Miners Face North Texas to Continue Conference USA Play
Nov. 4, 2013
Miners Face North Texas to Continue Conference USA Play
UTEP (1-7, 0-4 C-USA) will play the final contest of a three-game road swing, battling North Texas (6-3, 4-1 C-USA) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. MT (2:30 p.m. CT) at Apogee Stadium. This will be the first meeting between the programs in 33 years and first meeting in Denton, Texas since 1979. The Miners will play their final home game of the season against FIU on Nov. 16 and will continue the road trend when they finish out the season at Tulane on Nov. 23 and at Middle Tennessee on Nov. 30. The Miners are 3-17-2 when playing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The Miners’ last win in the area was a 48-45 overtime victory at SMU on Sept. 29, 2007. UTEP’s last win after playing a Top 25 opponent came on Oct. 3, 2009 when the Miners defeated No. 12 Houston after falling to No. 2 Texas.
This is the 22nd meeting between the Miners and the Mean Green. The Mean Green leads the overall series 13-5-3. North Texas has won the last six contests against UTEP (1966, 1968, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980). The Miners’ last win against the Mean Green came in the 1965 season opener (61-15). The Miners also notched wins during the 1953, 1954, 1957 & 1963 seasons. The Miners are 1-7-2 all time at North Texas.
The Last Meeting
UTEP built a 9-0 lead over North Texas State (now North Texas) in the first quarter but was outscored 35-6 over the next three periods as the Miners lost 35-15 on Sept. 20, 1980 in the Sun Bowl. North Texas’ Joe Stevenson was 7-of-19 passing for 76 yards and two touchdowns. North Texas got on the board at the beginning of the second quarter as Bobby Daniels scored on a one-yard run into the end zone. The Mean Green took the lead for good when Stevenson threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Pete Harvey with 1:48 left in the first half. Delbert Thompson led the Miners with 95 yards on 27 carries. UTEP gained 141 yards on the ground. Keith Castle and Paul Sieczkowski combined for 13 completions for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Sieczkowski threw a two-yard touchdown to Don Kimball in the first quarter and Castle threw a 15-yard score to Virgil Glasgow for the Miners’ final score in the fourth. North Texas gained 348 yards of total offense, including 264 yards rushing on 56 attempts. The Miners gained 251 yards of total offense.
UTEP players from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area are OL Jerome Daniels (Little Elm/Little Elm HS), DB Ishmael Harrison (Red Oak/ Red Oak HS), DB Adrian James (Dallas/Skyline HS), RB Nathan Jeffery (Caddo Mills/Caddo Mills HS), RB Hunter Nix (Prosper/Prosper HS), DL Devante Richardson (Fort Worth/JuanSeguin HS), DB Traun Roberson (DeSoto/DeSoto HS), QB Garrett Simpson (The Colony/The Colony HS), OL Chris Thomas (Lancaster/Lancaster HS), WR Malcolm Trail (Dallas/Life School Oak Cliff HS), TE Craig Wenrick (Flower Mound/Flower Mound HS) and WR Jaquan White (Dallas/Lancaster HS).
UTEP DB Traun Roberson graduated from DeSoto (Texas) HS along with North Texas’ RB Antoinne Jimmerson, WR Brandon Johnson, LB Zach Orr and WR Darius Terrell.
UTEP WR Malcolm Trail and North Texas WR Roderick Lancaster are products of Life School of Oak Cliff HS (Dallas,Texas). UTEP TE Craig Wenrick and North Texas OL Kaydon Kirby are Flower Mound (Texas) HS graduates.
UTEP Assistant Head Coach Spencer Leftwich was the offensive line coach at North Texas from 1994-2002 and again from 2007-09. UTEP graduate assistant Tyler Bailey is a 2009 graduate of North Texas. Bailey played for the Mean Green from 2006-09 on the offensive line. He started every game in 2009 and was part of a unit that surrendered the third-fewest sacks in the nation. He played in over 30 games during his career at North Texas.
