In search of first victory across the Mississippi
Miners hoping to bounce back from home-opening loss to Oklahoma as they take on Ole Miss
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
The Miners will fly across the Mississippi river in search of their first win of the season after losing their home opener to Oklahoma. Their next opponent, the Ole Miss Rebels Sept. 8.
The team is confident about its ability to defeat the Rebels.
“They are going to be good, they’re really athletic,” senior center Eloy Atkinson said. “They have a lot of speed, SEC (South Eastern Conference) speed. But we’re ready for them and looking forward to the challenge.”
Ole Miss is coming off a 49-24 win at home against Football Championship Subdivision team Central Arkansas.
In their home opener against Central Arkansas, sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace, who transferred from East Mississippi Community College, completed 20 of his 24 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns.
Wallace also ran for 82 yards and a touchdown in his debut with the Rebels.
“They’re no-huddle, they’re upbeat and up-tempo, they’re faster up-tempo than Oklahoma, so we’re going to have to work on that,” UTEP head coach Mike Price said. “They run around with great enthusiasm on defense. They have outstanding athletes. Their defensive line isn’t huge, but they’re tough and aggressive.”
Rebels sophomore Donte Moncrief led the team with eight receptions for 104 yards and one touchdown.
In the home opener, running back Nathan Jeffery shined against Oklahoma, rushing for 177 yards on 21 attempts and returned a blocked punt 22 yards for the Miners’ only score.
In contrast, the UTEP passing game struggled against Oklahoma gaining only 48 total yards.
“I don’t know if playing them will help us out throwing the ball better,” Price said. “But I know that our receivers will play better than they did this last weekend. I know (senior quarterback) Nick (Lamaison) will play better.”
Ole Miss has a record of 128-52-2 against current members of Conference-USA having won 12 of their last 15 non-conference games at home. Meanwhile the Miners have a 3-5 record on road openers under Price, two victories against NM State in 2005 and 2009 and a win over San Diego State in 2006. Overall, the Miners under Price are 6-9 in road games.
In order to have a chance to defeat Ole Miss, the players feel they have to avoid missing opportunities like it happened against the Sooners.
“We need to go back and watch the film of the game, to see what is working and what isn’t,” junior defensive lineman Marcus Bagley said. “We need to learn from this game (Oklahoma) to improve and beat Mississippi.”
In his ninth year at the helm for the Miners, Price will face Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, who is currently in his first season with the Rebels.
The Sept. 8 game marks the second meeting between the schools, with the first one being in the 1967 Sun Bowl, where the Miners defeated the Rebels 14-7. That was also UTEP’s last bowl victory.
The game will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Network and ESPN3.com at 7 p.m EST.
Notable injuries for the Miners include senior wide receiver Mike Edwards, who also serves as the starting punt returner and junior defensive back Adrian James, the back up punt returner.
“He (Edwards) got a concussion in the game and he has to pass his physical and mental tests before he can return to practice, “ Price said. “If that’s the case, he’s probably out for this week. That creates problems with our punt return…James sprained his ankle. He’ll be out for at least two games.”
Edwin Delgado may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.