College Football Preview: The 2015 Texas-El Paso Miners
Texas-El Paso Miners Preview
2014 Record: 7-6
Sean Kugler looks to take the Texas El Paso Miners to back to back Bowl games in 2015.
Overview: The Miners haven’t been accustomed to success on the football field so when Sean Kugler took UTEP Bowling in his second year at the helm it opened some eyes. The trick is doing it again with virtually no passing game to lean on.
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Offense: The run heavy Miners ran the ball often because putting the ball in the air was not a strength and probably won’t be with the departure of quarterback Jameill Showers who was a little better then a 55% passer. Mack Leftwich threw for 458 yards in 2013 and might have the inside track to get the starting job in 2015 with running backs Autrey Golden and Aaron Jones combining for 61 catches for 563 as the top two receiving options returning. Jones also was the workhorse in the ground game with 1,328 yards on 241 carries with a solid 5 ½ yard average while Golden could see a bigger role as the primary backup. The O-Line returns five players with starting experience although the loss of All CUSA LT Jerel Watkins hurts.
Defense: UTEP returns five the top seven lineman in their rotation that depended on speed and quickness to make plays. Ends Nick Usher and Roy Robertson-Harris combined for 15 TFL and 6.5 sacks but the unit could use some run stoppers. Alvin Jones was a great pass rusher as a freshman linebacker with nine TFL with 1.5 sacks and an interception. The Miners did put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks and most of the front seven are back and need to do the same thing with the secondary losing their top three corners and two of the top four safeties. The front seven needs to help this group out and give them a chance to mesh.
Special Teams: Jay Mattox averaged 41 yards on 41 punts and most were returned while going 13-16 on field goals. The Miners need somebody to return punts but Autrey Golden was one of the best kick returners in the game with a 24 yard average on 31 tries with a pair of touchdowns.
Outlook: If the Miners limit mistakes and develop a halfway viable passing game I can see them winning at least half their games and make their goal of consecutive postseason appearances reachable.