UTEP Football Notes/Game 9/Louisiana-Lafayette
Nov. 3, 2008
The Basic Facts
UTEP (3-5, 3-2 C-USA) steps out of Conference USA play to face Louisiana-Lafayette (5-3, 4-0 Sun Belt) on Saturday at Cajun Field. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. MST, and the game will be televised in El Paso on Time Warner Cable MetroSports Southwest Channel 24.
The Ragin' Cajuns are riding a four-game winning streak and rank third nationally in rushing offense (301.3 ypg), eighth in total offense (491.5 ypg) and 14th in scoring offense (37.4 ppg). Louisiana-Lafayette has the country's fifth-leading rusher in Tyrell Fenroy, who is averaging 131.4 yards per game and is one of only seven players in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards in four separate seasons.
This is the first meeting between UTEP and Louisiana-Lafayette, although UTEP coach Mike Price is 2-0 versus the Ragin' Cajuns with wins in 1997 and 1999 when he was at Washington State.
UTEP November Notes
The Miners are 1-0 in November non-conference games under Mike Price, including a 45-0 rout of Texas Southern in the Sun Bowl in 2005. Saturday's game marks only the second non-conference game in November for UTEP since 1992. The Miners lost at Tulsa, 48-39, on Nov. 7 of that year.
UTEP is 5-23 in November since 2001 and has gone winless in the month in four of the last seven years (2001, 2002, 2003, 2007). The Miners are 5-11 in November under Price with a current seven-game losing streak. UTEP's last victory in November was a 36-17 triumph at UAB on Nov. 10, 2006.
Two Members of ULL Staff Have UTEP Ties
Both of Louisiana-Lafayette's coordinators have spent time in El Paso. Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator Ron Hudson was tight ends coach at UTEP in 2001 and 2002. Defensive Coordinator Kevin Fouquier was a graduate assistant with the Miners in 1990 under head coach David Lee.
Chase Clement threw for 372 yards and five touchdowns as Rice clinched bowl eligibility with a 49-44 victory over UTEP on Saturday in the Sun Bowl. Clement completed 28 of 41 passes for the Owls, and Jarett Dillard became Conference USA's all-time leader for career receiving yards, finishing with eight catches for 93 yards. James Casey posted 12 receptions for 142 yards and three TDs for Rice, which went ahead 21-17 early in the second quarter and didn't trail the rest of the way. Jeff Moturi had five catches for 109 yards and three TDs for the Miners.
Louisiana-Lafayette remained perfect in Sun Belt play with a 49-20 win over Florida International on Saturday at Cajun Field. The Ragin' Cajuns scored 28 points in the second quarter led by Tyrell Fenroy, who rushed for two of his three scores in the period.
UTEP in the National Stats
UTEP is 26th in the country in passing offense (253.9 ypg), 28th in scoring offense (33.0 ppg), 31st in net punting (36.8 avg.), 33rd in turnover margin (0.63), 41st in sacks (2.1 avg.), 42nd in total offense (386.5 ypg) and tackles for losses (6.1 avg.), and 45th in passing efficiency (132.11). UTEP's top-100 individual national rankings are as follows: Kris Adams, 74th in receiving yards per game (62.9); Cornelius Brown, tied for 31st in interceptions (0.4 avg.); Josh Ferguson, 40th in kickoff returns (24.6 avg.); Jose Martinez, tied for ninth in field goals (1.8 avg.) and tied for 21st in scoring (9.0 ppg); Kyle Petersen, 34th in punting (41.8 avg.); Adam Vincent, 20th in tackles (9.6 avg.); and Trevor Vittatoe, 36th in total offense (233.4 ypg) and 39th in passing efficiency (135.40).
