The UTEP volleyball team fell to UAB 3-1 in a Conference USA match on Sunday at Memorial Gym.
The Miners took set one 27-25 but dropped the last three sets 25-21, 25-20, 25-20, to fall to 1-1 in conference play while the Blazers improved to 2-0.
The Miner offense was stopped by the Blazers’ blocking effort, which put up 22 blocks, 18 of which were block assists.
“It was definitely frustrating we weren’t able to play as well as we did on Friday,” head coach Holly Watts said. “I made a few adjustments that we didn’t respond to so I’ll take responsibility for that. We still have the same people out there and we still need to play our best. We didn’t put ourselves in the best spot to win during the course of the game, they [UAB] had a lot of blocks so credit to UAB for that.”
UTEP was still able to get double-digit kills from Macey Austin, who finished the match with 10, while Briana Arellano notched eight of her own. The UTEP defense worked toward 53 digs, with Niki Cebak tallying 18 and Ali Vidali recording 12, and the Miners teamed up for 18 block assists, with Kylie Baumgartner leading the effort with six block assists and three solo blocks.
Amanda King dished out 32 assists and the Miners recorded six total service aces, with Yost and Cebak each recording two.
“We just couldn’t execute like we normally do,” Arellano said. “There were some critical situations that we didn’t capitalize on and that hurt us in the end. We beat ourselves today and we just need to correct our mistakes going into the next game”
Totals for UTEP were 44 kills, 38 assists, 53 digs, and 12 total team blocks while the Blazers recorded 50 kills, 48 assists, 61 digs, eight service aces, and 13 total blocks.
Set one saw the Miners jump out to a 10-6 lead behind four kills, a service ace, and five Blazer errors, to prompt a UAB timeout. The Miners kept the lead before the Blazers benefited from a Miner attack error to tie the set at 17. Austin and UAB’s Erika Zembyla would exchange kills for their respective teams to keep the score at 18-all.
The Miners regrouped after a set error and Baumgartner recorded her first of three solo blocks to again tie the set at 19.
The Blazers would garner a 22-20 lead, but a UAB service error would bring the Miners within one before the Blazers’ Petra Silic recorded a kill to put her team up 23-21 and force a UTEP timeout. Austin recorded a huge kill out of the timeout to creep the Miners within one again, but the Blazers’ Gabby Deshotel brought up set point with a kill of her own. UAB would spoil its own set clinching point with an attack error, and Baumgartner came in huge for the Miners with another solo block to tie the set at 24.
Consecutive attack errors for both teams tied the set at 25, but Austin hammered down another kill to bring set point for the Miners. With the score now 26-25, UAB’s Victoria Young went in for an attack that was stopped by Baumgartner and Arellano teaming up for the block assist, ending the set 27-25 and giving the Miners the 1-0 match advantage.
Sets two and three went to the Blazers 25-21 and 25-20, respectively, and the Miners went into set four trying to prevent a UAB win and force a set five.
The Blazers jumped out to a 3-0 set four lead before Austin stopped the run and put the Miners on the board with a kill. The Miners would go on a 4-0 behind a setter’s dump from King, two consecutive block assists, first from Arellano and Baumgartner, then from Jones and Baumgartner, and an attack error by UAB’s Young, to go up 6-5. A 5-0 Blazer run, however, would give them the lead back before Baumgartner ended the run with a kill to bring the score to 10-7, UAB.
The momentum would stay in UAB’s favor as the Blazers stretched out to a 20-15 lead before another Austin kill breathed life into the Miners. After a timeout, UTEP would begin to make a run behind three consecutive kills, first from Arellano, followed by Jones and Vidali to prompt a UAB timeout with the score now 22-19.
The Blazers’ Deshotel and the Miners’ Jones both recorded kills, but a Miner service error and a UAB service ace ended the set 25-20, and the match 3-1.
“We came out slow,” Baumgartner said. “As a team we didn’t come out ready to go. Our momentum slowed after the first set and we just weren’t able to recover from that point.”
The Miners will look to bounce back when they continue conference play against UTSA on Oct. 1 in San Antonio. First serve against the Roadrunners (3-10 overall, 1-0 C-USA) is set for 11 a.m. (MT).
“I’m still excitied about this team, I think we can do a lot of good things this year,” Watts said. “Our goal is to win all the games at home and hope to pick up a few on the road. We dropped this game but I still see a lot of bright spots coming from this team. We just need to come out and play each game.”
LAS VEGAS, Nv.– The UTEP tennis team grabbed two more wins on the final day of the UNLV Invitational on Sunday at the Fertitta Tennis Complex.
Erandi Martinez made quick work of NAU’s Worthy Goldman in straight sets, 6-0, 7-5, to notch a win in the consolation final in the No. 4 singles draw, marking the freshman’s second win in as many days.
Fellow freshman Alisa Morozova took down NAU’s Eleanor Millard in the No. 3 singles draw 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 for a seventh place finish at the Invite.
In the No. 2 singles draw, Maria Paula Medina fell to Leirene Granville of NAU in straight sets, 6-2, 6-0, while Milena Baigorria slipped up against Long Beach State’s Maren Helgo 7-6, 6-3 in the No. 4 singles seventh place match.
In the doubles matches, Medina and Baigorria were defeated by Boise State’s Anja Dokic and Lilian Poling 8-3 in the No. 1 draw’s seventh place match. The No. 2 doubles draw consolation final saw Martinez and Morozova lose a close one to NAU’s Granville and Cora Lynn Von Dungern 8-5.
“Today we again showed signs of improvement, it was better than yesterday,” first-year head coach Ivan Fernandez said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but I am confident we will get to where we want to be for the spring season.”
The Miners will now prep for another three-day tournament this weekend when they travel to San Diego, Calif., for the San Diego State University Invitational Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
2017 UNLV WOMEN’S TENNIS FALL INVITATIONAL
Day Three Results
FLIGHT ONE SINGLES
Natalia Munoz (LBSU) def. Bara Michalkova (WSU) 6-4, 6-4
LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Larry Rose III rushed for 144 yards and scored three touchdowns, leading NM State to a 41-14 victory over UTEP on Saturday night at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
The Aggies (2-2) snapped the Miners’ school-record eight-game winning streak in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Battle of I-10. UTEP (0-4) is 4-1 versus the Aggies under head coach Sean Kugler.
“Tough losing a game, but a rivalry game is even tougher,” Kugler said. “My hat goes off to them. I have much respect for coach [Doug] Martin and I am happy for him.”
Rose compiled 189 all-purpose yards with two rushing touchdowns and one receiving. Tyler Rogers completed 26-of-43 passes for 283 yards with a pair of scores for the Aggies.
The Miners tried two different quarterbacks (Ryan Metz in the first half, Mark Torrez in the second half), but their offensive woes continued. They finished with 227 yards of offense, including 81 on their only scoring drive in the first quarter. Their other touchdown came on a 26-yard fumble recovery by Trace Mascorro late in the game.
Metz, returning to the lineup after missing a game with a shoulder injury, threw three interceptions in the first half and finished 6-of-18 passing for 54 yards. Torrez was 4-of-16 passing for 38 yards with two picks and also rushed seven times for 31 yards.
“Just trying to get a spark,” Kugler said of the quarterback change. “We had three interceptions that stalled drives. Nothing against Ryan at all, just trying to provide a spark for the team and we didn’t get that accomplished.”
After the teams traded interceptions on their second offensive series, the Aggies drew first blood when Rose broke free for a 40-yard touchdown run.
The Miners tied it up with an impressive 12-play, 81-yard drive as Quardraiz Wadley, making his 2017 season debut, rushed four times for 30 yards in the sequence. Metz targeted his tight ends on the drive as Josh Weeks and David Lucero reeled in passes of six and 11 yards respectively. UTEP ate 6:52 off the clock on the series as Metz finished it off with a five-yard touchdown run.
In the first quarter, UTEP controlled the clock for 11:07 to NM State’s 3:53.
The Aggies gave the Miners a taste of their own medicine in the second quarter as they took the ball at their own three-yard line and moved 97 yards on 15 plays over five minutes and 23 seconds. Rose scored on a 28-yard scamper, going over 100 yards for the game in the process and putting the Aggies ahead 14-7.
The Aggies increased their lead to 21-7 late in the second quarter when, on third and four deep in Miner territory, Metz’s pass intended for Keynan Foster was picked off by the Aggies’ Shamad Lomax and returned 19 yards for a touchdown.
The Miners got within field goal range right before halftime, but Lomax picked off Metz to end the scoring threat.
The Aggies put together a seven-play, 60-yard drive in the third quarter as Rose found the end zone for the third time. His two-yard TD reception from Tyler Rogers made it 27-7 in favor of NM State.
Rogers accounted for three touchdowns on the night. He connected with Conner Cramer for a 10-yard score late in the third quarter and ran for a four-yard TD early in the fourth.
Wadley had a promising start to his sophomore season, gaining 77 yards on 19 carries.
“He did a lot of good things tonight,” Kugler said. “Really, if he got into the flow of a normal game where we weren’t behind in the second half and had to throw it, he would’ve easily had a 100-yard game. He’ll be a weapon for us in the run game moving forward. We ran the ball better than we have.”
NM State put up 462 yards of offense and applied pressure defensively, collecting seven tackles for losses, three sacks and four quarterback hurries. The Aggies’ offensive efficiency was buoyed by a 9-for-17 effort on third down, compared to UTEP’s 2-for-15.
“Third downs and interceptions,” Kugler said. “They out-competed us and outplayed us.”
The Miners will make their first visit to West Point next week when they take on the Army Black Knights. Kickoff is set for 3:30 Eastern time on Saturday (Sept. 30) at Michie Stadium.
The game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network.
After a lackluster performance against the Arizona Wildcats, the UTEP Miners were hoping to rebound against the New Mexico State Aggies Saturday night at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
Sadly that wasn’t the case as the Aggies rolled over the Miners by a score of 41-14.
The big story going into this game is that head coach Sean Kugler had replaced offensive coordinator Brent Pease with Brain Natkin. So how did the offensive do with Natkin calling the plays? It did better than last week.
By halftime the Miners had already rushed for 74 yards, which compared to 17 rushing yards they got against Arizona. They ended the game with 135 rushing yards. The highlight for the the Miners was in the 1st quarter when they had a 12 play 81 yard drive that ended with a 5 yard Ryan Metz touchdown run.
The most impressive thing about the drive is that took 6:52 off the clock. The problem is that once NMSU adjusted to UTEP running the ball and forced Metz to pass, the Aggies defense was more than capable of stopping them and forcing some mistakes that the Miners couldn’t overcome.
By halftime Aggies DB Shamad Lomax had intercepted Ryan Metz 3 times including one that he returned 19 yards for a touchdown 1:37 before halftime.
Coach Kugler decided to switch quarterbacks at halftime by putting in Mark Torres hoping he’d bring some life to the offense, but he didn’t fare any better. In his 2nd pass attempt, he was intercepted by LB Terril Hanks. He ended up throwing another which meant that combined, UTEP quarterbacks threw 5 interceptions, and you’re not gonna win any games playing like that on offense.
As far as the defense goes, well lets just say Larry Rose III had his way with the Miners. He rushed for 144 yards had 2 touchdowns and added another receiving touchdown.
Aggies QB Tyler Rogers passed for 287 yards and threw 2 touchdowns. It’s safe to say that this game was basically over by halftime.
So how do the Miners fix this? How do they get out of the funk that they’re in? I don’t really know, that’s a hard question to answer. Clearly the running game looked better tonight but once UTEP was forced to pass, the offense looked horrible.
The Miners have a couple of days to see if they can try to bring some life to this season before they face Army next week and if they can’t, this nightmare of a season will continue and it’ll be hard for UTEP fans to watch.
UTEP played hard and with passion but visiting UAB received a goal from Rachel Green (70’) to topple the Miners, 1-0, at a packed University Field Friday evening.
