November is going to be, easily, the most difficult month in UTEP's 2010 season and it all starts when the SMU Mustangs visit the Sun Bowl.
Last season, the Mustange edged UTEP in an offensive shootout 35-31. Kyle Padron hit Emmanuel Sanders on a 37 yard touchdown strike to give SMU the lead with just over 4:00 minutes to go. UTEP drove the ball down to the SMU 14 yard line but Trevor Vittatoe was sacked on 4th and 6 and the Miners lost the ball on downs. UTEP and SMU will have similarly strong offenses in 2010 and the stage is set for yet another shootout. Luckily, this time, its at the Sun Bowl.
Padron emerged last season as a master of June Jones spread offense. He completed a scorching 67.5% of his passes and had 10 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions. Padron stepped in during the Mustangs seventh game when starter Bo Levi Mitchell went down with an injury. He played so well that the two year starter, Mitchell, transfered this offseason.
Padron is a master of the spread offense as he comes from Texas power Southlake Carroll. Carroll is a quarterback factory and produced Chase Daniel (Missouri), Riley Dodge (North Texas), and Greg McElroy (Alabama).
The Mustangs will have to recover from the loss of some stud contributors from last season. Sanders, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was a stud. Bryan McCann, a cornerback, is now with the Cowboys. Running back Shawnbrey McNeal is with the San Diego Chargers. It will be interesting to see how SMU recovers from losing those mainstays. Aldrick Robinson will replace Sanders and he's fit in well with their offense so far.
Chase Kennemer, last year's leading tackler, is also gone. Ja'Gared Davis, Youri Yenga, and Pete Fleps are all linebacker with starting experience who return and form the backbone of SMU's 3-4 defense.
So last year's game was a shoot-out. This year, the Mustangs should be just as good if not better than last season. Who do you got?