Picks Up: Recapping the Good from UTEP's 31-24 Win Over Stony Brook

As the UTEP Miners football team is preparing for the SMU Mustangs on Saturday in Dallas, it's time to take another  look at UTEP's ugly win over FCS Stony Brook.  Some teams weren't lucky enough to force OT and escape with a win against an FCS school in week one, most notable, the Oregon State Beavers.  This year, I'm going to do this a little differently.  First, I'll post the good news, "Picks Up," and in a separate post I'll highlight the bad, "Picks Down."  This week, the  second post might be a little longer than the first, but there were some reasons for very, very cautious optimism about the 2012 UTEP Miners, including......



1.  The Debut of Mike Edwards:   UTEP's new #6, and Nick Lamaisons favorite target from Mt. SAC, led UTEP with 7 receptions and had a strong 12.1 yards per catch for a total of 85 yards.  In fact, let's give some love to....

2.  UTEP Receivers & the New Deep ThreatThe Miner's lost their best receiver, Kris Adams, and their most dangerous playmaker, Marlon McClure from a year ago.  Despite that, 10 different players catch passes in the game.  Seven of them, Donovan Kemp, Kevin Perry, Edwards, Vernon Frazier, Jordan Leslie, Eric Tomlinson, and Joseph Banyard, caught 2 or more passes.  Donovan Kemp led the way with 4 catches for 114 yards and of course the monster TD in overtime.  He also caught a 46 yard bomb from Lamaison.  It looks like we've found Kris Adams replacement as UTEP's go to deep threat.  Speaking of big impact, how about....

3.  Eric "TD" TomlinsonThe former 3 star recruit from Klein, and redshirt freshman, caught 2 passes for two touchdowns.  Tomlinson, a 6'6 255 pounder, looks like a star in the making.  It was no secret that last year's QB Trevor Vittatoe never developed a strong connection to his tight ends.  Jonny Moore and Elijah Goldtrap never became consistent contributors as receivers. It's nice to see Nick Lamaison and Tomlinson get off to a hot start together.

4.  He Just Makes Big PlaysAnother stellar game for UTEP senior cornerback Travaun Nixon.  Perhaps none of them have been bigger than Travaun's interception of Stony Brook QB Michael Coulter on the first play of overtime.   He also led UTEP with 11.5 tackles (8 solo) and had a tackle for a loss. 

5.  The Pass Rush:  UTEP didn't exactly live in the SBU backfield, but hats off to Horace Miller and James Davidson who both notched sacks in week one.  Miller, the transfer from Louisville, made an impact in his first game as a Miner.  Davidson showed tons of promise last season and looks like he had one heck of an offseason. 

And now for the best news of all...

6.  We Have a  Gamer:  Nick Lamaison was far from perfect Saturday night.  He tossed two interceptions and had a crucial fumble as well.  But, when the chips were down he did just enough to get UTEP the win.  I've seen enough terrible college quarterbacks wear orange and blue to know when we have someone with potential for big things.  A I mentioned above, Lamaison hit 10 receivers  He had a 13 yard scramble.  And, he did it all with a new UTEP offensive line in front of him and absolutely no help from the rushing game.  Lamaison will struggle at times.  But, there's no denying he will be interesting to watch.

Picks Down:  The Bad News from UTEP's Escape from Stony Brook will be posted later.....

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