OK UTEP fans lets put a pin in this son of a bitch and be done with it then never speak of it again. Then we can all get together and watch Aaron Jones with the Packers and share a cigarette as we try and understand the Tim Floyd resignation and the Dana Dimel hiring. Better make that a pack, this could take some time.
Conference Record 0-8
Scoring Offense 11.8 (130th out of 130) Scoring Defense 36.8 (118th out of 130)
Points Per Play .201 128th out of 130) Points Allowed Per Play .509 (113th out of 130)
Turnover Margin -6
Completion % 45.6
What If We Could Form One Quarterback Out of Three, Like the Wonder Triplets?
If you don't have a quarterback, you're sunk. If you're UTEP, and you've got three quarterbacks, none of which are that good, how do you survive? That's a trick question; you don't. You go 0-12. If you could get the UTEP biology department to combine Ryan Metz, Zack Greenlee, and Mark Torrez, you might have something. Metz is the most accurate but can't stay healthy, Greenlee is the best athlete but can't hit the side of a barn with a bass fiddle, and Torrez is a playmaker who at times looks like he's running to defuse a bomb and left his wire cutters in the truck.
If that could happen, you might have a quarterback but time machines don't exist, and neither does the FDA sanction such biological experimentation. So you're left with 0-12 and a quarterback room that completed less than half the passes they attempted. When you throw the gasoline that was the departure of the most transcendent UTEP running back of all time, Aaron Jones, and of course UTEP averaged just eleven points a game.
About that whole Fire Kugler Hire Price Thing
It was exciting, wasn't it? Sean Kugler was fired after the Army game and UTEP, led by Bob Stull offered the job to Dennis Erickson and when Dennis said no, Stull doubled down and brought back Mike Price. Offensive minded Mike Price guided the program to nine points per game average.
That instability and those moves didn't push the Miners to the ultimate destination, but they didn't help.
What pieces are in place?
Let's talk about blue chips, what can Dana Dimel build around. Here are a few thoughts:
Young Offensive Line: After Will Hernandez, a bunch of UTEP lineman played last season, and they've got the frames and foundations to be pretty good. Rueben Guerra a sophomore surprised us on film, and he looks like a two-year contributor at tackle, Derron Gatewood if healthy is a solid interior player. Jerrod Brooks looks like a born left tackle if he can only get more physical. There are pieces to work with, but they'll need young players to step in.
Josh Fields, when given a chance looked like the back most projected him to be. He put 137 yards against Lousiana Tech in his most extensive game action as a true freshman.
Trace Mascorro played as well as a true freshman defensive lineman could play, especially one coming from a smaller classification and one asked to play different positions. Give him an offseason in a college weight room, and he could be a monster.
We still have hopes for Walter Dawn. He's a game changer with the ball in his hands and last seasons coaching staff failed him by not letting him touch it. He isn't an every-down back, but he is a change of pace/slot option.
The secondary is back. Again. All four starters plus players like Michael Lewis and Justin Rogers who saw a lot of action. The backend looks in tact for 2018.
What pieces need replacing/finding?
Start with the quarterback position, either Metz gets and stays healthy, Torrez shows way more in 2018 than in 2017, redshirt freshman Alex Fernandes cashes in on his upside, or UTEP gets a quick fix from a JC or grad transfer. Those are a lot of ifs, but the biggest is IF none of those happen, this team will have slim to no chance of winning.
The Miners are starting over at linebacker with the great Alvin Jones graduated and key contributor Dante Lovilotte gone as well.
Playmakers are needed outside, UTEP's receiving options didn't scare anybody last season and allowed defenses to stare down the Miner run game. Also too many drops. Way too many drops.
Help on the way
This is embarrassing, according to 24/7, UTEP doesn't have a single player committed for 2018. You've got work to do Dana Dimel.
The 2018 Slate
CUSA hasn't released its 2018 schedule yet, but we know they'll get North Texas, Southern Miss, and UAB at home, plus their rivalry game with New Mexico State in the Sun Bowl.
Out of conference, aside from NMSU, welcome FCS Northern Arizona to El Paso before traveling to UNLV and Tennessee in back to back weeks.