Keys: Louisiana Tech at UTEP

Mike Price's Miners are still hunting for a win. Not many chances, the next comes Saturday with a rare afternoon game in the Sun Bowl as Louisiana Tech comes to town. A few keys to an elusive win. 

Still Searching for a Quarterback 

At this point in the season, if you're finding a quarterback, that's terrible news. For UTEP it's safe to say that the answer isn't on the depth chart. Zack Greenlee started the third season string to Mark Torres and Ryan Metz. He's the starter now. Original starter Metz is still nursing a shoulder from early in the season. Torrez has his moments but can get overwhelmed by the moment. UTEP is in the unenviable position of not wanting the quarterback to get them beat, but lacking other offensive playmakers. 

Desperate Bulldogs

Skip Holtz' Bulldogs have been the poster program for consistency in CUSA. A bowl bid would be La Tech's fourth straight, but to get there; they'll have to win out. Oddly the Bulldogs lost two straight critical games at home in recent weeks, each to a CUSA Division winner, North Texas and Florida Atlantic. With all that in mind, Louisiana Tech won't take UTEP lightly. Expect Holtz to have his team well prepared for Saturday's contest. 

Meet Trace Mascorro 

It's hard enough to transition from playing high school ball to college ball, let alone playing on the line of scrimmage. Making that jump from small school Refugio to the FBS is massive. Trace Mascorro wasn't expected to be a frontline player, but injuries and academic issues pressed him into the starting lineup. Mascorro started ten games so far, six at nose tackle, four at defensive end, that's a tough ask as well - to move him around like that. Still, Mascorro's more than held his own, registering four tackles for loss and even returning a fumble for a touchdown earlier this season. Given time in the offseason program, the Miners might have a special player in their freshman defensive lineman. 

Notes and News

LA Tech leads the series 10-2-1, having won eight of the last nine meetings since 1991. 

Louisiana Tech's defense is currently ranked 18th in the nation and second in Conference USA with 12 interceptions through 10 games this season. 

Louisiana Tech quarterback J'Mar Smith currently ranks third in C-USA in passing yards (2,454) and passing yards per game (245.4).

Teddy Veal currently leads the Bulldogs in receiving in 2017 and ranks 23rd in the nation and second in Conference USA with an average of 6.2 receptions per game. 

Alvin Jones registered seven tackles at North Texas on Nov. 11. Jones currently leads the team in tackles (80) and tackles per game (8.0). 

Kahani Smith registered a career-high nine tackles at North Texas on Nov. 11. It surpasses his total of five against Arizona earlier this season. 

The UTEP defense has scored three defensive touchdowns in 2017, two by Kahani Smith and one by Trace Mascorro. It’s the most since scoring a trio of defensive touchdowns in 2005.

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