Two teams on opposite ends of the CUSA spectrum meet on Saturday afternoon in Denton as UTEP meets North Texas. A few keys to both.
Empty the playbook, or get another playbook
The Miners average nine points a game in CUSA. Nine. Since moving on from Sean Kugler and moving to Mike Price their offensive production is worse. Last week at Middle Tennessee, the Blue Raiders outgained UTEP 400 to 137. UTEP is the worst offensive team in college football in virtually every statistical category, and the Miners are winless. No better time than now to empty the playbook and pull out all the stops to score points. UTEP has nothing left to lose.
Let Mike Price Tinker
The great Bret Bloomquist of the EP Times wrote about the Miner's woes this week and while UTEP can't make wholesale offensive changes but Mike Price is trying to tinker with the Miner schemes. Let Price tinker, at this point, let him do more than that. After watching a month's worth of press coreferences, you get the sense Price want to be more hands-on with the offense. If that the case, then give him the keys.
A strength into a weakness
UTEP's offensive front was the strength of the team, at least that was the perception. Nine weeks later, that strength is struggling. UTEP's line is lacking the identity that helped the Miners to a decisive victory and rushing afternoon against North Texas last season. UTEP's yards per carry has dropped by nearly three yards a carry. While Aaron Jones graduated, the Miners aren't nearly the physical front they were at this time last year.
Lock it Up
The Mean Green have a chance to lock up the CUSA Western Division with a win on Saturday. Expect North Texas to take full advantage of the opportunity. Beyond that, the Mean Green can win nine regular season games for the first time since 2003 and ten games total for the first time since 1977.
The maligned Mean Green defense showed signs of improvement last week on the road against Louisiana Tech. Troy Reffett's unit held the Bulldogs to the second lowest offensive production of any opponent this season and their lowest yards per play of any of the Mean Green's FBS opponents. North Texas should carry that momentum into this weeks contest of offensively challenged UTEP.
Notes and Numbers
Saturday marks the 23rd meeting between the two teams.
North Texas holds a 14 to 8 advantage.
UTEP's Alvin Jones leads the Miners in tackles for the third straight year.
The Miners rank last in CUSA in total defense.
The Mean Green lead CUSA at 6.44 yards gained per play.
North Texas' passing offense jumped 71 spots from 91st in 2016 to 20th in 2017.