Points Per Game/Red zone touchdowns
2015 average points per game: 20.7
Projected 2016 average: 27.2
2015 red zone touchdowns: 14
2016 projected red zone touchdowns: 21
This is an obvious area because if you can't score you don’t win, right?
Where the Miners need to grab more points is in the red zone as they scored touchdowns on just 47% of their red zone trips in 2015.
I would think that mark would need to be more than 50% for a significant boost in points per game.
With added offensive weapons, and hopefully more creativity from offensive coordinator Brent Pease, UTEP can improve on both of these categories which seemingly came hand-in-hand in 2015.
Defensive per rush average
2015 average: 5.0 ypc
2016 projected average: 4.7 ypc
The big improvement mark here for the defense will be to minimize big runs.
As good as UTEP was in the advanced stat metrics in stopping the run, the Miners were one of the worst in the nation in giving up big plays via the run.
UTEP did have a 20.7% stuff rate against in the run which was 51st in the nation, but cutting down the 10-yard plus runs will help this stat improve.
2015 average: 77.7 (125th nationally)
2016 projected average: 98.2
The S&P+ metric is made up five factors, efficiency, explosiveness, field position, finishing drives, and turnovers.
Without Aaron Jones obviously this stat isn't going to be sexy, but if UTEP wants to really live up to the identity of the physical run first offense they pride themselves on, this needs to improve.
UTEP should be tops in the nation in rushing TD's with the way they run the ball, and finishing drives with Aaron Jones in 2016 should really improve this mark along with maybe Quadraiz Wadley who has shown some home run hitting abilities.
Passing Downs Success Rate
2015 average: 25.5%, (106th nationally)
2016 projected average: 29.1%
This basically means UTEP had trouble in 2015 when it came to Second-and-8 or more, third-and-5 or more, or fourth-and-5 or more.
This is a major area that the UTEP offense needs improvement in. Due to UTEP's run heavy approach, the Miner quarterbacks find themselves in these situations a lot and success is needed here to keep the chains moving.
Zack Greenlee showed he could improve this number in fall camp, which will be telling in how improved UTEP's passing game will be in 2016.
Linebacker Havoc Rate
2015 average: 3.3% (95th nationally)
2016 projected average: 4.1%
Alvin Jones did this pretty much all by himself last year, but will need help from his fellow linebackers.
This should improve by itself due to UTEP now going to a 3-4, but the Miners need be close to 4% for this make an impact on the defense as whole.
Tackles for loss, sacks, and quarterbacks hurries improve this number, and something the Miners outside linebackers could contribute to right away in week one.
S&P+ defensive average in the first quarter
2015 average: 80.8 (122nd nationally)
2016 average: 87.5
What this means is UTEP's defense had horrible starts with the five factors previously mentioned.
In 2015 UTEP had the 27th best S&P+ defensive average in the fourth quarter nationally, and while that’s hard to do for 60-minutes, you see where the defense struggled last season.
Eliminating big plays will help this, particularly early in the game which haunted the Miners in 2015.
Points scored on offense, and given up on defense inside the 40 yards line
Defense 2015 average: 5.27 points per trip inside the 40-yard line (114th nationally)
Offense 2015 average: 4.20 points per trip inside the 40-yard line (101st nationally)
This could be more defensive related since we touched on this in red zone scoring but its certainly a telling stat.
Tom Mason's defenses in the past have been labeled as a bend-but-don't-break, and that theory will be tested in this stat category.
Eliminating big plays, and forcing turnovers will help this number as teams pretty much were able to put points on the boards once the stepped inside the 40 in 2015.
For the offense, play calling could be a factor, but the need for scoring plays inside the 40 will be a must, especially on the road.
This will be an interesting number to watch with the Miners new offensive and defensive schemes.