Have the Miners taken the next step? No. Dumb question. They're 3-4. Unless the next step is a lateral side shimmy, UTEP hasn't taken the many steps forward. Instead UTEP has been ravaged by injuries and beaten up by a couple of big boys.
Other than that, how'd the first half go? Check it out.
FIRST HALF MVP: Alvin Jones
Jones, the Burges product and brother of UTEP running back Aaron Jones has been dominate on defense as an undersized linebacker. Jones has 11 tackles for loss and is tied for the CUSA lead with 5.5 sacks, including 3 in one game against UTEP.
He did all that while playing in 6 of UTEP's 7 games.
BEST WIN: New Mexico State
"Wait, what? The Aggies are terrible." You're right. NMSU isn't good, but this is a pretty big rivalry game for the Miners. This one was epic as the Miners who overcame a 14 point deficit to win the I-10 showdown. Most important, the Miners got their first win over a non FCS school.
WORST LOSS: UTSA
The Roadrunners came to El Paso in a conference game and blew out UTEP. UTEP handed the Roadrunners 5 turnovers, including 3 in the second half and could only muster 6 points. UTEP would love to view the Roadrunner program in their rearview mirror, but this game shows UTSA has edged ahead.
The next two games are critical. Southern Miss and Rice are both conference games against teams that are arguably in the same stratosphere as UTEP. Win both and you're golden. Go one and one and it could've been worse. Go 0-2 and pack it up, it's over.
Kugler has a plan at UTEP. When it works, as it did Saturday against FAU, the Miners are physical running the ball and able to set up the pass and possess the football. When it doesn't you get blown out by UTSA at home. If the Miners can put together back to back bowl games and keep to the system they might be able to turn a corner.