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Four Keys and Wild Predictions For a Win In S.A.

Can UTEP shake their road woes in the Alamodome? This is what has to happen....

Center Eric Lee has been an MVP candidate along the offensive line
Center Eric Lee has been an MVP candidate along the offensive line

UTEP heads into San Antonio Saturday evening looking for back-to-back conference wins for the first time since 2010.

Revenge is on everyone's mind who wears Orange and Blue west of I-35, here are four keys to a dubb, and a wild prediction for Saturday's C-USA rivalry tilt.

Don't Allow Explosive Plays

UTSA's injury and overall issues at quarterback have been well documented throughout their four game slide, and the stats reflect the offensive struggles.

The Roadrunners average 4.5 yards per snap, while they run for an average of just three yards per carry.

But if UTEP allows a few big runs or gash pass plays, like any offense that will build confidence especially for a group searching for a positive light.

Kam Jones sorta carved up UTEP last year with 43 yards rushing on 4 carries, he also scored his first TD of the season on their heavily ran jet sweep in the Sun Bowl, and he has to be keyed on especially on the end around or jet sweep plays.

If I were UTSA's quarterback Austin Robinson, Jones would be my boy in the passing game.  Because otherwise UTSA's receivers have struggled on stretching the field, something UTEP didn't allow ODU to do consistently a couple of weeks ago.

Though UTSA has at least nine guys who have at least eight catches on the year with their multiple look offensive attack.

Josiah Monroe, Aaron Grubb, Marcellus Mack are active receivers who I think could also give UTEP trouble from watching UTSA play this year.  They also get main tight end target David Morgan back from injury who will be used more since Robinson has targeted his TE's a lot lately according to our UTSA homie Jared from UDD.

Running back Jarveon Williams is a guy who like Jones should have a target on his back, as does David Glasco II who is a physical runner who can bounce it outside if UTEP doesn't have containment on the edges.

UTSA averages 74 throws on first and second downs this season, though I would expect the Runners to go with a run heavy attack against the Miners.

Open field tackling, TFL's, and laying a hat on someone with a pair should be keys in limiting big plays, UTSA thrives off momentum from big plays when they get them.

UTEP has to play flawless fundamental defense to limit those chunk plays.

Dominate The Battle of The Trenches

Sean Kugler spoke the truth when he said UTSA dominated the line of scrimmage last year.

UTEP is back to a full strength bill of health on the offensive line with Derek Elmendorf reportedly back at practice and at 100%.  We all know how much stronger UTEP's offensive is compared to last year, but its not all about the offensive line in this key.

UTSA has allowed 19 sacks this year in seven games, and that same mixture of personnel along their offensive line only allowed 18 sacks all of last year.

The Miners flexed some depth at the defensive end position against ODU with senior Cooper Brock stepping in and having a career day.  Nick Usher is also expected to be back after his snaps were limited at ODU, and Roy Robertson-Harris has been a consistent force all year.

The Miners have to live in the UTSA backfield to force third and longs, as previously mentioned UTSA doesn't have game breaking receivers so forcing them into long downs by dominating the line of scrimmage and making the athletic Austin Robinson a sideline to sideline runner should be key.

On the offensive side, UTEP will face a UTSA run defense that only allows 3.1 yards a carry.

UTEP likes to be at a 4-6 yard per carry clip, and if the Miners are only at 4 or less, that usually means UTEP is facing a third and long on most drives.  UTSA thrives on TFL's, UTEP cannot afford too many negative plays when starting drives.

After a dominating performance against ODU's weak fronts hopefully that confidence carries over east down I-10, because UTEP has to find a way to blow up UTSA's fronts on the line of scrimmage to give themselves a chance.

Force Turnovers

Over the past four games UTSA is giving it away at an almost three times per game average, and they haven't had a clean turnover day all season.

UTEP did a good job against NMSU, and UNM in turning them over, but that feat HAS TO HAPPEN if UTEP wants celebrate on UTSA's turf.

UTSA has 14 total turnovers, 9 interceptions, and 5 fumbles, I believe UTEP's secondary turned a corner with superb coverage against ODU.

Devin Cockrell, Wesley Miller, Dashone Smith, and Ishmael Harrison have all had solid seasons, and if you asked me who would be candidates in coming up with a big play in coverage pick your poison out of those guys.

UTEP has improved on a lot of aspects on defense despite not having the sexy defensive numbers like a UTSA defense owns.

The ultimate improvement point is if the Miner D can force turnovers on the road, and give it back to the ball hog, methodically driven offense.  I guess I should be calling out the linebackers as well in helping with this feat.

Continue the Creativity Curve on Offense

Most of us were jumping for joy in watching a more balanced, spread out attack that killed the clock and moved the chains against the Monarchs.

Not only did UTEP spread out the formations, UTEP utilized their best athletes in situations where each would have a big day, while spreading the overall touches in the process.

This has to continue, especially against the stout defense that lines up on the opposite side this week.

If there is any game UTEP needs to open up the pass game with the run its Saturday.

Outside of Bennett Okotcha and Triston Wade, I really don't feel any UTSA secondary member has a chance at slowing down Ian Hamilton or Autrey Golden if UTEP gets the pass game going mixed with the obvious run game.

Would also like to see Aaron Jones split out more as a wide out, as good as UTSA is on defense, I think UTEP has the speed to expose some things if they come out blitzing heavy like they usually do.

UTSA is also down a key tackler in Nic Johnston out of the secondary, having those extra days to prepare for UTSA, I would think UTEP will throw everything out at UTSA in trying to crack the Papa John's 25 special and more.

Wild Predictions

Jameill Showers throws for over 200 yards with a completion percentage over 60 percent, Autrey Golden comes close to 100 yards receiving, and Ian Hamilton has over 100 yards receiving, and at least one Randy Moss like score in the red zone.