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UTEP Football Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 08/20/2008

No. 88 UTEP Miners

2007 Record ~ 4-8 SU ~ 7-4 ATS

Starters Returning ~ Offense (5) Defense (7)

It was a second straight losing season in El Paso last season but head coach Mike Price is safe, for now at least. A 4-8 record last year had the possibility to be 7-5 as the Miners lost three games in the final minute. That comes down to the defense that was horrific in every aspect but steps have been taken to turn that around. It just needs to happen. A program that won six games combined from 2001-2003 and then won eight games in each of Price’s first two seasons is on its way back again.

The offense was a solid unit last season and that was with a freshman quarterback leading the way. The Miners finished 36th in total offense and 26th in scoring offense behind Trevor Vittatoe who finished second in the nation in passing among freshmen signal callers. Four of his top five receivers are gone as is leading rusher Marcus Thomas so there are some concerns. Leading receiver Jeff Moturi returns as does an athletic group of backs that will run behind a small yet athletic line which does spout some optimism.

Where do we start here? The defense was dreadful, finishing 117th overall, 113th in scoring, 104th in rushing and 117th in passing. To their credit, the Miners had just two returning starters back from 2006 but the unit actually digressed as the season went along. Price hired defensive coordinator Osia Lewis away from New Mexico where he led the Lobos to the 13th ranked defense. He brings in a 3-3-5 package and with seven starters back, things should get significantly better.

The non-conference schedule is very in favor of the Miners with the exception of Texas although the Longhorns do travel to El Paso. The other home game is against New Mexico St. which could be a 150-point spectacle while the two road games are at Buffalo and UL-Lafayette which are both winnable. The C-USA schedule is more demanding as three of the four games are against the three projected top teams. If this defense gels quickly, the Miners will be a great take so see what happens at Buffalo in the opener.

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