UTEP to Honor 17 Seniors in Final Contest of 2012
Nov. 19, 2012
THE BASIC FACTS
- Seeking its first winning streak of the season, UTEP caps the 2012 campaign with a home game against Rice.
- The Miners will bid farewell to 17 seniors on Saturday - LB Aubrey Alexius (Cypress, Texas), OL Eloy Atkinson (Los Fresnos, Texas), P Ian Campbell (Duarte, Calif.), DL Justin Cordova (McKinney, Texas), WR Michael Edwards (Glendora, Calif.), LB Josh Fely (Oceanside, Calif.), DB DeShawn Grayson (Riverside, Calif.), LB Jamie Irving (Perris, Calif.), QB Nick Lamaison (West Covina, Calif.), OL James Martin (Chino Hills, Calif.), DL Ruben Munoz (El Paso, Texas), OL James Nelson (Ventura, Calif.), OL Paul Santillan (Crosby, Texas), DB Drew Thomas (Chicago, Ill.), K Dakota Warren (Austin, Texas), DL Greg Watkins (Katy, Texas) and DB Darren Woodard (Freeport, Texas).
- UTEP is trying to win its final game of the season for just the second time since 1986. The Miners also achieved the feat in 2009 with a 52-21 victory over Marshall in the Sun Bowl, snapping a 22-game losing streak in season finales.
- The Miners have lost their last two season finales since then, to BYU in the 2010 New Mexico Bowl (52-24) and at UCF a year ago (31-14).
- UTEP is 2-3 at home this season. The Miners need a win over Rice to avoid posting their first losing mark in the Sun Bowl since 2003, when they were 1-6 in the venue.
- UTEP has posted a 3-3 home mark in five of the last six years.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
- The Miners won their first road game of the year, 34-33 at Southern Miss last Saturday.
- Autrey Golden’s 98-yard kickoff return with 6:22 to play broke a 27-27 tie and gave the Miners the lead for good.
- Southern Miss, bidding for its first win of the season, pulled within a point (34-33) on a two-yard run by QB Arsenio Favor with 2:48 to play. But the Golden Eagles opted to go for the two-point conversion and Favor’s pass fell incomplete.
- Favor completed 16-of-22 passes for 374 yards and rushed 13 times for 42 yards.
- Quentin Pierce had two catches for 125 yards for Southern Miss, including an 81-yard scoring grab that knotted the contest in the fourth quarter.
- UTEP QB Blaire Sullivan completed 9-of-17 passes for 155 yards, and also ran for 98 yards on 19 attempts.
- Golden accounted for 191 of the Miners’ 222 yards on kickoff returns.
- UTEP played an error-free game for the first time since the third game of the season against NM State.
- Rice moved within a victory of bowl eligibility by thumping SMU, 36-14, last Saturday in Houston.
- It was the Owls’ third consecutive win. They have averaged 43.0 points during the streak.
- After SMU took a 7-3 lead late in the first quarter, Rice responded with 20 unanswered points.
- The Owls also scored the final 13 points of the game after SMU closed to within 23-14 on a 10-yard run by Zach Line with 3:32 to go in the third quarter.
- Rice accumulated 423 yards of offense, including 297 passing.
- The Owls dominated the time of possession line in the second half, 19:46 to 10:14.
- Taylor McHargue finished 24-for-36 passing for 297 yards and two TDs.
- Chris Boswell made five field goals, with three from 50+ yards.
- Garrett Gilbert passed for 214 yards for SMU, and Darius Johnson had 153 receiving yards.
UTEP VS. RICE
- The Owls lead the series 9-6, having won five of the last six matchups between the Texas rivals.
- UTEP holds a slim 4-3 edge in games played in El Paso.
- The Miners thumped the Owls in the last game at the Sun Bowl, 44-24 on Oct. 9, 2010. Rice had posted back-to-back victories in the stadium before that in 2006 (37-31) and 2008 (49-44).
- Seven of the last eight games in the series have been decided by eight points or less. UTEP is 2-5 in those games.
