Post Mortem: 2013 UTEP Miners

Year one for a new coach taking over a struggling team is usually a square kick in the junk. For UTEP, opponents lined up for repeated kicks. UTEP bravely took them and now mercifully season one is over. On to season two Sean Kugler. It can't get much worse, Right?

It was a rough season to be honest with you. We’ve got to work hard at recruiting, work hard getting the player on our roster better. We’re going to get right back to recruiting.
— Sean Kugler

The Miners finished at 2-10 in 2013 with wins coming against New Mexico State and Florida International. A couple of losses stand out in the carnage, UTSA came to El Paso and made a statement at the Miners expense.  UTEP then headed up to Colorado State and competed well against the bowl bound Rams. It got ugly down the stretch as the Miners lost 5 of their last 6 by an average score of 47 to 8.

2013 UTEP Miners Football Schedule

Current Record: 2-10, 1-7 (C-USA)
Date   Opponent Results
Aug. 31
Open Date
Sept. 7
Lobos New Mexico Lobos
Sun Bowl
Lost 42-35
Sept. 14
Aggies at New Mexico State Aggies
Aggie Memorial Stadium
Won 42-21
Sept. 21
Roadrunners UTSA Roadrunners
Sun Bowl
Lost 32-13
Sept. 28
Rams at Colorado State Rams
Hughes Stadium
Lost 59-42
Oct. 5
Bulldogs Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Sun Bowl
Lost 38-35
Oct. 12
Hurricanes Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Sun Bowl
Lost 34-20
Oct. 19
Open Date
Oct. 26
Owls at Rice Owls
Rice Stadium
Lost 45-7
Nov. 2
Aggies at Texas A&M Aggies
Kyle Field
Lost 57-7
Nov. 9
Mean Green at North Texas Mean Green
Apogee Stadium
Lost 41-7
Nov. 16
Golden Panthers Florida International Golden Panthers
Sun Bowl
Won 33-10
Nov. 23
Green Wave at Tulane Green Wave
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Lost 45-3
Nov. 30
Blue Raiders at Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Johnny "Red" Floyd Stadium
Lost 48-17
  Not bad freshman. Not bad.

Not bad freshman. Not bad.

What went right?

Let us think about this one for a second...

The kids are alright.

I guess we could say that Mack Leftwich, the true freshman quarterback who took over for the injured Jameill Showers and played decent enough. He'll be the guy the Miners look to next season as camp starts.

Freshman running back Aaron Jones also played well, averaging 90 yards a game and 5 yards a pop.

They couldn't get worse. Right?

  Leftwich may be the Miners only hope.

Leftwich may be the Miners only hope.

UTEP's secondary was young and vulnerable, now they're older though still vulnerable. A year of experience will always help.

What went wrong?

Not a lot.

Where'd everyone go?

Kugler watched 27 players leave the program after his arrival. We can chalk some of this up to square pegs in round holes, but retention was a problem and that problem will haunt the Miners moving forward.

Where was the improvement?

At a certain point one would expect a new program to improve as players buy in and the system takes route. That didn't happen. There are "no moral victories" however there are tangible improvements that should be made. UTEP got their ass kicked late in the season, against conference opponents. That doesn't bode well.

Defense or lack their of.

2013 Statistcal Leaders

J. Showers107188126311
M. Leftwich44754582
A. Jones1558115.24
N. Jeffery1335324.05
J. Leslie4461213.97
I. Hamilton2535414.21
  The best laid plans.

The best laid plans.

UTEP ranked 123rd out of 125 in defensive efficiency in 2013. The highlight? The Miners were a top 20 defense in limiting "Methodical Drives," i.e. drives where an opponent went 10 plays or more. The bad news? This may have been because the Miners ranked 123 in drives where opponents averaged 10 yards or more per play.

The offense wasn't much better.

The Miners ranked 91st in offensive efficiency in Kugler's first year. This included ranking 90th in drives where the Miner offense gained at least one first down. Not a great sign for a ground and pound offensive style UTEP tried to employ.

Help on the Way...

Kugler has made it clear that recruiting is the key to righting the ship in El Paso. So who's showing up in February? Not much.

School, Hometown
Video HT/ WT/ 40 Commit DateSigned LOI? Commit School
MLB JC Jimmy Musgrave
(Victor Valley)
Victorville, CA
6-1/230 12/20/2013
DT JC NR Alex Villarreal
(Northeastern Oklahoma A&M)
Miami, OK
6-4/300 12/18/2013
TE NR Augie Touris
(Canisius HS)
Buffalo, NY
6-4/230 12/18/2013
TE 94 Sterling Napier
(V. Sue Cleveland High School)
Rio Rancho, NM
6-4/220 08/01/2013
S 160 Mookie Carlile
(Stephenville HS)
Stephenville, TX
6-0.5/185 07/05/2013
TE NR Sloan Spiller
(Katy HS)
Katy, TX
6-0/225 06/03/2013
RB NR Justen Tatum
(First Baptist Academy)
Dallas, TX
6-0/224 05/29/2013
  Mmm mmm Mookie!

Mmm mmm Mookie!

Villareal was an Oklahoma State signee out of Hidalgo high school and Musgrave spent time on Oregon's roster. The Bud is squarely in favor of recruiting anyone named Mookie. Based on Blair Sullivan transferring, UTEP needs to go get a quarterback or two. They might want to lock up some beef up front offensively as well.

Prognosis for 2014

UTEP opens 2014 at New Mexico, let's just say that needs to be competitive. They also get Texas Tech at home and K-State on the road in addition to their C-USA slate. Kugler needs to get the Miners to buy in, plus he may to need to replace some staff like DC Scott Stoker who is up for a few FBS head positions.

It begins and ends as with most team at quarterback, there are no quick answers in this department. That's not good.

Posted on January 2, 2014 and filed under Southwest Round-Up, Sports.