The Miners (5-6, 1-1 C-USA) recorded nine shots on goal but Blazer (7-2-1, 1-0-0) GK Kelsey Daugherty came up with some big saves to keep the clean sheet. Alyssa Palacios was credited with six saves, including four in the first frame.
“I thought we played good enough to win today,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “The second half we had it in their end most of the time. We had some really prime opportunities to score, but the ball just didn’t go into the goal unfortunately. We had one mental breakdown on the corner kick when we left the short corner open and she buried it and that was the difference in the game unfortunately. It hurts. Soccer can be cruel.”
There was great work by the Miners to earn a corner kick in the first minute of the match but the shot from Hannah Burbank was errant.
Palacios was called upon for the first time in the 10th minute, cleanly handling a long-distance shot from Green. UTEP then launched a counter attack with Vic Bohdan using a spin-around-shot but it was saved by Daugherty.
In the 15th minute there was a second corner kick for the Miners. The ball was headed in the area and it came to Jackie Soto who headed it toward the upper portion of the net but Daugherty skied for the save.
There was an outstanding rip by Kennadie Chaudhary in the 25th minute but a brilliant save from Daugherty, who punched it high and then pounced on the rebound.
Palacios faced a busy couple of minutes with about 15 minutes to play in the first half but she was ready for it. She registered a save on a shot from Amy Brewer before then denying Megan Hudgens.
Cayla Payne redirected a shot with a sneaky header in the 41st minute only to have Daugherty there for the save.
After UAB controlled possession early in the second half the Miners started to find their stride. Bohdan used a sneaky touch to set up Carleigh Simmons, who rifled it toward to upper right part of the goal. Daugherty timed her jump perfectly for the save to set up the corner kick. Lauren Crenshaw had a look off the service but it was blocked.
In the 60th minute Jeanna Mullen used her head but it was another brilliant save. Bohdan made a sweet run in the 64th minute and was able to turn the corner but she fired it directly at Daugherty.
In the 70th minute UAB created its first chance of the second half off a corner kick. Amy Brewer fed the ball to Green who roofed the shot over the outstretched arms of Palacios.
Bohdan made a nice run in the 82nd minute only to have her shot be denied by Daugherty. Four minutes later there was a wicked shot by Crenshaw but Daugherty dove and made the save.
UTEP will continue its three-game homestand with a pair of games next weekend. The Miners will play host to Charlotte at 7 p.m. on Sept. 29 before welcoming ODU to town for a 6 p.m. contest on Oct. 1. It will be “Rock and Roll Black Out Night” vs. Charlotte with all vans wearing black getting in free. “Military Appreciation Day” is set for ODU with all military members who show ID at the gate getting in free.
Behind a loud Memorial Gym crowd of 230, the UTEP women’s volleyball team downed Rice in five sets to begin Conference USA play with a win on Friday.
The Miners took set one in a thrilling 28-26 fashion, but the Owls came back to claim set two 25-16.
UTEP would get the set three win 25-22 but Rice answered with a 25-19 set four victory to force a fifth a decisive set. In another down-to-the-wire set, the Miners prevailed to get the 16-14 victory and take the match 3-2 and earn a 1-0 conference record, 4-10 overall, while the Owls fell to 0-1 in conference and 10-5 overall.
“The team worked so hard, it’s just nice to see it payoff,” head coach Holly Watts said. “I’m just so proud of them. We passed amazing, it’s a serving and passing game and that’s what it all boils down to, if you can control passing it then you have all your hitters available. The consistency of the passing was there all night and our high hitting percentage was the result of that.”
Pacing the Miner offense was sophomore sensation Macey Austin, who hammered down a new career-high 27 kills with only ten errors, followed by freshman powerhouse Cheyenne Jones with 14 kills.
“It feels amazing [career-high kills], I could not have done it without my team,” Austin said. “That was such an exciting game and we wanted to come out strong and get our first win in conference. It’s huge for us to set our goals and achieve it. The entire team was focused on this game with big energy coming from everyone.”
Briana Arellano recorded her third double-double, throwing down 12 kills at a .324 clip while also picking up 18 digs. Amanda King dished out 55 assists, and the Miner defense had double-digit showings from Cebak (18), Arellano (18), and Ali Vidali (14). UTEP also had a block party Friday night, recording 22 block assists with Kylie Baumgartner leading the way with seven, to stop the Owl offense.
“It feels amazing to get the win. It’s the first time we came out as a banger to win our first conference game right away and it was so nice to do it at home,” Cebak said. “The team had a lot of fight tonight and that’s what we need to continue each game as the season goes on.”
In total, the Miners totaled 74 kills, 69 assists, six service aces, 66 digs and 22 block assists. The Owls had 67 kills, 63 assists, five service aces, 77 digs, four solo blocks and 16 block assists.
Though Rice pushed a five point lead in set one at 15-10, the Miners climbed back to stay neck-and-neck with the Owls, tying at match point and then two more times before consecutive UTEP kills by Jones and King, coupled with a Rice attack error ended set one 28-26 in the Miners’ favor.
The Owls would dominate set two in a 25-16 fashion, but UTEP stayed in control in set three, never letting their lead slip and allowing Rice to only tie once before taking the 25-22 victory. Rice would again get a comfortable victory in set four, 25-19, to force a decisive set five with a 2-2 match tie.
“We need to start off strong on sets, during the second and fourth set we settled a little bit and that led to us falling behind and dropping those sets,” King said, “We need to keep the energy going, that really helped us fight throughout the game. We also need to start each set strong to put ourselves in the best position to win.”
UTEP would jump to a 3-0 lead behind consecutive kills by Macey Austin and an Arellano service ace to start set five before the Owls got on the board and tied the set from three consecutive Miner attack errors. Mallory Yost would get the Miners the 4-3 lead with a kill, but the set was tied again with a block from Rice’s Kassidy Muse and Grace Morgan. Three UTEP kills and a service ace later, the Miners forged an 8-5 lead. The Owls would mirror UTEP’s efforts, however, to tie the set at 8. The set would tie five more times (9-9, 10-10, 11-11, 13-13, 14-14) before Austin hammered her 27th kill of the match and Rice’s Nicole Lennon had an attack error to give the Miners the thrilling 16-14 set five victory and the 3-2 match win.
The Miners will continue conference action on Sunday when UAB enters Memorial Gym. First serve against the Blazers is set for noon.
The UTEP men’s golf team will hit the links for the second time this fall when it competes at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate from Friday through Saturday in Albuquerque, N.M.
The tournament will be played at the University of New Mexico Championship South Course, which is 7556 yards and is a par 72.
The field consists of 17 teams, including 12th-ranked UNLV in the Golf Coaches Association of America preseason poll. Washington, San Diego State, Colorado and BYU are also receiving votes. Rounding out the participants will be Arizona, CSU Fullerton, Colorado State, Denver, LA Tech, host New Mexico, NM State, San Diego, UT Arlington the Miners and Washington State.
The Tucker will consist of three rounds, with two being played on Friday and one on Saturday. Friday’s rounds will commence with a shotgun start and will be continuous while the final round’s pairings will be based on the first day’s scores. They will also go off with a shotgun start, with the teams hitting the course at 7:45 a.m. MT both days.
Competing for the Miners will be Charles Corner, Prescott Mann, Settavut Paradee, Nicklas Pihl and Chad Ahn. Corner and Pihl are the lone returners from last year’s Intercollegiate, where Corner finished in a tie for 48th after an 11-over 227 (69-80-78) performance and Pihl ended in 71st after shooting 16-over 232 (72-78-82).
UTEP is coming off a solid showing at the Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational in which all the Miners placed in the top-50 of the field to help the team finish in sixth place. Mann and Paradee paced the Orange and Blue by sharing 13th place after firing a tournament total of 212.
Corner secured 21st place in the season-opening event after shooting a three-round total of 214. Pihl finished in a tie for 40th place with a score of 218 while Terrazas came in a tie for 50th place with a total of 220. Catalan competed as an individual for the Miners, also shooting 220 to share 50th place.
Last year UTEP finished in eighth place at the Tucker. Live stats for this year’s tournament may be accessed here.
The UTEP tennis team will kick off its 2017 fall season when it travels to Las Vegas, Nev. to compete in the UNLV Invitational under the direction of Ivan Fernandez in his debut as the Miners’ head coach.
Fernandez , who served as head coach at NM State for seven years and led the Aggies to four consecutive berths in the Western Athletic Conference championship match, was named women’s tennis head coach at UTEP on June 5, 2017.
The UNLV Invitational will run from Friday, Sept. 22, through Sunday, Sept. 24 at the Fertitta Tennis Complex in Las Vegas, Nev. The Miners will be joined by host UNLV, Long Beach State, NAU, Washington State and Boise State.
“This is a very exciting time for UTEP tennis. The start of a new era,” Fernandez said. “The team has been working hard these last few weeks and is ready for some competition. I know with our dedication and commitment to keep improving, we will get better every day.”
Making the trip for UTEP are returners senior Lois Wagenvoort and junior Maria Paula Medina, who will be joined by freshman newcomers Erandi Martinez, Milena Baigorria, and Alisa Morozova.
The UNLV Invitational will feature five flights of singles and three flights of doubles.
Medina and Baigorria will team up for UTEP’s first doubles draw on Friday at 10 a.m. (PT) and will battle it out with UNLV’s Aiwen Zhu and En-Pei Huang while Martinez and Morozova will take on Long Beach State’s Sadaf Sadeghvaziri and Maren Helgo in the second doubles draw, also at 10 a.m. (PT).
The No. 2 singles draw will pit Wagenvoort against the Rebel’s Huang on Friday at 11 a.m. (PT) and Medina will battle it out with Long Beach State’s Georgia Gulin in the No. 3 singles draw at 12:30 p.m. (PT) that same day.
Martinez and Baigorria will both compete in the No. 4 singles draw on Friday at 12:30 p.m. (MT). Martinez will face UNLV’s Izumi Asano and Baigorria will take on Washington State’s Ege Tomey.
All doubles matches will be played as eight-game pro sets. Friday will represent the quarterfinal round of the invitational in all six draws, with the semifinals and finals to follow on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. There will also be a consolation draw in each bracket, guaranteeing three matches for every player/pair for the weekend.
After opening the 2017-18 campaign by garnering a third-place finish at the MSU/Payne Stewart Memorial, the UTEP women’s golf team will look to continue its early-season success at the ORU Shootout next week.
The Miners will join 16 other teams at the long-running tournament in Tulsa, Okla. on Monday and Tuesday. UTEP has participated in the event every year but once since 2005. The Miners were runner-up at the tournament in 2008 and 2009 and picked up third-place showings in 2005, 2010 and 2011.
The ORU Shootout will be contested at the par-71, 6,013-yard Meadowbrook Country Club. Joining UTEP in the field will be Arkansas State, Houston Baptist, Incarnate Word, Lamar, Louisiana Monroe, McClellan Community College, McNeese, Missouri State, Northern Iowa, Oral Roberts, Oklahoma Christian, Stephen F. Austin, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, UT Arlington, Utah Valley and Wichita State.
The Miners have been idle since competing at the MSU/Payne Stewart Memorial in Springfield, Mo. Sept. 11-12.
“We’ve had a good couple of weeks of practices,” UTEP coach Jere Pelletier said. “We are taking the same team to Tulsa that went to Missouri State. I’m hoping everybody has kind of calmed down from the start of the year and plays the tournament like they’ve been playing in practice.”
Two freshmen (Audrey Haddad and Valeria Mendizabal) and a sophomore (Abbie Anghelescu) will join vets Lily Downs and June Ting in Pelletier’s lineup. Ting tied for eighth place and Downs tied for 11th place in Missouri. For Ting, it marked her seventh career top-10 finish and fifth in the last year.
“I think the Tulsa field will be tougher [than Missouri] and the course is harder,” Pelletier said. “This will really test us to see how we stand with the other teams in the country.”
The UTEP volleyball team will begin Conference USA play when it hosts Rice and UAB during a two-game home stand this weekend.
The Miners will host the Owls on Friday, September 22, at 6 p.m. in Memorial Gym and round out the opening weekend of conference play against UAB at noon on Sunday.
The Miners wrapped up non-conference action on Tuesday against rival NM State in Las Cruces, where the Aggies got the best of the Miners in three sets. Freshman Cheyenne Jones paced the Miner offense with eight kills, followed by Macey Austin with six and Ali Vidali with five.
Amanda King and Sahara Martinez split the setter duties, with King dishing out 14 assists and Martinez adding 10 of her own. Almost every Miner who stepped on the court recorded a dig, with Briana Arellano leading the defense with 11 while libero Niki Cebak followed with eight.
The Miners had three service aces on the day, one apiece from Mallory Yost, Arellano and Cebak and also recorded eight block assists, including two from Yost and two from Austin.
UTEP will be looking for a jump in conference standings with the opening weekend and to improve a 3-10 record. The Owls are 10-4 in non-conference action and the Blazers will put their 6-9 record on the line when it meets with Middle Tennessee on Friday prior to Sunday’s matchup.
Fans can get into Friday’s match for free if they bring a canned food.
Live stats will be available for both matches and Sunday’s match will be live streamed from Memorial Gym.
RICE Scouting Report
Series: Friday’s match will mark the 43rd meeting between the Owls and Miners, with Rice holding the all-time series lead 33-9. The two first met twice in 1983, first at the Texas Centennial Open in Austin, Texas, when the Owls beat the Miners 3-0. They met again that same year, with Rice taking the match 3-1. They last met on Oct. 23, 2016, when the Owls took a 3-1 victory in Memorial Gym.
Rice is coming off a five-game winning streak, including three victories that led the Owls to the Rice Adidas Invitational title. The team leaders for the Owls include outside hitter Nicole Lennon with 214 kills and 132 digs so far this season. Lennon was also named Conference USA Freshman of the week for the second time this season as well as the MVP for the tournament after recording 20 kills or more per game and three double-doubles.
Alongside Lennon will be junior McKay Kyle with 121 kills and 32 block assists so far this season. Meanwhile, sophomore Lee Ann Cunningham, a 2016 C-USA All Freshman team performer and C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, has taken care of the defense with 283 digs so far this season. With a 10-4 record, the Owls lead conference in digs per set (17.4) as well as kills per set (13.5) are looking to showcase that when they open conference games against UTEP.
UAB SCOUTING REPORT
Series: Sunday’s match will be the 19th meeting between UAB and UTEP, with UAB holding 12 wins and UTEP the other six. The two first met in 2003 at the Fiesta Bowl Tournament in Flagstaff, Ariz. when the Miners ran away with the 3-2 victory. They last met on September 25, 2016 when the Miners beat the Blazers 3-2 in Birmingham, Ala.
The Blazers dropped to 6-9 after a 3-1 loss to instate rival Alabama State on Sept. 19. Prior to the setback, UAB had won three consecutive matches after a 3-8 start to the 2017 campaign. The Blazers took down Mississippi Valley State (3-0), Western Carolina (3-1) and New Orleans (3-0) during the win streak (Sept. 15-19).
Overall on the season, the Blazers rank fourth in Conference USA in team blocks per set (2.22), while ranking first in C-USA in kills (792) and third in total digs (882). The Blazers also ranks first in C-USA in assists (718). UAB ranks sixth in hitting percentage (.225) and opponent hitting percentage (.190). Senior OH Erika Zembyla ranks seventh in C-USA in aces per set (0.39), while also ranking first in conference in total service aces (22). Junior MB Victoria Young ranks sixth in C-USA with 1.06 blocks per set.
Senior OH Jared Haley leads the squad in total attacks (539), while also leading the Blazers in kills (180), points (199.0) and points per set (3.55). Freshman OPP/OH Petra Silic ranks third in C-USA with a .385 hitting percentage. The Blazers will open their C-USA slate on Sept. 22 at Middle Tennessee before taking on UTEP.
BATTLE OF I-10 RECAP
The UTEP women’s volleyball team fell to rival NM State 3-0 in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union’s Battle of I-10 at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, N.M on Tuesday. The Miners kept it close, but the Aggies prevailed 25-19, 25-19 and 25-18. Freshman Cheyenne Jones paced the Miner offense with eight kills, followed by Macey Austin with six and Ali Vidali with five.
Amanda King and Sahara Martinez split the setter duties, with King dishing out 14 assists and Martinez adding 10 of her own. Almost every Miner who stepped on the court recorded a dig, with Briana Arellano leading the defense with 11 while libero Niki Cebak followed with eight. The Miners had three service aces on the day, one apiece from Mallory Yost, Arellano and Cebak and also recorded eight block assists, including two from Yost and two from Austin.
In total, the Miners recorded 29 kills, 26 assists, 46 digs, eight block assists, and three service aces. The Aggies notched 41 kills, 39 assists, 47 digs, 20 block assists, and four service aces.
Arellano’s all-around game
Sophomore outside hitter Briana Arellano has shown she can play all-around, picking up 11 digs against the Aggies to lead the team. It was the fourth time Arellano recorded double-digit digs in a match, with her season-high being a 14-dig performance against Portland at the Nike Invitational last weekend, and currently has 91 digs on the season. Arellano also tallied two kills and once ace.
VIDALI GOES FOR FIVE
Ali Vidali recorded a season-high five kills against NM State and also added five digs to bring her season total to 26 on the season. The sophomore outside hitter grabbed 5.5 points for the Miners during her perfomance, with the half-point coming from a block assist.
FRIDAY NIGHT PROMOTIONS
Fans can enter Friday’s match against Rice for free if they bring canned goods to donate. Friday will also be “Noche Latina” and will feature a mariachi performance and salsa dancers during the intermission between the second and third sets.
The UTEP soccer team (5-5, 1-0) will play its Conference USA home opener against UAB (6-1-2, 0-0) at 7 p.m. MT Friday. There will be free admission to the contest as part of the “Fiesta Night” promotion.
“UAB is finally coming to El Paso after UTEP traveling to Birmingham for the last five years,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “UAB arrives in El Paso with the number one record in Conference USA. They have an excellent, well coached team, and we will have to be playing our very best soccer to get a positive result. We urge our UTEP Soccer fans to come out and watch as it is a free game!”
Going Back In Time
UTEP notched its fifth consecutive victory while opening up C-USA play in style with a thrilling 1-0 win at Southern Miss on Sept. 17. Kennadie Chaudhary scored a goal off a feed from Lauren Crenshaw with 59 seconds remaining in regulation. Alyssa Palacios recorded six saves, including a stop in a one-vs.-one situation to post her second shutout of 2017.
Series History Vs. UAB
UTEP is 5-4-3 all-time against UAB, including 4-0 when playing in El Paso. The Blazers are riding a three-match unbeaten streak in the series, including a double-overtime victory at home on Sept. 25, 2016, last year. UTEP and UAB haven’t squared off in El Paso since a 3-2 Miner win on Oct. 5, 2012.
Brief Rundown On The Blazers
UAB rolled to a record of 6-1-2 during non-conference play. It is currently riding a five-match unbeaten streak. Overall the Blazers have outscored the opposition by a count of 20-7, with Megan Hudgens (five), Rachel Green (four), Caroline Kehrer and Betsy Ornelas (three) pacing the attack. Amy Brewer has dished out a team-high three assists. Kelsey Daugherty has played every minute of every match in goal, recording four shutouts and being credited with 45 saves.
Third Time’s The Charm
For the third time of her career, Alyssa Palacios has garnered the C-USA Goalkeeper of the Week award. She was named it most recently on Sept. 18 after her dominant performance against Southern Miss when she made six saves, including a one-vs.-one stop, on the way to notching her second shutout of the year. She was particularly strong in the first half, being called upon to deliver five saves.
UTEP smoked DII program New Mexico Highlands, 8-0, on Sept. 13. It marked the largest shutout victory at the school since an 11-0 conquest of Grambling State in 2006. Additionally the eight goals tied as the eighth most in a single game in program history. Seven different Miners scored in the contest.
UTEP is riding a five-game winning streak, outscoring the opposition by a count of 16-2 in those five contests. Eleven of the 16 goals have come from freshmen, with four each by Vic Bohdan and Anna Jimmerson, a pair from Cayla Payne and one by Kennadie Chaudhary and April Pate. There have been three shutouts in the stretch with Alyssa Palacios (28) and Dynastee Cain (two) combining to make 30 saves on 32 shots on goal in the five contests.
Turning It Around
After dropping its first five matches, including four in overtime or double overtime, UTEP has turned things around to go 5-0-0 since. The Miners have outscored the opposition by a count of 16-2 in the dominating sequence, which has allowed it to pile up five straight victories. The final four were in non-conference play. That marked the second time in three years that UTEP headed to league play having peeled off at least four consecutive victories. In 2015 the Miners won their final five non-league matches.
Historic Climb Back To .500
For the fifth time in program history UTEP stood at least four games under .500 in a season when it got off to a 0-5-0 start this year. The Miners have showed tremendous resolve, becoming the first team in the situation at UTEP to climb all the way back to .500. UTEP has done so in style, too, winning the past five games by a combined score of 16-2.
Offense Coming Alive
UTEP scored three goals on 22 shots on goal over the first five games of the season, four of which went to overtime. To their credit the Miners have made some adjustments and the offense has come alive in the past 16 contests. UTEP has tallied 16 goals in 41 shots on goal in four contests since. Helping give those numbers a big boost was the 8-0 whitewashing of New Mexico Highlands on Sept. 13.
Defense Is Too
The Miners conceded nine goals (1.80 goals per game) over the first five contests of the year but they have tightened things up since. In the four matches since, all UTEP wins, foes have managed a total of two tallies (0.40 goals per game). In terms of opponents shooting the ball, that is also down from 41 shots on goal over the first five to 32 shots on goal over the last five.
Freshmen Anna Jimmerson (five-fourth C-USA/47th nation) and Vic Bohdan (four-eighth C-USA/101st nation) have accounted for nine of the Miners’ 19 goals on the year. Kennadie Chaudhary has three while Danielle Carreon and Cayla Payne each have two goals to their credit. Bohdan also paces the squad in assists (four-fourth C-USA/51st nation), points (12-fourth C-USA/62nd nation), shots (27) and shots on goal (14). Jimmerson is second on the team for points (10-eighth C-USA/122nd nation) and shots on goal (nine).
Freshmen Anna Jimmerson (five-fourth C-USA/47th nation) and Vic Bohdan (four-eighth C-USA/101st nation) have proven to be the top scoring threats for the Miners in 2017. The last time UTEP had a freshman pace the team in goals scored was 2006 with Tameka Sumter (13). You have to go back to 2004 to find the last time the top-two spots were held by freshmen when Jami Tullius and Cara Nordin each recorded 10 goals.
. Save The Day
Alyssa Palacios has compiled 60 saves (first C-USA/sixth nation) in 2017 (6.00 saves/match-second C-USA/34th nation), including a career-high tying 10 stops against New Mexico on Aug. 27. Her career total now stands at 303 saves which pushed her into third place on the Miner charts. The record holder is Amanda Smith (438; 1996-99) while Sarah Dilling (317; 2011-14) occupies second place. Palacios started the year in fourth place, but has since surpassed Brittany Poppoff (270; 2004-07).
Start Her Up
Junior GK Alyssa Palacios has started the first 10 matches of the season, playing a total of 938:06 minutes (first C-USA/fourth nation). That has elevated her to 52 starts in as many matches since joining UTEP. The effort has allowed her to move from fifth place into fourth place on the UTEP career charts. Brittany Popoff (56; 2004-07) sits in third place.
For the first time in program history UTEP went to overtime in four straight contests to start the season. Overall the Miners have played overtime soccer five times so far in 2017. The five OT games already ties as the fifth most on the Miner single-season charts.
Freshmen Power In OT
Redshirt-freshman Cayla Payne hammered home a cross from true freshman Vic Bohdan to lift the Miners to a 2-1 overtime win at Idaho State on Sept. 3. It marked the first time in program history that UTEP had an OT winner where both the goal scorer and individual credited with an assist were both freshmen.