- The Miners have a recent history of losing fourth-quarter leads to the Owls. In 2007, UTEP was ahead 48-28 early in the fourth quarter of an eventual 56-48 loss in Houston. In 2009, the Miners were up 29-17 early in the final period at Rice Stadium before the Owls scored the game’s final 13 points for a 30-29 triumph. In 2011, UTEP took a 41-37 lead into the final period at Rice, only to see the Owls rally for a 41-37 victory. UTEP also led 17-7 in the early stages of a 49-44 setback in 2008 at the Sun Bowl.
THE LAST MEETING
- Rice rallied from a 31-27 deficit with two touchdowns in the final period, knocking off the Miners in Houston, 41-37, on Nov. 5, 2011.
- The Owls put together scoring drives of 83 and 79 yards in the final frame.
- Trailing 41-31, the Miners pulled within four points on a 17-yard TD pass from Nick Lamaison to Jordan Leslie with 42 seconds left. Dakota Warren missed the extra point and UTEP was unable to recover the onside kick.
- Nick Fanuzzi had a monster game for the Owls, completing 30-of-43 passes for 405 yards and three scores. He also rushed for 34 yards.
- Vance McDonald posted eight catches for 157 yards for Rice.
- The Owls piled up 222 yards rushing as well, led by Tyler Smith (89 yards) and Turner Petersen (74).
- Lamaison completed 16-of-29 passes for UTEP for 294 yards with three TDs and two interceptions.
- Michael Edwards had seven catches for a career-best 187 yards and two TDs for the Miners.
- The teams combined for 1,063 yards of offense, with 671 going to the Owls - the third-most in school history.
- Players from the Houston vicinity in the UTEP depth chart are LB Aubrey Alexius (Cypress), OL Kyle Brown (Conroe), RB Laquintus Dowell (Humble), RB Autrey Golden (Willis), DB Demarcus Kizzie (Willis), WR Jordan Leslie (Houston), OL Paul Santillan (Crosby), DL Greg Watkins (Katy), OL Jerel Watkins (Channelview) and DB Darren Woodard (Freeport).
- Starting TE Kevin Perry is originally from Opelousas, La., but played his prep ball at Westbury Christian High School in Houston.
- Players in the depth charts who played at the same high school include UTEP sophomore TE Eric Tomlinson and Rice freshman DL Ross Winship (Klein HS in Spring, Texas); UTEP junior DLs Adam Ayala & James Davidson and Rice senior DL Jared Williams (Huntsville HS in Huntsville, Texas); and UTEP sophomore RB Josh Bell and Rice sophomore DB Julius White (Kempner HS in Sugar Land, Texas).
- The teams have a total of four Canadian products in their two deeps. UTEP has junior OL Brander Craighead (Ottawa, Ontario). Rice has freshman DL Christian Covington (Surrey, B.C.), junior DL Hosam Shahin (Richmond, B.C.) and senior WR Luke Wilson (LaSalle, Ontario).
- UTEP’s Assistant AD for Football Operations, Nate Poss, is a graduate of Rice University. Poss earned four letters (1973-76) for the Owls and was in the starting lineup for two seasons (1975-76). Poss received his degree from the school in 1978.
- Rice safeties coach Larry Hoefer was the defensive coordinator at UTEP in 2000, the year the Miners won the Western Athletic Conference title. It was his second tour of duty with the Miners, as he served under head coaches Bill Yung and Bob Stull in two capacities (wide receivers and defensive ends coach) from 1982-88. Hoefer followed Stull, UTEP’s current Director of Athletics, to Missouri, where he worked for five seasons (1989-93) in various roles.
UTEP vs. SOUTHERN MISS NOTABLES
- UTEP did not commit a turnover for the third time this season, and for the first time since the NM State game on Sept. 15.
- The Miners won a game that they trailed in for the first time this season.
