Miners Host Colorado State in Final Non-Conference Game
Oct. 17, 2011
UTEP (3-3, 1-2 C-USA) concludes its non-conference slate when it plays host to Colorado State (3-3, 1-1 MWC) on Saturday in the Sun Bowl. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. The Miners will play four of their next five games in the Sun Bowl.
The Miners are coming off a 44-7 victory at Tulane. It was UTEP's its first Conference USA victory of the season and snapped a 12-game conference road losing streak.
UTEP and Homecoming Games
The Miners will be playing the 80th Homecoming game in school history on Saturday. UTEP is 36-42-1 all-time on Homecoming with three straight wins. The Miners are 5-2 in Homecoming games under coach Mike Price. Colorado State has served as UTEP's Homecoming opponent on six occasions (1965, 1973, 1983, 1988, 1989, 1991), with the Miners posting a 2-4 record in those games.
UTEP to Complete Non-Conference Slate
The Miners will be playing their fourth and final non-conference game of the season on Saturday. UTEP is 2-1 thus far with wins over Stony Brook (31-24 in OT) and NM State (16-10), and a loss at USF (52-24). The Miners were 3-1 in non-conference games last season. A victory over Colorado State on Saturday would give UTEP three non-conference wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1956-57 (does not take into account the 1962-67 seasons where UTEP was not affiliated with a conference).
The Miners and the Rams have faced each other 33 times, 29 as former members of the Western Athletic Conference. The Rams are 24-9 against the Miners including a 11-6 advantage in the Sun Bowl. The Miners have dropped eight consecutive contests to the Rams. The last UTEP victory over the Rams was a 34-14 triumph on Oct. 15, 1988 in the Sun Bowl when UTEP's current Athletics Director, Bob Stull, was at the helm of the program.
Scouting Colorado State
Colorado State comes into Saturday's contest 3-3, including 1-1 as members of the Mountain West Conference play. The Rams are coming off a 63-13 loss to fifth-ranked Boise State. CSU comes into the contest with a defensive unit that ranks ninth nationally in sacks. Leading the stop troops is sophomore DL Nordly Capi who ranks third nationally in sacks (1.33 spg) and is tied for 10th in tackles for losses (1.58 avg.).
The Last Meeting
Colorado State's Derek Franz kicked a 39-yard field goal with 1:02 to play, as the Rams defeated the Miners, 20-17 on Oct. 3, 1998 in the Sun Bowl. The Miners took a 17-14 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 45-yard pass from John Rayborn to Brian Natkin. Franz booted a field goal to tie the contest with 8:32 remaining before his game winner. UTEP recorded 332 yards passing and Rayborn was 23-of-30 for 288 yards.
UTEP Versus the Mountain West Conference
UTEP has played nine games against Mountain West Conference foes since the league's inception for the 1999 season. The Miners are 5-4 in those games, including 3-1 in the Sun Bowl (beat New Mexico in 1999, 2005 & 2007; lost to San Diego State in 2003). UTEP will be facing Colorado State for the first time since 1998 on Saturday.
UTEP-Colorado State Player Ties
Colorado State has 22 Texas natives on its roster. CSU junior WR Byron Steele and UTEP freshman K Steven Valadez are natives of Arlington, Texas. Colorado State freshman WR Thomas Coffman and UTEP junior K Dakota Warren are from Austin, Texas. CSU junior WR Lou Greenwood and UTEP freshman OL Kyle Brown attended Conroe High School in Conroe, Texas. Colorado State freshman DB Trent Matthews and UTEP senior LB Isaiah Carter attended Judson High School in Converse, Texas. CSU freshman DB DeAndre Elliot and junior CB Marcus Shaw are from Dallas, Texas as are UTEP freshman DB Cameron Richards-Lee, sophomore DB C.J. Haley, freshman WR Malcolm Trail, freshman WR Anthony McGhee, freshman QB Jay Hall and sophomore DB Adrian James. CSU senior LB Mychal Sisson and UTEP senior RB Vernon Frazier attended Duncanville High School in Duncanville, Texas. CSU sophomore LB Mike Orakpo hails from Houston, Texas as does UTEP senior DB Antwon Blake, freshman RB LaQuintus Dowell, sophomore TE Katrae Ford, freshman WR Mark Jackson and freshman WR Jordan Leslie. CSU freshman DB Justin Stallworth and UTEP senior RB Leilyon Myers hail from Compton, Calif. CSU sophomore LB Shaquil Barrett and UTEP sophomore DL Horace Miller are from Baltimore, Md.
