Sean Kugler showed his huge Orange heart early this week, throwing logs in the I-10 rivalry fire, pointing out the fact that Miner fans make Aggie Memorial the Sun Bowl North. Kugler had his team prepared to the T, and his squad mirrored his intensity, poise and confidence.
SEAN KUGLER ON FIRST WIN:
"I'm excited about it, because its a good team win. As soon as we get back we'll look at the film and see what we need to improve on and get ready for next week"
After giving up two first quarter touchdowns, Scott Stoker was able to make the perfect adjustments to the Aggie read option and dialed up some great looks on D, and the younger Miner defenders responded by literally taking Germi Morrison out of the game, and showing off their speed and promise.
DaShone Smith earned my game ball, picking off the Aggies twice, both in key situations displaying his inner Ed Reed hawking skills. He also added 5 tackles, as the Miner D stopped the Aggie offense 6 times of third down.
UTEP DB DASHONE SMITH:
"We had to come back from a slow start, it was pretty exciting for us to do it, we just kept on responding and responding, my two turnovers it wasn't about me, it was about the lineman, and the people I go against everyday they help me out."
Although it was a great, spirited defensive effort, the Miners have some things to shore up heading into the conference opener. The Aggies' scores came on big plays of 81, 20 and a 72 yard screen play. The screen play was a great play call by NMSU. The Miners had their ears pinned backed and were playing hard, having their way when they were caught off guard. Beyond that, they limited the Aggies to 8.8 yards a play.
For the offense, there was one word to describe it: methodical. The Miners came out in the first half and let Jameill Showers sling it around. He had 200 passing yards in the first half, and added a very physical 12 yard run that gave the Miners a 14-7 lead.
Jordan Leslie has straight up owned NMSU's secondary these past two games. Over the last two years, he's caught 14 balls for 250 yards. He was definitely back in top form.
Ian Hamilton also had a solid night grabbing 6 balls for 81 yards. Its scary when you think of the production out of these two going forward, as Showers has really settled in and shown he is the real deal.
But the headline of the ball game was that running game and Miner offensive beast of a line. The Miners used all 5 backs as promised, led by Aaron Jones who for the second straight game led the Miners in rushing with 97 yards and set a career high with 22 carries.
"Well when you run the ball efficiently you know you control the clock, and that's what we try to do, in the flow of the game we had more balls in the air with the things that gave us and I thought Jameill threw the ball well and receivers responded and caught the ball well."
Freshman Darrin Laufasa had the ball in his hands in important situations in the 4th and knew exactly what to do. He busted a 17 yarder, which was the 9th straight run play called by Miners to give them a 35-21 lead.
The Miners ran the ball 18 times in the fourth and converted 3 out of 3 tries on third down as well in the final period. The 41:58 time of possession was a school record, and the Miner offensive line deserves a big thanks for that.
BRANDER CRAIGHEAD ON RUNNING GAME:
'That's what we wanted to do, our game plan was to be physical and it felt good for them to call us on in the end and let us do what we do best."
The Miner bruisers upfront dominated the undersized Aggie line in the second half, and had them gasping for air on that epic 14 play drive 88 yard drive that took up most of the 4th. The chemistry is really coming along up there and is becoming a strength in pounding the rock but also protecting Showers.
Overall a couple of things really stood out to me; Showers is a solid QB and its going to be fun watching this guy play, he was poised all night, and despite throwing a pick, is going to just get better and better, and also, while the youth is evident on defense, there is some young talent that got to show their ball and coverage skills and against a decent set of NMSU receivers.
SEAN KUGLER ON YOUNG DBS:
"They all did a nice job, they broke on the ball, they had pass break ups, interceptions, so very proud of our defense very proud of them they way the responded they got us some turnovers."
Da' Carlos Renfro got his hand in there and forced a fumble and then went on to recover it. The Miners showed they have a lot of young guys who can step up and provide some depth in the secondary. Who will produce on a consistent basis, and will someone emerge as a star are the questions going forward.
Bad news on the injury front, as Wesley Miller made his season debut, but he left with an injury and did not return. La Quintus Dowell was helped off by the training staff, after his 54 yard run that gave the Miners the lead they would run away with.
In appreciation for his effort, the loud and proud Miner faithful who showed up in the north corner end zone gave Dowell a huge standing ovation as he was helped over to the Miner bench.
Richard Spencer did not play and Nathan Jeffery started but did not see action in the second half. Both have been nagged by injuries since the opening of camp.
Next Saturday the Miners return to the Sun Bowl to open conference play against UTSA at 6PM. The Road Runners (1-2) will play their first ever game as a C-USA member. The Runners, who fell to Arizona last night 38-13 and beat UNM 21-13, have played a very respectable schedule early on.
Make sure to stay tuned to the Rush for game week coverage on our new C-USA rival. Everyone have a great week!