About North Texas
The Mean Green earned bowl eligibility after defeating the Rice Owls 28-16 in Apogee Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 31. North Texas stopped Rice’s five-game winning streak, despite the Owls outgaining the Mean Green by 102 yards. The Owls took a 16-7 lead in the first half when Taylor McHargue threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Taylor. McHargue threw for two scores on the day, but that was all the scoring that the Owls could manage. North Texas scored two touchdowns late in the second quarter to take control of the game. Antoinne Jimmerson dashed 42 yards to the end zone to pull his team within two points and Brelan Chancellor returned a punt 42 yards to the house to give his team the lead for good. Jimmerson took a pass from Derek Thompson 46 yards for a touchdown to seal the win. Jimmerson finished the night with 62 yards rushing on eight carries as the Mean Green rushed for 149 yards. North Texas has outscored its opponents 282-179. Brandin Byrd leads the Mean Green with 518 yards rushing (4.1 avg) and is tied for the team lead with six touchdowns rushing while Reggie Pegram has rushed for 338 yards and six scores. Thompson is completing 67 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,084 yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He ranks third in the conference in passing yards per game (231.6) and passing efficiency (140.0). Darnell Smith leads the team in receptions (46) and ranks fifth in the conference in receptions per game (5.1), while Chancellor leads in yards (642), touchdowns (four) and yards per catch (16.9). He ranks fifth in the conference in receiving yards per game (71.3) and second in all-purpose yards per game (167.9). North Texas has been good on both sides of the ball as it averages 31.3 points per game (third in conference, 53rd in the nation) and ranks first in the conference in scoring defense (19.9 points allowed per game). The Mean Green ranks 40th in the nation in total defense (376.4). They have been ball hawks, picking off 13 passes (second in conference, tied for 12th in the nation) for 181 yards and two scores. The Mean Green has also harassed the opposing quarterback with 23 sacks (ranks second in conference).
Johnny Manziel accounted for six touchdowns as No. 12 Texas A&M roughed up UTEP, 57-7, on Nov. 2 in front of an announced crowd of 87,126 at Kyle Field. The Aggies handed the Miners their sixth straight loss. Heisman hopeful Manziel completed 16-of-24 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns. He was also unstoppable with his feet as he rushed for 67 yards on seven carries and two scores, including a season-long 49-yard scamper to the end zone in the third quarter. Late in the first quarter with the score 2-0 in favor of the Aggies, the Miners got on the board when freshman sensation Aaron Jones scored on a four-yard run. It was his first trip to pay dirt since Sept. 14 at NM State. Malcolm Trail’s career-best 29-yard catch from Blaire Sullivan to the Texas A&M four-yard line set up the score. The Aggies were quick to answer as they went 72 yards on four plays, ending with a Manziel 44-yard touchdown strike to Travis Labhart (four receptions, 83 yards, two touchdowns). Jones finished the night with 62 yards and the Miners’ lone touchdown. The Miner defense allowed 564 yards, including 330 on the ground. The Miners got some pressure on Manziel as senior James Davidson notched a career-best two sacks. Sophomore Demarcus Kizzie led the defense with a career-best eight tackles (five solo).
UTEP Seeking First C-USA Win
The Miners are 0-4 in Conference USA play. UTEP last started 0-4 in league play in 1996 when it finished 0-8 in the WAC.
Jones Sets UTEP Freshman Rushing Record
Aaron Jones broke John Harvey’s UTEP freshman rushing record (777 yards in 1985) on a six-yard run in the second quarter at Texas A&M. He finished the night with 62 yards, upping his season total to 805 yards. He is on pace for 1,208 yards in 2013, which would mark the sixth-most in a season by a Miner player. Donald Buckram ran for 1,594 yards in 2009, Fred Wendt had 1,546 in 1948, Toraino Singleton compiled 1,358 and 1,277 in 1995 and 1994 respectively, and Paul Smith compiled 1,258 in 1999. Jones’ 100.6 yards per game would rate eighth in the record book.
Jones’ National Rankings
Aaron Jones ranks 24th overall in rushing (100.6 ypg). He ranks 26th in yards (805) and 20th in attempts per game (18.8). He lead all FBS freshmen in yards per game and is second in yards rushing behind Arkansas’ Alex Collins (889 yards), who has played in one more game.
Banner Day for Jones
Aaron Jones compiled a career-high 186 yards rushing in UTEP’s loss at Rice on Oct. 26. He had an 81-yard sprint in the second quarter, the eighth-longest rushing play in school history and the longest since Vernon Frazier had an 83-yard run versus Colorado State on Oct. 22, 2011. It was also the longest run by a UTEP freshman, eclipsing the 75-yard scamper by Kevin Ward versus Colorado State on Oct. 24, 1981.
