UTEP looks to bounce back against UNLV

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Isaiah Ramirez, Reporter

The UTEP Miners football team will battle against the UNLV Rebels Sept. 8 in Las Vegas, at Sam Boyd Stadium. Looking ahead at this confrontation between these two winless teams there are some key points to analyze if the Miners want to snap their 13-game losing streak.

Consistency within the Offense

The Miners only delivered 32-yards of total offense in the second half after putting up a respectable 197 yards in the first half against Northern Arizona.

If the Miners want to defeat the Running Rebels, who held the No. 15  USC Trojans to only 19 points through three quarters, the offense must find a healthy balance in the pass and run game.

In the season opener Kai Locksley, who took over the game after two unsuccessful drives by Ryan Metz, went 13-for-26 with 120 passing yards. Locksley also had to carry the load running the ball as he was the leading rusher for the Miners with 50 yards on 18 carries. Junior Quadriz Wadley, who was the starting running back, had eight carries for 43 yards and the lone touchdown for UTEP. The Miners must capitalize on offensive possessions. They controlled the time of possession against Northern Arizona with 34 minutes and only managed to put up 10 points. UTEP was scoreless in the second half against the Lumberjacks.

Stop the Run game of the Rebels

As fitting as it sounds the Running Rebels rushed for 308 yards against USC this past Saturday. Senior running back Lexington Thomas rushed for 136 yards on 14 carries averaging 9.4 yards a carry. Dual-threat quarterback Armani Rogers had 82 yards on the evening averaging 4.6 yards a carry. Last season, Thomas rushed for 1,336 yards to go along with 17 touchdowns for UNLV. Against Northern Arizona, UTEP held the Lumberjacks to 107 yards rushing but did allow two rushing touchdowns. The Miners must halt the momentum of what seems to be a UNLV team that likes to run the ball.

Make UNLV uncomfortable passing

UNLV’s sophomore quarterback Armani Rogers went 12-for-27 and threw for 97 yards against USC. If the Miners can create pressure and lock down UNLV on defense  their chances of coming out of Sin City with a win increases. The leading receiver for the Rebels, Kendal Keys, had just one reception for 37 yards on the night. In 2017 Keys had 27 receptions for 260 yards and in 2015 had 43 receptions for 515 yards on the season. The Miners allowed 211 receiving yards against Northern Arizona, with  fifth-year senior wide receiver Emanuel Butler accounting for 138 receiving yards. UTEP has talent on defense, especially at the cornerback position in senior Kalon Beverly, who had six tackles and one interception against Northern Arizona. Miner linebacker A.J. Hotchkins, made his UTEP debut last week and could be a factor on defense, he led all Miners with 13 tackles.

Isaiah Ramirez may be reached at [email protected]