UTEP in the C-USA Stats
The Miners are third in C-USA in turnover margin (0.62), fourth in kickoff returns (22.1 avg.) and punt returns (8.8 avg.), and fifth in scoring offense (33.0 ppg), passing efficiency (132.1) and punting (36.8 avg.). Individually, Cornelius Brown is tied for fifth in interceptions (0.4 avg.) and tied for third in passes defended (1.3 avg.); Josh Ferguson is fourth in kickoff returns (24.6 avg.) and tied for fifth in forced fumbles (0.3 avg.); Jose Martinez is first in field goals (1.8 avg.), kicking scoring (9.0 ppg) and field goal percentage (.778), tied for first in PAT percentage (1.000) and third in scoring (8.3 ppg); Kyle Petersen is fourth in punting (41.8 avg.); Robert Soleyjacks is tied for fourth in fumble recoveries (0.3 avg.); Adam Vincent is second in tackles per game (9.6); and Trevor Vittatoe is fourth in passing efficiency (135.4), sixth in passing average per game (236.9 ypg) and eighth in total offense (233.4 ypg).
Vittatoe Closing in on 5,000 Career Passing Yards
QB Trevor Vittatoe has thrown for 4,996 yards in two seasons with the Miners. With four more passing yards, he will become only the fifth player in school history to accumulate 5,000 yards passing, joining Jordan Palmer (11,084 yards), Billy Stevens (6,485), Sammy Garza (6,130) and Rocky Perez (5,108) in the illustrious club. Vittatoe also owns 44 career passing touchdowns, already the third-top total in school annals behind Palmer's 88 and Stevens' 51. Vittatoe has thrown for three or more touchdowns in each of the last five games, a UTEP record.
Vittatoe's Streak Ends at 125 Pass Attempts Without a Pick
Trevor Vittatoe went 125 consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception until he was picked off by Rice's Chris Douglas in the second quarter last Saturday. A year ago, Vittatoe had a string of 121 straight pass attempts without an interception. In two seasons with the Miners, he has only 12 interceptions in 675 pass attempts, an average of one every 56 attempts. Over the last seven games, Vittatoe owns 18 TD passes and only two picks.
Vittatoe Posts First 300-Yard Game of Season at Tulsa
Trevor Vittatoe registered his first 300-yard passing game of the season at Tulsa on Oct. 18. He completed 21 of 34 attempts for 306 yards and four TDs. Vittatoe now has five career 300-yard passing games, already the fourth-best total in school history behind Jordan Palmer's 16, Billy Stevens' seven and Brooks Dawson's six. Three of Vittatoe's five 300-yard games have come on the road.
Moturi Nets First 100-Yard Game of `08
WR Jeff Moturi had four 100-yard games last season, but finally went over the century mark in 2008 with five receptions for 109 yards and three TDs versus Rice. He has had a touchdown catch in three straight games and four of the last five. A year ago, Moturi tied the school record by making a TD reception in 10 consecutive contests. He now owns 98 career catches for 1,302 yards and 19 TDs. The 19 TD catches tie him for the third-top total in school history with Chuck Hughes, Bob Wallace and Volley Murphy. Lee Mays is in second place with 28 touchdown receptions. Moturi has five career 100-yard receiving games, a figure which ties him for the seventh-top total in Miner annals.
Another Moturi Tidbit
Jeff Moturi had a career-high three touchdown receptions against Rice last week. That ties him for the second-best game total in school history with 13 other players (most recently Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. at UAB in 2006). The school record for TD catches in a game is four, established by Volley Murphy against BYU in 1967.
First Quarter Has Been Most Explosive for Miners
UTEP has scored 85 points in the first quarter this season, more than 32 percent of its season total. Over the last two games the Miners have tallied 45 of their 79 points (57 percent) in the opening period. The Miners are 1-2 when leading after one quarter this season, compared to 18-9 in such a situation the previous four years under Mike Price.
Three Miners Make First Career Starts Versus Owls
First-time starters for UTEP on offense against Rice included RB Daniel Palmer and RT Alex Solot on offense, and LS Negale Miller on defense. Palmer and Miller are the third and fourth freshmen to start games for the Miners this season, joining RB Vernon Frazier and LB Royzell Smith. UTEP has now had 21 different players start games on offense in 2008, and 22 different starters on defense.
