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Oklahoma 56 UTEP 7: What we learned

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NCAA Football: Texas El Paso at Oklahoma Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Welp. That didn’t go too well. But really, did even the most hardcore UTEP fan expect anything different? Nothing happened today that wasn’t expected by absolutely everyone who made predictions about this game. The Miners lost to Oklahoma 56-7.

Offensively, UTEP looked stellar on their first drive. It was a long, sustained, physical drive that resulted in a touchdown and raised some eyebrows. But, that was it for the Miners in terms of impressive drives. Or anything even close to impressive.

Other notes/observations about the offense:

  • Why did Kugler burn a timeout after the first offensive play? Whatever he told the team, it must’ve worked, but it was definitely a head scratcher at first.
  • If you watched Will Hernandez on just about any play, you clearly saw why he will be playing on Sundays, as the saying goes. He looked phenomenal.
  • Speaking of Hernandez, did anyone else see when he got into it with OU defensive tacle Matt Romar (#92)? Hernandez was dominantly, almost effortlessly, blocking him, and Romar got frustrated and punched Hernandez in the helmet. My question at the time was, why was Romar not ejected for that? It ended up being a 15-yard personal foul, but it should’ve been an ejection. Perhaps Big-12 refs will overtake PAC-12 refs as the worst in the country this season. Not that I think ejecting Romar would’ve made any difference in the game, but come on zebras, do your job.
  • For the most part, Ryan Metz was highly ineffective. Some key drops by receivers/tight ends did not help, nor did some predictable early down play calling. Conversely, I thought backup Zack Greenlee looked good, although to be fair, by the time he came into the game at the end of the third quarter, OU was already playing many of their backups. Still, a decent performance.

Defensively, UTEP looked horrible, to say the least. I started by making series-by-series notes, but the defense made my job easy because I can just say they looked awful on almost every single Oklahoma drive.

Other notes/observations about the defense:

  • Did I mention they looked bad?
  • Offensively, Oklahoma pretty much did whatever they wanted. All day. They pulled Baker Mayfield at halftime and Oklahoma continued to maul the UTEP defense with backup Kyler Murray at the helm.
  • Zone coverage was highly ineffective against Oklahoma, yet defensive coordinator Tom Mason figured that he would keep trying again and again and again, just to be sure. It continued to not work.
  • Tackling was surprisingly extremely poor, across the board.
  • I could’ve driven my Silverado through the holes that the OU line was consistently opening up.

I thought special teams looked pretty good, nice coverage downfield, although not a lot in the return game. Overall not bad though.

Other notes/observations about special teams:

  • Punter Alan Luna made some great punts, and he had plenty of practice all game long.

Random note/observation:

  • On average, it seemed as though Oklahoma players were about twice as big as UTEP players. Speed wise UTEP held their own at times, but were out-matched and out-muscled.
  • Why didn’t Kugler go for it on a couple of those fourth downs? At that point, what the hell did we have to lose?

Here are some noteworthy, if largely unimpressive, stats:

Metz was 10/18 for 56 yards; Greenlee was 5/8 for 31 yards; Walter Dawn ran the ball 7 times for 56 yards and UTEP’s sole touchdown; Kevin Dove ran 5 times for 17 yards; Eddie Sinegal was the Miners’ top receiver, hauling in 3 catches for 20 yards; DB Devin Cockrell had the best day defensively, as he racked up 9 tackles; LB Julian Jackson had 7 tackles; LBs Alvin Jones and Jamar Smith each had 5 tackles.

The Miners passed for 94 yards, and rushed for 73 yards. Time of possession was 25:24.

The defense allowed a whopping 676 yards of Sooner offense, mostly through the air.

I guess the good thing is that the Miners only had one turnover?

Bottom Line:

Don’t despair! As I mentioned, this result was completely expected. Oklahoma is simply one of the most elite teams in the country. I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up in the College Football Playoff this year. It’s never fun watching your team get smeared, but in this case, don’t sweat it, yet.

A lot, or most, of the Miner ineffectiveness today is attributable to a very elite Oklahoma team. As I noted in the game preview a few days ago, the real season starts now.

A very beatable Rice team comes to El Paso next Saturday. UTEP will win this game. So enjoy your week and come show our guys your support at the Sun Bowl this Saturday as they take on a C-USA West foe, the Owls. The game is at 6:00 pm.

Side note: I wish we were playing these owls this season, simply because I like this high-energy promo video: