Fire vs. Iron Power vs. Speed, Ryan Gosling vs. Stone Cold. UTEP and Texas Tech couldn't be further apart in scheme, in the way each program is run, and in each head coach's offensive philosophies.
Something positive has to give for either program Saturday afternoon as one team is building off their first bowl appearance under their third year head coach, while the other is coming off a bowl-less season for the first time in a decade with their third year head man.
For UTEP, how do the Miners respond after being picked apart in the secondary by Arkansas and the even worse deadly trio of special teams miscues?
One solution in responding from last week's lesson handed out by Arkansas is UTEP's new program identity that has been established: mental toughness.
It's going to take mental toughness for the Miners to bounce back from a long Texas Tech gain in the middle of an important defensive drive and be able to buck up in the red zone, because lets be real.....it's going to happen.
Mental toughness is also going to be tested if UTEP is able to put together one of those long sustained drives, but how and who responds on a 3rd and seven inside in the red zone during a must score drive?
UTEP practices mental toughness, they have meetings on mental toughness, and the key for UTEP to withstand the blows they will receive against the most explosive offensive unit they will see this season is all about.......mental toughness.
In a weird matchup like this, in my opinion, throw out UTEP's run game, throw out Tech's video game like offense, and let's look at intangibles.
UTEP won't beat themselves with penalties or pre-snap duh moments on either side of the ball; the Miners had two penalties on the road last week, while Texas Tech was flagged 10 times for minus-69 yards at home.
UTEP was simply outplayed in the secondary, and had very minimal assignment mistakes outside of the secondary. The Miners were mentally and physically tough in slowing down the Arkansas run game, allowing just over three yards per carry if you take out that Alex Collins run to the end of the first half.
The Miners also didn't quit, and were able to match Arkansas' physicality for the entire 60 minutes. Notice there were no vines on Twitter of a UTEP player getting smacked around, why?
Tech was in a close battle with a respectable FCS opponent, but came out strong in the second half and put Sam Houston State away in the third quarter despite two late touchdowns allowed. Thus showing they too have some mental grit to go along with the ability to put you away with score, after score, after score, after big play after big play.
The Red Raider defense began playing behind the line of scrimmage too, and stepped up by forcing some game changing turnovers with plays you can call, but can't coach.
UTEP allowed a 300 yard passer, while Tech allowed 300 yards rushing last week.
Both teams have flaws, both squads have opposite strengths, but Tech has the major advantage of speed, and a pretty damn good All-Big 12 caliber quarterback.
But whichever team executes the small things, doesn't beat themselves by handing over points or field position to the other has the bigger edge once the clock starts running in this meeting of opposites affair.
Forget rushing for 300 yards, throwing for 400 yards, but you can't toss out time of possession for either side though. Both coaching staffs understood what needed to be sharpened up after the week one and the team that executes what was worked on the most during the week wins.
Has UTEP turned that corner yet in turning mental toughness adjustments into giving themselves a chance to win against a team like this?