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UTEP seeks mid-season redemption against FIU

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Instead of hanging their heads low after their 28-7 loss on the road against Louisiana Tech, the Miners’ football squad had their chins up after they lost their fourth game in a row.

It is hard for a team to truly feel good after coming off their fourth-straight loss, but this game showed milestones in improvement.

“I still like our chances for our team,” Kugler said. “I don’t want to look back at the end of the season and say ‘we should have corrected that.’ The time to correct mistakes is now.”

Previously, the Miners had put less than 258 total yards of offense in three weeks. Against the Bulldogs, the offense racked in nearly double the yardage with 415 total yards.

Defensively, the squad held Conference USA standout quarterback Ryan Higgins to 197 yards, and their entire offense to 387 yards. This was the first time the Miners’ offense out-gained their opponent on yardage since the NM State game.

There are things to continue to tweak and things to tip their hat to, according to head coach Sean Kugler.

“Defensively, I thought we played extremely well in spurts and then we gave up the big plays.” Kugler said. “We’ve got to feed off each other. When the offense scores, the defense has got to come out and get a three and out. When the defense stops them and puts the offense in good field position, they’ve got to take advantage and score. I thought we moved the ball efficiently, but seven points isn’t going to cut it.”

The Miners (1-4, 0-2 C-USA) will come back to the Sun Bowl to face FIU on Saturday, Oct. 7. This game is just what the low-confidence Miners need to boost their self-assurance; or so they hope.

FIU (1-4, 1-0 C-USA) became the first Division I football program to fire their head coach this season, when athletic director for the Panthers, Pete Garcia, fired Ron Turner, who had been attempting to reconstruct the team for over three seasons. Turner was fired after the team started off 0-4. Defensive coordinator Ron Cooper was named the interim head coach.

Cooper saw recent success as he and his troops defeated rival Florida Atlantic, 33-31. They rushed for the most yards in a single game since 2010 for 270 yards. They were fronted by Alex Gardner’s 119 yards, Anthony Jones’ 90 yards and quarterback Alex McGough’s 61 yards. It was a complete turnaround for the Panthers, who desperately needed change.

Last year, the injury-plagued Miners suffered a tough 52-12 loss on the road against FIU. McGough gunned 270 yards for the Panthers. They scored 35 unanswered points to start off the game, and the Miners were extremely set back.

On the Miners’ side, the offense has yet another week where the quarterback situation is not certain. After suffering a rough hit late in the game versus LA Tech, starting quarterback Ryan Metz’ situation is uncertain for Saturday’s game. If injured, Zack Greenlee would most than likely become the Miners’ starting quarterback for Saturday’s contest. Greenlee lost the starting job to Metz after he struggled in their 34-7 loss to Southern Mississippi on Sept. 24.

On the run-the-ball segment, Aaron Jones is still trucking as the nation’s fourth-best rusher. Kugler commended his ferocious play against the Bulldogs.

“To me, it was one of the most gutsy performances by him,” Kugler said. “He kept coming back, kept wanting to play.”

His twin brother, Alvin, has been out of the lineup for the past three games. Despite attending practice last week, Alvin still remained inactive against the Golden Eagles. The Miners’ defense has missed Alvin’s presence and remains to be a question coming into this week as well.

Kickoff against the Panthers is slated for 5 p.m. in the Sun Bowl.

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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 mid-season redemption against FIU