- UTEP is now 9-39 under Mike Price when allowing 30 points or more. The other eight wins came over Houston in 2005 (44-41 in double overtime), Rice in 2005 (38-31), Tulsa in 2005 (41-38), NM State in 2006 (44-38), SMU in 2007 (48-45 in overtime), Tulsa in 2007 (48-47), Southern Miss in 2008 (40-37 in double overtime) and Houston in 2009 (58-41).
- UTEP is now 1-5 this season when its opponent scores first.
- UTEP improves to 1-5 on the road this season and 2-17 in its last 19 Conference USA road games.
- The Miners won their final road game in a season for the first time since Nov. 9, 1991, when they prevailed 41-24 at Hawaii.
- UTEP snapped a six-game road losing streak to Conference USA Eastern Division teams. The last UTEP road victory over a C-USA Eastern Division squad also came at Southern Miss, 40-37 in double overtime, on Oct. 4, 2008.
IN THE RANKINGS
- Through the games of Nov. 17, UTEP rated in the top-50 nationally in net punting (18th, 39.8 avg.), kickoff returns (28th, 24.1 avg.) and punt returns (43rd, 10.1 avg.).
- Individually, Autrey Golden was 15th in kickoff returns (28.9 avg.), Ian Campbell was 29th in punting (42.6 avg.), Michael Edwards was 50th in punt returns (7.6 avg.) and Josh Fely was tied for 50th in tackles (8.7 avg.).
- Golden ranks third nationally among freshmen kickoff returners behind Miami (Fla.)’s Duke Johnson (34.9 avg.) and Virginia Tech’s Demitri Knowles (29.3 avg.).
- Rice is 26th in the country in turnover margin (0.64), 34th in rushing offense (197.2 ypg) and 43rd in scoring offense (31.6 ppg).
- The Owls’ Chris Boswell is eighth in the FBS in field goals (1.7 avg.) & tied for 29th in scoring (8.7 ppg). Taylor McHargue is 46th in total offense (258.2 ypg).
- UTEP is first in C-USA in punting (39.8 net avg.), third in kickoff returns (24.1 avg.) & punt returns (10.1 avg.) and fifth in scoring defense (29.5 ppg).
- Rice is second in C-USA in rushing offense (197.2 ypg), third in turnover margin (0.64), fourth in total offense (418.2 ypg), and fifth in pass defense (246.8 ypg) & scoring offense (31.6 ppg).
- In the C-USA individual statistics, Autrey Golden is third in kickoff returns (28.9 avg.), Michael Edwards is fifth in punt returns (7.6 avg.), Nathan Jeffery is fifth in rushing (80.2 ypg) and Jordan Leslie is fifth in receiving (73.2 ypg).
- Rice’s Chris Boswell is first in C-USA in scoring (8.7 ppg), and Phillip Gaines is the league leader in pass break-ups (1.6 avg.).
CONFERENCE USA PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
- Three Miners have been tabbed Conference USA Player of the Week this season. Sophomore RB Nathan Jeffery garnered offensive honors 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. Freshman RB Autrey Golden was the special teams winner on Oct. 1 for his performance against East Carolina.
- Mike Price is in his ninth year as UTEP’s head coach (48-60 record) and 31st year as a collegiate head coach (177-182 mark).
- Price has the second-most wins by a UTEP coach with 48. 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 (256 victories), Texas’ Mack Brown (235), Nevada’s Chris Ault (233), South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier (206) and Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly (198).
- Price is coaching in his 109th 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.
- UTEP’s offense scored on all five trips to the red zone against Southern Miss. The Miners have been effective in the red zone in their last three contests, converting 80 percent of their opportunities (12-of-15) for 72 points. The Miners converted just 55 percent in the red zone in their first seven games, putting 53 points on the scoreboard.
- The Miners have scored 30+ points in back-to-back road games (35 at Houston, 34 at Southern Miss) for the second time in the last three seasons. UTEP also achieved the feat versus Tulane (44 points) and Rice (37) last season.
- UTEP had its third-most balanced offensive performance of the season at Southern Miss with 189 yards passing and 170 rushing. The +19 differential was surpassed only by the East Carolina (151 yards passing, 151 rushing, even) and the Tulane (228 passing, 217 rushing, +11) games.
