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UTEP squeaks out 5 OT win: Three Things We Learned

Walter Dawn is special

We’ve seen glimpses of his potential this season, but true freshman Walter Dawn introduced himself to Conference USA on Saturday.

Dawn broke wide open on the third quarter trick play, and shook two UTSA defensive backs all while sprinting 48-yards on the 71-yard hook up from Kavika Johnson which tied things up at 28.

Kudos to Brent Pease for that ballsy call by the way, it swung the tide UTEP’s direction in my opinion.

Sean Kugler has said since the Texas game he has wanted to get Dawn more involved in the offense, but he broke out in important moments on Saturday.

Now while the volume of touches weren’t high, his five touches led to 112 yards and three touchdowns.

The biggest touch was his 12-yard touchdown in the third overtime on the end round diversion in where he ran it four times for 38 yards, slicing and dicing UTSA’s linebackers and safeties once he reached the edge.

UTEP was looking for offensive play makers, and Dawn has developed himself into a legit offensive weapon going forward.

Ryan Metz is UTEP’s quarterback (again)

We’ve all said it, and know it, but Ryan Metz again cemented his spot as UTEP’s quarterback.

Metz is now 2-0 in overtime games on the road, and started the evening 10-of-12 passing with five of those completions leading to first downs in Saturday’s thriller.

The most impressive stat line from Saturday’s win?

Metz’s third down numbers.

The El Paso product was 5-for-6 passing for 92 yards on third downs helping UTEP convert nine third down situations.

After a slow start, UTEP’s play calling seemed to open up, and Metz starting picking away with crossing routes to Cole Freytag and Hayden Plinke.

Oh yeah, and about that Metz-to-Plinke connection.

In the two games Ryan Metz has started, Plinke and Metz have connected for 14 completions and 150 yards with a touchdown. That two point conversion hook up in the third overtime was a perfect play design, and a perfect window throw.

You can also bet he was giving words of encouragement to center Tanner Stallings after the snap mishap in fourth overtime, showing his leadership skills that are always on display.

Kugler wanted energy, Metz gave him energy, and a road win in conference play.

Defense gets gashed early, but came up huge in fourth quarter

UTEP’s defense was on the field for 89 plays, they did give up a balanced 525 total yards, but holding the Road Runners to just 5.9 yards per play ended up being a winning formula after all.

UTSA put up 246 yards via three scoring drives 65-yards or longer, and appeared to be unstoppable in the first half.

Then UTEP moved up their backers after giving up tons of space from the line of scrimmage pretty much all game, and finally broke apart UTSA’s run blocking schemes which were creating creases off the edge.

UTEP sent safeties, and outside linebackers down hill which blew up UTSA’s tight ends and fullbacks. The Miner D held the Runners to just 67-yards rushing in the fourth quarter, but still gave up 278 yards on the ground.

Overall UTSA’s offensive line manhandled UTEP’s front three, but when UTEP started crashing backers, and Devin Cockrell, things changed.

The adjustment of moving Sky Logan to defensive end paid off, and guys like Devin Cockrell, Jayson VanHook, and Alvin Jones came through in big situations.

The interception by Dashone Smith was another key fourth quarter play, as he kept his eyes in the right spot on the flicker, and played the ball nicely for an easy interception.

Jones then smashed UTSA running back Jarveon Williams on the third-and-five play which forced the 52-yard missed field goal with three minutes left in regulation.

It wasn’t pretty, but the play-makers you would expect to make plays did just that in crunch-time.