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Route 44: UTEP Blows Out Rice Postgame Awards

"I thought we really outhit them." Mike Price.

Dominant. That's the only way to describe UTEP's blowout win against the Rice Owls which pushed the Miners to 2-1 in the C-USA and one win away from bowl eligibility. I also like the way Bill Knight described the game:

On a beautiful October Saturday night in the Sun Bowl, UTEP dusted Rice. The Miners simply handled the Owls, roughed them up and sent them back to Houston on wounded wings. Trevor Vittatoe was amazing on this night -- as he has been again and again and again. He threw for more than 300 yards, for three touchdowns and passed former Miner star Jordan Palmer in passing yards, touchdown passes and total yards in the Miners' all-time record book.

Trevor Vittatoe continued his dominant 2010 season which is quickly shaping up to be his best ever. Vittatoe is on pace to pass for more than 3,000 yards for the fourth time in his career. Ridiculous. The defense played lights out, as Knight described "with their hair on fire."

And yet, the announced attendance was 28,955? What? Homecoming. 4-1 record. A C-USA West Rival coming to town for a night game. And, the crowd was 28,955? I guess it will take a 6-1 record for El Paso to slow down and notice the only show in town is playing some good football.

Mike Price doesn't care about attendance. He was just proud and appreciative for the ones that were there. "The people that were here we're fantastic. I was very pleased with them. I'm happy with the 29,000 that we had. Loyal, great, fan support."

I love the attitude, coach. But, hopefully the city will wake up in time for the Tulane home game on 10/23.

On to the Awards

1. Offensive MVP: Kris Adams (WR): All He Does is Score Touchdowns

What a night, again, for the best deep threat in Conference USA. Adams killed it with 5 receptions for 134 yards and 3 touchdowns. Adams has 23 receptions for 553 yards and a ridiculous 8 touchdowns this season. So, every 3rd reception he makes is a touchdown. Ridiculous. Adams is now ranked 17th in the nation in receiving yards per game at over 92 yards per contest.

Runner Up: Nathan McCage (Center)

With starting center Tanner Cullumber and his backup Eloy Atkinson both out of action, the junior from Klein Collins in Spring, Texas stepped in and played very well. Give credit to Bob Connelly, UTEP's offensive line coach, who had done an incredible job developing depth along the line. When you lose your starting LT Will Osolinsky and center Tanner Cullumber, and have two capable veterans behind them (Lance Evbuowman and McGage), and continue dominate the line of scrimmage, you know you have real depth.

2. Offensive Goat of the Week

None. 9 different players caught passes. 8 different players carried the ball for positive yardage. There were no turnovers. Pierce Hunter had himself a bit of a game (5 catches for 105 yards). Donald Buckram "shook the rust off" as Coach Price said. He carried 9 times for 47 yards. The team had 463 yards of offense and had 44 points. It was a team effort all the way around.

3. Defensive MVP: Royzell Smith (LB)

Big #52: On a night littered with defensive highlights, Smith stole the show. He compuld 6 tackles, including 1.5 TFL, he broke up a pass, and he had 2 quarterback hurries. Also, hats off to Travaun Nixon and Wiston Jeune. Nixon led all Miners with 9 tackles. Jeune, filling in for the injured Brandon Miller, had 7 tackles (5 solo). Also, note that Germard Reed and Robert Soleyjacks each had a QB sack.

4. Defensive Goat of the Week

None. Read above. It was a complete team effort and for the first time this year, there are no "Goat" awards given.

5. Coach of the Week: Bob Connelly (O-Line).

Andre Patterson & his staff are just as deserving. But, with the injuries and shuffling along the line so far, and the Miners offensive line hasn't skipped a beat. The Miners are averaging 167.5 yards per game on the ground and are giving up less than a sack a game. The O-Line is ranked 18th in the nation in sacks allowed (0.83 sacks allowed per game).

6. Special Teams Player of the Week: Ian Campbell (Punter)

Campbell is becoming a serious weapon in the field position battle. He boomed 5 punts for 278 yards (55.6 average) including a 72 yarder.

7. Player I Don't Want to See Again

I'd like to say Rice DB/LB Paul Porras who had 13 tackles, but I'll go with Rice's punter Kyle Martens. He's their best player and that's not meant to be a knock on Rice it's just that he is very talented. Be punted 5 times and 4 of them landed inside the 20. He'll probably be an NFL punter.

8. TEAM MVP: Trevor Vittatoe

Again, like last week, Kris Adams could get this with his crazy game that earned him the C-USA Player of the WeekHonor. But, I'm going to go with the guy who etched his name in the history books in style. TV was on fire again and completed 19/32 passes for 327 yards and 3 touchdowns (no INT's). Trevor is now UTEP's career record holder in passing yards, total yards, and passing touchdowns. More importantly, he's on the verge of leading UTEP to their first ever winning record and bowl game with him at the helm. In my opinion, Trevor and Kyle Padron are quickly becoming the favorites for the C-USA Most Valuable Player Award.