The less than satisfying finish to the UTEP and Marshall contest overshadowed a solid defensive effort from Andre Patterson's boys. The Miners defense struggled out of the gates as Marshall opened up the game with an 8 play, 69 yard touchdown drive capped with a four yard touchdown pass from Brian Anderson to Aaron Dobson. After that opening drive, the Miners defense consistently found ways to end drives including forcing Marshall to fail on two fourth down attempts. Yes, dropped passes by Marshall receivers helped, but that doesn't take away from a very good performance overall.
Adams has made a strong case to be a first team All-CUSA wideout. He had 6 more catches for 82 yards and a touchdown. In UTEP's last two road games, the Miner have managed only one touchdown and it was Adams who punched it in. Last week, I remarked that I've never seen a football team so desperate for someone to make a good play.
Jeune was all over the field Saturday. He finished with 13 total tackles (6 solo/7 assisted). Jeune also broke up a tackle and had broke up a pass. Andre Patterson was using Jeune as essentially a fourth linebacker at times. He was flying up in run support and making plays. Nixon also had 6 solo tackles and a tackle for a loss. Travaun is a figher, a leader, and the type of guy that you just enjoy watching play football.
I realize that Tron Martinez had a career high rushing the ball. I realize he had more rushing yards against UTEP (116) then he did all season (48). Last week, I hoped to see some fight in the Miners coming off of two losses. I think we saw it along a defensive front that has been largely dismissed throughout this season as being undersized and overmatched week in and week out. These guys came to play and they made Marshall work for just about every yard (I'm excluding the opening drive). It was Ayala, by the way, that blocked that Marshall punt.
The Spark Plug: Marlon McClure
48 receiving yards, 41 kickoff return yards, and 58 punt return yards for a total of 147 total yards. I think UTEP's coaching staff will spend the better part of the spring figuring out ways to get Marlon more involved on offense. He's too fast and too talented to not be used more on offense. I do give Eric Price credit for using him in the running game last week and for having him start at wide receiver now. Maybe, Marlon will be used more in the screen game with Trevor and Donald struggling to get it going.
Yes, I'm aware that I'm giving each part of the defense Picks Up! But, I thought the entire defense was worthy of it. When Marshall had a third and goal at the 1, it was Jamie Irving who made that huge tackle to force the field goal. Smith was in on 9 tackles. Carter struggled to get off blocks at times, but all in all Robert Rodriguez's boys helped UTEP get the Herd off the field. Marshall was 2 of 11 on third down conversions.
Seriously, what would C-USA fans do without Channel Surfing? This weeks broadcast was truly exceptional because the people in the Marshall press box providing the link accidentally killed the audio feed from the Herds radio play by play guys and instead opened up viewers to their in-press box conversations. Hey, in the C-USA you got to take what you can get.
James Thomas: The Closer
Thomas did fumble a shotgun snap (UTEP had four fumbles but only lost 1) but there's no denying that UTEP's rushing game is only effective right now when JTII is in the game. The way UTEP is playing in the red zone, I think the Miners may be best served to insert him whenever UTEP gets inside the 10. Think of JTII as the closer on offense. Unfortunately, he missed a chunk of the Marshall game with an injury but he did manage to rush 7 times for 38 yards.
Andre Patterson: Finding Ways to Make it Work
Watching some highlights from the Houston- Memphis blowout, I can't help but admire Kevin Sumlin at Houston. We have had some terrible injury luck, but so have the Coogs. I mean they lost their quarterback and his backup in the same day. They struggled, yes, but they eventually got things going again. Andre Patterson has done the same thing at UTEP on defense. He's just done everything he can to make it work. To Andre, the system is more important than hurting players feelings. If someone needs to lose their starting job, they lose their starting job. If someone is injured, he plays musical chairs but finds a way to give the defense a chance to succeed week in and week out. Andre Patterson is doing an incredible job this season.
Am I missing someone or something that deserved "Picks Up?" Let me know via Twitter, email, or drop it in the comments.