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Miner backfield full of depth

The+Miners+rush+offense+ranks+third+in+Conference+USA.
Michaela Roman
The Miners rush offense ranks third in Conference USA.

At homecoming, the UTEP football team found its footing again after a deplorable showing on the road the past two weeks. They found their success on the basis of their running attack, and the Miners now seem to be off life support.

Starting in 2013, head coach Sean Kugler has tried to instill a new brand of football that is based on physicality and running the ball. Although Kugler had a go-to running back in Nathan Jeffery, who came off an impressive sophomore season in 2012, Kugler and his assistant coaches never latched onto the phrase “go to back.”

Fast forward to Kugler’s second season and that rings true. The Miners best represented their depth and talent in the backfield against Old Dominion. Four Miners ran for at least 50 yards in the game and, in total, the team finished with 334 rushing yards, which accounted for 68 percent of the Miners’ total offense.

The Miners’ success is solely predicated on whether they can run the ball or not, and their statistics show the drastic difference. In the Miners’ two blowout losses to Kansas State and Louisiana Tech, the Miners rushed for a mere 59 and 81 yards, respectively. In the Miners’ three wins they have averaged 336 rushing yards per game.

The Miners’ slow and methodical attack on the ground is their calling card, and what sophomore running back Aaron Jones calls special.

“We all feel like we can do as another one does,” Jones said. “I feel like that’s what makes our running back group special.”

Every pack has a leader and Jones is just that for the Miner backfield, leading the team in every statistical rushing category. The Burges High School grad had a great start to the season, ranking inside the top five nationally in rushing yards at the start of the season.

To go along with settling at the top of the nation in rushing yards, Jones is among the best running backs in Conference USA, if not the best—ranking second in rushing yards, sixth in yards per attempt and fourth in rushing touchdowns.

Behind Jones is senior running back Nathan Jeffery, who has been a consistent second player to Jones, racking up 295 yards this season, while averaging 4.8 yards per carry. The rushing troop doesn’t stop there.

Fullbacks Darrin and Jeremy Laufasa have been consistent lead blockers all season, and senior Josh Bell made his name known against Old Dominion, rushing for three touchdowns.

“It’s just fun to watch,” said offensive specialist Autrey Golden. “I’m the type of guy to just sit back and watch the show. We love watching our teammates be successful— especially when you see them put in the work all week. When you’re just a spectator watching them have fun, it’s a great feeling.”

Whether the Miners can right the ship and find continuous success coming off their homecoming victory, the answer lies within the run game. Sixty-two percent of the Miners’ total offense comes from their running attack, and it accounts for nearly 70 percent in their wins.

In the offseason, the focal points where the Miners needed to improve were on defense and in the passing game, and neither has come to fruition. The Miners’ defense still ranks as one of the worst in the nation and the pass offense is averaging a 142.3 yards per game, which is the
lowest since 1984.

Slow and methodical is they way the Miners like to go, and head coach Sean Kugler wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’ll take slow and methodical, that takes possessions away,” Kugler said. “That’s the plan, to steal possessions. We milk the clock, and that doesn’t work unless your run game is extremely efficient.”

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter
Javier Cortez is a staff reporter for The Prospector. He is a senior multimedia journalism major, with a minor in English Rhetoric. Javier was born and raised in El Paso, TX and before coming to UTEP in the summer of 2012, he graduated from Irvin High School, where he was a four-year varsity tennis player, a member of student council and a class officer for his graduating class. He has also worked for the El Paso Diablos as a sports information intern on their media relations team. In his spare time, Javier loves to write columns for the perspectives section in the school newspaper—whether it is sports, pop culture, religion, and society he loves to write about it. To go along with writing, Javier loves reading anything about sports, religion, and non-fiction.
Michaela Roman, Editor-in-Chief
Michaela is a Senior Digital Media Production major at The University of Texas at El Paso. As the Editor-in-Chief, and former Photo Editor of The Prospector, she has learned to stay organized, manage a staff of writers and photographers, meet deadlines, cover events and network with others. She also has freelance experience and a personal photography business. Michaela aspires to work as an editor for a large media outlet and one day go to graduate school to teach photojournalism.
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Miner backfield full of depth