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UTEP Football Rivalry Week: Game Plan

After the Miners' tough home loss against New Mexico last weekend, we now know what needs to happen for the Miners against rival New Mexico State in order for them to come out with the "W".

Out of everything that occurred in Game 1 against UNM, two things stood out for me: Jameill Showers has the potential to really drive this offense in the right direction, and, as we all observed, the defensive performance was unacceptable to say the least.

In my opinion, the offense did fine, but I thought Showers didn't throw the ball enough. In the future, I would like to see the offense open up a little bit more to create more options for Showers. Out of the 399 total offensive yards for the Miners, only 119 of them were in the air.

That needs to change because the UTEP run game was not able to make exceptionally huge gains, and judging from the passing plays that we did see from Showers, they were on point, completing 15 out of 20 attempts and 0 interceptions. But obviously the offense will adjust with time.

Now, I could tear the Miners' defense apart, but I am not going to. I can give them some slack because the Lobos do have an electric run game, but it certainly was stoppable, and I really expected more from the defense. When asked, "Was New Mexico's rushing offense a product of their system or lack of defensive execution?," Coach Kugler answered, "Probably a combination of both."

Then again we can consider the fact that the Miners are dealing with a new defensive scheme and have several players performing in new positions. Even though the defense caused the first loss of the season, on the bright side at least this wasn't a conference game.

However, in this weekend's border battle, we can expect the New Mexico State Aggies to be a challenge on defensive side. The Aggies' defense notably put up a fight against preseason No. 15 Texas in Week 1, keeping the Longhorns off the board until late in the first half, so I can imagine them putting up that same fight on Saturday. On the other hand, their offense has struggled some, converting on only half of fourth-down situations in their last two games, but averaging about 350 yards per game, most of them in the hands of quarterback Andrew McDonald.

The Miners know where they stand now that they have one game under their belt. All in all, the defense has to come out with critical stops and improve fundamentally, while the offense needs to create a balance between pass plays and run plays. They will leave it all on the field this weekend on the road at New Mexico State.