 2010 (28-14).
- Hawaii, coached by Jones, beat the Miners in 2002 by a 31-6 score.
THE LAST MEETING
- SMU topped UTEP, 28-17, in the C-USA opener for both schools on Sept. 10, 2011 in Dallas.
- The Mustangs clinched the victory when Ja'Gared Davis sacked Miner quarterback Jay Hall and recovered his fumble in the end zone with 2:39 to play.
- Hall came on in relief of UTEP starter Nick Lamaison, who left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder separation.
- The Miners also lost starting defensive tackle Germard Reed to a neck injury in the third period.
- J.J. McDermott passed for 244 yards to lead SMU, and Zach Line rushed for 114 yards with a pair of scores.
- Lamaison and Hall combined to throw for 276 yards, but UTEP was unable to mount any kind of a ground game with 26 carries for 30 yards.
- The Miners led once at 10-7 on a 34-yard field goal by Dakota Warren with 4:15 remaining in the first quarter,
but SMU scored 14 unanswered points to surge to a 21-10 lead.
- Dallas area players in the UTEP depth chart include sophomore OL Mike Amdall (Plano), junior DL
Marcus Bagley (Mesquite), junior DB Adrian James (Dallas), sophomore RB Nathan Jeffery (Caddo Mills), junior QB Carson Meger (Plano), sophomore WR Devin Patterson (Mesquite), freshman DL Roy Robertson (Grand Prairie), freshman LB Gage Sharp (The Colony), sophomore WR Malcolm Trail (Dallas), sophomore K Steven Valadez (Arlington) and freshman RB Xay Williams (Carrollton).
- SMU has no El Paso players on its roster.
- Players on the depth charts who played at the same high school include UTEP sophomore OL Kyle Brown & SMU junior DB Chris Parks (Conroe [Texas] HS), and UTEP junior QB Carson Meger & SMU senior OL Blake McJunkin (Plano [Texas] HS).
- SMU QB Garrett Gilbert saw reserve action in second-ranked Texas' 64-7 win over the Miners on Sept. 26, 2009 in Austin. Gilbert completed 5-of-6 passes for 49 yards in that game.
- UTEP's Mike Price was National Coach of the Year in 1997 and SMU's June Jones earned the honor in 1999.
UTEP VS. C-USA'S WESTERN DIVISION
- The Miners have kicked off their C-USA home schedule against a Western Division squad five times previously (beat Houston 44-41 in double overtime in 2005, beat SMU 24-21 in 2006, beat Tulsa 48-47 in 2007, beat Houston 58-41 in 2009, lost to Houston 49-42 in 2011).
- UTEP's all-time record versus the Western Division is 15-18.
- UTEP is 11-6 in home games versus Western Division teams.
UTEP VS. C-USA TEXAS
- UTEP is 8-13 versus Conference USA's Texas teams since joining the league for the 2005 season.
- The Miners are 2-5 versus Houston, 2-5 versus Rice and 4-3 versus SMU.
- The Miners are 6-4 in home games versus C-USA Texas schools (2-2 versus Houston, 1-2 versus Rice, 3-0 versus SMU).
UTEP vs. EAST CAROLINA NOTABLES
- The 98-yard scoring drive in the first quarter tied for the second-longest for the Miners in the Mike Price era (2004-present). UTEP had a 99-yard scoring drive at SMU in 2009. Overall it marked the 17th scoring drive of 90+ yards for UTEP under Price.
- UTEP finished 2-for-13 on third down conversions. The two conversions were the fewest for the Miners since going 1-for-12 on third down at NM State last season.
- UTEP is 7-3 under Mike Price in games where rain has fallen.
- The Miners dropped to 5-3 in C-USA openers with their third straight loss, all on the road.
- UTEP is 6-23 in C-USA road games and 0-18-1 when playing in the Eastern time zone.
- The Miners are 2-9 on the road versus C-USA Eastern Division teams.
IN THE RANKINGS
- Through the games of Sept. 29, UTEP held national top-50 statistical rankings in net punting (26th, 40.3 avg.), turnover margin (30th, 0.80), punt returns (40th, 10.9 avg.) and kickoff returns (44th, 22.9 avg.).
- Individually, Autrey Golden was 13th in kickoff returns (29.9 avg.), Michael Edwards was tied for 27th in receiving yards per game (91.0) and 38th in all-purpose yards (136.4 avg.), Horace Miller was tied for 41st in sacks (0.8 avg.), Richard Spencer was tied for 42nd in tackles (9.0 avg.) and Ian Campbell was 46th in punting (42.5 avg.).
- UTEP is first in Conference USA in turnover margin (0.80), third in punt returns (10.9 avg.), fourth in kickoff returns (22.9 avg.), punting (40.3 avg.) & scoring defense (29.0 ppg), and tied for fourth in sacks (10).
