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UTEP Football: Final Report Card, Offensive Line

Another injury riddled group who ended the season out on a strong point.

High points: 226 yards rushing vs. LA Tech, 269 yards rushing vs. NMSU, low overall sack rate, depth was tested and passed, the emergence of Derron Gatewood.

Low points: Injuries, UTSA game

Final Grade: B-

With four of five starters returning from 2014, the offensive line was projected to be UTEP's strong point in 2015.

It ended up being UTEP's strongest overall point in 2015 despite injuries in a number of spots that depth helped weather in the latter part of the season.

The negatives statistically was UTEP's adjusted line yards which averaged 84.1 yards per game ranking 122nd, and the Miners overall rushing success which was 37.9%, and UTEP's Rushing S&P+ ranked 126th.

It could be a mixture of play calling that allowed teams to stack the box and have a 22.4% stuff rate on UTEP's run plays, but the offensive line was steady in pass protection.

UTEP had a 2.6% passing down sack rate which ranks 4th in the nation, while UTEP's overall adjusted sack rate ranks 7th in the nation.

On standard downs the offensive line created 2.8 yards themselves, and allowed UTEP's rushers to run for an average of four yards per carry on the season.

As good as the offensive line was for most of the C-USA slate, a patched up offensive line did a lights out job in UTEP's final two games.

Starting left tackle Jerome Daniels went down with a broken foot, Derek Elemendorff was battling through injuries for most of the season, and UTEP lost their top reserve and 2016 projected starter Derron Gatewood to injury.

But UTEP rushed for 413 yards in their final two games of the season with a pair of reserves filling in, showing the offensive line renaissance is a real thing at UTEP.

Gatewood could become a star in the next couple of seasons, and Will Hernandez earned C-USA honorable mention honors after a solid sophomore season.

Looking at overall body of work this season, the only game UTEP was truly dominated in the trenches was against UTSA, otherwise the offensive line held their own especially when UTEP was in balanced play calling mode.

UTEP started off the season being penalized almost heavily along the offensive line, but the Miners improved on that mark as the season went on as well.

Once again in 2016 UTEP will have a heavy dose of returning starters, mixed with plenty of red-shirt freshman who will fight for spots along the depth chart.

Sean Kugler wanted to develop a deep rotation of lineman, and is almost there with this past season being another foundation season for the Miners strongest position group in the 2015 season.

Key losses: Eric Lee

Key Returners: Derek Elmendorff, Chris Thomas, John De La Rosa, Derron Gatewood, Jerome Daniels, Will Hernandez, Anthony Kyles

2016 commits: Tanner Stallings