Last weekend the UTEP Miners fell to 1-3 after losing to Colorado State on the road. Coming into this game, this was a true test, and we all knew that the offense had to get on the board early and that the defense really had to step up.
In the first half, the CSU Rams won the coin toss, and took the ball to the end zone in their first possession that took only 1:41. On the Miners' first possession, they quickly responded with a touchdown of their own, tying the game 7-7 within the first ten minutes of the game. At the end of the half, UTEP trailed 28-7.
Fast forward to the third quarter. Jameill Showers opened up the second half with a 75 yard touchdown pass to Jordan Leslie, making the score 28-14. On the following drive, the Miners recovered a fumble by the Rams, and, once again, Showers connected with Leslie for a touchdown. CSU couldn't score on the next drive and punted on 4th & long, resulting in another seven points by UTEP that tied the game.
Toward the end of the third quarter, the Rams scored two points on a safety after the Miners fumbled in the red zone. After that, the Miners just were not able to respond, coming short on third down conversions and turnovers.
Throughout this game, the Miners struggled because of inconsistency. They were able to come out and score early, but their energy eventually died off until the second half. They did mange to put together some last-minute scoring toward the end of the game, but they just can't be a fourth quarter team when trailing by too much.
The Miners cannot continue on like this if they expect to make something of the rest of the season. Offensively, they need to establish a lead early in games.
The passing game with Showers is promising, while the run game hasn't really gotten any better after that hot start. And what really hurts the Miners is their ability, or lack thereof, to convert on third downs. Against Colorado State, they converted on 10 out of 19 third downs, and 3 of 4 fourth downs. But four fourth down attempts?
And can the UTEP defense stop anyone's run game? This defense is like dead weight. That's all I have to say about that.
However, this weekend the Miners take on conference opponent in Louisiana Tech at the Sun Bowl at 5:30 PM MDT, in only the second conference game of the season.
The remainder of their schedule is going to be really rough because beginning with the game this weekend, they play three straight conference games, then play at College Station, then the last four games on the schedule are also conference games, with three being on the road.
At this point, we can only hope that Miners make a turnaround tonight and going forward with the season up in the air. With these huge blocks of conference match-ups on the horizon, I think it will be really hard for them to catch a break.