Adams on Scoring Binge
WR Kris Adams' 37-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter versus Rice was his fifth of the season, all in the last five games. Adams is third on the team in scoring with 30 points behind Jose Martinez (72) and Jeff Moturi (36).
Adams has had two 100-yard receiving games this season -- 128 versus UCF and 126 at Tulsa. He owns 24 receptions for a team-leading 503 yards on the year. Adams leads the Miners in receiving (62.9 ypg), and his 21.0 yards per catch would rank second on the school seasonal charts. Volley Murphy averaged a record 21.9 yards per reception in 1967. Adams has been UTEP's receiving leader in four games in 2008.
Ground Game Extremely Balanced
The Miners have run the ball effectively this season, topping the 100-yard mark in six of eight games and averaging 132.6 yards per outing on the ground. However, UTEP's leading rusher (James Thomas II) is a quarterback/wide receiver, and he is on pace to run for only 424 yards this season (he averages 35.4 yards per game). If that figure holds up, it would mark the lowest yardage total by the Miners' leading rusher since QB Shawn Gray rambled for 402 yards in 1992. That was also the last time a non-running back led UTEP in rushing.
Speaking of James Thomas II ...
He has made an impact this season when subbing for starting QB Trevor Vittatoe. Thomas became the third Miner quarterback since 1982 to rush for over 100 yards in a game against New Mexico State when he compiled 142 yards on 19 carries. He still owns UTEP's top single-game rushing total this year. Last week against Rice, Thomas added another dimension to his game by completing a career-long 53-yard pass to Jeff Moturi for his first career touchdown. Thomas is now 11-for-20 passing for 134 yards this season. He leads the team in rushing (35 carries-283 yards) and is averaging a sparkling 8.1 yards per attempt. He has also made five catches for 72 yards.
Something You Probably Didn't Know ...
UTEP is on pace to finish the season with 30 touchdown passes, which would be a school record (the Miners have 20 in eight games). UTEP had 29 passing touchdowns in 2005 to set the school standard, and duplicated the number in 2006.
Vincent Leads Stop Troops
Senior LB Adam Vincent has quietly put together strong numbers for the UTEP defense this season. He is second in Conference USA in tackles per game (9.6) and has produced 77 stops in eight games. Over the last five games, Vincent has totaled 55 tackles (11.0 avg.) with double-digit takedowns in every game.
Martinez a Semifinalist for Groza Award Again
K Jose Martinez, one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award in 2007, is one of 20 semifinalists for the award in 2008. He is 14-for-18 on field goals this year and has made his last nine attempts. Martinez is also a perfect 30-for-30 on PATs. He has a current streak of 36 made PATs.
Martinez scored 14 points versus Rice last week, the sixth double-figure scoring game of his career. He is the only Groza Award finalist from `07 to repeat as a semifinalists this year (Arizona State's Thomas Weber and Indiana's Austin Starr returned in 2008 but did not make the list). This year's list of finalists will be announced in early December.
Martinez Climbing Career Charts Too
Jose Martinez is now 31-for-38 on field goals and 74-for-76 on PATs for a total of 167 points in two seasons at UTEP. He needs three points to tie Lee Mays for 10th place on the Miner career scoring list. Martinez ranks fifth in school history in kicking points, sixth in field goals, second in field goal percentage (.816), sixth in PATs and second in PAT percentage (.974).
Martinez Makes a Little History
Although he missed tying the NCAA record for longest field goal without a tee by one yard, Jose Martinez's 64-yarder against UCF on Sept. 27 was a C-USA and school record. The previous C-USA record was a 57-yard field goal by Martinez against Houston last season. The previous school record was a 59-yard field goal by Keith Robinson versus Rice in 2002.