UTEP-Colorado State Coaching Ties
Colorado State's associate head coach Larry Lewis was an assistant at Washington State from 1989-98 when Mike Price was head coach of the Cougars. Lewis served as Price's defensive ends coach from 1989-94. He was assistant head coach/special teams coach from 1995-98, and mentored current UTEP special teams coach Jeff Banks. Following his stint at Washington State, Lewis spent eight seasons as the head coach at Idaho State with current co-offensive coordinator Aaron Price and Banks as members of his staff.
CSU's Tim Duffie is no stranger to the UTEP football program. Duffie got his coaching start as a graduate assistant in 2000. He was named the safeties coach in 2002 and coached under Price from 2004-07. While at UTEP, Duffie tutored current UTEP linebackers coach Robert Rodriguez, the 2004 Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
CSU's Larry Kerr has coached in the Sun Bowl before Saturday's contest at UTEP. Kerr was an assistant for UCLA in 2005 when the Bruins toppled Northwestern, 50-38.
Last Time Out
UTEP scored 31 points in the first half en route to a 44-7 thrashing of Tulane. Vernon Frazier opened the scoring for UTEP on a 15-yard run on the Miners' first drive of the game and Joe Banyard reached paydirt on a 72-yard run to give UTEP a 14-7 lead. UTEP led 31-7 at halftime after adding a three-yard TD, a blocked punt recovery in the end zone and a field goal. The UTEP defense intercepted four Tulane passes, registered nine pass break-ups and limited the Green Wave to just one touchdown.
Miners in the National Ranks
Through games of Oct. 15, 2011, the Miners held national top-50 rankings in net punting (first, 44.1 avg.), kickoff returns (fifth, 28.2 avg.), passing efficiency defense (38th, 119.4) and punt returns (41st, 9.8 avg.).
Individually, Ian Campbell was fourth in punting (47.14 avg.); Vernon Frazier was fourth in kickoff returns (31.0 avg.); Anthony McGhee was 39th in punt returns (7.3 avg.) and Dakota Warren was tied for 21st in field goals (1.5 avg.). Warren was also tied for 50th in scoring (8.0 ppg).
Miners Can Make Some Hay at Home
UTEP will play four of its next five games in the Sun Bowl, where it is 28-16 under coach Mike Price. Three of the four games, however, are versus teams that played in bowls a year ago (Southern Miss Oct. 29, East Carolina Nov. 12, Tulsa Nov. 19). The Miners have won nine of their last 12 games in the Sun Bowl and were 5-1 in the venue last season.
Miners Register Biggest Road Win in 23 Years
UTEP's 37-point margin of victory at Tulane last week was its largest in a road game since a 37-0 blanking of New Mexico on Oct. 22, 1988. It ties for the third-largest road victory margin in the modern era of football (since 1965) behind a 75-12 win at New Mexico on Oct. 27, 1967, and a 45-6 triumph at Colorado State on Sept. 19, 1987.
UTEP Came Up Big in the Scoring Department at Tulane
The Miners put 44 points on the board at Tulane, their top scoring total in a conference road game since Nov. 3, 2007 at Rice (48 points). UTEP has scored 40+ points in back-to-back C-USA games for the fourth time since joining the league in 2005. This also happened in 2007 (three straight games versus SMU, Tulsa and East Carolina) and 2008 (versus UCF and Southern Miss).
Passing Attack Didn't Factor Much into 40-Point Game
UTEP scored 44 points at Tulane despite being held to 124 yards passing. The last time the Miners scored as many points with fewer passing yards versus a Division I opponent was on Nov. 7, 1970 against Wyoming, when they compiled 41 yards through the air in a 47-7 rout of the Cowboys (UTEP had 122 yards passing in a 52-6 pasting of I-AA Texas Southern on Sept. 8, 2001).
Ground Game Has Produced its Share of Scores
Three UTEP tailbacks have scored touchdowns in back-to-back games, something that hadn't happened once in the Mike Price era prior to the Houston game on Sept. 29. UTEP has scored three or more rushing touchdowns in consecutive games for the first time since a three-game streak versus Texas Southern (three), SMU (five) and Tulsa (three) during the 2007 season.
Four-Headed Monster Pulsates Rushing Attack
Four tailbacks -- Joe Banyard, Vernon Frazier, Nathan Jeffery and Leilyon Myers -- were all instrumental in the Miners racking up 266 yards rushing last week at Tulane. Banyard (97 yards) went over 90 yards for the third time in four games. Frazier scored his first rushing touchdown since the 2010 season opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Myers scored on a three-yard run, giving him 12 rushing touchdowns in only 19 games with the Miners. And Jeffery continued a stellar freshman campaign that has seen him rush 20 times for 146 yards (7.3 avg.) over the last four games. Over the last two games, UTEP has rushed for 537 yards, its best stretch since compiling 607 yards over the final two contests of the 1994 season.
