Make no mistake about it, the outcome of this game was never in doubt. Special teams aside, the USF Bulls were the better team in just about every facet of their Saturday night game against the UTEP Miners. But, for the better part of the contest, Miner fans were treated to one hell of a performance from former walk-on, and third string quarterback, Carson Meger. Meger, an undersized QB, who didn't receive a single D-1 scholarship offer coming out of high school, showed flashes of toughness and competitiveness at quarterback that reminded me of the old Rocky Perez days.
Meger's listed at 5'11 and 200 pounds. He doesn't have a rocket arm. He isn't athletic enough to run the option or zone read. But, watching him, its easy to see he know Eric Price's offense to a tee. He excels at timed patterns and always knows where his receivers should be. He makes quick reads and uses his intelligence to compensate for his size and arm strength. He's a gamer.
And, yes, he threw three interceptions yesterday including a pick six to finish the scoring. He has a lot to learn. But, man, there's no denying that he's fun to watch. Against a typical C-USA defense, Carson Meger can be a solid above average quarterback that can win games.
Here are some more quick hits from the game, via bullet points:
- The Deep Threat: Watching UTEP and USF it's easy to see the size difference between the Big East school and the C-USA school. That said, 6'2, 205 lb WR Jordan Leslie looked like he belonged out there. Leslie caught 2 passes for 64 yards including a stunning 37 yarder in the second quarter- off a perfectly thrown Meger pass.
- Speaking of Size: UTEP's 6'5, 225 lb. TE Kevin Perry caught 5 balls for 58 yards including a 25 yard touchdown reception. Perry can be a dominant TE in the C-USA.
- The Return Show: UTEP RB and return man Vernon Frazier and frosh RB Nathan Jeffrey tore through the USF kickoff team time and time again. The Miners had 8 kickoff returns for 251 yards- a stunning 31.4 yard per return average.
- The O-Line: For much of the game, UTEP's offensive line held its own against the USF defensive front. Meger's quick releases on timed patterns kept the USF defense honest and also helped open up the running game- a bit anyway. Nathan Jeffrey had six carries for 39 yards. Jeffrey looks poised to step into the role once occupied by Marlon McClure. That is, he might be the best athlete UTEP has. And he might be UTEP's best big play threat in C-USA play. Leilyon Myers played well too, but Jeffrey might have the big play potential the offense desperately needs on the ground right now.
- Outclassed: Like I said above, despite instances where the score tightened up at times, this game was never in doubt. Why? Because UTEP's defense had no answer to the USF rushing game. I counted six missed tackles on Victor Marc's 67 yard rushing touchdown. B.J. Daniels sliced and diced the UTEP defense time and time again The Miners weren't aggressive. They were undersized. The UTEP defense was simply outmatched.
- On to the Next One: It's UTEP. It's Houston. And, it's a Thursday night kick. Houston is undefeated and on the verge of breaking into the Top 25 rankings.