Jones’ Big Day
Aaron Jones’ 186 rushing yards at Rice on Oct. 26 rank no. 21 in the UTEP record book and no. 3 among freshmen. John Harvey rushed for 232 yards at Colorado State on Sept. 14, 1985, and Elzie Johnson ran for 203 yards versus Tulsa on Nov. 16, 1996.
Jones Has Fourth-Longest Run by an FBS Player in 2013
Aaron Jones’ 81-yard run in the second quarter at Rice was the fifth-longest rushing play by an FBS player this season, and the longest by a freshman. Army’s Terry Baggett had a 96-yard run versus Eastern Michigan on Oct. 12, Arkansas State’s Michael Gordon had a 91-yard run against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Aug. 31, Arizona’s Daniel Jenkins had a 91-yard run versus Northern Arizona on Aug. 30 and Kentucky’s Jalen Whitlow had a 88-yard run against Kentucky on Nov. 2. The previous longest rushing play by a freshman was an 80-yard run by Alabama’s Derrick Henry against Arkansas on Oct. 19.
Tracking Jones in C-USA
Aaron Jones ranks no. 2 in Conference USA in rushing average (100.6 ypg) behind Rice’s Charles Ross (114.0 ypg). Southern Miss’ Derrick Nix is the only player to lead C-USA in rushing as a freshman; he collected 107.3 yards per game in 1998. Jones leads the conference in yards rushing (805), ahead of Ross’ 789.
Jones and the Century Mark
Aaron Jones has put together three 100-yard rushing games this season, most by a UTEP freshman since John Harvey (the school’s all-time leading rusher) compiled four in 1985. Jones has led the Miners in rushing in seven of eight games, including five straight. He has averaged 110.6 ypg over the last five outings.
The Most He’s Had
Aaron Jones carried the ball a career-high 29 times in UTEP’s game at Rice on Oct. 26. That put him on the cusp of becoming the first Miner freshman to rush 30 times in a game since John Harvey had 30 attempts versus New Mexico on Nov. 2, 1985.
Going for a Grand
Aaron Jones is on pace to become only the fifth freshman in Conference USA history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. The others are Southern Miss’ Damion Fletcher (1,388 yards in 2006), Houston’s Bryce Beall (1,247 yards in 2008), Southern Miss’ Derrick Nix (1,180 yards in 1998) and UCF’s Kevin Smith (1,178 yards in 2005).
Rushing Offense is Best Since 1988
UTEP is averaging 200.5 rushing yards per game. It’s the best figure since 1988 (201.2 ypg). UTEP’s 4.35 yards per carry would rank 10th-best in school history if the season ended today. UTEP ranks no. 32 nationally in rushing yards per game, and no. 2 in Conference USA behind Rice (223.0 ypg).
Ground Game Playing a Major Role in Offensive Success
The Miners have five 200-yard rushing games on the year. That ties the most in any season since 2003. UTEP’s ground game has been particularly volatile in the second half this season. The Miners have rushed for 944 of their 1,604 yards (58.9 percent) in the third quarter, fourth quarter and overtime of games.
With Jameill Showers out for the North Texas matchup after suffering a shoulder injury at Rice on Oct. 26, Blaire Sullivan could be running the UTEP offense indefinitely. He saw his first extensive action since Nov. 17 of last season versus the Owls, completing 6-of-9 passes for 112 yards and rushing six times for 21 yards. Sullivan threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Ian Hamilton in the second quarter. He also had a 51-yard pass against Rice a year ago. In 10 career games, Sullivan has thrown for 573 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 301and two touchdowns. Sullivan made his third career start against Texas A&M on Nov. 2 (started two games during 2012 season). He completed a couple of nice passes -- the first was a 29-yard strike to Malcolm Trail to the Texas A&M four-yard line that set up an Aaron Jones touchdown in the first quarter, while the second was a 32-yard strike to Devin Patterson down the left sideline in the second quarter.