Tight Ends Have Been a Top Target
UTEP tight ends Kevin Perry, Eric Tomlinson and Craig Wenrick have totaled 15 catches for 251 yards with seven touchdowns in six games. Last season, the Miner tight ends did not score a TD while combining for 138 yards on 15 receptions. UTEP tight ends are averaging 16.7 yards per catch, up from 9.2 in 2010. UTEP has three tight ends with at least one touchdown for the first time since 2008. Against Tulane last week, Wenrick (66 yards) became the first tight end to lead the Miners in receiving since Jamar Hunt in the 2008 opener at Buffalo. Wenrick has scored touchdowns in back-to-back games, the first tight end to achieve the feat since Jake Sears did so in the first two contests of the 2006 season. Wenrick's 66-yard reception is the longest at UTEP for a tight end since the position became popular in the modern era.
Defense Did its Job at Tulane as Well
The Miners held Tulane to seven points, the fewest by an opponent in a conference road game since Oct. 7, 2000 at Tulsa (a 40-7 win over the Golden Hurricane). In fact, only four times since 1965 has UTEP yielded fewer points in a conference road game -- in 1969 at New Mexico (21-6 win), 1970 at BYU (17-0 win), 1987 at Colorado State (45-6 win) and 1988 at New Mexico (37-0 win).
UTEP Picked Off Four Passes at Tulane
UTEP has had four or more interceptions in a game five times since 2005 under coach Mike Price, most recently last week at Tulane (interestingly, the Miners had zero games with four interceptions from 1990-2004). The four picks versus the Green Wave marked the most for the Miners in a conference road game since Oct. 17, 1970 at Colorado State (four). UTEP has had seven takeaways (five interceptions/two fumble recoveries) in its two C-USA road games this season.
Special Teams Got into the Scoring Act Versus Green Wave
The Miners registered their first blocked punt for a touchdown in over six years in the second quarter at Tulane. The last time this happened was on Sept. 24, 2005 versus New Mexico, when Chris Francies blocked a punt and Nate Draughon recovered in the end zone.
Warren Gets into the Groove
After a shaky start to the season, Dakota Warren has made four straight field goals and seven of his last 10. He connected on three field goals each versus NM State and Tulane. Warren is the seventh UTEP kicker since 1965 to make three field goals in multiple games in a season, joining Hugo Castellanos (twice each in 1984 & 1985), Chris Jacke (five times in 1988), Jason Gillespie (twice in 1990), Ricky Bishop (three times in 2000), Reagan Schneider (twice each in 2004 & 2006) and Jose Martinez (three times in 2008).
The Monkey is Off Our Back
UTEP put a stop to its 12-game Conference USA road losing streak with the 44-7 conquest of Tulane. The Miners hadn't tasted victory in a C-USA road game since prevailing at Southern Miss, 40-37 in double overtime, on Oct. 4, 2008.
October Has Been Very Good to the Miners
The Miners have enjoyed more success in the month of October than any other under the direction of coach Mike Price, posting an 18-11 record. UTEP has won its first game in October in six straight seasons and in eight of the last nine years.
Miners Are Good When They Go For It
UTEP was 3-for-3 on fourth down conversions at Tulane last week, making the Miners 9-for-13 in the category for the year. The .692 percentage ranks second in Conference USA and 16th nationally. East Carolina is the league leader, having converted on 5-of-7 fourth down chances for a .714 percentage. UTEP converted only six fourth downs all of last season, and the last time the Miners had more than nine in a season was in 2003 (13-for-27). On the flip side of the coin, the Miners and Connecticut are tied for the FBS lead in fourth down conversion defense (.000). The Huskies have stamped out all five fourth down attempts by the opposition and the Miners have stuffed their foes on three tries.
Campbell Making a Run at National Punting Title
Ian Campbell is attempting to become the fourth UTEP player to lead the country in punting, joining Owen Price (1940), Fred Wendt (1946) and Ed Bunn (1992). Campbell currently ranks fourth in the FBS with a 47.14 average. Idaho's Bobby Cowan is the national leader (47.92 avg.), followed by Nebraska's Brett Maher (47.30) and Missouri's Trey Barrow (47.18). Campbell's average would rank third in school history behind Price's 48.00 in 1940 and Bunn's 47.68 in 1992. UTEP, meanwhile, leads the nation in net punting (44.09 avg.) and ranks fifth in punt return coverage (0.88 yards per return).