- The 39:27 of possession time at Houston was the third-most for the Miners since 1980. They had 41:23 of possession time against Valdosta State on Sept. 16, 1995, and 41:03 at BYU on Nov. 3, 1984.
- UTEP has had four 20-point halves this season (27 in the first half against NM State, 24 in the first half versus Tulane, 28 in the second half at Houston, 20 in the first half at Southern Miss).
- Jordan Leslie has led UTEP in receiving in five games this season - NM State (147 yards), SMU (80 yards), Tulsa (218 yards), Houston (95 yards) and UCF (51 yards).
- Leslie leads the team in receptions (48), yards per catch (16.8 avg.), yards per game (73.2 avg.) and receiving yards (805). He has compiled 1,235 career receiving yards.
- With 218 yards at Tulsa, Leslie became the sixth UTEP player to post a 200-yard receiving game, joining Chuck Hughes (twice in 1965), Volley Murphy (at New Mexico in 1967), Bob Wallace (versus New Mexico State in 1967), Arnie Adkison (at Utah in 1987) and Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. (versus New Mexico State in 2006).
- The 218 receiving yards by Leslie rank sixth in school history.
- Leslie’s 218 yards versus Tulsa are the 14th-most by an FBS player in 2012.
- Michael Edwards led the Miners in receiving against Southern Miss for the first time since Oct. 20, recording four catches for 89 yards.
- Edwards is averaging 69.9 yards per game in 2012. He ranks second on the team in yards per catch (15.2), receptions (46) and reception yards (699).
- Edwards registered his third multiple-touchdown performance of the season at Houston. Edwards also scored twice against Wisconsin and Tulane.
- Edwards posted his second straight 100-yard receiving game and his third in a UTEP uniform at East Carolina (130 yards). He tallied 151 yards at Wisconsin the previous week.
- Edwards has UTEP’s longest pass reception this season - 62 yards at Wisconsin.
- The 62-yard touchdown pass from Nick Lamaison to Edwards in the fourth quarter at Wisconsin 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).
ON THE RUN
- The 40-yard run by freshman QB Blaire Sullivan in the second quarter at Southern Miss was the longest by a UTEP quarterback since James Thomas had a 44-yard run versus New Mexico State on Sept. 20, 2008. It was the third-longest rushing play by a UTEP signal-caller in the Mike Price era. Jordan Palmer had a 42-yard run against Texas Tech on Sept. 9, 2006.
- For the third straight game, Nathan Jeffery registered multiple rushing touchdowns at Southern Miss. He is the first UTEP player to achieve the feat since Donald Buckram did so versus Tulsa, UAB and Tulane in 2009.
- Jeffery has four 100-yard rushing games this season, including 177 against Oklahoma and 175 versus UCF.
- Jeffery leads UTEP in rushing attempts (171) and rushing yards (802), while averaging 4.7 yards per carry and 80.2 yards per game.
- The Miners rushed a season-high 267 yards versus UCF, their third 200-yard game of the season (207 against Oklahoma, 217 versus Tulane).
A LOOK AT FRESHMAN RUNNING GAME
- The 98 rushing yards were the sixth-most by a UTEP quarterback in the last 30 years. James Thomas rushed for 142 yards versus NM State in 2008, Shawn Gray rushed for 141 versus Fresno State in 1994, and Kevin Ward had three 100-yard games from 1982-83.
- Autrey Golden ran for 69 and 52 yards respectively versus NM State and Ole Miss.
- Xay Williams rushed for a season-high 53 yards at Wisconsin.
THE TIGHT ENDS
- Kevin Perry registered a career-long reception against Houston, a 34-yard catch in the fourth quarter.
- The three catches for Craig Wenrick versus Tulane were the most by a UTEP tight end this season and the most by a positional player since Eric Tomlinson registered three receptions versus East Carolina last season.
- Katrae Ford established career-highs for catches (two) and yardage (18) at Tulsa.
- Kevin Perry recorded the second touchdown reception of his career in the first quarter against NM State.
