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#11 Texas 41 UTEP 7: Three positives and three negatives

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UTEP v Texas Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Positives:

  • I thought that the biggest positive that UTEP can take away from this game, was how well the Miners played upfront and between the tackles on defense. We have said it a hundred times, but Kugler has been building his program along the lines of scrimmage and the improvement is continuing to show. Texas only scored one touchdown on three trips to the red zone during the first half and they finished with touchdowns on just 50% of their red zone trips for the entire game. Texas also had just one rushing touchdown for the entire game which was a surprise to most. In general, there were not the gashing holes or normal running lanes in this game that UTEP has historically given up when playing this high level of competition. The UTEP defense also tackled relatively well and slugged it out with a big and physical UT running game, until ultimately losing it's leading tackler and being worn down in the second half. Texas quarterback Shane Buechele made some outstanding throws for big plays and hurt UTEP in the passing game, but UTEP did well upfront against the running game. There was solid growth over week one in this area and our defensive front even added three sacks and six tackles for loss, despite playing mostly out of just a base defense. This was incredibly just a six point game with 1:23 left in the first half and just a 13 point game at half-time, UTEP’s defense was one of the biggest reasons why the Miners stayed in it for so long.
  • Despite being one of the deepest and experienced UTEP teams in recent memory, some young freshman have begun earning playing time and have started to sprinkle into the rotation mix, which helps to both validate recruiting efforts, and also add some growth potential for the future. Redshirt freshman Jayson VanHook continued to impress by getting his first sack, True freshman Walter Dawn led the Miners in receiving and showed his speed and quickness that has been well advertised, Freshman offensive lineman Chance Bishop continues to do well with his field goal snaps, and a number of young freshman defensive players got some good experience and playing time in this game highlighted by: Chris Richardson, Foster Dixson, Denzel Chuwukelu, Dylan Parsee, Kolbi McGary, and Gene Hopkins all getting experience in this game. I have been very high on some of these guys for a while now and it is exciting to now see them in game action.
  • Aaron Jones long touchdown in this game was run out of the exact same shot gun formation as his long touchdown last year against Texas Tech. Below are both plays and which show the similarities, enjoy again. So Aaron has now gashed two Big 12 teams with the same play. Running out of this 3-wide shotgun formation makes a lot of sense, as it allows our big O-Line to block less guys in the box. I would love to see UTEP continue to run this play & formation consistently each game and then ultimately bootleg off of it once the safeties start to react and cheat up on it.

Negatives:

  • Punt Team: UTEP’s three blocking upbacks need to be more physical when blocking the rushers. They were in good position last night, picked up the proper assignment, but then they just weren't physical enough and allowed too much penetration. The result was one blocked punt, and a near miss which would have been a second blocked punt. UTEP’s punting results surprisingly were poor, with just a 34 yard average, and the Miners did not flip the field at all.
  • Placing the ball on the ground: Walter Dawn Jr. put the ball on the ground during a kick return, Terry Juniel put the ball of the ground during a punt return, and Aaron Jones nearly put the ball on the ground for a second straight week, when he was first ruled to have fumbled, but then had the ruling overturned by video replay.
  • QB Contain: For a second straight week, UTEP really struggled with keeping an assignment on the quarterback bootleg. This hurt the most when UT went for it on 4th down and our entire defense collapsed inside, then Buechele just tucked it and ran around the corner for an easy first down. We need to get better at staying disciplined to this and we should get plenty of work with Army's option offense coming to town.