' histories, and the last time as conference foes, a series UTEP leads 5-3. The Wave enter Saturday afternoons tilt with a 6-4 overall record and a 4-2 mark in the C-USA, while UTEP comes into the Big Easy at 2-8, with a 1-5 C-USA record.Tulane is coming off a bye week, while UTEP handled FIU 33-10 last Saturday in the Sun Bowl. The Green Wave lost a 10-7 heart breaker to UTSA in their last piece of action which started a two game losing slide
The 2013 Green Wave have really hung their hat on the defensive side of the ball towin games.
They have recorded 25 sacks and have at least one sack in nine of their ten games, including six sacks against the best offense in the conference in East Carolina. They also have 80 tackles for loss as a team.
They also rank 3rd in the C-USA in stopping the run and 19th nationally, giving up only 125.7 yards on the ground a game. Another gaudy stat is their 16 forced interceptions, and 28 total forced turnovers.
Leading that defensive attack is sophomore defensive back Lorenzo Doss. Doss has six interceptions on the year, and at one point led the nation in picks. Doss also has 11 career interceptions in 22 career games.
UTEP had its best rushing and defensive performances of the season last week. UTEP held FIU to only 200 total yards of offense.
While the improvement on defense has not shown up on the stat sheet and scores over the past couple of weeks, the film will show otherwise.
UTEP is playing more disciplined in the scheme, and now really just needs the depth to fill the different packages Scott Stoker likes to mix in, and be able to keep up for four quarters, as the Miners are still undermanned against better teams.
Devin Cockrell is quietly becoming a leader on the defense, not only does he lead UTEP in tackles he has taken over the secondary as a vocal leader.
Roy Robertson has also continued to improve at defensive end and with his size he is learning to disrupt protection and demand attention. I.E. opening up Horace Miller for a safety.
The defensive line as a group had its best outing of the season. This group had high expectations coming into the season and have disappointed, though they controlled the line of scrimmage and dominated FIU.
Offensively it was good to see Nathan Jeffery finally get going. Jeffery had 133 yards rushing, including a 56 yard run for a score.
Sean Kugler stated at his weekly presser that the Miners would utilize a two quarterback system. Blaire Sullivan did a good job last week running the Wild Miner/read option.
Expect to see more of Sullivan on those running plays, and you cannot forget about the threat of him passing the ball.
Using that p word really loosely as UTEP had 53 runs compared to 7 passes. Remember when Kugler preached balance at the start of the season?
I get the run was super effective against FIU, although the passing game has almost been thrown out the window since Jameill Showers was sidelined with a separated shoulder.
The Miners will need to create more balance as Tulane has a done a nice job all year shutting down the run.
It's hard to get a fair judgement on Mack Leftwich. He really hasn't been asked to do much, but when he has, he has delivered.
He showed good arm strength on that bomb to Jordan Leslie, mind you it was in a swirling Sun Bowl wind and was a real nice throw.
The Miners will get help on the offensive line protecting Leftwich, as Jerel Watkins is back and will start at guard. The Miner offensive line really got after it against a weaker FIU front and has played well with Watkins in the lineup.
Controlling the line of scrimmage will be key if the Miners try to establish the run which they will definitely do.
After coming into the year with depth for days at running back things are real thin right now for the Miners.
LaQuintus Dowell missed last week's game and is questionable for this week, leaving the Miners with just three running backs if he doesn't play again.
Someway somehow the Miners need to improve in the special teams areas, particularly the place kicking game. Tulane does a good job blocking kicks which further explains who they are.