Nixon Racking Up the Interceptions
Travaun Nixon has three interceptions in three games this season and seven in 15 games with the Miners. He has 16 interceptions in a college career that started at Ventura Junior College from 2008-09. Despite missing half of the 2011 season due to injury, Nixon is tied for the 13th-top interception total in the country. The national leader, N.C. State's David Amerson, has six picks.
Miners in Gift-Giving Mode
UTEP has been a little too careless with the football to coach Mike Price's liking this season. The Miners have 16 giveaways to tie for 106th nationally among 120 FBS schools. Only Tulsa (21 giveaways) and East Carolina (23) have coughed up the football more times among C-USA schools. UTEP is tied for 66th in the country in turnovers gained (10), and the Miners' turnover margin of -1.00 is tied for 104th in the nation and rates ninth in C-USA.
UTEP Has Been a Disciplined Bunch
The Miners are tied for 18th in the country in fewest penalties per game (4.5), and they rank 15th in fewest yards penalized per game (38.50). Both numbers lead Conference USA. UTEP was whistled for just one penalty totaling 10 yards at Tulane last week. The last time the Miners had one penalty or fewer in a contest was on Aug. 31, 2006 at San Diego State (0), and the last time they had so few in a conference game was on Oct. 14, 1989 versus New Mexico (0). In three Conference USA games this season, UTEP has six penalties for 54 yards.
Miners' Defensive Success Buoyed By Red Zone Efficiency
UTEP is tied for 14th in the FBS in red zone efficiency defense. Opponents have scored 15 times on 21 trips to the red zone (71.4 percent), but with only 10 touchdowns. Southern Miss leads C-USA in red zone defense (16-for-23, .696), a shade ahead of the second-place Miners. The Miners, on the other hand, have scored touchdowns on 5-of-6 red zone trips over the last two games after totaling six TDs on 15 red zone appearances in the first four games of the season.
Big Plays Aplenty Versus the Green Wave
The Miners registered their longest running play (72 yards Joe Banyard), passing play (66 yards Nick Lamaison to Craig Wenrick), punt return (14 yards Anthony McGhee) and interception return (27 yards Darren Woodard) of the season in their 44-7 victory at Tulane on Oct. 15.
The Secondary Was Disruptive
UTEP registered a season-high nine pass break-ups, including four interceptions, in last week's triumph at Tulane. That ties the second-top total of the Mike Price era. The Miners registered 12 pass break-ups in a 45-21 conquest of the Green Wave on Oct. 14, 2005 in Ruston, La. UTEP also had nine deflections at New Mexico State on Sept. 3, 2005, Tulane on Oct. 14, 2006, and at Rice on Nov. 3, 2007.
Banyard Coming On Strong
Senior RB Joe Banyard has found his form the past two games, piling up 337 rushing yards. He rambled for a career-high 240 yards against Houston and followed that up by picking up 97 yards on just nine carries in the win at Tulane. Banyard managed 143 yards over the first four contests, failing to eclipse 20 in three of those tilts.
Who Needs Third Down
The Miners had as many conversions on fourth down (3-of-3) as they did on third down (3-of-12) in the rout at Tulane. Overall UTEP is now 9-of-13 (69.0 percent) on the year on fourth-down attempts compared to 32 percent (26-of-80) on third-down tries.
Myers Is Money
Senior RB Leiylon Myers may not be the flashiest runner on the team, but he is the go-to-guy when UTEP needs to move the chains. Myers paces the squad with 19 "money rushes," including four on third down and five on fourth down. His efforts have helped the Miners go 7-of-7 on fourth-down running plays.
Miners Break Out The Big Plays
UTEP has registered five plays from scrimmage on the year of at least 50 yards, and four of them have come in the past two contests. The Miners did so twice against both Tulane (72-yard rush Joe Banyard & 66-yard pass from Nick Lamaison to Craig Wenrick) and Houston (68-yard rush Banyard & 50-yard rush Banyard). The only such play in the first four games on the year came at New Mexico, which was in the form of a 60-yard run by Banyard on a fake punt.
Pretty Solid Season So Far
UTEP stands at 3-3 on the year, and it has been competitive in every game. The Miners have a +4 scoring margin (174-170), and their setbacks have come against teams with a combined record of 15-3.
Springer, Warren and Wenrick Honored
Jeremy Springer was named College Sports Madness C-USA Defensive Player of the Week and Dakota Warren and Craig Wenrick have been named College Football Performance Award's honorable mentions for their respective positions.