For the third time in program history (2008, 2015) the first four matches of the season were decided by one goal or less. Overall there have been seven one-goal outcomes, including last game’s 1-0 UTEP victory at Southern Miss on Sept. 17.
Even though the Miners returned 13 letter winners, including six starters, they are notably young in 2017. Of the 27 student-athletes on the roster, 20 are either freshmen (12) or sophomores (eight). There are only three seniors and four juniors.
Cross Joins Club 200
In his 17th year as the Miners’ head coach Kevin Cross has joined an exclusive club in UTEP Athletics history. At 202-113-23 he is the fifth head coach in Miner sports history to reach 200 career wins at the school (reached it with 2-1 victory vs. Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 10, 2017).
Previously Don Haskins (men’s basketball, 719-354), Norm Brandl (volleyball, 355-337), Keitha Adams (women’s basketball, 284-209) and co-head coaches James and Kathleen Rodriguez (softball, 211-325) achieved the feat. Cross also has the fourth-most tenured run by a Miner head coach. He trails Haskins (37 years), Jere Pelletier (women’s golf, 22 years and counting) and Bob Kitchens (track & field, 22 years).
Trailing Only Haskins
Not only has Kevin Cross joined the 200+ win club at UTEP (did so with 2-1 win vs. Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 10, 2017), he has done so in style. His winning percentage stands at 62.9 percent (202-113-23). That figure trails only Hall of Fame Coach Don Haskins (men’s basketball) among the 200+ victory UTEP head coach club. Haskins had a 67.0 winning percentage (719-354) in his 37 seasons roaming the sidelines.
The Basic Facts
UTEP is in its 22nd season as a program, boasting an all-time record of 244-161-30. The Miners are under the direction of 17th-year head coach Kevin Cross, who sports a mark of 202-113-23 in that time frame. He is assisted by two former Miners (Heather Clark and Jessie Pettit).
In 2017 the Miners hope to continue an unprecedented string of success on the road. Last year they went 5-4 in road matches to extend the school-record streak of a winning road record to four straight seasons. Overall they are a combined 23-14-3 on the road in that stretch, including 2-2 in 2017.
One of the best ways to measure a team’s worth across the board is the RPI, and that’s an area UTEP has thrived in. The Miners have produced a top-100 RPI in five of the eight past seasons and 10 times total under Kevin Cross, including a program-best 31 in 2005. Additionally, the Miners have secured a spot in the NSCAA Central Region top-10 poll in 11 of the past 13 seasons.
Matter Of Consistency
The Miners have averaged 12 wins while appearing in three conference title games and one NCAA tournament (2005, second round) under Kevin Cross. UTEP is one of 12 programs nationwide (325+ programs) to have hit 10+ wins in each year since 2002. Joining the Miners are Boston College, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, North Texas, Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford, Texas A&M, Virginia and West Virginia.
LAS CRUCES, N.M.- The UTEP women’s volleyball team fell to rival NM State 3-0 in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union’s Battle of I-10 at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces.
The Miners kept it close, but the Aggies prevailed 25-19, 25-19 and 25-18 to improve to 8-5 on the season while the Miners dropped to 3-10 on the year. UTEP will now look to prepare for Conference USA play as they host Rice on Friday, Sept. 22, in Memorial Gym.
“[We’re] looking forward to starting conference this weekend in the friendly confines of Memorial [Gym],” head coach Holly Watts said.
Freshman Cheyenne Jones paced the Miner offense with eight kills, followed by Macey Austin with six and Ali Vidali with five. Amanda King and Sahara Martinez split the setter duties, with King dishing out 14 assists and Martinez adding 10 of her own.
Almost every Miner who stepped on the court recorded a dig, with Briana Arellano leading the defense with 11 while libero Niki Cebak followed with eight. The Miners had three service aces on the day, one apiece from Mallory Yost, Arellano and Cebak and also recorded eight block assists, including two from Yost and two from Austin.
In total, the Miners recorded 29 kills, 26 assists, 46 digs, eight block assists, and three service aces. The Aggies notched 41 kills, 39 assists, 47 digs, 20 block assists, and four service aces.
Set one began with NM State jumping out to a 6-3 lead before Jones and Yost notched kills and the Miners capitalized on Aggie attack errors to tie the set at eight. The Aggies would make another run before the Miners scored two unanswered points behind a Maddie Morgan kill and another attack error from NM State to bring the score to 17-14 and force an Aggie timeout.
The Miners notched three more points, two coming from Aggie errors and the other from a big Jones kill to get within one, 18-17. A big run by the Aggies would bring up set point, but the Miners, full of fight, spoiled the set point with consecutive kills by Yost and Amanda. The Aggies would respond with a kill of their own, ending set one 25-19.
Set two was another close game that saw five ties. The Aggies again struck first, but Morgan and Austin would each throw down kills to put the Miners on the board and tie the set at two-all.
NM State would score again from a kill and an attack error by the Miners, but UTEP would notch five unanswered points to begin a run, started by a setter dump from King, which was followed by big kills from Vidali and Jones, a block assist by Jones and Morgan, and an Aggie attack error to grab the set lead 7-4.
A back-and-fourth effort would ensue with the Aggies’ Sasha-Lee Thomas and Kassandra Tohm matching the Miner kills from Jones, but Ashley Grzebeniak and Vidali turned King’s sets into kills to extend UTEP’s lead to 10-6. The Aggies would climb back to meet the Miners at 14-all, before taking a 18-15 lead off consecutive kills by Tohm and Jordan Abalos.
A Miner attack error and an Aggie block would force a UTEP timeout, but Arellano jumped out of the timeout with a kill to breathe life back into the Miners and bring the score to 20-17.
Austin would record another kill and an attack error by NM State would give the Miners two more points, but the Aggies rallied in front of their home crowd to take the set 25-19.
The Miners showed promise in set three, getting a 6-4 lead and keeping the Aggies at a two-point deficient before NM State tied the set at ten. UTEP would get another two point lead after freshman duo Martinez and Jones teamed up twice for two more kills and the set lead 12-10, but a 4-0 run by the Aggies would put them up 14-12.
Vidali and Yost would tally two more kills for the Miners, but two NM State kills matched by two UTEP errors would prompt a Miner timeout with the 18-14 score.
Out of the timeout, Yost and Vidali teamed up to stop the Aggie offense, but NM State pushed three more points from two kills and a block assist to go up 21-15. Austin would hammer a vital kill for the Miners and Yost served up an ace to bring the Miners within four, 21-17. An attack error on behalf of the Aggies gave the Miners one more point, but the Aggies took the set 25-18 and the match 3-0.
The Miners will begin conference action this weekend with a two-game home-stand, beginning with Rice on Friday, Sept. 22 and ending with a Sunday match-up with UAB.
First serve against the Owls on Friday is set for 6 p.m., while Sunday’s match with the Blazers is set for noon.
The UTEP volleyball team will close out its non-conference action on Tuesday, September 19, when it meets with NM State for the FirstLight Federal Credit Union’s Battle of I-10 in Las Cruses.
The Miners completed tournament play last weekend at the Nike Invitational and are the hunt for a win after going 0-3 on the weekend against stiff competition in Portland, Ore. UTEP fell to CSUN 3-0 to open up the Invite and lost 3-0 to tournament host Portland to end the first day of the Invite.
The Miners then faced Portland State, who entered the Nike Invitational at a flawless 3-0 and not dropping any sets, on Sunday. The team put up a great effort and almost handed the Vikings their first set loss of the tournament, pushing set three into extra points before ultimately falling 26-24.
UTEP (3-9) will be looking for its first win over NM State (7-5) since September 26, 2012, when the Miners edged the Aggies 3-2 at Memorial Gym. The last six meetings between the two have gone in the Aggies’ favor.
The FirstLight Federal Credit Union I-10 Rivalry action will feature live stats and will be live streamed. First serve between the rivals is set for 7 p.m. at the Pan American Center.
Series: Tuesday’s match will mark the 85th meeting between the I-10 rivals. NM State hold the all-time series lead 62-22. The first meeting came in 1974 with the Miners getting the 2-1 win over the Aggies at the Sul Ross State Invitational in Alpine, Texas. The last meeting was on November 23, 2016when NM State topped the Miners 3-2 in Memorial Gym.
The Aggies improved to 7-5 overall after their 3-0 victory against William & Mary at the Wildcat Classic in Tucson, Ariz. on Sept. 16. In the Classic, NM State previously lost to Illinois State, 3-0, and was edged out by host Arizona, 3-2. The Aggies opened their 2017 campaign at the Golden Dome Invitational with victories against Rhode Island (3-0) and Valparaiso (3-1) and then fell to host Notre Dame (3-1).
After back-to-back losses to North Dakota (3-2) and no. 11 UCLA (3-0), at the NM State Springhill Suites Invitational, NM State started a string of four wins in a row – the first came against UNLV (3-1) at the Spring Hill Suites Invite, while defeating Abilene Christian (3-0), Delaware State (3-0) and Samford (3-0) at the Borderland Invitational.
The Aggies have tallied 587 kills with a .202 hitting percentage in the process. NM State’s kills per set (13.7) ranks no. 1 in the Western Athletic Conference and no. 58 nationally. The Aggies’ assists per set (12.9) ranks no. 1 in the WAC and 52nd nationally. Opponents are hitting .139, which also ranks no. 1 in the WAC and 14th nationally.
Freshman MB Brielle Sterns ranks third in the WAC in blocks per set (1.00) and senior libero Ariadnna Sierra ranks second in the WAC and 28th nationally in digs per set (5.28), while ranking third in the WAC and no. 46 nationally in total digs (227). Senior OH Kassandra Tohm leads the squad in points (151.5), points per set (3.52), kills (135) and kills per set (3.14). Junior setter Briana Ainsworth leads the team in assists (264), while fashioning a .467 hitting percentage.
NIKE INVITATIONAL RECAP
The Miners showed a lot of fight in the Nike Invitational in Portland, Ore. this past weekend, but fell in the three matches played to competitive teams. UTEP opened the Invite with a double-header on Friday, first meeting with CSUN and then closing out the day with an evening match up with tournament host Portland.
The Matadors handed the Miners a three-set loss and the back-and-forth action with the Pilots ultimately ended in Portland’s favor with a sweep. The Miners capped the Portland trip with a Saturday match-up with Portland State, who remained flawless in the Invite after handing the Miners a loss in three sets, but the score did no justice to how tight the game stayed. The Miners pushed set three into extra points behind strong offensive efforts by Macey Austin, Cheyenne Jones, Mallory Yost and Ali Vidali, and came as close as one point to spoiling the Vikings’ run of not dropping any sets, before falling 26-24.
SECOND Double-Double PERFORMANCE FROM ARELLANO AND KING
Sophomore outside hitter Briana Arellano and senior setter Amanda King notched their second double-double of the season on Friday at the Nike Invitational in Portland, Ore. against Invite host Portland. Arellano recorded 10 kills and a career-high 14 digs against the Pilots on her way to her second double-double of the season, her first coming from last Sunday’s match against Abilene Christian. King’s 19-assist, 10-dig performance against the Pilots put her second double-double under her belt.
AUSTIN EARNS ALL-TOURNAMENT STATUS
Offensive powerhouse Macey Austin earned a spot on the Nike Invitational All-Tournament Team after racking up 24 kills and recording a block assist during the weekend. Austin’s 14-kill performance helped push Portland State, who had not dropped a set during the Invitational, to extra points in set three before the Vikings ultimately prevailed. The sophomore averaged 2.67 kills per set through the weekend and now has 136 kills on the season though 43 sets played, on pace to pass her kill total of 280 in 2016.
JONES HITS THE VIKINGS WITH DOUBLE DIGIT KILLS
Freshman Cheyenne Jones recorded double-digit kills in UTEP’s match against Portland State at the Nike Invitational. The outside hitter knocked down 10 kills, bouncing back from an unusual single-kill match the night before, and recorded 16 kills on the weekend and added six block assists. Jones averaged 1.78 kills per set through two days and currently has 85 kills on the season.
