clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UTEP Football: Three things UTEP needs to immediately improve

New, 5 comments

UTEP has played three games, but three areas of immediate concern have stood out so far.

There have been a number of things exposed over the past couple of weeks, which comes along with two lopsided outcomes.

We look at three correctable elements that have stood out, and should be immediately fixed before Saturday's C-USA opener.

Offensive line

Three advanced statistical factors play into the Miners struggle upfront.

UTEP's power success rate is at 57.1 percent which ranks 92nd, and the Miners run game is being stuffed 29.9 percent of the time which ranks 126th in the nation.

UTEP's o-line was ranked in the top 20 last season in power success rate, but the drop off is evident by just watching. UTEP's offensive line held an 11 percent minimum stuff rate the past two seasons combined which should be the measuring stick standard.

Army did a good job of confusing UTEP pre-snap wise last week, thus allowing for the blitz to become a factor.

On standard downs, the Miners offensive line is only creating 2.75 yards per carry, and UTEP's passing down sack rate is 11.5 percent which ranks 100th overall. UTEP had a 2.6 sack rate last season which ranked 9th in the nation.

With John De La Rosa out, Anthony Kyles is now the starting right guard, and Sean Kugler said that true freshman Greg Long could also move around out of need to help along the offensive line with some quickness and athleticism.

UTEP prides themselves on playing tough in the trenches, and improvement here is the most important aspect riding on a 2016 turnaround.

Lack of front seven production

Two of these struggles are the big things emphasized by the UTEP football program, and have been almost disturbing to close followers.

Opposing offensive lines are creating 3.38 yards per carry on standard down runs, and in the pass game offensive lines are creating 4.24 yards per attempt.

The Miners defensive line is under the national average for havoc rate at 4.2 percent, the linebacking core ranks 108thin havoc rate which measures sacks, tackles for loss, and quarterback pressures.

Alvin Jones, and Dante Lovilette have been solid, and Nick Usher has also been steady, but outside of those three production has been very limited.

UTEP is also allowing 6.14 points per trips allowed inside their own 40, meaning teams are able to drive the ball with an efficient rating and grab points nearly every trip inside the UTEP 40-yard line.

When and if Alvin Jones returns it will give UTEP an automatic boost, but other guys inside UTEP's front seven need to catch on before it's too late.

Passing game struggles

Where to start with the passing game.

Between Zack Greenlee's injury, and Kavika Johnson's time at quarterback, it just hasn’t been pretty.

In passing down situations, the Miners are having success 27.3 percent of the time which ranks 94th in the nation, and the overall passing success rate is 35.4 percent which ranks 104th nationally.

It normally starts up front, but accuracy, and play calling have been another big issue. Mix in UTEP's poor field position marks the past two weeks, and early downs negative plays and the Miners pass game has suffered.

UTEP's highest targeted receiver is Terry Juniel who has a 30 percent catch rate, yet has no drops on the season. Zack Greenlee is only completing 52.4 percent of his 42 pass attempts, and Kavika Johnson is averaging 1.7 yards per attempt.

Also Jaquan White and Hayden Plinke have a combined nine targets which means UTEP is not dialing up play calls for their two best returning pass catchers from a season ago.

It will be interesting to see the personnel and scheme adjustments that take place over the next couple of weeks in the passing game.

It still early in the season, and the next two games will tell us a lot.

But if UTEP wants to get back to their winning formula of ball control, solid defense, and balanced offense. Two of these three things need be rectified by kickoff time on Saturday.