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Vittatoe's Suspension Throws a Monkey Wrench into UTEP's Spring Practice Kickoff

I don't know what Trevor Vitattoe did to earn his suspension from the first six of UTEP's 15 spring practices.  I do know that the last thing the UTEP Miners need going into next season is more question marks surrounding Trevor Vittatoe's ability to be the type of veteran leader the Miners desperately need to push this team into a bowl game.  Trevor needed to have a sterling spring; one where he reminded UTEP's coaches and his teammates that he could return to the form he had in his stellar sophomore campaign.

Let's face it.  TV didn't have a good junior season.  The Miners lost some key offensive lineman from his breakout sophomore year (Robby Felix!)  and he looked like a quarterback that didn't trust his line.  He didn't look comfortable in the pocket even when he didn't have a lot of pressure coming at him.  There were some key injuries on the Miners line, but I'm not convinced TV's new-found hesitation in the pocket wasn't entirely the line's fault.

Let's take a closer look as to why this spring was so important for Trevor.  Let's start by taking a look at how severely his numbers dropped off last season after his breakout sophomore year.

Season Completion % QB Rating Touchdowns Interceptions Sacks
Freshman (2007) 55 135.87 25 7 21
Sophomore (2008) 58.9 146.4 33 9 25
Junior (2009) 54.8 130.07 17 13 22

Vittatoe suffered career lows in completion percentage, QB rating, and touchdowns.  He had a career high in interceptions despite throwing fewer passes than he did as a sophomore.  Now you see why he needed a good spring.

One of the reasons why Miner fans were so blown away by TV as a freshman and sophomore starter was his incredible poise and efficient play.   While the increase in interceptions is alarming, keep in mind that he did have a four interception game against eventual national runner-up Texas.What concerns me are several horrendous performances he had against teams with not-so-great defenses. 

Trevor had four games last season where he completed fewer than 50% of his passes:  New Mexico State, Texas, Tulsa, and Tulane.  He was seemingly up and down all season long.  What's more surprising, is Vittatoe's struggles his junior year coincided with Donald Buckram's emergence as one of the nation's most electric running backs.  When you toss a 1,600 yard rusher into an offense, it usually makes it easier for a quarterback to find consistency since the offense isn't nearly as dependent on the passing game. 

We can only hope that Trevor learns from whatever mistake he made to earn this suspension.  He will rejoin the team with enough time to reassert his position on the team.  Right now, it's his move.