UTEP will travel up the road to take on rival NM State in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Battle of I-10 on September 23. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Aggie Memorial Stadium
UTEP Head Coach Sean Kugler appointed Brian Natkin as offensive coordinator on Monday. Natkin previously coached the tight ends and served as the team’s special teams coordinator.
Natkin, an All-American tight end at UTEP in 2000, returned to his alma mater in December 2011 when he was named a full-time assistant.
Natkin spent the 2012 season as the Miners’ offensive line coach before moving to tight ends coach and special teams coordinator.
Natkin was co-offensive coordinator at Midwestern State during the 2011 campaign. The Mustangs went 10-1 in 2011, while leading the nation in total offense (531.9 ypg) and scoring (48.6 ppg).
Natkin’s coaching career began as a graduate assistant at UTEP in 2004 and 2005. In 2006, Natkin coached the offensive line at Northern Colorado before spending five seasons (2007-11) at Midwestern State.
Other moves by Kugler include Chuck Veliz taking over as quarterbacks coach, and safeties coach Don Yanowsky assuming duties as special teams coordinator.
UTEP Football Media Luncheon with Coach Sean Kugler (On Last Week’s Game Versus Arizona)
“Starting with special teams, [Alan] Luna has been punting well for us all year. He had a 43.7-yard average in this game, he had a 53-yarder. We did have a punt return for a touchdown, we had some missed tackles on that punt return to put our defense in a tough bind. But on the punt team [Jesse] Montgomery, a backup corner for us, had two solo tackles. He had an outstanding solo tackle. He earned the Top Gun Award for outstanding special teams player for this game.
Punt return, we had zero returns on three punts. It was solid decisions again by Terry Juniel. He hasn’t had an opportunity yet to return some this year, but he has been making solid decisions. We did a little more pressure in that game, getting after the punter and forced two bad kicks. So that was good to see.
Kickoff cover, Brady Viles was 100 percent on all touchbacks. They did not get any returns against us. He kicked outstanding, I think you’re starting to see his leg strength show up. And even on PAT/field goal, we had one miss and that was more due to the snap and protection than the kicker. And then you did see his leg strength on the 53-yard field goal, which probably would’ve been good from 63. So he does have an outstanding leg.
Kickoff return, there were some positives there with Keynan Foster, he had four returns for a 28-yard average. I do think this young man has the ability to pop one and start hitting the seams and we’ve got to sustain our blocks a little bit better up front. Special teams, the eyesore again was the punt return for a touchdown, and any time a team can score on special teams it lessens your chances to win the game.
“I thought the defense came out and started playing extremely well. We held them to zero first quarter points and then they were put into three really tough positions. There was a fumble on the short side of the field that resulted in points. There was an interception that could’ve easily been avoided that turned into a huge play for Arizona where they got the ball at the two-yard line which turned into points. The offense went three and out and that’s when the punt return happened. So you’re looking at a 7-0 game that quickly avalanched into a 28-0 game.
From that point, I felt like the defense was on the field too long. That was evident by the time of possession, 36 minutes to 23. But not more evident than in the fourth quarter, 12 minutes and 33 seconds where Arizona held the ball. So I think our defense, a little outmanned numbers wise, really wore down at that point. And again, we cannot leave our defense on the field for that long of time, 36 minutes per game.
“The quarterback was very effective for them. I think he’s an outstanding player. He had three touchdowns and accumulated 143 yards. But they ran the ball too efficiently on us, later in the game even moreso. We only gained one turnover, that was a fumble recovery by [Joseph] Pickney who is a young man I have high hopes for defensively.
I know the coaches do. He plays with a lot of energy, he had some outstanding hits at the end of the game. He’ll get more playing time as we go. We had two sacks in the game, both by Alvin Jones. Even though the score did not favor us, Alvin Jones had an outstanding game. It was really his first full game, if you remember he missed half of the Oklahoma game and half the Rice game.
He had 16 tackles, two sacks and a tackle for loss. That’s the type of production that we expect from Alvin week in and week out and he came through on that.
“Offensively, there are a lot of things that need correcting. The inability to run the football, and we only had nine carries by our running backs. That will never happen again. We only had 14 attempts all around with 1.2 per carry. So we’re not running the ball efficiently. For the third consecutive week, we lost the turnover battle.
We lost a fumble that resulted in points and we had an interception on a screen that could’ve easily been thrown into the ground that resulted in points. Both those occurred when the game was still in the balance. It was 28-7, we had the ball inside the 50 and it snowballed with the score. We were only 46 percent completion percentage at the quarterback position as a whole. We had only 218 total yards, it’s the third straight week we’re under 250 yards.
We can’t keep going in that direction. Only 4.1 yards per play, and when you look at an offense’s explosiveness, anything over six is good. Anything over seven is explosive. Under five is unacceptable. We have been less than four for the year. Only 2-of-12 third down conversions. And again multiple drops on third downs, we had three. So for the third consecutive week we lost time of possession in a big way.
“This team is built on controlling the ball, time of possession, taking care of the football, being efficient on third downs and running the football with efficiency to set up play action passes. None of this is how we want to play offense here at UTEP. So I had to make the difficult decision to move on. I have changed coordinators.
I have relieved Brent Pease of his duties as offensive coordinator. That will fall in the hands of Brian Natkin. And I will say this, there is not a more trusted member on my staff, a more trusted member that is loyal to this university and loyal to turning this thing around for the players’ sake. We could not continue to head in that direction.
I will say this, all of that falls on me. But I felt it was necessary to make a change to move forward. There is a lot of season left. As a head coach, it’s my responsibility to make sure that these kids have a chance to be successful and that’s why I made the difficult decision to move on. Brian Natkin will be the offensive coordinator. He’ll call the plays.
Chuck Veliz will work with the quarterbacks. And to take special teams off of Brian Natkin’s plate, Don Yanowsky who is the assistant special teams coordinator will be the full-time special teams coordinator. He has been a coordinator in Canada, he has been a coordinator in several different places. He’ll do an outstanding job with the special teams.
Brian will continue to work with the tight ends and wide receivers and get assisted help throughout the staff on that. But I really felt, there’s too much talent at all positions to be as effective as we have been on offense, and there needed to be a change and I had to make that difficult decision.”
(On NM State)
“I think this is an outstanding football team. I think they are well coached. I think coach Martin does an outstanding job. This is a very experienced and talented offensive group. The quarterback, it seems like he has been playing against us for four years straight because he has. He is having a great year, 67 completion percentage, over 1,110 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. This guy has played outstanding football for them.
You know what I think about Larry Rose. I think he will be the best running back that we face all year. I think this guy’s shifty, I think he’s got long speed. He runs hard between the tackles. This is an outstanding running back, I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He leads their team in rushing and he is also their second-leading receiver. They have an explosive receiving corps. These guys are experienced.
Jaleel Scott, he has been their go-to guy this year. I can see why. He has great size and length, 6-6 and 215 pounds. He is making plays all over the field, he is their leading receiver and he also has four touchdowns on the year. He has accounted for 100 yards a game himself. This Izaiah Lottie is a very competitive, explosive receiver. He leads them in big plays, he leads their team in touchdowns with four with a long of 81.
And he is also bringing in 65 yards receiving per game. They have a very solid offensive line, their left tackle is probably going to be a future pro guy. He is extremely huge, 6-7, 343, but he has got balance and pro-type ability. The things that stand out to me on offense, they are averaging 477 yards per game, 6.1 per play, but they have been great on third downs, close to 50 percent on third downs, and they have been great in the red zone, 86 percent red zone touchdowns. So they are very efficient, they are averaging 28.3 points per game.
“Where I think they have made the biggest jump is defensively. This is a very athletic, fast defense. Again, they are experienced. A lot of these linebackers have been starting for them for four years and are now seniors.
They use a lot of multiple fronts. They are never sitting in one spot, they are always on the move. A lot of stunts, a lot of fire zones, a lot of twists. These guys are really playing hard on defense and flying around to the football. It all starts with Dalton Herrington, the captain. He leads their team in tackles, tackles for losses and sacks. He has also got some good quarterback hits. You can see that he is a leader on film, he is getting guys lined up, he is a relentless football player. I really like the way he plays.
Terrill Hanks, I have always had a lot of respect for him. This guy can really fly, he is an outside linebacker and one of the fastest guys on their defense. He is their second leading tackler. The defensive end has been their splash player as far as up front, #11 Malik Demby. He rotates in there with some other guys but he is second on the team in tackles for losses and sacks. He has got a fumble recovery and he is also very active, he is their third leading tackler. They have a safety #23 who leads their team in interceptions. He is fourth on their team in tackles.
But also, I think they’re going to gain back Jaden Wright. He has been out the initial part of the year. This is a guy that has started against us every year, he is a big physical safety, he is a team captain for them. He was an All-Conference player for them and I would anticipate he is returning as well. Some things that stand out defensively, they are stopping the run extremely well. They are only giving up 3.8 per carry. They have nine sacks, they have been getting after the quarterback.
They had seven sacks versus Arizona State. They made Arizona State’s offensive line look silly. They are very active in the backfield and have several tackles for losses. And much like their offense, they have been good on third downs. They are only giving up 34 percent success rate on third downs. So this is an outstanding defense. I also have a lot of respect for the nose guard #51. He plays extremely hard. I think they have really improved on that side of the ball drastically.
“Special teams, their punter averages 38.9. They are only giving up six yards a return by the opponent. Punt return, they haven’t had many chances but the returner scares me. That’s Rose. They’ve got him back there and he has the ability to take it to the house at any time.
Kickoff cover, opponents have been having 28 yards a return on them. Their kicker is solid, he is 10-of-16 touchbacks. Kickoff return, they have been averaging 14.5 yards per return but they have two explosive returners, Lottie the receiver and their backup running back Huntley who is also a very good running back.
They are 2-for-2 on field goals, they have had some snap issues on their field goals and I’m sure they’re trying to rectify that right now. This is a rivalry game. I think this team right now, and I’m going to be very honest about it, the team that we’re playing right now is probably a better team than we are right now, the way that we have been performing. We need to work our tails off to be a better team on Saturday night.”
(On making a change at offensive coordinator)
“We were just ineffective, and you can’t sit there and do the same things with the same ineffectiveness and think that you’re going to be OK. Really what we needed was a spark to get ourselves going in the right direction.
And again, as the head coach, it’s not a fun decision for me. I’m the one that brought Brent Pease into the fold. I hired him to be the offensive coordinator. He is also somebody that I have known for a long, long time.
So this is not a fun decision for me to make, but I feel it was a necessary decision for us to have a chance to move forward.”
(On how the offense will be different under Brian Natkin)
“It needs to be different from the standpoint of being effective and running the ball with efficiency. It needs to be different from the standpoint of being in manageable third downs. The two things that stand out to me, time of possession we have been tops or near the top in time of possession in our conference for the last four years, which allows us to play quality defense because we are rested. We can’t be sitting there at 23 minutes. We are giving up five to six possessions a game. And there are a lot of things that go into that. There have been mistakes, dropped balls, those types of things.
But again, the style of play that we want, I think Brian has a very sound understanding of that. He also understands these players and he works not only with the offensive players, he works with the defensive players. If anybody has the best understanding of our personnel, it’s Brian Natkin because he works with all these guys on special teams. They have a lot of respect for him. They know what he has been through here as a player and as a coach. They respond to him and I think the move for him being the coordinator, he has called games before when he was at the Division II level.
He’s an outstanding football coach and competitor. He knows what this series means, this game, and he’s already hard at work getting ready.”
(On the quarterback situation for this week)
“As far as injuries, I can’t really tell you where Metz is right now. We are probably going to have to go through the week on that. There are several players on our team that are still dinged up. Their availability for this week, I really won’t know until we get out on the practice field and see some guys moving around. So I really can’t expound upon that because I don’t know the availability of our starting quarterback at this point.”