Martinez made a 70-yard field goal in practice earlier this season.
Something Else You Probably Didn't Know ...
Jose Martinez ranks fifth among active Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players in points per game (8.4) behind Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree (10.1 ppg), Pittsburgh's LeSean McCoy (9.0 ppg), Missouri's Jeff Wolfert (8.9 ppg) and Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray (8.7 ppg). Martinez and Wolfert are the only kickers on the list.
Tough-Luck Miners Scoring But Not Winning
Over the last two seasons, UTEP has lost eight games when scoring 30 or more points, and three games when scoring over 40 points. In fact, the Miners have averaged 29.8 points in their 13 losses over the last two years. UTEP is averaging 40.7 points in victories and 28.4 points in defeats in 2008.
Prior to 2007, UTEP lost a total of three games when scoring 40 points or more -- 50-45 to Utah in 1989, 56-46 at Air Force in 1995 and 69-41 to San Jose State in 2003.
UTEP Doing a Nice Job of Taking Care of the Football
The Miners rank 33rd nationally in turnover margin this season with 10 giveaways and 15 takeaways (+5). UTEP is tied for 14th in the country in fewest turnovers lost, and lead Conference USA in that category (Rice is second with 12 giveaways). The Miners are tied for 66th in the nation in turnovers gained, largely because they've forced only two turnovers over the last four games. Two of the Miners' last three opponents (Tulane and Rice) have gone turnover-free, and UTEP hasn't recovered an opposing team's fumble since Sept. 27 against UCF.
Quality of Opposition Has a Lot to Do With Defensive Woes
UTEP is yielding 39.4 points and 483.4 yards per game, but the Miners have faced some of the nation's top offensive units in 2008. In the first eight games of the season UTEP has already gone up against teams rated first (Tulsa), ninth (Texas), 12th (Southern Miss) and 13th (Rice) in the country in total offense. The Miners still have to face the #8 offensive team (Louisiana-Lafayette) this week and the #4 offensive team (Houston) on Nov. 22. So if the numbers stand, half of UTEP's games this season will come against the top 13 offensive teams in the NCAA.
One More Thing You Probably Didn't Know ...
Trevor Vittatoe is eighth among active Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players in passing yards per game with 249.8. That's more than Missouri's Chase Daniel (242.9) and Texas' Colt McCoy (241.5) average.
Dew, Huntley Suffer Injuries; Dew's Career Over
DL Brandis Dew sustained a herniated disk in his neck in practice on Oct. 22 that has ended his football career. In addition, OL Rod Huntley is out for the remainder of the 2008 season with a fractured tibia suffered in the Tulane game on Oct. 11. The 6-5, 290-pound Dew made his first career start at left end at Tulsa on Oct. 18. He has been credited with 11 tackles, 4.5 tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks, two pass break-ups and four quarterback hurries this season. The 6-3, 310-pound Huntley started the first six games of the season at right guard.
Resilient Miners Come All The Way Back From 0-3
For the first time in school history, UTEP recovered from an 0-3 start to get back to the .500 mark. The Miners started 0-3 fourteen times prior to this season.
This is only the fifth time that UTEP has won at least three games following an 0-3 start. The winningest team in school annals to start 0-3 is the 1997 club that finished 4-7.
More on UTEP's Balanced Offense
UTEP has been led in rushing by four players in eight games -- James Thomas II three times, Donald Buckram and Terrell Jackson twice, and Vernon Frazier once. The last time four different players led UTEP in rushing over the course of a season was 2003, when Matt Austin, Howard Jackson, Jimmy Smith and quarterback Jordan Palmer took turns heading up the ground game. If Daniel Palmer is UTEP's top rusher in a game this season, the Miners would have five different individuals leading the team in rushing for the first time since 1992.
Miners Surpass `07 Sack Total
The Miners have tallied 18 sacks in 2008 after recording 16 sacks all of last season. The Miners have had six multi-sack games in 2008. UTEP is tied for second in C-USA in sacks for league games only with 11 behind Tulsa (21).
