UTEP prepares for final home game against Rice

Freshman+running+back+Deion+Hankins+runs+the+ball+against+UTSA+on+Nov.+6%2C+2021%2C+at+the+Sun+Bowl+

Alberto Silva Fernandez

Freshman running back Deion Hankins runs the ball against UTSA on Nov. 6, 2021, at the Sun Bowl

Danny Lopez, Staff Reporter

The Miners (6-4, 3-3 Conference USA) face an aggressive University of Rice (2-4, 3-7 C-USA) Nov. 20 at the Sun Bowl Stadium. UTEP is trying to close out the season on a strong note and is looking forward to a bowl game after their successful regular season. 

The Owls come into this matchup with an offense that can average over 300 yards and are led by senior quarterback Jake Constantine and sophomore running back Ari Broussard. In their losses, however, Rice averages under 200 yards and struggle with third down conversions on offense. 

Rice’s defense this season has taken a pounding as the Owls are giving up more than 4.6 yards per game and get gashed regularly against teams they have lost to previously. 

The Miners defense can take advantage of Rice and their inability to convert on third downs. The Miners, in their recent loss against FAU,  would force the Owls to finish 2-for-15 on third down conversions. The Miners’ defense has been playing relatively well this year, being ranked ninth overall in the country and first in Conference-USA. But now, UTEP has fallen in that category due to the recent losses to Florida Atlantic University and the University of Texas at San Antonio. 

The Miners’ secondary needs to play tighter due to the fact that despite being able to keep teams under 200 yards, they are susceptible to giving up big plays, especially at crucial times. One example being against FAU, where just before the half there was a blown coverage by the Miners that enabled a touchdown to help FAU go on to win the game. 

On offense, the Miners must start off faster and get on the ground running. Their three losses have been because they have had slow starts and an offense that struggles to get into a rhythm. Their run game when playing a good defensive opponent usually means they average around 3.2 yards per game offensively. 

Overall, the Miners seem to have a decent chance at winning this game, but they must stick to the script if they want to come out victorious in this match up. 

UTEP still has a chance at qualifying for a good bowl if they are able to win out, but it will not be a walk-in-the-park for the Miners as they need to continue to put up a strong front. UTEP being bowl eligible is something that has not been done since their last winning season in 2014. 

The Miners will host Rice at 7 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Sun Bowl for the Miners’ final home game of the 2021-2022 season. Students can get free tickets by using their Miner Gold Card by visiting studenttickets.utep.edu for more information. 

Danny Lopez is a staff reporter and can be reached at [email protected]