(On the ineffectiveness with the running game)
“Running the football is all 11 guys, it’s the quarterback getting guys in the right run checks, it’s the offensive line executing their blocks and sustaining their blocks, it’s the running backs hitting the right holes, it’s the perimeter players getting on the right safety.
To look at one position or the other and say that’s the reason why we’re not running the ball well, and again, to run the ball well you’ve got to run the ball. We had nine carries by our running backs last week. That’s not going to happen again. To energize that, everybody has got to do their job better. But as coaches we have to put guys in better positions to be successful. That’s our jobs.”
(On the importance of the NM State game)
“No matter who we play this week, and this is a big game – we all understand that — we need to win period, to fix a lot of things. Winning solves everything. Winning makes everything better. It gets your energy up, it gets your confidence up. But what we desperately need right now is a win. It just so happens that we’re playing our rival this week and a team that is playing outstanding.
We’re going to have to play our ultimate best to beat this team because I think they’re an outstanding team. Right now, you watch them on film, they should be 3-0. They were a better team against Arizona State. They were the better team against Troy, which is probably the best team in their conference.
And then they beat New Mexico for the second straight year. They are playing outstanding football right now. We’re not, we acknowledge that. We’ve got to be the best team on Saturday night. We’ve got a week to get prepared for that and our kids know what’s at stake.”
(On Mark Torrez)
“I’ve been saying it all along, I think Mark Torrez has a lot of talent. He can make plays with his legs. You saw him create things when things weren’t there. That’s what he brings to the table. If we go with Mark Torrez, we’ll have to put that flavor into the game and try to play to his talents.
Again, I have mentioned it, I like all three of our quarterbacks. Ryan Metz is our starting quarterback. If Ryan Metz is healthy, he’ll be our quarterback not only for this game but for future games but again, I don’t know his availability right now. And I don’t think we’ll know that until maybe late in the week.”
(On NM State’s offensive evolution)
“It’s based on a lot of things. Experience number one, you’ve got a fifth year quarterback who has been through the ringer. He has gotten better and better each year. He has grown physically each year. You have one of the best running backs in the country. I have a lot of respect for Larry Rose.
I think he is an outstanding player. You have seen him grow up, he was a 160-yard back and now he’s a 200-pound back. This guy is going to play in the NFL. They have an NFL receiver in Jaleel Scott, a 6-6 guy. And they have built their offensive line. They are explosive and they can beat you many ways. You see that he has been throwing for 300-some yards a game, but also they can line up and rush for 300 yards with Larry Rose. There are so many different things that they can do. They’re balanced and he gives them the ability to do that.
And the other thing about Larry Rose, you sleep on him in the run game, they can throw passes to him out of the backfield. He’s got capable hands and he’s explosive.”
(On the running back depth chart for this game)
“They are all going to get opportunities in this game. You will see more of Josh Fields and Ronald Awatt. I thought we would’ve seen more of them last week and it didn’t turn out that way in the game. But again, I’m not looking backward, I’m looking forward. You’ll see all of the running backs in this game and they’re going to have to be effective, and the guys up front are going to have to do their jobs.
The guys in the perimeter, when we do call plays based on the looks, we’ve got to make the right decisions as a coaching staff. All 11 people doing their jobs collectively, and the coaches, is what makes a running game go. Do we know how to do that? Yes, we have been one of the best rushing teams over the years. Are we in a rut right now? Absolutely. And that’s why a change was made.”
MINERS AND AGGIES TO CLASH IN FIRSTLIGHT FCU BATTLE OF I-10
UTEP and NM State will play in the 95th meeting between the two programs in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Battle of I-10 on Sept. 23 in Las Cruces. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Aggie Memorial Stadium. The Miners (0-3) are coming off a setback against Arizona on Friday, Sept. 15, while the Aggies (1-2) were edged by Troy, 27-24, on Saturday, Sept. 16. UTEP is looking to extend an eight-game winning streak against NM State that started with a 38-12 triumph in Las Cruces on Sept. 19, 2009. The Aggies last defeated the Miners in 2008 by the score of 34-33 in the Sun Bowl. Last season, head coach Sean Kugler extended his undefeated record (4-0) against the rivals up the road as the Miners won handily, 38-22, to kick off the campaign in El Paso.
UTEP leads the series 57-35-2. This is the longest-running series in school history (95th meeting). UTEP has reeled off eight consecutive victories over NM State, its longest winning streak in the series. The series is all knotted up in Las Cruces, 19-19-1, on the heels of four straight Miner wins at Aggie Memorial Stadium (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015). UTEP, which also won four consecutive in Las Cruces from 1986-91, has never posted five consecutive victories over its archrivals in the City of the Crosses. UTEP and NM State combined for 97 points in 2015, the second-most in a single game during the long-running rivalry. The 1948 contest saw 99 total points as the Miners dominated the Aggies 92-7.
THE LAST MEETING
Aaron Jones rushed for 249 yards as the Miners opened the season by dusting NM State, 38-22, on Sept. 3, 2016 in the Sun Bowl. The Miners led throughout after Jones put them ahead 7-0 on a 37-yard touchdown run five minutes into the game. Jones added a 75-yard scoring burst early in the fourth period. He appeared to get stronger as the game wore on. He rushed for 55 yards in the first quarter, 33 in the second, 21 in the third and a whopping 140 (on only nine attempts) in the final frame. The Miners finished with 518 yards of offense and 289 rushing. Quarterback Zack Greenlee had a successful debut. The Fresno State transfer completed 15-of-27 passes for 229 yards and three scores. The UTEP defense yielded 345 yards to the Aggies, as Alvin Jones registered 12 tackles. Another El Paso native, receiver Cole Freytag, put together a great start to his senior year by recording four catches for a career-high 95 yards, including a 46-yard TD midway through the second quarter. Quarterback Tyler Rogers completed 17-of-41 passes for 206 yards for the Aggies, and was also the team’s leading rusher (63 yards and a score). UTEP led 31-10 late in the third quarter before NM State put together a couple of late scoring drives to keep the score respectable.
UTEP has three players from the state of New Mexico on its roster – junior WR Kavika Johnson (Las Cruces), freshman FB Forest McKee (Las Cruces) and senor TE Sterling Napier (Rio Rancho). Johnson attended Mayfield High School, where he led the Trojans to consecutive state championship games. NM State has six El Paso natives on its roster: freshman WR Jameer Ancheta (Andress), sophomore DL Jacob Arellano (Socorro), freshman OL David Ash (Eastwood), freshman DB Brandon Bell (Eastwood), freshman K Isaac Garcia (Franklin) and freshman WR Antonio Gomez (Andress), although junior RB Dallas Hart attended Hanks High School in the Sun City after growing up in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Players from both schools who attended the same high school are: UTEP FB Forest McKee & NM State freshman DL Matthew Young (Onate HS [Las Cruces, N.M.]); UTEP WR Kavika Johnson & NM State OL Jalen Guerrero and DL Brett Kowalski (Mayfield HS [Las Cruces, N.M.]); UTEP QB Mark Torrez, WR Richie Rodriguez and OL Greg Long, and NM State OL David Ash and DB Brandon Bell (Eastwood HS [El Paso, Texas]); UTEP OL Rey Mendez and NM State DL Jacob Arellano (Socorro HS [El Paso, Texas]); UTEP WR Eddie Sinegal and QB Ryan Metz, and NM State WR Jameer Ancheta and WR Antonio Gomez (Andress HS [El Paso, Texas]); and UTEP OL Derek Elmendorff and NM State K Isaac Garcia (Franklin HS [El Paso, Texas]). UTEP Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach Spencer Leftwich was part of the Aggies’ staff from 1992- 93, directing the offensive line.
ABOUT NM STATE
The Aggies (1-2) are coming off a loss to Troy, 27-24, in Las Cruces on Sept. 16. NM State fell behind 20-3, but QB Tyler Rogers rallied his team within four points (20-16) by throwing a pair of scores in the third quarter. The first was a 46-yard launch to WR Izaiah Lottie (missed extra point) with 9:53 left and the second passing score came at the 3:44 mark when Rogers connected with 6-foot-6, 210-pound WR Jaleel Scott for an eight-yard score. Troy would answer with a score late in the third to make the score 27-16. Rogers threw his third touchdown, a nine-yard toss to Lottie, while the two-point was converted to make it a three-point deficit (27-2). The Aggies got the ball back late in the fourth after forcing Troy to punt, but they were only able to gain six yards on three plays and were forced to punt. Troy then took the ball with 6:15 left in the contest and was able to use an 11-play, 56-yard drive to end the contest. The Aggies opened the season with a loss at Pac-12’s Arizona State, while their lone victory in 2017 came at New Mexico 30-28 on Sept. 9. The Aggies are scoring 28.3 points per game, while allowing 30.7 points. NM State is averaging 477.0 yards of total offense, while yielding 433.0 yards per game. RB Larry Rose III has gained 228 yards on 46 attempts (5.0 avg.), while RB Jason Huntley (88 rush yards) and Rogers (13 rush yards) have each rushed for scores. Rogers has thrown for 10 touchdowns (tied for fifth in FBS) with only a trio of interceptions on 106-of-159 passing (66.7 percent) for 1,130 yards. Rogers is averaging 376.7 yards passing per game (fifth in FBS). Scott ranks no. 22 in the FBS with 295 yards on 22 receptions (7.3 receptions per game ranks tied for 16th in FBS). Scott and Lottie have each hauled in four scoring receptions, ranking tied for fifth in the FBS. Defensively, LB Dalton Harrington is leading the Aggies in tackles (33), tackles for loss (6.0) and sacks (2.5). LB Terrill Hanks ranks second in tackles (32), while notching a sack. DB Malik Demby is third in tackles (22) and second in sacks (2.0). DB Ron LaForce has registered both Aggies interceptions. The Aggies defense as a whole has sacked opposing quarterbacks nine times.
KUGLER’S SUCCESS AGAINST THE AGGIES
UTEP Head Coach Sean Kulger is 4-0 against NM State since his first season in 2013. Kugler became the third coach in program history to start 4-0 against the Aggies. Mack Saxon won his first five contests against NM State (1929-33). Bobby Dobbs won his first four against the I-10 rival (1965-68). Mike Brumbelow fashioned a 6-0-1 mark versus NMSU (1950-56), winning his first two and tying the third contest. Bob Stull chalked up a 3-0 mark in his three seasons at the helm (1986-88), while David Lee (1989-91) and Mike Price (2004-06) won their first three games against NM State before losing on the fourth attempt.
UTEP’S NUMBERS VS. NM STATE DURING THE KUGLER ERA
UTEP has overwhelmed NM State on offense in the last four contests during the Sean Kugler era, winning by double digits in three of the four games played. The Miners have won by an average of 14.5 points, while averaging 43.0 points per game and giving up 28.5 points per contest. One of those contests was the epic 2015 overtime victory in Las Cruces (50-47), in which UTEP overcame a pair of 14-point deficits. The 97 total points were the second-most scored in the history of the rivalry. During the last four games, UTEP has averaged 519 yards of total offense, while averaging 298.8 rushing yards in the process. UTEP amassed over 500 yards in three of the games (546 , 542  & 518 ). The Miners have also averaged 27.5 first downs per game. The Miners have rushed for a total of 15 touchdowns during the last four contests, including five-touchdown efforts in back-to-back seasons (2013 & 2014).
UTEP’S NUMBERS VS. NM STATE DURING THE 8-GAME WIN STREAK
The Miners have outscored the Aggies 309 (38.6 ppg) to 174 (21.8 ppg) during the eight-game winning streak. UTEP has won by double digits in six of the eight contests, as the biggest win margin was a 42-10 victory in 2010 in the Sun Bowl. The Miners won by three points (50-47) in an overtime victory in 2015, while the two programs battled in a 16-10 contest in 2011 in Las Cruces. The Miners are averaging 463.1 yards of offense during the eight-game win streak. The most total yards prior to the Kugler era was a 495-yard effort in 2010.