- In the C-USA individual statistics, Richard Spencer is tied for first in fumble recoveries (0.5 avg.) and tied for third in forced fumbles (0.5 avg), Michael Edwards is tied for second in receiving yards (91.0 avg.) and third in punt returns (7.9 avg.) & all-purpose yards (136.4 avg.), Autrey Golden is third in kickoff returns (29.9 avg.), Nathan Jeffery is fourth in rushing (80.0 ypg), Drew Thomas is tied for fourth in fumble recoveries (0.4 avg.), Ian Campbell is fifth in punting (42.5 avg.) and Horace Miller is tied for fifth in sacks (0.8 avg.).
- SMU is 48th in the country in passing offense (252.8 ypg).
- The Mustangs are third in C-USA in passing efficiency defense (128.3), fourth in passing offense (252.8 ypg) & rushing defense (143.5 ypg) and fifth in scoring defense (32.8 ppg).
- 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 (46-56 record) and 31st year as a collegiate head coach (175-178 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 (231), Nevada's Chris Ault (229), South Carolina's Steve Spurrier (201) and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly (191).
- Price is coaching in his 103rd 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.
- 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.
- 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 22 career starts.
- The bulk of UTEP's offensive starting experience is in the line with Atkinson, LT Brander Craighead (17 starts), LG Jerel Watkins (16) and RT James Nelson (13).
- On defense, UTEP has three players with 20+ career starts in FS DeShawn Grayson (31), 3 Tech Germard Reed (25) and DB Drew Thomas (20).
- UTEP averages 6-4, 302 pounds across the starting offensive line and 6-2, 268 pounds across the starting defensive line.
- Sophomore RB Nathan Jeffery picked up his second career 100-yard rushing game with 27 carries for 134 yards at East Carolina. Jeffery ran for 177 yards in the season opener versus Oklahoma.
- Two Miners have been tabbed Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week. Sophomore Nathan Jeffery was named on Sept. 3 following his performance against Oklahoma and senior QB Nick Lamaison earned the honor on Sept. 17 for 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.
- Sophomore RB Josh Bell registered two rushing touchdowns against NM State. Bell is the first UTEP player to record 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 five games: Nathan Jeffery versus Oklahoma (177 yards) & at East Carolina (134 yards), Autrey Golden at Ole Miss (52 yards) & versus NM State (69 yards), and Xay Williams at Wisconsin (53 yards).
- The Miners have outscored their opponents 40-23 in the first quarter this season. UTEP has scored first in four of five games.
- UTEP has outscored the opposition by a combined 64-40 in the first and third quarters. The Miners have been outscored by a total of 105-38 in the second and fourth periods.
- The first quarter is the only frame where the Miners have had the ball longer that their opponents. UTEP's time of possession in the opening frame is 8:35 compared with 6:25 for its opponents.
LOOKING GOOD LESLIE
- The touchdown catch by sophomore WR Jordan Leslie in the first quarter versus East Carolina was his third in the last four games.
- Leslie's touchdown was the fifth of his career. He has three TDs this season, one more than he had in 12 games as a freshman. Four of his five TD receptions have come in road games.
- 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 20 receptions, 14 have gone for first downs and three have resulted in touchdowns. Six catches were over 20 yards and two were over 30.
- Leslie has compiled 289 receiving yards in 2012, averaging 14.4 yards per catch and 57.8 yards per contest. He compiled 430 yards in 12 contests during his freshman campaign.
- Senior QB Nick Lamaison threw his first interception of the season on his 146th pass attempt in the fourth quarter at East Carolina.
- 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 three passes longer than 30 yards against NMSU, including two for touchdowns.
- Lamaison orchestrated five 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 became 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
- Michael Edwards (130 yards) posted his second straight 100-yard receiving game and his third in a UTEP uniform at East Carolina. Edwards tallied 151 yards at Wisconsin the previous week.
- Edwards is the first UTEP receiver with consecutive 100-yard games since Kris Adams did so versus New Mexico and Rice in October of 2010.
- Edwards has the five longest pass receptions for the Miners this season -- 62 at Wisconsin, 40 at East Carolina, 39 at Wisconsin, 36 versus NM State and 35 at East Carolina.
- 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 scored a touchdown for the second straight week in the first quarter at Wisconsin off a 39-yard pass from Nick Lamaison. It marked the first time that Edwards reached the end zone in consecutive games since joining the Miners for the 2011 season.
- 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
- After totaling four catches for 26 yards versus NM State, the UTEP tight ends had one reception combined in the last two games (Eric Tomlinson three-yard catch at 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).
- Shane Huhn made his first career start at strong safety at East Carolina. Huhn is the third freshman to start for the Miners this season (RBs Autrey Golden & Xay Williams are the others), and the first freshman to start on defense since Wesley Miller earned six starts at strong safety a year ago.
- Huhn answered the call with a career-high nine tackles. His previous best was four stops versus NM State on Sept. 15.