- 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).
THE PASSING GAME
- The 47-yard pass from Blaire Sullivan to Michael Edwards in the first quarter at Southern Miss was a career long. Sullivan’s previous longest pass was 41 yards to Jordan Leslie against UCF on Nov. 10.
- Sullivan threw for 155 yards against the Golden Eagles, eclipsing his previous career-best 105 yards passing at Houston on Oct. 27.
- Sullivan also had a season-high 253 yards of total offense at Southern Miss.
- Sullivan completed his first career TD pass at Houston, a 16-yard completion to Michael Edwards.
- Sullivan’s 136.09 passing efficiency rating tops all UTEP quarterbacks. He has thrown for 339 yards and rushed for 226 in four games.
- Carson Meger’s 61-yard completion to Jordan Leslie in the fourth quarter at Tulsa was a career long. His previous long was 45 yards against Tulsa on Nov. 19 of last year.
- Meger’s 257 passing yards versus the Golden Hurricane bettered his previous career-high of 240 yards at USF on Sept. 24, 2011.
- Nick Lamaison added 119 passing yards at Tulsa. The last time UTEP had one quarterback pass for 200+ yards and another throw for 100+ yards in the same game was against San Jose State on Nov. 8, 2003 (Orlando Cruz 237 yards, Jordan Palmer 112 yards).
- 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).
- UTEP’s defense has deployed a pack mentality throughout 2012, with multiple individuals flocking to the ball. Four different players are pitching in at least six tackles per contest - Josh Fely (96-8.7), the injured Richard Spencer (36-9.0), DeShawn Grayson (75-6.8) and Drew Thomas (63-6.3).
- Josh Fely needs four stops against Rice to reach triple digits in total tackles. The last Miner to compile 100+ stops was D’amon Cromartie-Smith, who piled up 109 in 2009.
- Opponents have had 142 drives on the season, but only 11 times have they managed to score on consecutive drives. Houston, UCF and Wisconsin achieved the feat twice while Ole Miss, NM State, Southern Miss, Tulsa & Tulane did so once each.
- On more than half of the drives (76 of 142) this season, the opposition has been held to fewer than 30 yards. Southern Miss fell shy of 10 yards on two occasions, lifting UTEP’s seasonal sum to 42 such drives.
PATTERSON’S STOP TROOPS
- UTEP has ensured itself of a third straight season with six or more opponents falling shy of 30 points. The Miners hadn’t strung together three consecutive campaigns of that nature since current UTEP Director of Athletics Bob Stull patrolled their sidelines (1986-88).
- Foes are accounting for 29.5 points per game. UTEP yielded 30.3 ppg in 2011 & 27.5 in 2010. The last time the Miners kept the opposition to fewer than 31.0 ppg in three consecutive seasons was from 1995-97.
- Nine of the 11 opponents have failed to eclipse 500+ yards of total offense. The only teams to do so were Ole Miss (538) and Southern Miss (532).
- While Houston scored 45 points against the Miners, UTEP gave up a season-low 339 yards to the Cougars. That figure is the fewest in a game since the Miners kept Colorado State to 255 on Oct. 22, 2011.
- UTEP pitched a second-half shutout versus SMU for the first time since Oct. 15, 2011 at Tulane.
- UTEP has now held four C-USA opponents scoreless in the second half since joining the league in 2005 (Marshall in 2005, Tulane in 2008, Tulane in 2011, SMU in 2012).
- The Miners are 8-2 in C-USA games where they yield under 20 points.
- UTEP is 20-2 under coach Mike Price in games where it has allowed less than 20 points.
ONE QUARTER AT A TIME
- UTEP’s defense has been locked in during the first quarter of games this season. Only Houston (14) & Southern Miss (10) have scored more than seven points in the quarter. Ole Miss, East Carolina, Tulsa & UCF managed a touchdown, while SMU and Tulsa were held to a field goal. The defense blanked NM State. Wisconsin’s offense was held scoreless in the first frame, but the Badgers tallied two points after returning a blocked extra point for the score. Overall the Miners have permitted just 67 points in the first quarter this year.
