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Miners desperate to end losing streak

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After a bye week, where the Miners finally got a chance to catch their breath, rest up, get healthy and work on fundamentals, head coach Sean Kugler and his squad will now travel to San Antonio to face the UTSA Roadrunners on Saturday, Oct. 22.

Losing five in a row going into the midway point of the year is not the ideal way to start. But, if there were any chance to turn their struggling season around, the Miners need to improve and impress this week.

Kugler believes the much-needed days of rest allowed his group to recollect and get mentally straight for their upcoming games.

“We utilized the bye week to the full extent,” Kugler said. “We are healthy—the healthiest we’ve felt all year. They want it—they want to compete. I don’t think we’re done. There are no white towels being thrown here.”

After dropping five games, it seemed like a giant pool of problems for the Miners—a multitude of errors that Kugler narrowed down to one major thing the Miners have been missing: energy.

“(Energy) comes from within and where we prepare,” Kugler said. “We had a lot of energy all of training camp, and we kind of let it go during practice to avoid any injuries. We can’t go into games fearing (injuries). We need a more competitive nature in practice.”

Whether or not it is truly energy that is the staggering problem for UTEP, Kugler does label the offense as “not efficient” and “one dimensional.” The Miners currently rank 127th in the nation for scoring (15.7 points per game) and rank 118th for total offense (332.2 yards per game). In addition, the Miners are among the worst in turnover margins (118th) with a -6 margin.

“Offensively, we have not been efficient,” Kugler said. “We are one-dimensional. I believe that we have to get our best five upfront, which will help the offense greatly.”

Offensively, quarterback Ryan Metz was sidelined following the last game after suffering a concussion during the LA Tech game on Oct. 1. This week, according to Kugler, Metz is back and ready to go. In his debut as starting quarterback, Metz completed 20 of 28 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown against the Bulldogs.

“Ryan Metz will be the quarterback moving forward,” Kugler said. “He has developed as a quarterback. I don’t think you can draw up a better kid. He’s fearless—you need that from your quarterback.”

Metz was not the only one who regained his health during the week, according to Kugler. Standout running back Aaron Jones and his twin brother and defensive weapon, linebacker Alvin Jones, are back to full health, as well as tight end Hayden Plinke, fullback Darrin Laufasa and corner back Kalon Beverly.

Defensively, the Miners regained Alvin Jones, who had a monstrous return to the gridiron. He recorded his career-high 16 tackles against FIU on Oct. 8, which was the most tackles by a Miner since Richard Spencer’s 17 tackles against LA Tech on Oct. 5, 2013.

Although Beverly is back to normal, freshman Justin Rogers will continue to be the starter at the corner position. Rogers, who is a true freshman, is second on the team with four pass breakups and has recorded the team’s first interception.

“He (Rogers) is making big plays on defense,” Kugler said. “Both of these guys will get a chance to play, especially when we go in the nickel package, but he (Rodgers) earned his playing time.”

UTSA (3-3, 2-1 C-USA) has shown inconsistencies throughout their roller coaster season. They looked like a defiant threat through games such as their close loss to Arizona State (32-28) and win against Southern Mississippi (55-32)—a team the Miners lost to 34-7. However, they struggled in their loss to Colorado State (23-14), and barely squeezed out a win against the winless Rice Owls (14-13).

Last season, the Roadrunners embarrassed the Miners at home 25-6. In the game, Metz threw four interceptions against a hungry Roadrunner defense. This season, the same hungry Roadrunner defense is alive. They rank at the top of the conference for points per game (24.3). Their defense ranks fourth in conference, allowing 406.2 yards per game. They are able to shut down the pass game effectively, also ranking fourth in C-USA with 222.7 yards per game.

“What we can’t do is go out there and get down early,” Kugler said. “They (UTSA) jump on teams fast and early with explosive plays.”

Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m. MT in the Alamodome.

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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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Miners desperate to end losing streak