If UTEP could hit the reset button on the 2017 season, some fans might think twice; it's best to rip the band-aid off all at once. This Miner season is a disaster, and it's not getting any better. But maybe it needs to happen to get the program in a better state. Life doesn't get easier as UTEP travels to West Point to play the ultra-efficient Black Knights.
A few keys:
Learn for 2016
Army waltzed into El Paso last season in front of nearly 40,000 fans and dismantled the Miners. Army's flexbone offense present unique and challenging issues. UTEP's been prepping for the game since the spring and hoping to learn from last years blowout. Army ran up 600 yards of total offense, 428 on the ground and put UTEP's defense through a meat grinder. The Black Knights possessed the ball for over 41 minutes. Tom Mason's defense needs a different approach to slow down Army's attack.
Make Special Teams Great Again
UTEP lost its top return man for the season when Kenyan Foster went down Saturday night. Foster averaged 22 yards a kickoff return. Replacing Foster and getting Terry Juniel or anyone to return punts effectively would be a huge bonus for UTEP and help the Miners flaccid offense via positive field position. Walter Dawn's touches went down last week with the emergence of Quardraiz Wadley in the backfield, perhaps UTEP can re-insert Dawn into the return game or in the slot to keep one of their few dynamic playmaking threats involved.
Meet Ahmad Bradshaw
Army's offense tends to stop and start with the efficiency of Ahmad Bradshaw. The senior quarterback led the Black Knights to their first win over Navy in 14 tries last season and ran for 100 yards in Army's first two games. Ohio State and Tulane held Bradshaw more in check, he was 0-3 with a pick last week and rushed for 65 yards. Bradshaw is just four for twenty passing this season, not that Army relies on an aerial attack, but they use it to shock opponents with big plays after safeties start moving up to stop the rushing attack. Army coach Jeff Monken will attempt to get Bradshaw going early and ignite Army's dreary passing attack.
Notes and Numbers
- This marks the second season that UTEP and Army will play, Army won the first matchup last season 66-14 in El Paso.
- Army ranks 3rd in the FBS in rushing offense behind Georgia Tech and Navy.
- The Black Knights rank 74th in total defense.
- Ahmad Bradshaw ranks 17th in Army history in rushing yards.
- UTEP is 0-20-1 in the eastern time zone.
- UTEP freshman defensive tackle Trace Mascorro returned a fumble for a touchdown last week for his first collegiate touchdown.