A Miner Win is Expected. A Loss Will Raise a Red Flag on the 2010 Campaign.
I'm not trying to be dramatic. I'm not trying to drive up interest in tomorrow's game. It's a rivalry game, I don't need to do that. I'm saying that UTEP needs a win tomorrow a whole lot more than the New Mexico St. Aggies do and I think Mike Price knows it.
A UTEP win won't mean a sellout against Memphis next week. Nor will it mean Mike Price will finally get a street with his name on it. Really, a win does very little for Coach Price & Co. because UTEP is expected to beat the Aggies.
What it will do is get the season back on track. It's the first step of what many, including myself, expect to see from this squad as the level of competition takes a steep decline after the Houston game. Of UTEP's next six opponents, nobody has an offense capable of equaling the Miners. But, unless the defense improves, the Miners are susceptible to losing any game they play.
What would a loss tomorrow mean? A loss could be catastrophic to the 2010 season.
A loss might force Miner fans to admit the following: UTEP isn't going bowling in 2010. UTEP has several winnable games on their schedule, but if the Miners can't handle a quarterback making his 2nd career D-1 start and a team widely considered to be among the worst 5-10 in the nation, then optimism about the coming schedule which includes Memphis, New Mexico, and UAB will fall flat.
Mathematically, of course, UTEP will still be alive for bowl consideration. Mentally, a loss to NMSU might send UTEP into a free fall.
A loss would force us to take a long, hard look at Mike Price as UTEP's head coach. I'm a huge fan and supporter of CMP and I think he's the best coach UTEP has had in my lifetime. That said, the Miners over the last few season have lost far too many games against teams that they should beat. The losses to Memphis, Tulane, and Rice last season shouldn't have happened. UTEP didn't lose those games because of inferior talent. They lost them because of mental errors, turnovers, and penalties. That's the difference between 7-5 and a bowl game and 4-8 and an apathetic, disinterested fan base. A loss tomorrow doesn't mean the end of the 2010 season, but it will be very hard for the team, and fans, to recover.
I love Coach Price and I value all the work he's put into the program. And I'm not saying he gets the "axe" if UTEP loses tomorrow. I'm saying a loss would be a sign that we might be in for a very, long season. One, that I'm not sure Coach Price could survive with his job. He'll have a chance to right the ship, of course, but I think even the most level-headed Miner fans will have to wonder if he'd be capable of rallying the troops after the deflating loss to Houston and a loss to an Aggie team with inferior talent.
If UTEP wants to move forward as a program, they have to win the games they're supposed to. As this season goes, that starts tomorrow night with NMSU.
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