One of the more positive themes from Saturday’s loss is the emergence of some newcomers, and freshmen on a big stage.
Junior transfer Dante Lovilette forced a fumble that took away a Texas touchdown early in the game, and led UTEP with 10 tackles, and was flying all over the field.
Freshman linebacker Jayson VanHook also had an active day with seven tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss. UTEP also got contributions from running back/wide out Walter Dawn Jr., and defensive lineman Chris Richardson, and Denzel Chukwukelu.
“I thought Jayson Vanhook did a really nice job, he was getting pressure on the quarterback.” Sean Kugler said. “He plays well in space, and he's an athlete. I think he's a guy who could really move in to the starting position there in the nickel spot, maybe at outside linebacker. He's got a lot of promise.”
Going up against a battered and injured Texas offensive line, VanHook, and the Miners two freshman ends helped UTEP create a pass rush that improved from week one.
“I thought Chris Richardson and also big Denzel [Chukwukelu] got in there at the end and did some nice things, too.” Kugler said. “We have some very capable, young guys and, in a game like this, this is when you want to see them in action and see how they can compete against the likes of a team like Texas.”
Seeing Walter Dawn in the lineup was certainly a surprise, and as he led UTEP in receiving and was also back there returning kicks. While he had his freshman moments, the potential for another legit offense weapon is clearly there.
“I saw some exciting things from Walter Dawn. He had some good returns.” Kugler said. “He had some returns that he probably should have bounced or taken out. He still needs to make some better decisions there but he made some good things happen with the ball in his hands.”
Alvin Jones on crutches
Alvin Jones suffered an injury in the second quarter and did not return on Saturday. After the game Jones was crutches, and Sean Kugler said it was a lower leg injury with his status as unknown.
His brother Aaron said after the game that it was a high ankle sprain with the official confirmation expected on Monday.
UTEP came out pretty healthy despite Jones’ injury, Sean Kugler said Zack Greenlee will be re-evaluated this coming week and the hope is he can return for the Army game.
Key adjustment springs Aaron Jones TD run, second quarter rushing surge
Early on, UTEP tried to set the boundary and ran outside the tackles more often than usual. Texas’ defensive speed shut that down pretty quick as UTEP struggled out of the gates.
But a key adjustment opened up UTEP the Miners run game on their lone scoring drive of the night, and helped Jones run for 100 yards in the second quarter.
“It was an adjustment he (Brent Pease) made up there, I guess something he saw up there.” Aaron Jones said. “We went with split backs on that third and one (TD run), we had been running a lot of one back.”
UTEP used the two back sets, and more downhill blocking on the first two plays of the drive which added nine yards, then on the third and one Jones busted the 51-yarder via the blocking scheme, and fullback adjustment.
Hat tip to Shane Buechele
Of course we’re UTEP centered, but its hard not to give credit to Texas freshman quarterback Shane Buechele who was near perfect on Saturday.
“I think he's very talented. He's got a strong arm and they feature that.” Sean Kugler said. “They throw some fades with him and he can get the ball out to the flat, they throw some hitches and quick screens, and he does a really good job with his own read stuff. I think he's a very capable quarterback and I think Texas fans are pretty excited to have him here for the next four years. “
UTEP did a good job of “containing” Texas’ pass game in terms of not giving up too many big plays, but Buechele was sound in his decision making, and delivered beautiful ball after beautiful ball with keen accuracy even with solid coverage by UTEP’s secondary.
“It's been fun to watch it. We're just two games into the season, and we're only going to get better and the quarterback is throwing the ball well.” Texas head coach Charlie Strong said.
This and that
- Freshmen Dylan Parsee, Foster Dixson, and Chris Richardson, and Kevin Dove made their UTEP debuts
- UTEP played in front of its second-largest crowd (92,863) in program history.
- Aaron Jones tallied his 12th 100-yard game in his career after finishing with 123 yards on 18 attempts, including a 51-yard touchdown run.
- Aaron Jones is ranked no. 4 on UTEP’s all-time rushing list (2,713 yards). Jones needs 122 yards to move past Robert Elliott (2,834 yards) for no. 3 on the list.
- Aaron Jones scored his 19th career touchdown and is tied with three other Miners (Ken Heineman, Clovis Riley & Toraino Singleton) for no. 8 on the all-time list.
- Aaron Jones’ 51-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter marked the seventh rushing play of 50+ yards in his career. He has had two in 2016, matching his season high.
- Aaron Jones tallied 104 yards during the second quarter against Texas. It’s his third 100-yard quarter this season.
- Aaron Jones recorded 114 yards during the first half against Texas; it’s his ninth game in which he’s gained over 100 yards in one half.
- Nick Usher tied his career best with a pair of sacks on the night.
- Tyrone Nelson recorded his first career receptions tonight (2 rec., 12 yards).
- Kent Taylor caught his first pass in a UTEP uniform.
- Denzel Chukwukelu, Johnny Jones and Gene Hopkins registered their first career tackles.
- The Texas offense only converted 3-of-12 third downs (25 percent) on the UTEP defense tonight.
- UTEP won the time of possession (33:59 to 26:01). The Miners have won time of possession in 32 of 39 games during the Sean Kugler era.
- UTEP tallied six tackles for loss tonight.