In The Dig: The Dig is back after a temporary hiatus. This time, the Rush ponders whether or not Trevor Vittatoe will be ready to go for what could be his final game in a UTEP uniform; some bowl projections; a look at the Hardwood; and the West Race is still a toss-up.
The UTEP Miners
Maybe the Horns Would Like Kinne Back? The UT Transfer G.J. Kinne has outplayed UT sophomore Garrett Gilbert all season. Kinne is playing incredible football right now both passing and running the ball. In fact, his running ability is what scares me the most about this game. Here's what CMP said on him:
On the Tulsa offense "G.J. Kinne is really starting to learn the offense. It is a little different than it was in the past. It isn’t quite as fast and trickery. They are running more options with it. Kinne carried the ball 31 times against Houston. So that will tell you one thing there. They run the regular shotgun option, the zone-read option. Then they run the midline option. They do a real good job of that. Kinne is big enough that he can run up the middle. They have all kinds of weapons."
Tough as Nails: Many Miner fans, myself included, have been frustrated with Trevor Vittatoe's inconsistent career. One game, he looks like a first rounder. The next, he spikes it on third and 19 with 42 seconds left and tosses a pick six or two. I think all Miner fans, regardless of how they feel about TV, want him to be able to finish his career by starting against Tulsa. Trevor, as far as I can find, has never missed a start. I don't want to see that streak snapped.
Vittatoe was walking in the Durham Center on Monday without a limp but with a boot on his left foot, at one point opting to take three flights of stairs instead of an elevator. "I'm good," he said. "We'll see. I'm just trying to get better."
His ankle injury is looking a bit better. It's not broken.
Jambalaya: CNNSI's Stewart Mandel has the Miners in the New Orleans Bowl against Florida International. Both ESPN bowl predictors, Mark Schlabach and Andrea Adelson, think UTEP will make it to Nawleans as well.
Not So Fast? CFN (Scout) doesn't see UTEP getting a bowl bid.
If the Miners don't get a bowl bid, it will ultimately be, in my mind, because of the Marshall loss. That game was there for the taking, and the Miners let it get away from them. That said, it's good that the team knows that they are by no means a lock for any bowl bid right now. If they want to punch their ticket, they have to beat Tulsa to be certain.
The Sun Bowl announced that Lee Greenwood will headline the Sun Bowl halftime show. This is clearly a move to bring in a more youthful, energetic crowd.
In Good Company: Julyan Stone is about to etch his name into the UTEP record books. Bill Knight has the story.
Julyan Stone has nine assists in UTEP's first two games, leaving him just 24 behind the school's all-time leader Tim Hardaway. Stone, who is the nation's leading returning assist man, now has 539 for his career. Hardaway finished his UTEP career in 1989 with 563. Stone passed Antonio Anderson of Memphis Sunday for fourth place on the Conference USA all-time list. Anderson had 538. TCU's Corey Santee is third with 575 and USC's Reggie Kohn is the all-time leader with 632
Win No. 1: The Miners held off Mercer for their first win of the season. Randy Culpepper had 24 points.
Now Leaving Miner Orangeville: Turn Up the Orange laments the crowd of only 2,000 that appeared for the Mercer game just 2 days after 12,222 showed up for Pacific. I'll simply say that 12:00 pm tip offs on a Sunday is just a bad idea all the way around.
Signing Day Revisited: I'm working on a full post-signing day recap now for later this week. Here's the Times report on signing day. 99% of this stuff was posted on the Rush weeks before signing day- there were some JC surprises and the Julian Washburn commitment was a nice one.
On Friday, Floyd and UTEP announced the early signing of eight new players -- five high school seniors and three junior college players. In addition, Floyd already has two other prospects enrolled in school -- 6-0 guard Jacques Streeter from Los Angeles and 6-7 forward Julian Washburn, the son of former NBA player Chris Washburn, from Duncanville, Texas.
No Surprise Here: Tim Floyd hasn't signed his contract yet with UTEP. I like Richard Adauto's quotes in here. The administration trusts Floyd. So should we.
With most teams still having two games to play, there is still a lot to determine in the C-USA West Race. SMU could still win the division or not even become bowl eligible.
Two games on Saturday might go a long way in determining which other Conference USA teams will become bowl-eligible. Marshall (4-6) plays at SMU (5-5), which has lost three of its last four games to fall into bubble trouble. Houston (5-5) closes the regular season with consecutive road games at Southern Miss and Texas Tech and will have to win at least one to go bowling. Tulane (4-6) hosts Central Florida and plays at Marshall and will have to win both to finish 6-6.