We Own The Fourth Quarter!
The Miners couldn't make this claim after the first three games, during which they were outscored 34-6 in the final period. But they've turned things around over the last five contests, totaling 45 points to their foes' 27 in the fourth quarter.
Miners Rank Among the Leaders For C-USA Games Only
UTEP is tied for second in C-USA in turnover margin (1.00) and third in kickoff returns (21.6 avg.) for league games only. Individually, Jose Martinez is first in field goals (1.8 avg.) and kicking scoring (10.2 ppg), and tied for first in PAT percentage (1.000).
New Kids on the Block
Fourteen freshmen have seen action for the Miners already this season, including eight true freshmen -- Antwon Blake, Josh Flores, Ramonte Harris, Jamie Irving, Negale Miller, Bernard Obi, Daniel Palmer and Nick Sampson. Only two true freshmen -- Isaiah Carter and Craig Wood -- played for the Miners in all of 2007.
Miners Have 12 Seniors, Only Three Fifth Years
UTEP has only 12 seniors this season -- WR Chris Day, OL Robby Felix, DB Josh Ferguson, TE Jamar Hunt, RB Terrell Jackson, DB George Kelly, DL Ja-Boy Leomiti, K Jose Martinez, DL James Olalekan, LB Nuuese Punimata, LB Adam Vincent and DB Roddray Walker. Walker is out for the season with a separated shoulder. Of the 12 seniors, only three -- Day, Felix and Hunt -- are in their fifth year with the Miner program. The 12 scholarship seniors ties UTEP for the fourth-lowest total among FBS programs. Alabama and Middle Tennessee have nine scholarship seniors, Central Michigan and Toledo have 10, and Minnesota and North Carolina have 11 apiece. Arizona, Fresno State and C-USA brethren UCF also have 12 scholarship seniors.
Streak Continues For Felix
Senior center Robby Felix made his 44th consecutive start versus Rice. He has started every contest since his freshman year of 2005. Felix is on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, presented to the nation's top center, for the third year in a row.
Miners Name Four Captains For `08
Bell in the Two-Deep, But Not in the Media Guide
Junior DB Dustin Bell isn't included in the 2008 UTEP media guide, but is listed second on the depth chart at right corner. Bell originally signed with the Miners as a wide receiver in the spring of 2006 before spending the last two seasons at Bakersfield College. He played his prep ball at Wilmer Hutchins High School in his hometown of Dallas, earning All-State and district MVP honors his senior year. He had 93 catches for 1,770 yards and 27 touchdowns in his high school career, leading Wilmer Hutchins HS to district titles his sophomore and senior campaigns. He was also an All-District baseball and basketball player. Bell compiled 70 tackles and 10 interceptions in two years at Bakersfield College. Bakersfield had the top-rated defense in the Western State Conference during the 2007 season, limiting the opposition to 256.3 yards per game. Bell's younger brother Derrius is a sophomore defensive back at SMU.
Price 11th on Active Wins List
Mike Price ranks 11th among active FBS coaches with 157 wins. He has posted a 157-149 mark in his 27th year as a Division I head coach, including a 28-28 record in his fifth year at the helm of the UTEP program. Price already rates fourth on UTEP's career wins list with 28 behind Mack Saxson (66), Mike Brumbelow (46) and Bobby Dobbs (41).
Eye-Popping Offensive Numbers Under Price
Since Mike Price took over as head coach for the 2004 season, UTEP has played 56 games and scored 30+ points thirty-five times -- a school record. The Miners have had seventeen 40-point games under Price, another school standard. UTEP has racked up 22,407 yards of offense under Price (400.1 avg.), including the top two seasonal outputs in school annals -- 5,074 yards in 2007 and 5,073 yards in 2005. UTEP's 32.2 ppg average under Price is also tops among all coaches in school history.