UTEP Miners at Rice Owls Open Comment Thread

Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sp

This week UTEP takes the field in Houston against Rice for their first of three straight on the road. It all starts against at 1:30 PM MDT Today at Rice Stadium.

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After a much needed bye week, the UTEP Miners hit the road this week to continue C-USA play with a matchup against Rice. Rice has won six of the last seven games between the Texas schools, and leads the overall series 10-6.

The Miner defense is ranked 107th overall in the FBS and with very little scholarships players on that side of the ball, and a remaining schedule filled with possible bowl teams, the Miners will try to play the big dream spoilers the rest of the way.

Freshman running back Aaron Jones leads a running attack that as a group has been the best in school history since 1984. The Miners enter Saturday's contest with two consecutive games of 200 yards plus on the ground.

Jones, who left the Miners 34-20 loss to Tulsa two weeks ago with a shoulder injury, is expected to return against Rice according to head coach Sean Kugler, he was limited in practice all week, though he did suit up in full gear in the Miners full pad day on Tuesday.

UTEP quarterback Jameill Showers is the Miners second leading rusher this season, and is 28th nationally is points responsible for with 92 overall points. He has also joined five other lifetime Miner signal callers with two 70 yard TD passes in a season. (Vittatoe 2009, Palmer 2006, Orlando Cruz 2003, Billy Stevens 1965)

Showers has also built an amazing chemistry with the recipient of those two 70 yards touchdowns in Jordan Leslie.

Leslie will return to his hometown this weekend with 1,888 career receiving yards, and with 46 more yards he will tie UTEP's Tight Ends Coach Brian Natkin for 10th all time in school history. Leslie also had 102 yards against Tulsa, which gave him his 3rd straight 100 yard receiving game.

On defense the Miners are expecting the return of senior defensive lineman Adam Ayala who has been out the past couple of weeks with an ankle injury. Fellow senior Richard Spencer is still suspended, in my opinion his Miner career is disappointingly over after a very solid and respectable one, though Kugler still has not decided on what will happen.

UTEP is ranked 118th overall in the FBS in rushing defense, while the Owls are ranked 16th averaging 229.9 yards a game.

Expect to see the continued presence of youth on defense, specifically in the secondary. Adrian James will continue to platoon at safety and corner, as Devin Cockrell returned and is proving to be the Miners best tackler in the open field after a solid game against Tulsa.

The Owls run attack is one of the most dynamic and prolific attacks in the nation lead by 6'1, 235 running back Charles Ross, the leader of the group with 559 yards on the ground to go along with five touchdowns.

The second leading rusher for Rice is quarter back Taylor McHargue. The Owls run tons of read options with Ross and 6'2 220 spell back Tuner Peterson who is averaging 4.3 yards a carry, and also does a solid job of catching out of the backfield. They will also come at you downhill and on the edges with their speed back Darik Dilliard.

It has been solid October for Rice as they have won three in row, and throughout the season have stuck first on the scoreboard in each ball game, including four opening possession drives for touchdowns.

Follow @sbnminerrush for score updates and fan interaction. And make sure you tune into The Rush 2.0 podcast Wednesdays at 7 PM MDT. on www.blogtalkradio.com/minerrush.

This past weeks first show is available on demand on the website!

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