Showers the Passer
Jameill Showers’ 128.40 passing efficiency rating this season would rank just outside of the all-time UTEP top 10 (Trevor Vittatoe ranks 10th currently with a 130.07 rating in 2009). Showers’ TD/interception ratio of 2.75 (11-4) would rank fourth-best by a UTEP quarterback with a minimum of 100 pass attempts. Rocky Perez had a 4.33 ratio (26/6) in 2000. Trevor Vittatoe had a 3.67 ratio (33/9) in 2008 and a 3.57 ratio (25/7) in 2007.
Showers the Rusher
Jameill Showers is UTEP’s second-leading rusher with 192 yards. He has four rushing TDs this season, most by a UTEP quarterback since Orlando Cruz had five in 2003. The last Miner signal-caller with more than five rushing scores in a season was Rocky Perez in 2000 (six). Showers ran for a career-high 74 yards versus Tulsa on Oct. 12. His 20-yard run in the second quarter tied a career long. He also had a 20-yard run against South Carolina State while at Texas A&M on Sept. 22, 2012.
A Responsible Guy
Jameill Showers is tied for 56th nationally in points responsible for (92), having thrown for 11 touchdowns and a two-point conversion and rushing for four TDs this season. He ranks fourth in the statistical category among Conference USA players behind East Carolina’s Shane Carden (144 points), Marshall’s Rakeem Cato (138 points) and Rice’s Taylor McHargue (102).
Receivers Break Out
While Jordan Leslie stole the headlines in the first six games of the season, Malcolm Trail, Devin Patterson and Ian Hamilton have shown that they can also make an impact for the Miners. Trail captured three catches for 31 yards, including a 29 yard reception that put UTEP at the Aggie four-yard line and turned into the Miners only touchdown against Texas A&M on Nov. 2. Also making an impact against the Aggies was Patterson who caught a season best 32-yard reception, falling just short of his career high 34 against SMU (10/6/12). Hamilton snared four catches for 108 yards, including a 50-yard grab in the second quarter against Rice on Oct. 26. While the 50-yard reception fell three shy of his career high (53 at Colorado State on Sept. 28), the 108 yards shattered his previous personal best of 81 yards at NM State on Sept. 14. In fact, 250 of Hamilton’s 315 yards this season (79 percent) have come in road games. He has averaged 19.2 yards per catch on the road and 9.3 at home.
Leslie Now Eighth in 100-Yard Games
Jordan Leslie has eight career 100-yard receiving games, tied for the eighth-most in school history with Bob Wallace (1965-67). Ed Puishes (1969-71), Lee Mays (1998-01), Jeff Moturi (2006-09) and Kris Adams (2007-10) are in a four-way tie for fourth place with ten 100-yard games. Leslie has gone over the century mark in four of the last seven games, but has been limited to nine yards combined (six catches) in the last two contests. Leslie is one of eight players in school history with two 70-yard catches. The others are Johnnie Lee Higgins (four), Kris Adams (three), Donald Buckram (three), Jeff Moturi (three), Bubba Garcia (two), Howard Jackson (two) and Lee Mays (two). Leslie had a 75-yard reception at Colorado State on Sept. 28 and a 71-yard catch versus Tulsa on Oct. 12.
Leslie Knocking on Receiving List’s Door
Jordan Leslie has 1,897 career receiving yards and needs just 37 more to tie Brian Natkin (1,934 yards) for 10th place in school history. Natkin is currently the Miners’ tight ends coach. Leslie’s 16.8 yards per reception (1,897 yards/113 catches) would rank ninth in the UTEP record book. He has 13 touchdown receptions, putting him one away from tying David Karns (1966-68) and Cedric Johnson (1993-96) for ninth place in school annals.
The Miners have compiled five pass plays of 50 yards or more this season. Three have gone to Jordan Leslie and two have gone to Ian Hamilton. UTEP is tied for 15th nationally in pass plays of 50 yards or more and leads Conference USA in that category. Rice, UTSA, Southern Miss and North Texas are tied for second with four each. The Miners are tied for eighth in the country in 70-yard pass plays (two) and are tops in C-USA in that area as well.
Big Play Offense in General
UTEP is tied for 13th in the FBS in plays of 40+ yards from scrimmage (13), tied for 11th in plays of 50+ yards (eight), and tied for eighth in plays of 60+ yards (five). The Miners lead C-USA in all three categories. Last year UTEP had fourteen plays of 40+ yards, eight plays of 50+ yards and five plays of 60+ yards.
