The UTEP Miners have now defeated both New Mexico schools for the 23rd time in school history. It's time to wrap up the UNM game by handing out some postgame awards. Like always, please vote for or writ e-in your MVP and let me know if I missed a special, or not-so-special, performance by a Miner. This week saw some solid performances on both sides of the ball, so I'd expect some debate here.
1. Offensive Player of the Week: Kris Adams (WR)
Adams gets the nod because we can now officially close the door on any doubts as to whether he would regain his 2008 form after his numbers fell off a bit in 2009. Adams caught 5 passes for a stunning 141 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns (48, 49 yards). Adams is now the 33rd leading receiver in the nation and is averaging just under 84 yards receiving a game. Adams has over 400 yards on the season and 5 touchdowns and that's with struggling last week with back spasms against Memphis. Most impressively, to me, is the fact that he's averaging a ridiculous 23.3 yards per reception. With Donald Buckram still out, Adams is UTEP's home run hitter.
2. Offensive Goat of the Week: Vernon Frazier (RB)
There are times when I won't give this award out at all, and I thought about omitting this one today, but Frazier's first quarter fumble was one of the only real blemishes on the offensive side of the ball this week. And, the fumble directly led to UNM's only offensive touchdown. Fumble aside, Frazier did come back to chip in 24 rushing yards on 4 carries.
3. Defensive Player of the Week: Isiah Carter (LB)
This is a really difficult award to give out this week because several Miners deserve to be in the discussion. Travaun Nixon had 5 solo tackles and a nice punt return. DeShawn Grayson was all over the field. But, in the end I go with the linebacker who is proving to be a perfect fit for Andre Patterson's 4-3 defense. Carter had 9 more tackles and a TFL to lead the Miners.
Runner Up: Ruben Munoz (DT). Munoz gets a shout-out because when he was in, he had success getting into the backfield time and time again. Munoz had UTEP's only sack and a tackle for loss. The sack helped kill a 9 play UNM drive in the third quarter with the Miners up 24-14. With Isaac Tauaefa out for the rest of the season, the Miners will need Munoz to continue his development as he should see an expanded role on defense.
4. Defensive Goat of the Week: None
The Miners gave up 237 yards of total offense and one offensive touchdown. UTEP forced two interceptions and forced New Mexico to punt 7 times.
5. Special Teams Player of the Week: Ian Campbell (Punter)
Another difficult one because UTEP showed some good and a lot of bad on special teams. Dakota Warren had one kick blocked and missed a 46 yarder but he did make a 44 yarder. He was also excellent on kickoffs (7 kickoffs, two touchbacks). Ian Campbell gets this one because he had a nice average of over 47 net yards per punt and because two of his three punts forced UNM to start their drive inside their own 20.
6. Coach of the Week: Bob Connelly (Offensive Line; Co-Offensive Coordinator)
Coach Connelly's O-Line played some good football on Saturday. Without Donald Buckram, the Miners o-line still paved the way for Joe Banyard, Leilyon Myers, and Co. to rush for 169 yards and pass for 266 more. The Miners did not give up a sack and averaged 5.5 yards per play. Connelly has his work cut out for him as he will have to deal with the injury to Tanner Cullumber. Will Eloy Atkinson be fully healthy to step in at center? So far, the Miners have been lucky to avoid playing musical chairs along the o-line. Hopefully, Eloy will be good to go and we can dodge that bullet another week.
7. The Guy I Don't Want to Play Again: Kasey Carrier (RB)
Admittedly, I wouldn't mind if UNM looks exactly like that squad every season. Carrier, in my mind, was easily UNM's best offensive player. He rushed 12 times for 60 yards and also led UNM with 5 receptions for 36 yards. He's a sophomore with a bright future on a struggling team.
8. Team Most Valuable Player: Trevor Vittatoe (QB)
I know, I know. The quarterbacks always get the glory, right? TV only completed 54.5% of his passes, right? I don't care. When the chips were down, TV hit Kris Adams on two monster plays that took the life out of University Stadium on homecoming. Trevor connected with 8 different receivers. He also rushed 3 more times for 23 more yards to bring his season rushing total to 95 yards on 17 carries (healthy 5.6 yards per rush).
Trevor Vittatoe is now ranked 29th in the nation in total offense and 51st in passing efficiency with a 132.1 passer rating.
His most impressive statistic? How about 11 touchdowns against only 2 interceptions? This past summer, I criticized TV's 2009 season as one where he took a step back in his progression after tossing 13 interceptions last season with only 17 touchdowns. His completion percentage is still a bit lower than we'd like, but keep in mind that he's had a lot of dropped passes this season. So, 'Must See' TV gets the nod.
Who's Your MVP?