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UTEP Football: Flat, and noncompetitive football continues in blowout loss

NCAA Football: Arizona at Texas El Paso Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona is not a very good football team compared to their P5 peers. Therefore, it was highly disheartening watching UTEP not even remotely compete with them, in front of a national audience, and a decent? home crowd.

Arizona beat the Miners 63-16 at the Sun Bowl. There’s really no way to sugarcoat it, UTEP has been absolutely horrible through three weeks. During this stretch, they have been outscored 150-37. Of course there have been injuries, but no one ever accepts that as an excuse. This could be a historic season. But for all the wrong reasons.

The Miners weren’t really able to do much in this game, on either side of the ball. Or on special teams. The first touchdown drive was great, and it clearly galvanized the defense on the following Arizona possession.

Zack Greenlee effectively killed that momentum with a bizarre floating pass that sailed right into an Arizona defender’s hands, while simultaneously landing himself on the bench.

The defense wasn’t great, as they allowed Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins to run around and through them for 133 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns (in addition to 3 scores through the air). However, the offense didn’t help them out either, with a couple crucial turnovers that gave Arizona tremendous field position.

There are really no other highlights. UTEP was again dominated. It doesn’t seem to matter who the opponent is, UTEP looks slow, lost, and uninspired. They need an unbelievably fast turnaround.

Unfortunately, that turnaround isn’t very likely to occur. As in, the way this team has played so far, they might not win a game this season. I’m not being dramatic, look who the remaining games are against: NMSU, Army, Western Kentucky, Southern Miss, UTSA, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Louisiana Tech, and UAB.

The way this Miner team has played, does anyone think any of these games are winnable?

As for individual performances, Will Hernandez of course had an outstanding game again. I thought Mark Torrez looked just okay for his first real extended action.

On the defensive side, Alvin Jones had a great game. He was all over the place, especially in the first half, 16 tackles tied his career high.

And how about college football kicker Brady Viles with the 53-yard field goal to end the half after he shanked a PAT?

Offensive performances of the game:

Zack Greenlee: 11/17 for 104 yds; 1 TD; 1 INT

Mark Torrez: 6/21 for 59 yds; 1 rushing TD

Kevin Dove: 5 rushes for 17 yds (3 Miners rushed for negative yardage)

Terry Juniel: 4 receptions for 82 yds

Defensive performances of the game:

Alvin Jones: 16 tackles

Dante Lovilotte and Julian Jackson: 7 tackles apiece

This game was a national embarrassment. The ESPN announcers poked fun at the empty student section, and then in the third quarter they just stopped calling the game altogether, opting instead for a five minute skit about eating tacos.

They snapped back to reality when Torrez rushed for the second UTEP touchdown, accentuated by a Hernandez block that sent his man tumbling to the ground. All the announcers could talk about all night was what laid ahead for Arizona. They did not once mention what was ahead for UTEP.

This is what a culture of losing will do for a program, it relegates them to a realm of insignificance. The football culture at UTEP desperately needs to change, but when will this happen?

I was very happy to see Mark Torrez come into the game. Quite frankly, having to choose between Greenlee and Ryan Metz has been like having to choose between being shot or stabbed. It’s like they’re playing a game of tug-o-war for who wants to be the least productive quarterback. Torrez played in his first game, and will get better. He is likely the future quarterback of the program. As far as I’m concerned, let him play from here on out.

Speaking of tug-o-war, during the Rice game, myself and the 4 others I was with participated in this rope-pulling battle during one of the commercial breaks. At the last minute, Paydirt Pete inexplicably joined forces with our opponents, giving them a 6-5 advantage. My team lost, one of my classmates breaking her toe during the struggle, and Pete is now my nemesis for his act of sabotage (just kidding, I still like Pete).

Similarly, this Miner team is doing a great job of sabotaging my preseason prediction of a 5-win season. I now think UTEP might win a game in 2017.