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Numbers Don't Lie: The UTEP Miners Didn't Show Up in Birmingham

I have decided to skip the Stat Shack for today in order to take a closer look at the crime scene that was UTEP's effort against the UAB Blazers.  More after the jump.

  • 20:25:  The amount of time UTEP held the ball in the first half.
  • 7:11:  The amount of time UTEP held the ball in the second half.
  • 19:  The number of carries for UTEP running backs in the first half.
  • 2:  The number of carries for UTEP running backs in the second half.
  • 56:  Number of plays UTEP ran on offense
  • 70:  Number of plays UAB ran on offense.
  • 10/4/2008:  The last time UTEP beat a C-USA team on the road.
  • 53%:  UTEP's 3rd down conversion rate before the UAB game (45/85)
  • 30%:  UTEP's 3rd down conversion rate vs. UAB (4/13)
  • 32.5:  Points averaged by UTEP going into UAB game.
  • 32.0:  Average points scored by Sun Belt teams Florida Atlantic and Troy against UAB's defense
  • 6:  Points scored by UTEP vs. UAB
  • 53:  UAB receiver Frantrell Forrest's average yards receiving per game before UTEP
  • 99:  Receiving yards by Frantrell Forrest against UTEP
  • 48:  Total rushing yards for Justin Brooks in UAB's first 5 games (9.6 yards per game)
  • 81:  Justin Brooks rushing yards against UTEP
  • 2:  Interceptions thrown by UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittattoe in the seasons first six games
  • 3:  Interceptions thrown by Trevor Vittattoe against UAB
I think that's about enough.  I realize that UTEP's statistics before UAB came against some of the worst teams in the nation (New Mexico, NMSU), but it's not like UAB was playing Auburn and Oregon prior to their game against UTEP.  UAB's only win was against a Sun Belt team.  UAB lost to Florida Atlantic and was blown out by UCF and SMU by a combined score of 69-14.  I'm aware that UAB took Tennessee to double overtime.  But, I'm also aware that Tennessee is 2-4 and their only other win was against Tennessee-Martin.

I put this post together up to show that MIner fans that the UTEP team that showed up in Birmingham is not the same one that rolled up a 5-1 record.  UTEP didn't have anywhere near the intensity or focus that they had in their previous five games.  

How does a 5-1 team with senior starters at key positions simply take a week off? Injuries obviously contributed, but there was no hostile crowd.  The officiating was fair.  

So, this week we learned that the Miners couldn't quite handle the success they had earlier in the year.  We learned that UTEP might not have the killer instinct that successful teams develop after continued success.  The Miner seniors that I hoped would keep this team focused this season have never really had any measure of success at UTEP.  In the last few years, UTEP's biggest achievement has been knocking off #12 Houston at home.,  That game was followed by a disaster of a loss at Memphis the next week.

Hopefully, UTEP's leaders will take full control this week and see the UAB game as the wake-up call it is.  UTEP can't show up and expect other teams to roll over.  It's time for the Miners to take a deep breath, look back at the failures of the past three seasons, and make a concerted effort to avoid the landmines that kept some very capable teams out of bowl games.  Because if UTEP's leaders don't step up now and take control of this team, the Miners are capable of losing to anybody as we all just learned the hard way.