Editor's Note: I know, I'm way, way behind on this. I really need to stop procrastinating until Friday afternoonish to write these things, because Friday nights aren't the most ideal time to be writing blog posts. Yeah. So, next week, with Duke, I promise to make a conscious effort. For now, please just enjoy the offensive portion of my UTEP preview. So far. Hopefully, tomorrow morning, I'll throw up the Defensive half and we can all be happy. Thanks a million. -- RC
Hopefully this time, SBN's publisher won't get all whacked out, and it will be able to post before Saturday afternoonish. Hopefully. Also, let me just let all of you Paydirt Pete apologists out there know, I apologize if I offended you. I'm sorry that your fight song says "GO COLLEGE OF MINES!", and that your mascot is, as I said, called Paydirt Pete. It's kind of funny, when you think about it. No, really. It's funny. Laugh.
In any case, this post will not be humorous. At least not intentionally. Instead, this is a post that is actually about football (GASP!), so you can put away those axes y'all wield down in El Paso (well, at least Mike Price does) and just correct me when I make fun of your third string safety or something. You know, typical message board stuff.
With that said, let's get this puppy on the road. We'll do UTEP's good unit first, then their below average one. Deal?
As I said, UTEP's offense is good. Like, legitimately talented. They run this new-fangled offense called the spread, and they score a lot of points with it. It'll never work, though, it's just a gimmick. Trust me. Anyways, yeah, they are good. Not great, but good. There's your primer.
The quarterback is a good one. Trevor Vittatoe is that one, and don't worry, his game matches his name. Actually, that's a worry, because Vittatoe is a fantastic last name. But I digress. He is fairly immobile, and as the visiting commenter from El Paso said, a good comparison would be Josh Freeman. A really good comparison, even. He's got a rocket for an arm, just like Freeman. And he often tries to bite off more than he can chew, throwing deep, long passes downfield....that frequently land in the opponent's arms. Yes, this is Vittatoe we're talking about.
I can't say anything as to his mental progression. And of course, he's sort of a poor man's Josh Freeman, in a sense, because it isn't like he has first round potential. He should get a shot, though, as he has ideal size 6'2" 215 and the aforementioned good arm. But, as long as Anthony Davis and Calvin Rubles remember how to play defense without drawing a yellow flag, we should be cash money. If you want to feel any better, just recall memories of Josh Freeman playing against Kansas. Most likely, it involves interceptions. A lot of 'em. 9 of them, to be exact, 3 per year.
See, aren't you all confident now?
The lead runner is Donald Buckram, who had a really good game against Buffalo. 14 carries for 7.7 yards per, which is a problem simply because he only received 14 carries. Once the Miners fell behind, they almost completely abandoned Buckram (which is another fantastic name, by the way). So, obviously, the key is to jump ahead, because then the UTEP coaching staff simply ignores the running game. It might even be the better than the passing attack, which is saying something.
Buckram is mostly a speed guy, I'm guessing, based off of his size (5'10" 195), so yeah. We did a pretty solid job last game at shutting down the run, and it certainly wouldn't hurt to do so again. Making quarterbacks that are prone to turnovers, like Vittatoe is, shoulder all of the offensive load is always nice.
There are two key targets for Vittatoe in the passing game. Kris Adams is more of the deep threat, stretching defenses and providing opportunities for Vittatoe to show off that strong arm of his. He is their #2 receiver, from what I understand, though, meaning that the combination of Anthony Davis and Calvin Rubles will need to at least contain him. We will likely always have a safety shade over to provide deep help, but even then, they will have to show up in a bigger way. So, that'll be interesting.
The #1 receiver, and Vittatoe's other primary target, is Jeff Moturi. He is more of a possession receiver, as he caught 6 passes last Saturday, none of them longer than 8 yards. Talk about possession. Maybe I'm wrong, and really, I hope I am -- I hope Daymond covers Kris Adams, really. He can cover him deep, limits the safety help necessary and hell, it would appear Chris Harris would be the good fit for Moturi. Just cover his in-routes and out-routes and option routs that are designed to move the chains. Think of him as the safety valve, of sorts.
While their offense is good, at the very least, their defense...isn't. I mean, it's not terrible. It has some talented players on it, and it still is a significant upgrade on Northern Colorado's defense. But they aren't winning any Championships on the backs of their D, either.
So, yeah, here is a quick group-by-group analysis of the Miners' defense. It actually had a pretty good debut, albeit against a pretty poor Buffalo team, but still. They played well. Maybe they've figured some stuff out.