Golden Moving Up on Kickoff Returns Chart
Autrey Golden is now in fifth place on UTEP’s career kickoff return yardage list with 1,438 yards. Marlon McClure (2009-10) is in fourth place with 1,571 yards. Golden’s career kickoff return average (27.65) would rank second in school history behind Vernon Frazier’s 29.42 from 2008-11.
Golden Sets the Standard
Autrey Golden is the only player in school history with four kickoff returns for touchdowns. He is the only player to record two kickoff returns for scores in separate seasons. And he is one of just two Miners to register a pair of 100-yard kickoff returns, joining Quintin Demps who achieved the feat in 2007. Golden had 100-yard kickoff returns against UTSA and Tulsa this season.
Golden and the National Rankings
Autrey Golden ranks 20th nationally in kickoff return average (26.8), and tied for first in kickoff returns for TDs (two) with Texas State’s Brandon Smith and Stanford’s Ty Montgomery. Golden’s 27.7 career kickoff return average ranks 10th among active FBS players. Golden is tied for second among active FBS players with four kickoff returns for TDs in his career. Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert has five. Golden is second among active FBS players in kickoff return yards per game (71.9) after North Texas’ Brelan Chancellor (76.1).
Quite a Day
Junior safety Wesley Miller had five pass break-ups at Rice on Oct. 26, tying the most by an FBS player in a game this year. The others to achieve the feat are Ohio’s Devin Bass, Northwestern’s Collin Ellis, San Jose State’s Dasheon Frierson, UNLV’s Tajh Hasson, North Carolina State’s Hakim Jones, Utah State’s Nevin Lawson and San Diego State’s J.J. Whitaker. The last FBS player to compile more than five pass break-ups in a contest was Minnesota’s Michael Carter versus Purdue on Oct. 27, 2012 (seven). Miller had six pass break-ups in his career entering the game.
Why They’re Struggling
While the Miners have yielded 41.0 points and 479.8 yards per game this season, keep in mind that coordinator Scott Stoker came on board after spring ball and couldn’t start implementing his 4-2-5 scheme until practice began in early August. Complicating matters even further is the fact that UTEP’s defensive personnel is largely new, particularly in the secondary. In only eight games this season, 14 Miners have made their first starts on defense, including cornerbacks Nick Gathrite, Ishmael Harrison (moved from wide receiver this season), Adrian James, Da’Carlos Renfro and Quinton Tezeno, and safeties Devin Cockrell, Jameel Erving, Leon Hayes, Demarcus Kizzie, Traun Roberson and Dashone Smith. Erving and Gathrite are junior college transfers, while Cockrell, Hayes and Smith are freshmen. In all UTEP has started 23 different players on defense this season.
Players Turned Coaches
Sean Kugler is the second UTEP head coach who played for the Miners at one time. The other is Walter Milner, a three-year letterman from 1931-33 who served as head coach in 1942. Kugler is one of 12 active Division I head coaches who played at the school where they are currently coaching, joining Air Force’s Troy Calhoun, East Carolina’s Ruffin McNeill, Kent State’s Paul Haynes, Miami (Ohio)’s Don Treadwell, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Stanford’s David Shaw, Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury, Tulsa’s Bill Blankenship, Utah State’s Matt Wells and Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer.
Two years after completing an eight-year run with the U.S. Army, Michael Kelley is a 27-year old linebacker hoping to make the most of his senior year with the Miners. He earned a scholarship this season and has made six appearances for UTEP. The native of Los Angeles registered his first career tackle against Tulsa on Oct. 12 (tallied two tackles on the night). Kelley was nominated for the 2013 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). His service dates were from October, 2003 to June, 2011. He was stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C. (2004-05), Darmstadt Germany (2005-07) and Fort Bliss, Texas (2007-11). He worked in communications including as a switching system operator. His highest title was platoon sergeant (2009-11). He and his wife, Denise, have two sons, Kenneth (six years old) and Michael Jr., who turned two years old on Oct. 14.
Up Next: vs FIU
The Miners return to the Sun Bowl to take on C-USA newcomer FIU on Nov. 16. Both Senior Night and Military Night will be observed in the Miners’ home finale. UTEP last played in the Sun Bowl on Oct. 12 against Tulsa. This will be the first meeting between the Panthers and Miners.