- Aubrey Alexius also posted a career-best with 12 tackles at East Carolina (previous high seven versus Oklahoma on Sept. 1).
- Josh Fely came within one of his career-high for tackles versus the Pirates with 11.
- The Miners have yielded just 23 points in the first quarter of games this year. Oklahoma, Ole Miss and East Carolina each were held to seven points while the defense pitched a shutout against NM State. Wisconsin was also blanked by the stop troops but did score a pair of points after returning a blocked extra point for a score.
- The biggest reason for the success in the first quarter has been the opposition's inability to move the ball. UTEP has conceded only 85.2 yards on average in the opening frame, by far the lowest figure of any quarter. Factoring into that readout was keeping NM State to 16 yards, the best effort in any frame on the year.
- Good defensive units make adjustments at the half, and UTEP has shown that ability thus far in 2012. Opponents have managed only 17 points in the third quarter this year. Only New Mexico State and East Carolina got into the end zone. Oklahoma had a field goal while Ole Miss and Wisconsin were shut out.
- UTEP has kept the opposition in check from a yardage standpoint immediately after the break as well. Foes have accounted for 100.8 yards per game in the third quarter this year, with the last two games bolstering that figure. Both Wisconsin (73 yards in the third quarter) and East Carolina (78) were held below 80 yards of total offense in the period.
- While the fourth quarter has been a challenge at times for UTEP defensively this year, the Miners are making some progress. They have kept the past two foes under 100 yards in the final 15 minutes. Wisconsin gained 99 yards in the final stanza while East Carolina was held to 88 yards in the frame. The Miners had allowed an average of 150.6 yards in the fourth quarter in the first three games of the year.
- Only four times this season have opponents scored on consecutive drives. Wisconsin achieved the feat twice, while Ole Miss and NM State managed the feat once each.
- UTEP's defense has done a great job of swarming to the ball with four different players contributing at least six tackles per game. Three of them are better than 7.0, in the form of the injured Richard Spencer (36-9.0), Josh Fely (42-8.4) and DeShawn Grayson (37-7.4). If those figures stand up, it would mark the first time since the 2007 season that at least three individuals accounted for 7.0 tpg. A total of three players achieved the feat from 2008-11.
- Josh Fely has a shot to reach triple digits in tackles. He is projected to compile 101. The last Miner to have 100+ stops was D'amon Cromartie-Smith, who piled up 109 in 2009.
- While the Miners did not record a sack in the game against East Carolina, the first time this year that they've been denied in the category, they are still on pace to record 24 sacks, which would mark their best total since the 2005 campaign (29).
- Opposing receivers have been hearing footsteps this season, and for good reason. UTEP has 24 pass break-ups through five games. The effort puts the Miners on track to finish just shy of 58 passes defended, which would be their most since recording 79 during the 2000 WAC Championship season.
- Opponents have had problems holding onto the ball in 2012. Foes have fumbled 11 times, which already eclipses the total (nine) from the entire 2011 season. The inability to secure the ball has the opposition on a projected path of almost 29 fumbles. That would be the highest number since 2004 (40).
- Drew Thomas had an interception while also recovering a fumble at Wisconsin. The last Miner to pull off that double was current NFL player Quintin Demps against Tulsa on Oct. 6, 2007.
- Horace Miller was slowed in his pursuit of setting the school single-season standard for sacks after failing to bring down the QB at East Carolina. He is still on track for a big year, though, with his four sacks projecting out to just shy of 10 for the season. The school record is 11.0, set by Melvin Besses in 1979. Last year Miller finished with five sacks to lead the squad.
Golden is Golden on Special Teams
- The 96-yard kickoff return by Autrey Golden in the fourth quarter at East Carolina was the seventh-longest in school history and the longest by a UTEP player since Quintin Demps had a 100-yard return at UCF in 2007.
- The 157 kickoff yards for Golden were the most by a UTEP player since Vernon Frazier had 177 against Houston last season.
- Golden's kickoff return was the longest by a UTEP freshman since Howard Jackson had a 100-yard return in the final game of the 2001 season against Nevada.
- Golden leads the squad in kickoff returns (nine), kickoff return yards (269) and average (29.9).
CAMPBELL RETURNS AS SPECIAL TEAMS STANDOUT
- Punter Ian Campbell was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award last year.
- Campbell registered his fifth punt of more than 50 yards this season against East Carolina.
- Campbell has punted 33 times for 1,402 yards to average 42.5 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.
VALADEZ STILL LEARNING THE ROPES
- Sophomore Steven Valadez was 1-for-2 on field goals at East Carolina and is 4-of-6 overall for 2012. He took over the duties from the injured Dakota Warren. Valadez leads the Miners in scoring, collecting 21 points.
- Valadez is averaging 62.4 yards per kickoff with a net average of 44.8 yards. UTEP's opponents are averaging 61.8 yards per kickoff with a net of 39.5.
- 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-5 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).
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