For the second straight week, UTEP gave up a 75 yard opening drive TD, both of which have come on a busted coverage broken play to end it. And, that was just the beginning of the 591 yard offensive onslaught the Rams put on the Miners yesterday.
Rams running back Kapri Bibbs went off for 147 yards on the ground to along with TD runs of 8, 37 and lastly a 34 yarder that made Miner Nation turn off the TV or the leave the bar.
The fake FG portrayed the continued problems on defense; no pass rush and absolutely no pre-snap adjustments leaving for mis-matches on each offensive audible or shift. The Miners have simply been unable to keep up man-to-man and have not been able to tackle in the man-to-man look.
When the Miners would try to drop back in zone and bring safeties or Horrace Miller, no pressure was generated leaving time for Grayson to pick it apart, and gaps for big yards in the run game. Plus, when the Miners would blitz and have chances, terrible technique and angles killed the Miners blitzes all afternoon
The scheme is a really fun defense to play in a as player, though it leaves you in alot of one-on-one situations. You need guys to win battles and make plays if you are going to be successful in the long run. That hasn't happened yet.
The Miners just don't have the depth nor the talent in the front front 6 or 7 to generate a pass rush, and there isn't a tackle machine or anyone who can tackle by themselves. The Miners best flashes are when they fly around as a group and gang tackle.
But, when you're out of place on defense, that is going to leave you with terrible angles. Against good skill people you're only going to get shook and burned. The Rams did just that as the game wore on, just as UTSA and UNM did.
DaCarlos Renfro, Richard Spencer, and Jameel Erving had real good games despite almost giving 600 yards of offense. They all had a lot of tackles that should have came from the front 7 instead of the safeties.
Offensively, the Miners came out and had a solid opening drive after giving up that 2nd straight opening drive TD. But after that, the Rams stuck to their plan of stacking the box, led by Shaquil Barrett, and shut down the Miner run attack as the Miners became one dimensional and predictable in the first half.
The Miners were down 28-7 with less than three minutes in the first half and inside the CSU 40 yard line, when they ran three straight plays out of the I-formation to run the clock down to 1:06. One of those runs was on third down which CSU had 9 in the box. The Miners would end up punting.
Why would you not try to take a shot down field and try to create some momentum when you have the ball to start the 2nd half?
Patrick Higgins would answer that question early in the third as Showers hit Leslie on two beautifully thrown deep balls for TD's, then a 54 yard needle threading bullet to Ian Hamilton who got himself some YAC and would set up a 28-28 tie.
Shaquil Barrett improved his draft stock with his performance Saturday and earns my game ball. He had 13 tackles to go along with 3 sacks and forced that game changing safety that would lead to 24 straight points and open up the CSU lead to 52-28 to put the Miners away.
Aaron Jones, after a slow start, ran his out heart out and finished with 94 yards on 23 tough hard fought carries, but a fumble in the 3rd quarter with the Miners driving to try to cut the Rams lead will be the biggest memory in the young man's mind all week.
Jameill Showers set a career best with 365 yards passing and 5 TD's. Jordan Leslie was back in top form, after only having one ball thrown his way in the first half, despite the Rams playing him off and giving him space all throughout the first half. Higgins finally let Showers and Leslie loose and they both responded in the second half.
The Miner O-Line could not hold up Barrett and the pressure CSU was bringing, as Brander Craighead was getting dominated, along with Jerrel Watkins, giving up three sacks and four QB hurries.
Showers played very well despite the gap on the scoreboard. Eric Tominson was his favorite and most constant target. He is becoming more and more comfortable, but at times shows he clearly has small issues in adjusting back to this style of offense, but he should be fine and will only get better as Kugler has said.
The Miner coaches just could not make the adjustment on finding Barrett, once again being out coached by a veteran and battle tested coach in Jim McElwain. A player with production like Barrett needs to be game planned around and noticed, and it seemed the Miners did neither all week.
Going forward the defense is going to be a continued issue. Someone needs to step up and be a QB on defense. Most of the big plays given up for TD's this year are won before the ball is snapped due to being not lined up or a lack of pre-snap adjustments.
Next week the Miners start a streak of three straight conference opponents, and have a chance to forget the overall record and fight for a spot in the conference race.
This team needs the defense to be a positive factor to generate wins and its not looking good as the injuries piled up in Fort Collins, though the Miners have shown they can adjust and fight back, the porous defense will only hurt and turn fans away.