OTHER NOTABLE WINNING STEAKS IN FBS RIVALRIES
UTEP has won eight consecutive contests against rival NM State, matching Kansas State’s eight-game streak against its respective rival Kansas. Wisconsin owns a 13-game winning streak against its Big 10 rival Minnesota, while Boise State has a current winning streak of 12 games against Idaho State (the two programs last met on Nov. 12, 2010). Cincinnati has been on the winning side of the ledger in 11 straight contests against Miami (Ohio), and Alabama has won 10 consecutive games against Tennessee. LA Tech has beaten Louisiana-Lafayette in eight straight (the two programs last played on Oct. 3, 2015). Last season, Army ended a 14-game losing streak against Navy (longest by an FBS program at the time), while Tennessee beat Florida for the first time in 11 contests.
Brandon Dawkins beat UTEP with his arm and legs, amassing 288 yards of total offense as Arizona sent the Miners to a third straight loss, 63-16 in the Sun Bowl on Sept. 15. Dawkins threw for 155 yards and rushed for 133 for The Wildcats, who scored the game’s first 28 points. UTEP got on the board late in the second quarter on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Zack Greenlee to Tyler Batson. Later, the Miners added a 53-yard field goal by Brady Viles at the end of the half. Following a scoreless first period, Arizona scored five times in the second quarter and led 35-9 at the break. The Miners had a couple of big turnovers in the second quarter that led to short scoring drives for the visitors. Greenlee made the fifth start of his UTEP career and completed 11-of-17 passes for 104 yards with a touchdown. Redshirt freshman Mark Torrez also saw action at quarterback and gave the Miners a spark early in the third quarter. The Eastwood High School graduate engineered a four-play, 76-yard drive, finishing it off with a six-yard rushing touchdown to cut Arizona’s lead to 42-16. The Wildcats scored the game’s final 21 points. Arizona gained 501 yards, including 326 rushing. The Miners once again had difficulty moving the ball, finishing with 218 yards on 53 plays including 17 yards rushing. Terry Juniel posted four catches for a career-high 82 yards for UTEP. He was one of 10 players to catch a pass as the Miners spread it around on offense. Kenyan Foster was a special teams standout for the Miners with four kickoff returns for 94 yards. Defensively, Alvin Jones amassed 15 tackles (second most in career) while adding a sack and 1.5 tackles for losses.
SEASON NO. 100 FOR UTEP FOOTBALL
The 2017 campaign marks the 100th for UTEP football. In honor of their centennial campaign, the Miners are wearing a commemorative decal on their helmets. There will also be centennial tributes in the game program, on the video board and social media over the course of the season. Though the centennial for The University of Texas at El Paso was in 2014, the football program suspended play for four seasons due to the World Wars. No games were played in 1918 (WWI) and 1943-45 (WWII). The 1914 season marked the first for the Miners. The Miners played their first ever game on Oct. 24, 1914 – a 7-6 victory against the YMCA.
FEWER YELLOW FLAGS
UTEP was penalized four times for 35 yards against Arizona on Sept. 15. In week two, the Miners were only penalized two times against Rice. It marked the eighth time during the Sean Kugler era in which the Miners were penalized two times or less. In 2016, UTEP was penalized twice against Old Dominion and once against Houston Baptist. In 2015, the Miners had two penalties each at no. 18 Arkansas, against UTSA and at North Texas. In 2014, UTEP opened the season with a pair of penalties at New Mexico and in 2013, the Miners were penalized once against Tulsa.
UTEP ranks tied for second in Conference USA and tied for 16th nationally with 11 yellow flags in 2017. UTEP’s 3.7 penalties per game rank tied for 10th in FBS, while it ranks 18th in penalty yards (100) and 12th in penalty yards per game (33.3). The Miners also rank third in penalty yards (100) and second in penalty yards per game (3.7) in C-USA.
RED ZONE OFFENSE
UTEP is 4-for-4 in the red zone in 2017, which is tied for no. 1 nationally. The Miners are one of 20 programs at 100 percent.
PROTECTING THE BALL
UTEP has turned the ball over only four times in 2017. The Miners rank tied for 49th in the FBS and tied for second in Conference USA in that department.
TERRY’S CAREER NIGHT
Junior WR Terry Juniel registered career-highs in receptions (four) and yards (82), including a season-long 40-yard grab against Arizona on Sept. 15. Juniel’s previous high was a 44-yard effort on a pair of receptions at LA Tech on Oct 1, 2016. Juniel’s seven receptions in 2017 are tied for second on the team with WR Kavika Johnson. Juniel’s 105 receiving yards (15.0 avg.) and yards per game (35.0) lead the offense.
TORREZ GETS EXTENDED ACTION
Freshman QB Mark Torrez was inserted under center in the second quarter and engineered a six-play, 34-yard drive (3:10) that resulted in K Brady Viles’ 53-yard field goal before the half against Arizona on Sept. 15. Torrez hit WR Terry Juniel on a pair of passes, the first for 13 yards on a first-and-10 and a 21-yard strike on a first-and-10 that set up the made field goal attempt. Torrez also made a few plays with his feet, escaping Wildcat defenders to avoid sacks.
TORREZ’S FIRST TOUCHDOWN
Mark Torrez hit paydirt on a six-yard quarterback keeper to the right side in the beginning of the third quarter against Arizona on Sept. 15. Torrez paced the Miners on a four-play, 76-yard drive that took 2:11. Torrez connected on a 14-yard pass to TE David Lucero on a second-and-7. A roughing the passer call on Arizona moved the ball 15 more yards for the Miners during the scoring drive.
GREENLEE GETS THE NOD
Senior QB Zack Greenlee made his fifth start in a UTEP uniform against Arizona on Sept. 15. Greenlee found WR Tyler Batson for a nine-yard TD strike in the left side of the end zone late in the first half. He engineered a five-play, 66-yard scoring drive (2:37). It was Greenlee’s first touchdown since he connected on a 12-yard touchdown pass to Cole Freytag against FIU on Oct. 8, 2016. Greenlee finished 11-of-17 for 104 yards with a long pass of 40 yards.
21 CAREER TOUCHDOWNS FOR METZ
Junior QB Ryan Metz threw his first touchdown pass of 2017, a 44-yard toss against Rice on Sept. 9. It was also Metz’s 21st career touchdown pass. He is now three passing scores from cracking the program’s top-10 list. John Furman and Nick Lamaison each threw 24 scores during their respective careers to rank tied for ninth on the list. Trevor Vittatoe leads all with 97 passing touchdowns.
METZ & TORREZ HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON
Besides both being from El Paso, Ryan Metz and Mark Torrez share a common bond as both played against top-25 opponents on the road in their collegiate debuts. Metz saw his first college action at no. 18 Arkansas on Sept. 5, 2015, while Torrez played on Sept. 2 at no. 7 Oklahoma. Both quarterbacks were perfect in their debuts as Metz went 3-for-3 (19 yards) and Torrez was 1-for-1 (seven yards).
BATSON’S LONG OVERDUE TRIP TO PAYDIRT
Senior WR Tyler Batson grabbed his fourth career touchdown against Arizona on Sept. 15. Batson caught a pass after making a leap to his left to snag the ball. The score was his first since Nov. 14, 2015 at Old Dominion – a seven-yard pass from Mack Leftwich. Batson has five catches for 42 yards this season.
KAVIKA HITS DAWN JR. AGAIN
Junior WR Kavika Johnson, who has made starts under center during his career, hooked up with sophomore RB Walter Dawn Jr. on a 38-yard reception after a lateral pass by Mark Torrez against Arizona on Sept. 15. It was the key play on a first-and-10 to the Arizona six-yard line that ended with a Torrez TD. It’s not the first time these two have hooked up, as Johnson hit Dawn Jr. for a 74-yard touchdown pass on a lateral at UTSA last season.
KAVIKA’S CAREER NIGHT VS. RICE
Junior WR Kavika Johnson produced career-highs in receptions (six), receiving yards (67) and long reception (40 yards) against Rice on Sept. 9. His previous highs were three receptions for 32 yards and a long of 27 yards at Rice on Nov. 11, 2016. Johnson ranks second on the team with seven receptions (76 yards).
FIRST DOWN DOVE
Sophomore RB Kevin Dove, a 245-pound tailback, grinded out his sixth first down of the season on a rushing play against Arizona on Sept. 15. The play was a five-yard rush on a second-and-4 in the second quarter. Dove gained two first downs against Rice on Sept. 9. The first came on a third-and-2 in which Dove gained three yards, while the second came on a long run of 14 yards on a second-and-13. Dove gained three first downs in week one at no. 7 Oklahoma.
JOSHUA TAKES THE FIELD
True freshman RB and El Paso native Joshua Fields registered a season-high two receptions for five yards against Arizona on Sept. 15. Fields tallied a season-long 18-yard reception against Rice on Sept. 9. Fields has 22 yards on four receptions early in his collegiate career.
CAREER-HIGH FOR DAWN JR.
Sophomore RB Walter Dawn Jr. registered a career-high four receptions against Arizona on Sept. 15. Dawn also hauled in a season-long 38-yard reception, while totaling 50 yards receiving on the night. Dawn Jr.’s previous high was three catches twice (at Texas , vs. Rice ). Dawn Jr. leads the Miners with eight receptions thus far.
OL Will Hernandez has started every game in his three years with the Miners. Last season, Hernandez was the first Miner offensive lineman to receive AP All-American second team and FOX Sports’ All-American honors. The senior was also the first UTEP offensive lineman since 2009 to earn All-Conference USA first team recognition. Hernandez’s national recognition didn’t stop there, as he garnered Pro Football Focus Pass Protector of the Year. The Miners capped the season with two showings of over 500 yards of total offense, including a season-best 384 yards rushing in a victory over North Texas.
WILL’S PRESEASON ACCOLADES
Will Hernandez was selected to the 2017 AP All-America second team on Aug. 22 as the senior has racked up multiple preseason honors. Hernandez was announced to the 2017 Outland Trophy Watch List and earned a spot on the 2017 Preseason Conference USA team. Multiple football publications, including Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, Phil Steele’s College Football Preview and Athlon Sports have Hernandez on their preseason teams.
ALVIN THE BALL HAWK
Senior LB Alvin Jones amassed 15 tackles, a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss against Arizona on Sept. 15, the second-most in his career. Jones’ career high is 16 tackles twice. The first came against FIU on Oct. 8, 2016 in the Sun Bowl, and Jones followed with another 16-tackle performance at Rice on Nov. 19, 2016.
Alvin Jones has led the Miners in each of the last two seasons, recording 93 stops during each campaign. Jones is leading the UTEP defense in tackles (25) and tackles per game (8.3) after his 15-tackle effort against Arizona. Jones ranks tied for 10th with two other players in tackles per game (8.3) in Conference USA.
KEEPING UP WITH ALVIN’S CAREER
Senior Alvin Jones has 266 career tackles (seventh-most at UTEP since the 2000 season) after racking up 15 more tackles against Arizona on Sept. 15. Jones also registered a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss against the Wildcats. Jones now has 11.5 career sacks (needs half a sack to crack the program’s all-time top 10 list) and 31.5 career tackles for loss, which now ranks sixth on the program’s top 10 list. Brian Young ranks fifth with 32.0 tackles for loss. Barron Wortham leads the all-time list with 45.0 tackles for loss. Jones’s 14.5 tackles for loss in 2015 rank tied for ninth on the single-season list, while his 5.0 tackles for loss at NM State on Sept. 19, 2015 were the most by a UTEP player since the 2000 season. Jones has led the Miners in tackles the past two seasons, tallying 93 stops in each campaign, while in 2014 Jones ranked second with 55 takedowns.
Alvin Jones has reached double digits in tackles 10 times during his career after his 15-tackle output on Sept. 15 against Arizona. Jones’s first double-digit performance came against UTSA on Oct. 3, 2015 with a 10-tackle outing. Jones racked up 11 tackles in four different contests in 2015 (at NM State; vs. Rice; at Old Dominion; vs. LA Tech). In 2016, Jones registered double-digit tackles, including his career high of 16 stops, in four contests (12 vs. NM State; 16 vs. FIU; 16 at Rice; 12 vs. North Texas).