- The second quarter has been the most taxing on the year with foes combining for 114 points.
- A sign of a good defense is the ability to make adjustments at the half, and the Miners have done that throughout the season. UTEP has given up only 50 points in third quarter this year, the fewest of any frame. Tulsa (20) and Houston (10) have had the best luck in the period. The Miners have pitched shutouts in the frame five times overall, including three during Conference USA action.
- UTEP yielded a total of 17 points while keeping its first five league opponents to fewer than 100 yards in the fourth quarter. It has been a different story, though, the past two tilts with UCF (14 points, 108 yards) & Southern Miss (13 points, 188) getting their offenses in gear. The Miner defense, however, delivered a stop on a potential game-winning two-point conversion try at Hattiesburg.
BRINGING THE PRESSURE
- Horace Miller’s third-quarter sack of Tulane’s Ryan Griffin elevated his total to 6.0. He is the first player with six or more sacks in a campaign since 2005 when Alex Obomese (6.5) and Chris Mineo (6.0) both achieved the feat. The last UTEP player with seven or more sacks in a season was Thomas Howard and Mineo (8.0 each) in 2004.
- UTEP’s defense has made life difficult for opposing receivers this year. The Miners have 47 pass break-ups on the year. The last time they had 50+ was in 2005 when they finished at 55.
MINERS TAKE IT AWAY
- Opponents have had problems holding onto the ball in 2012. Foes have fumbled 20 times on the year. That figure more than doubles the amount of opponent fumbles (nine) in 2011.
- Senior DB Drew Thomas had an interception while also recovering a fumble at Wisconsin. The last player to pull off that double was current Houston Texan Quintin Demps against Tulsa on Oct. 6, 2007.
- Huhn became the first UTEP freshman to log an interception in consecutive games since Robert Rodriguez had one each versus New Mexico and Texas Southern to start the 2001 season. Rodriguez is currently the Miners’ linebackers coach.
- UTEP had 222 kickoff return yards at Southern Miss, the seventh-most in school history.
- UTEP has 1,083 kickoff return yards (24.1 avg.) and 191 punt return yards (10.1 avg.) this season.
- Opponents have averaged just 3.2 yards on punt returns and 13.8 yards on kickoff returns in 2012.
- The 98-yard kickoff return by Autrey Golden in the fourth quarter at Southern Miss was a career long and is tied for the fifth-longest return in school history. He is the first player in school history with two kickoff returns of 96 yards or more in a career. He had a 96-yard return at East Carolina on Sept. 29.
- The 191 kickoff return yards by Golden at Southern Miss are the third-most in school history and the most by a UTEP player in over 20 years. Luther Johnson had 233 yards at Kent State in 1985 and Roy Ross had 204 yards at San Diego State in 1990.
- Golden now has 809 kickoff return yards this season. That’s the fourth-highest figure in school annals and the most by a freshman.
- The 96-yard kickoff return by Golden at East Carolina 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.
- Ian Campbell’s 71-yard punt in the first quarter at Tulsa fell one yard shy of his career long of 72, set versus Rice on Oct. 9, 2010. He had a 67-yard punt at Houston.
- Campbell has averaged 50+ yards on punts in five games at UTEP.
- For the season, Campbell has punted 58 times for 2,470 yards (42.6 avg.) with five touchbacks, 13 fair catches and 17 punts inside the 20.
- 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.
- Sophomore Steven Valadez tied his career-high with two field goals made at Southern Miss. He also made two at Wisconsin on Sept. 22.
- Valadez leads the team in scoring with 49 points after assuming field goal duty from injured senior Dakota Warren.
- Valadez has kicked off 44 times for 2,696 yards. He is averaging 61.3 yards per kickoff with a net average of 41.1 yards.
- Valadez kicked off five times for 324 yards against Tulane, with four touchbacks.
- He kicked off seven times for 439 yards versus NM State, including six touchbacks.
The Last Meeting
November 5, 2011