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The Dig: Wrapping Up a Crazy UTEP Sports Weekend Edition

In The Dig:  Bret Bloomquist Examines Trevor Vittatoe's Legacy- I have a somewhat different take; We Pick up the Pieces in the Aftermath of BYU's record setting blowout of UTEP and more on UTEP's nice home win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders.  

First, the Bad News:  The New Mexico Bowl

Our Own Worst Enemy:  Mike Price admitted that the UTEP Miners were completely unprepared to start the New Mexico Bowl.  I would have to disagree with this belief that UTEP was a blitz pickup away from being successful.  The Miners were outclassed at seemingly every position, and the staff was outcoached on every level.

"Early in the game we were fired up," he said. "We were emotional and made a lot of mistakes that we normally don't make. Poor snaps, bad blitz pickups and they (BYU) did a nice job blitzing us. But we were our own worst enemy today."

How Many Career Highs Against UTEP This Season?  BYU has a long and rich history in bowl games.  UTEP still found a way to help the Cougars break nearly every key offensive statistical bowl record the Cougars keep.  

Here's a little chart, courtesy of the BYU sports information department, on the school records that were set by BYU:

* Most points: 52

* Most PATs Made: 6, Mitch Payne

* Most Touchdown Passes: 4 (tied), Jake Heaps

* Best Completion Percentage: 73.5, Jake Heaps

* Most Touchdown Receptions: 3 (tied), Cody Hoffman\

* Most Interceptions: 2 (tied), Andrew Rich

* Longest Punt: 60 yards, Riley Stephenson

* Most Rushing Attempts: 52

* Most Rushing Yards: 219

Love for Vittatoe:  ESPN's Andrea Adelson gives Trevor Vittatoe some respect for playing with torn ligamaments in his ankle.  Before her report, nobody in the El Paso media had previously reported that Trevor had torn ligaments.

What UTEP learned: The Miners played in their first bowl game since 2005 but could not snap out of the downward trend that plagued them in the second half of the season. You have to give Vittatoe credit for gutting out this year with torn ligaments in his ankle. He will have surgery Monday. UTEP loses many of its top players on offense, including Vittatoe, Donald Buckram and Adams so a rebuilding year could be in store.

Speaking of Love for Trevor:  Bret Bloomquist writes that Trevor leaves behind a strong legacy at UTEP.  There's no denying that Trevor was a statistical juggernaut who played injured.  But, that doesn't mean he played well when injured.  The fact that Trevor had to play with torn ligaments in his ankle, in my mind, is more of a testament to how poorly Mike Price has recruited the most important position on the field than to how great Trevor was.  Trevor fought hard, but UTEP should have had a developed backup option that was better than a half-healthy VIttatoe.  And, I'll add to this report on his legacy, that a quarterback is defined by one statistic more than all the others:  winning.  And Trevor never led to UTEP to a winning season.  I'm not saying that's all on him, obviously, but let's not forget that several UTEP games were lost this season as a direct result of his sloppy play late in games.  His legacy isn't that of an all-time great.  It's that of the best, and only, option on a team that couldn't ever get over the hump of mediocrity. 

He started all 49 of his games at UTEP, obviously a record, and he was injured for many of those. His 12,439 passing yards puts him 14th on the all-time FBS list, his 97 touchdown passes is 15th and his 12,291 yards of total offense is 15th. Even on this lost afternoon, he passed Louisville's Chris Redman to move into third on the Conference USA total offense list. Vittatoe also went 19-30 as a starter, but Kris Adams summed that up.

Nice Crowd: Credit UTEP fans for making the trip to Albuquerque to support the Miners.  The final attendance was 32,424, just short of the bowl game record.

Keepin It Real:  One fan isn't happy with UTEP's play on the big stage.

"I'm a big supporter and donor of UTEP athletics, but we have a bad habit of being embarrassed on national TV," said Lou Moreno, who flew to Albuquerque from Long Beach on Friday night.

Picks Up?  UTEP's coaching staff a vanilla gameplan and abandoned the run in a game that desperately needed to be slowed down.  But, at least UTEP coaches don't pick their nose.

And the Love Pours in for BYU:  BYU's crushing win over UTEP has the national pundits pegging the Cougars as a team on the rise.  We all know UTEP will take a step back in 2011, but BYU has reason to be excited about a big season since their freshman quarterback looked so good against UTEP.(Pre-Snap Read)

Now that those young feet are wet, however, the future begins in earnest. Heaps is now the face of B,Y.U. football, the linchpin around which Bronco Mendenhall and coordinator Robert Anae can build a formidable offense. Speaking of Anae: it’s amazing what a few games can do, right?


Now, the Good News:  The UTEP Miners Basketball Team

First, Here's the Post Game Chatter courtesy of UTEP Athletics:

Pat Knight Feeling the Heat?    Tech fans have seen enough of the Pat Knight era in Lubbock.  Seth C from DoubleT Nation has a nice recap of the game and addresses the fans desire to see Knight gone midseason.

And to address the idea of replacing PK in the middle of the year of the year, I don't think that happens. That's not to say that I think the sooner the better, but logistically, if PK were terminated (it would probably be done without notice) then the new head coach must assemble a staff, implement the offense and defense during the toughest stretch of the year, which is conference play.

Not the Desired Result:  Knight didn't start arguably Tech's two best players, John Roberson and Mike Singletary for UTEP's game.  

"They’ve got to play better," Knight said. "They’re not going to start just because they’re seniors. I gave these seniors too much credit before the season. They’ve got to step up. They’re going to be treated like everyone else: If you’re not playing well, you’re not going to play."


Can't Stop RC3:  The Dallas Morning News notes that four Tech players scored in double digits but none of them could outshine Randy Culpepper.

UTEP takes on Stephen F. Austin tonight at the Don Haskins Center.  Bill Knight has a preview here.

The Lumberjacks are 7-2, losing only at Texas Tech (70-58) and at Texas A&M (62-53). They have won 26, 24 and 23 games over the past three seasons, finishing first or second in the Southland Conference each of those years. They are among the national leaders in defensive statistics, holding opponents to just 52.2 points a game, to just .370 field goal percentage and .266 3-point field goal percentage.