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The Dig: UTEP Miners Football Kicks Off Tomorrow Edition

In The Dig: More on Donald Buckram; Alex Solot draws more headlines; UTEP has some ticket woes; and the C-USA had an ice cold start to non-conference play. Football season is here.....


The UTEP Miners

First, the Good News

Donald Buckram is okay and is a game time decision for tomorrow's contest against UAPB.

Team spokesman Jeff Darby said Thursday that an MRI showed that Buckram did not suffer any ligament damage and coaches will decide at game time whether he can play

Now, the Bad News

Even if Donald plays, the Sun Bowl might be showing a lot of empty seats. Season ticket sales are at the lowestlevels of the Mike Price era.

In 2008, season ticket sales jumped to 24,059. That was the year the University of Texas Longhorns played at the Sun Bowl. In 2009, season ticket sales dipped to 15,893, and 13,000 so far this year.

An Overreaction? We'll See

Joe Muench says UTEP's gonna lose to Houston and beat NMSU and UAPB with or without Buckram. So, sit him for the first three weeks and let him recover fully. I trust the coaches and training staff to do the right thing. This is why it's good to open up against an FCS squad.

Since UTEP will beat Bluff without Buckram, and probably won't beat Houston even with a healthy Buckram ... get the franchise player's knee back to Donald Buckram status before playing him again. The Miners can probably beat New Mexico State here Sept. 18 without him, too.

The Long Goodbye?

Mike Price has hinted that this might be his last year on the sidelines before he hangs them up for good. He added fuel to the rumor that this is the swan song season in this interview with Alicia Caldwell.

"I'd like to go out on a roll and pass the torch to someone," Price said without naming who is idea of a replacement would be.

Crunching the Numbers

The Victoria Advocate has a UTEP-UAPB preview up. Check out this research:

For the first time since 1987, UTEP enters a season coming off a win to close the previous year. The Miners had lost 22 straight season finales before beating Marshall 52-21 to end 2009. The Golden Lions hope to stop a two-game skid.

No West Texas Love?

The Abilene Reporter is ranking the best college teams in Texas. UTEP checks in at #8.

8. Texas-El Paso — Thanks in large part to a defense that allowed 33.5 points per game, the Miners finished with a disappointing 4-8 record last year. With quarterback Trevor Viattatoe and running back Donald Buckram back, UTEP’s offense will keep it in games, but with a defense that borders on non-existent, the Miners’ ceiling still is relatively low.

Local Kid Doe Good

Eastwood grad Ruben Munoz has gone from walk-on to contributor. Bret Bloomquist has the story with some nice quotes on the Eastside Kid.

"He reminds me of a player I coached with the Cowboys, Brandon Noble," Patterson said. "He has the same kind of attitude. (Noble) was cut four or five times. He was brought to Dallas as a camp body, but he took to teaching and started for the Cowboys for three years (2000-02). Then he got a boatload of dollars for the Washington Redskins."

Making a Name for Himself

Miner star right tackle Alex Solot is becoming a regular newsmaker back home in Tucson. The Arizona Star gave him some much deserved recognition this week.

9. Alex Solot, football, Rincon/University. Started eight games at UTEP last year and was voted the club's Most Improved Player. Has become an NFL prospect at tackle.

And the Star is Diggin' UTEP's helmets.

• UTEP: Surprised? The Miners' pickax is so genius, so natural, that it overcomes the often-criticized orange background. It works.

Who Better to Learn From?

Miner great Greg Foster is joining the basketball staff as a graduate assistant.

Foster enjoyed a 13-year career in the NBA, and he won a championship ring with the L.A. Lakers in 2001. That was only a couple of years after he enraged the Laker bench during a game at EnergySolutions Arena.



1 Out of 4 Ain't Bad? Okay, that's not gonna sell...

The C-USA got off to an ice cold start on the first Thursday of the college football season.

Tulane Green Wave: The Wave were the only C-USA squad to win a game last night. And, they barely beat a FCS squad. Tulane beat Southeast Louisiana 27-21. How bad was the win? Tulane had 4 first downs in the second half. Against an FCS team.

The Marshall Thundering Herd: Hey, Marshall was in a tough spot here. I wouldn't want UTEP to open up the season on an off night before a holiday weekend at the Horseshoe. The Herd fell 45-7. It was a rough start from the beginning.

It was a bleak debut for new Marshall coach Doc Holliday, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant at West Virginia. The Thundering Herd fumbled the opening kickoff and were down 14-0 before running their first play in Ohio State territory.

The Southern Miss. Golden Eagles: This was probably the most disappointing performance of any C-USA squad. The Eagles entered 2010 with hopes to seize the C-USA East behind returning Austin Davis, who missed several games last year to an injury, and the best receiver in the league DeAndre Brown. Instead? It was the coming out party for South Carolina's offense. That was the best USC has looked in the Steve Spurrier era on offense. The Eagles walked into a buzzsaw. I know one things for sure, the USM faithful aren't going to be very confident in Austin Davis. He, quite simply, didn't look very good for most of the game. We'll see if Martevious Young gets more time next week.

Garcia got things started with a 22-yard touchdown run and Lattimore followed with first-half scores of 3 and 7 yards to send the Gamecocks to a surprisingly easy win against the Golden Eagles.

The UAB Blazers: Over the course of the last several weeks, I've noticed Coach Neil Callaway constantly walking about how "this was the year" for UAB to win some games. I kept remarking in the Dig that I think he may live to regret raising expectations. In my C-USA Power Rankings, I dropped UAB behind teams they beat last year. Why? Because Callaway's talk fell flat to me. It just seemed like he was trying to convince himself that he had built a winner. Well, in Week 1, the Blazers lost. To Florida Atlantic. How? FAU blocked a potential game winning 28 yard field goal on the last play of the game. Ouch. David Isabelle was spectacular:

UAB quarterback David Isabelle, who ran for three touchdowns, threw an interception that was returned 38 yards for a touchdown by Brently Harstad to pull FAU within 28-19.