Graduate student LB Julian Jackson tallied seven more tackles against Arizona on Sept. 15. Jackson, a transfer from Wake Forest, has hit seven tackles in each of his first three games in a UTEP uniform. Jackson’s seven stops are also tied for his college career high. Jackson ranks tied for 19th in Conference USA in tackles per game (7.0), while his 21 total tackles rank tied for second on the UTEP defense. Jackson also recorded his first pass breakup against the Wildcats and recorded half a tackle for loss at no. 7 OU.
TREYVON’ S BREAKOUT GAME
In only his second game at the LB position, sophomore Treyvon Hughes tied for the team lead with 11 tackles against Rice on Sept. 9. Hughes registered three stops in his defensive debut at no. 7 Oklahoma in week one. Hughes came to UTEP as a running back and missed last season due to injury. He was switched to linebacker prior to the Annual Spring Game this past year. Hughes is ranked third on the team with 18 tackles three games into the season.
UTEP has recovered a pair of fumbles, one by junior DB Nik Needham (vs. Rice) and the other by freshman DB Joseph Pickney (vs. Arizona), the first of their respective careers. UTEP ranks tied fir fourth in Conference USA in fumble recoveries.
IN THE NIK OF TIME
Junior DB Nik Needham recorded the first full sack of his UTEP career on Sept. 9. Needham took down Rice QB Sam Glaesmann on a third-and-13 play. Needham’s first sack was an assist at NM State on Sept. 19, 2015. Needham also recovered his first fumble during his career and tallied six tackles versus the Owls. Needham has recorded 15 tackles on the season.
OTHER DEFENSIVE NOTABLES VS. ARIZONA
Defensively, these Miners recorded career highs in tackles: sophomore DB Jerrell Brown (six), sophomore DB Justin Rogers (five), junior DB Kahani Smith (five), freshman DL Dedrick Simpson ( five), sophomore LB Kalaii Griffin ( five), sophomore DL Denzel Chukwukelu (four) and freshman NT Trace Mascorro (three). Sophomore DL Sani Buckingham (four tackles) and freshmen DL Keith Sullivan (two tackles) and DB Joseph Pickney (one tackle) recorded the first tackles in their UTEP careers.
KEYNAN’S SPECIAL EFFORT
Sophomore WR/KR Keynan Foster returned a season-high 28-yard kickoff against Arizona on Sept. 15. The speedster returned four kickoffs for 94 yards, both season highs. Foster also hauled in a career-long 13-yard pass against the Wildcats and tallied 107 all-purpose yards. On the season, Foster ranks third in Conference USA in kickoff return average (23.2) on six kickoff returns (139 yards).
BRADY’S FIRST FIELD GOAL ATTEMPT
Sophomore K Brady Viles connected on his first collegiate field goal, a 53-yard punch as the first half expired against Arizona on Sept. 15. Vile was good on one of two PAT attempts against the Wildcats. Viles has a team-leading seven points (4-5 PAT, 1-1 FG). Viles played his first year of college football at Arizona Western College, where he connected on 3-of-3 PATs and was used primarily as a kickoff specialist last season.
VILES’ FIRST KICK WAS A LONG ONE
Brady Viles’ first field goal was a 53-yarder. It’s the longest first made field goal by a Miner since at least 1960. Viles is one of three Miners to hit a 50-plus yard field goal since 1960. Bronko Belichesky’s first career field attempt was a made 52-yarder against Pacific on Sept. 15, 1973. Jose Martinez connected on a 51-yard on Sept. 1, 2007 against New Mexico.
El Paso native Alan Luna punted seven times for 306 yards (43.7 avg.) with one inside the 20-yard line against Arizona on Sept. 15. Luna opened 2017 with eight punts for 352 yards (third-most in his career) for an average of 44.0 yards at Oklahoma. The senior punter placed three inside the 20-yard line against the Sooners to tie his career high. Luna also placed three inside the 20 at LA Tech on Oct. 1, 2016. Luna’s 44.0-yard average ranks 35th in the FBS and fourth in Conference USA. Luna leads the league in total punts (22) and punt yards (969). Luna ranks fifth in the FBS in punt yards.
LUNA CAREER NOTES
Senior Alan Luna ranks sixth on the program’s all-time list in career punt yards (6,396) and seventh in career punts (149) after Saturday’s performance against Arizona. Rick Padia ranks no. 6 in career punts (156), while the overall leader is Jerry Walker (298). Ian Campbell ranks no. 5 in career yards (7,328), while the overall leader is Walker (12,193). Luna’s career high for yards is 376 at Texas (Sept. 10, 2016). His longest is a 69-yard boot, while his career-best average is 51.0 yards on six punts (306) against Southern Miss (Sept. 24, 2016). In week two against Rice, Luna registered a 63-yard boot, the second-longest of his career, while his third-longest went 61 yards at Old Dominion in 2015.
The 2017 roster features 30 players from the El Pas0/Las Cruces area — DB Deaumonjae Banks (Chapin), LB Chris Barnwell (Eastlake), WR Brannon Bullitt (Chapin), OL Bobby DeHaro (Montwood), OL Derek Elmendorff (Franklin), RB Joshua Fields (Americas), K/P Jason Filley (Coronado), LB Sergio Gonzalez (El Dorado), FB David Jackson (Parkland), DL Christian Johnson (Parkland), WR Kavika Johnson (Mayfield [Las Cruces]), LB Alvin Jones (Burges), OL Greg Long (Eastwood), LB Erick Lopez (Canutillo), OL Markos Lujan (Americas), P/K Alan Luna (Franklin), OL Rey Mendez (Socorro), QB Ryan Metz (Andress), FB Forest McKee (Onate [Las Cruces]), RB Jonathon Millan (Coronado), WR Brandon Moss (Chapin), DL Josh Ortega (Montwood), DB Elijah Perales (Chapin), OL JaimePerales (Cathedral), WR Warren Redix (Montwood), TE Jorge Rodriguez (Montwood), WR Richie Rodriguez (Eastwood), WR Eddie Sinegal (Andress), QB Keith Tarango-Lopez (Eastlake) and QB Mark Torrez (Eastwood).
SUN CITY SENSATIONS
Ten players from El Paso grace the two-deep heading into the NM State game. RG Derek Elmendorff, TB Joshua Fields, K/P Jason Filley, FB David Jackson, MIKE Alvin Jones, LG Markos Lujan, K/P Alan Luna, WR (Z) Warren Redix, WR (X) Eddie Sinegal and QB Mark Torrez are listed on the two-deep chart. Of the 10, four of the players (Elmendorff, Jones, Luna, and Redix) are listed no. 1 at their respective positions.
The UTEP football program has eight student-athletes with degrees for the 2017 season. QB Zack Greenlee, LB Julian Jackson, DL Sky Logan, DB Jesse Montgomery, WR Brandon Moss, TE Sterling Napier, WR Nesley Ovincy and OL Logan Tuley-Tillman are pursuing their Masters of Arts in Leadership Studies. Northwestern has 18 student-athletes with degrees, while Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina and East Carolina each have 14. Toledo has 13; TCU, Alabama, Oregon and Virginia each have 12; Georgia State, Kansas State, Maryland, UCF and USF each have 11; Kent State, Nevada, New Mexico, South Alabama, Texas Tech and West Virginia each have 10; Houston, Iowa State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rutgers and Temple each have nine; and joining UTEP with eight student-athletes are Auburn, Clemson, Iowa, Kentucky, NC State, Northern Illinois, Ole Miss, Penn State, SMU Syracuse, UAB and WKU.
HARD WORK PAYS OFF
After day one at Camp Ruidoso, head coach Sean Kugler announced on Aug. 8 that walk-ons RB TK Powell, WR Keynan Foster, LB Johnny Jones, FB David Jackson and FB Robert Pufhal each earned scholarships for their performances on the field and in the classroom.
FBS COACHES WITH FBS SONS
UTEP Head Coach Sean Kugler is one of eight FBS coaches who have a son playing for another FBS program. Patrick Kugler plays center at Michigan. Others include UAB’s head coach Bill Clark with son Jacob playing for the Blazers. Colorado’s head coach Mike MacIntyre has his son Jay playing for the Buffaloes. Tulsa head coach Phillip Montgomery son plays for the Golden Hurricanes. Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo has two sons, Va’a at BYU and Ali’i at Utah. Gary Patterson’s son Blake plays for his pops at TCU. Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez, has his son Rhett playing for the Wildcats. And Bobby Wilder of Old Dominion has his son Derek playing for the Monarchs. Other coaches that have their son’s playing for them is Rick Stockstill at Middle Tennessee (Brent) and Dabo Swinney of Clemson (Will).
COACHING YOUR ALMA MATER
UTEP Head Coach Sean Kugler is one of 21 FBS coaches in 2017 who are at the helm of their alma mater’s program. John Bonamego (Central Michigan), Troy Calhoun (Air Force), Paul Chryst (Wisconsin), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State), Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Bryan Harsin (Boise State), Paul Haynes (Kent State), Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech), Tim Lester (Western Michigan), Mike Neu (Ball State), Barry Odom (Missouri), Mark Richt (Miami), Nick Rolovich (Hawai’i), Scott Satterfield (Appalachian State), David Shaw (Stanford), Kalani Sitake (BYU), Kirby Smart (Georgia), Jeff Tedford (Fresno State) and Matt Wells (Utah State) are the other 20.
CLOSING IN ON WIN NO. 400
The Miners are six wins away from 400 in their program history. Texas Western College chalked up win no. 100 during the 1941 season after it prevailed at Arizona State 28-0 on Nov. 8. The Miners recorded win no. 200 on Sept. 21, 1963, defeating North Texas State 34-7 during the inaugural game in the Sun Bowl. Toraino Singleton rushed for 199 yards and a score, and Jason Blair hauled in six passes for 95 yards and a touchdown in leading UTEP to a 17-12 triumph over New Mexico for win no. 300 in the Sun Bowl on Nov. 18, 1995.
UTEP will face eight opponents in 2017 who advanced to a bowl game in 2016. The Miners opened with Oklahoma (Sugar Bowl) on Sept. 2 in Norman. After UTEP’s contest at NM State on Sept. 23, the next seven opponents are Army (Heart of Dallas Bowl), WKU (Boca Raton Bowl), Southern Miss (New Orleans Bowl), UTSA (New Mexico Bowl), Middle Tennessee (Hawai’i Bowl), North Texas (Heart of Dallas Bowl) and LA Tech (Armed Forces Bowl). Syracuse and Notre Dame lead the list with 11 bowl opponents each, while Duke, Ole Miss and South Carolina will see 10. Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, UCF, Clemson, Colorado State, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kentucky, LSU, UMass, Miami, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Tulsa, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest will face nine bowl opponents in 2017.
UTEP will travel east to play at Army on Sept. 30 in West Point, N.Y. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. MT (3:30 p.m. ET). The two programs met for the first time on Sept. 17, 2016 as the Golden Knights came out on the winning side in the Sun Bowl.
IRVING, Tx – Junior Alyssa Palacios has been voted as the Conference USA Women’s Soccer Goalkeeper of the Week, the league office revealed Monday afternoon. It is the third such honor of her career.
Palacios recorded six saves, including a stop in a one-vs.one situation, to help the UTEP soccer team post a thrilling 1-0 win in the C-USA opener for both squads at Southern Miss Sunday. Palacios was rock solid throughout the entire contest, but particularly in the first half when she was called upon to make five saves alone.
“Alyssa was the MVP of the game on Sunday,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “She made three big time saves that kept us in that game. We would not have won that game without her outstanding performance. This honor is much deserved and she is a huge reason for a shut-out against a very high powered Southern Miss attack.”
Her efforts helped the Miners claim their league lid lifter and fifth straight game overall.