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Miners hope to end losing streak with a homecoming win

Miners+hope+to+end+losing+streak+with+a+homecoming+win

The longest active losing streak in college football was extended to 17 games this past weekend when the UTEP football team lost to the UTSA Roadrunners 24-21 at the Alamodome.

The Miners  (0-5, 0-1) are desperate for a win as they return home for homecoming night as they face the defending C-USA West Division Champions, North Texas Mean Green. North Texas (4-1, 0-1) is coming off their first loss of the season against Louisiana  Tech 29-27, on Sept. 29.

Miners can’t put their defense in bad situations

Last week against UTSA, UTEP’s Terry Juniel fumbled a punt return on their own seven, one play later UTSA tied the game. The Miners brief lead was the first they had all season. Two possessions later, junior quarterback Kai Locksley added to his three interceptions on the season. Twice in the first half, the Roadrunners started in the UTEP red zone. Turnovers have been a theme for UTEP all season as they now have 11 on the season, six of those turnovers have been fumbles. The Miners are ranked 122nd in turnover margin at a minus-six.

“If we control the ball better and eliminate those turnovers, it’s a different ball game,” said head coach Dana Dimel after his team’s 24-21 loss to UTSA. “But that’s part of it, a recurring theme is taking care of the football better.”

UTEP will have to have a game plan strictly focused on ball security. As they face a lethal North Texas defense and offense.

The Mean Green leads the nation in takeaways with 10, two of them have been returned for touchdowns. The secondary is led by experience with senior Kemon Hall, junior Khairi Muhammad, and senior Nate Brooks as they each have three interceptions on the season. Hall will be questionable for this weeks game as he suffered an injury. They also get to the quarterback, they have 14 sacks on the season and are led by senior E.J. Ejiya who has four sacks.  

UTEP can’t afford to put its defense in short field positions as they face the 12th best total offense in the nation. North Texas is averaging 511 yards per game and 44 points per game. The Mean Green are led by junior quarterback Mason Fine, who is fourth in the nation in passing yards with 1,624. Fine’s favorite target is junior wideout Rico Bussey Jr., he leads the Mean Green with 415 yards and seven touchdowns on the seasons. Fine is questionable for Saturday’s game as he suffered an injury late in the game against Louisiana Tech.

The Miners offense faces multiple questions

Late in the fourth quarter on Saturday’s game against UTSA, Locksley went down after a designed quarterback run, pass option, after the play the quarterback limped off to the sideline not applying any pressure to his ankle, he was then later carted off the field. Coach Dimel said Locklsey will be “day-to-day.”

Metz will likely be the Miners starting quarterback for this week’s game against UNT. The senior quarterback has been used sporadically this season, he started the season opener and threw an interception on the first possession of the season, he has two on the season.

UTEP has had its struggles moving the ball through the air but have been productive on the ground. They are currently the 61st best rushing team in the nation with 851 yards and average 170 yards per game. Seven of their nine touchdowns have been on the ground. Locksley is responsible for six of them, four rushing and two passing.

Locksley is the team’s leading rusher with 363 yards, junior running back Quardraiz Wadley is the teams second leading rusher with 293 yards and three touchdowns. UTEP moving forward should be a run by committee team with Wadley, junior Treyvon Hughes, and sophomore Joshua Fields to supplement the offense Locksley provides.

The Streak lives

It’s been 776 days since UTEP last won a game, dating back to their 52-24 win over North Texas Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. Their 17-game losing streak ties their Battle of I-10 Rival New Mexico State’s longest losing streak from Sep. 13, 2014, to Oct 24. 2015

The record for the longest losing streak in FBS history belongs to the Northwestern Wildcats with 34 consecutive losses from 1979-1982. If UTEP’s losing streak extends to 20 games, they would be the first team to break the 20-game mark since Duke did it back in 2006, the Blue Devils lost 22 straight from Sep. of 2005 to Sep. of 2007.

In Division-1A (FCS) the TCU Horned Frogs hold the record for the longest losing streak in the state of Texas with 20 games, from 1974-1975. That record may be in play by the time the Miners return for their next home game against UAB on Sat., Oct. 27.

Daniel Mendez may be reached at [email protected]

 

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Daniel Mendez, Staff reporter
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Miners hope to end losing streak with a homecoming win