Miners take on Colorado State

Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter

For UTEP fans, a game against Colorado State is very uncommon but these two teams have  history against each other as Western Athletic Conference foes in the late ’60s through the late ’90s.

Over the years, the Miners and Rams have played each other 34 times spanning all the way back to 1963. The Rams lead the all-time series 24-10, but in 2011 the Miners had a victory over Colorado State, 37-17, their only win in the series for the past 14 years.

The Miners are coming into this game looking to come off a loss against the UTSA Roadrunners, losing at home 32-13. The Miners were initially setback with injuries– running backs Nathan Jeffery and LaQuintus Dowell. The Miners running game was held to 99 rushing yards against the Roadrunners defense.

“It was a disappointing loss from our standpoint.  It was a game where we were not efficient on offense and couldn’t sustain anything,” said UTEP head coach Sean Kugler.  “We had dropped balls, overthrown balls, an inefficient run game to our standards and even had a penalty that stopped a drive.”

Coming into this game the Rams stand at 1-3 as they finish their non-conference schedule against the Miners. The Rams opened their 2013 season against their inner-state rival, Colorado, losing 41-27, followed by a loss against Tulsa 30-27. The Rams got there first win of the season against Cal Poly 34-17, then tested No.1 Alabama for three quarters before losing 31-6.

They’re a very balanced team.  They’ve got a good quarterback.  He’s another guy that can make plays with his legs if he has to,” Kugler said. “They have a very big and athletic offensive line.  They run the ball efficiently.  The quarterback really does a good job distributing the ball. “

The key to the Miners success on offense is the run game, but that may vary depending on the status of Jeffery and Dowell. With a healthy backfield in the first three games, the Miners averaged 286 rushing yards per game.

“This offense revolves around the run game, and as far as running the ball efficiently, we need all of our running backs,” said sophomore running back Autrey Golden.

Being the home team can create some big advantages; none more importantly than a rowdy crowd in the fourth quarter. Fortunately for the Miners they don’t have to worry about that, the Rams average attendance over the past year doesn’t even eclipse 19,000 in a stadium that can hold over 30,000. Secondly, the Rams have been outscored in the fourth quarter 45-10 through four games this season. Knowing that the Rams don’t have a good home crowd, plus with the fact that the Rams are not a good fourth-quarter team, will bode well for the Miners.

The Miners might not have a flattering record at 1-2 but Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain is not underestimating the Miners.

“It does scares me a little bit, the explosive playmakers that they have on offense, and defensively they load up in the front so we are going to have to make some plays in the passing game,” McElwain said. “They are a very skilled team, they have a veteran defense line that have played there for some time now.”

With the pending injuries in UTEP’s backfield, sophomore running back Autrey Golden will be the Miner to watch considering the game he had last week. Golden scored the only UTEP touchdown on a 100-yard kick return, and led the team in rushing with 39 yards averaging 6.5 yards per carry.

Nevertheless the Miners should be the major favorites in this game, despite the fact that the Miners are on the road and facing injury problems.

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]