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UTEP seeks first C-USA win over LA Tech

Gaby Velasquez / File Photo

After back-to-back distressing losses to Army (66-14) and Southern Mississippi (34-7) at home, the Miners will travel on the road to face one of the top Conference USA West Division opponents, Louisiana Tech, on Saturday, Oct. 1.

The Miners (1-3, 0-1 C-USA) are not in the ideal situation they would like going into Saturday’s league play matchup. They are in distress on offense, with a question mark surrounding the quarterback position.

Although he is the heart of the offense, standout tailback Aaron Jones has been getting banged up left and right by other teams’ defenses. And, even though the defense delivers physicality and makes stops, there is no offensive production to put points on the board.

In the past three games, the Miners have been outscored 141-28, and 21 of those points were scored by Jones.

Head coach Sean Kugler believes that there needs to be a change with his offense, which currently reflects a one-dimensional outlook revolving around Jones.

“We were inept on offense, minus one series,” Kugler said after the 34-7 loss to the Golden Eagles. “The defense wasn’t the issue. We’ve got a lot of things to fix. If that means trimming it down so we can execute and get people at the right spots.”

The incompetency Kugler is referring to stems at the quarterback position—one that even after the fourth game is still up for question. Through the past three games, starting quarterback Zack Greeenlee and backups Kavika Johnson and Ryan Metz have completed only 40-of-72 passes combined. Also, the passes they actually completed are usually short bubble passes that rack up the little to no yards on offense.

When Greenlee finished the game versus Southern Miss, throwing two crucial picks and only totaling 62 yards through three quarters, Kugler believed it was time to reconsider the gunslinger position.

“We’ll reevaluate every position on offense,” Kugler said. “We were not moving the ball effectively. Whether it’s Zack Greenlee or Ryan Metz, we’ll make that determination. Both can move the ball, but one has to move the ball.”

On paper, Louisiana Tech (1-3, 0-1 C-USA) shows a lot of similarities with UTEP. They both are coming off two or more losses in a row, and both lost their conference opener. The difference is head coach Skip Holtz and the Bulldogs have lost their three games in very close fashions.

The Bulldogs nearly upset SEC affiliates Arkansas in their season opener, 21-20. After demolishing South Carolina State, 53-24, the Bulldogs were neck-and-neck with Big 12 high-scoring threat Texas Tech. However, the air raid that the Red Raiders posed was too much for the Bulldogs as they fell 59-45. Against arguably the best team in the league, LA Tech lost in the final minutes to Middle Tennessee, 38-34.

While they know how to put numbers on the board, LA Tech does struggle on defense. They allowed 356 total yards of offense to Middle Tennessee, with 210 of them on the ground. Even Holtz said after the loss to the Blue Raiders, “we have to get some things straight on defense without a doubt.”

However, their offense does make up for their sub-par play on defense. Fronted by quarterback Ryan Higgins, the Bulldogs are an air-raid heavy offense. Higgins threw a whopping 504 yards against Middle Tennessee with three touchdowns. He already has 1,224 yards of passing this year, ranking him 14th on the national scale. His favorite target, wide receiver Trent Taylor, currently ranks third in the nation in reception yards, totaling 632 yards.

Kickoff between the two teams in Ruston, Louisiana, is slated for 5 p.m. MST.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor
Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.   Adrian was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of Franklin high school. He entered college in the fall of 2015 in hopes to better his career in journalism.   Along with sports, Adrian enjoys writing music reviews, perspective columns and news stories on politics.   Although he is pursuing his degree in journalism, Adrian would like to go to law school and be an attorney while doing part-time work in journalism.  
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UTEP seeks first C-USA win over LA Tech