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UTEP at FIU: Final turning point for UTEP, Alvin Jones out

UTEP has one more shot at having a successful season, but a loss this weekend could sour those optimistic hopes.

With so many up's, downs, turns, and plot twists that is becoming the 2015 UTEP football season, the Miners have one more shot to right the 2015 ship this weekend.

Yes, it will only mark the halfway point of the season after Saturday, and no one wants to give up on consecutive bowl hopes, but in reality if UTEP wants to go bowling a win is more than a must Saturday.

With 11 missing parts in October from a spring depth chart that looked loaded, the wounded and injury struck Miners have one more chance to build momentum for the rest of the season heading into a bye week.

It won't be easy as the sputtering UTEP offense faces a defense that ranks in the top-40 in havoc rate when it comes to production from the defensive line and secondary.

Getting the run game going was a point of emphasis from Sean Kugler in his weekly presser on Monday, but the FIU defense also boasts a stuff rate on runs at 23.2% which is the 38th best rate in the nation.

This FIU game is a huge crossroad point in whether UTEP will fight to compete in the C-USA West, or if fans start looking towards the Don Haskins Center.

This game is also a turning point for the coaching staff.

Coach Kugler has promised to not stand pat on a struggling aspect of his team.

So the big question this week is if the offense struggles again will it be time for a play calling change after two and a half seasons of mediocre offensive creativity?

Injury updates

Bret Bloomquist from the El Paso Times has reported that Ishmael Harrison and Darrin Laufasa have both practiced this week.

He also reported today that Alvin Jones is out, and Sean Kugler ruled Kelvin Fisher Jr. out on Monday.

Already thin in the secondary, UTEP can't afford any more losses there, or heaven help Scott Stoker.

Expect to see Justen Tatum, Cooper Foster, and Tyler Leasau as replacements in the rotation for Jones.

Two more leave the team

Bloomquist also reported this week that fullback Sloan Spiller and defensive back Trent Trammell have left the program.

Trammell has been absent from the depth chart the past two weeks after transferring from BYU in the spring.

Spiller's departure forced UTEP to move Kristopher Christian and Sterling Napier over to fullback.

UTEP's offensive line is in for a huge challenge

A strength at the beginning of the year, struggled mightily against a multiple look UTSA defensive front.

And this week things don't get easier.

Senior defensive lineman Denzell Perine has recorded 4.0 sacks, and ranks 32nd in the nation in sacks per game.

On the opposite side of Perine is another NFL prospect in Mike Wakefield.

Wakefield was a preseason all-conference member, and has piled up 5.0 tackles for loss, and two sacks.

If UTEP wants to have any success in their run game or protecting Ryan Metz, the offensive line has to improve this week.

C-USA games to watch

Southern Miss. at Marshall, Tonight

Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Tomorrow

LA Tech at UTSA, Tomorrow