Miners host first-place Blazers in hopes for an upset


Gaby Velasquez

UNT junior KhairI Muhammad makes the tackle on senior tight end David Lucero.

Adrian Broaddus, Web Editor

Regrouping after a near road win upset against Louisiana Tech, the Miners (0-7, 0-3 C-USA) will return home this week to square off against top-ranked UAB (6-1, 4-0 C-USA) on Saturday, Oct. 27.

And once again, the Miners will attempt to break their 19-game losing streak in an upset fashion versus the Blazers, who are first place in the Conference USA West division.

Last week, for the fourth straight game in the fourth quarter, the Miners were in reach with the ball against LA Tech, but were unable to score within the eight-yard line and fell to the Bulldogs 31-24. Since their 24-0 shutout loss to Tennessee, the Miners have lost their last four games by nine points or fewer and have contested a potential win in each matchup.

Against LA Tech, UTEP rode its third-string quarterback in junior Brandon Jones after senior Ryan Metz was knocked out of the game with an injury to the head. Metz will not be avaible for Saturday’s game.

Junior quarterback Kai Locksley, who was nursing an ankle injury has been promoted to probable to start Saturday’s game against UAB. Head coach Dana Dimel said Monday Jones  will be Locksley backup.

More on last week

Despite the loss to C-USA foe LA Tech, the Miners have shown they can play with just about anyone in the league.

UTEP out-gained LA Tech in total offense (356-325) and passing yards (284-156). They also won in third-down efficiency, as its defense held LA Tech to converting just 1-of-10 third downs.

The negatives started early when Metz caused the team’s only turnover off a tipped interception for a touchdown.

Jones finished the day completing 7-of-15 passes for 98 yards and had two rushing touchdowns. Before he left with an injury, Metz was 11-for-17 through the air for 164 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. Metz was the team’s leading rusher with 12 carries for 28 yards. Foster had four catches for 84 yards of receiving.

A look at this week

UTEP will go into this week injury-ridden again with uncertainty at the offensive line and quarterback poistion. The Miners will also be without graduate transfer fullback Winston Dimel, who was ruled out for the season after suffering a shoulder injury against North Texas.

This week, the Miners will look to get more involvement on the ground. They put up small numbers against the Bulldogs rushing the football last Saturday, totaling just 72 yards on the ground.

The Miners will need the likes of junior running back Quadraiz Wadley, who just had two carries against the Bulldogs for 12 yards.

Defensively, the Miners will seek to create more turnovers against UAB. They forced two fumbles against LA Tech and had a couple opportunities for potential interceptions, but fell short to generate turnovers defensively.

Scouting UAB

UAB will enter Saturday’s game as one of the hottest teams in C-USA. After they were upset by Coastal, 47-24, the Blazers have won five in a row, including big wins against LA Tech (28-7) and North Texas (29-21).

The Blazers are led by their sophomore running back Spencer Brown, who is currently fourth in the conference for rushing yards (591) and second in rushing touchdowns (10). He averages 4.4 yards per carry off 134 attempts this season.

Defensively, the Blazers have a mammoth of a defensive linemen in senior Jamell Garcia-Williams, who has seven sacks on the year and 25 total tackles.

The Blazers average 186 yards through the air and 241 yards on the ground on the road this season. They have outscored opponents 99-28 in the month of October.

Kickoff between the two is slated for 5:30 p.m. MT at the Sun Bowl.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected]