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Miners come home for Tulane

Price to coach against son in a battle of one-win teams

Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05

utep

File Photo / The Prospector

The Miners will face Conference USA rival the Tulane Green Wave Oct. 20 at the Sun Bowl. Both teams will be aiming for their second win of the season. Tulane defeated SMU 27-26 on Oct. 13, the same team UTEP fell to 17-0 (above) on Oct. 6.

utep coach

File Photo / The Prospector

UTEP’s all-time record in homecoming games is 37-42-1, but has gone 6-2 under head coach Mike Price. Offensive line coach Brian Natkin (above) is part of a staff helping the Miners look for their second win of the season and the first in C-USA.

   The Miners (1-6) are seeking to put an end to their four-game losing streak as they host the Tulane Green Wave (1-5) for the 81st homecoming game Oct. 20 at the Sun Bowl.

Both team’s offenses rank among the least productive in the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision), with a combined average of 28-points per game.

The Green Wave has the worst rushing offense in the nation only averaging 18 yards per game.

“Their running back (junior) Orleans Darkwa has been hurt. He was only in for 10 or 12 plays last week,” UTEP head coach Mike Price said. “Their backup tailback, Rob Kelley played great. He made two scoring catches (against SMU).”

Tulane, who lost their first five games of the season, managed to get their first win of the year Oct. 13 by defeating SMU 27-26 in New Orleans thanks to their passing game and senior quarterback Ryan Griffin.

“They definitely have our attention after beating SMU, when we didn’t score a point against them. They have their starting quarterback (Griffin) back,” Price said. “(He) was out for four games and now he’s back. I think their quarterback makes all the difference in the world offensively.”

Against SMU, Griffin guided the Green Wave 68 yards in 48 seconds to get the eventual game-winning touchdown in the final minute of the game.

“We just need to get things rolling and build off this–build some confidence,” Griffin said after the win over SMU. “We will just keep rolling, keep the ball moving and continue this all season long.”

The Tulane offensive coordinator is Eric Price, Mike Price’s son. Eric was the offensive coordinator for the Miners from 2004-07.

“Ironically Eric is running a different offense than what we ran in the past. He’s running the New Orleans Saints offense. We’re not running our offense either, it’s more of the shotgun zone read offense,” Price said. “He doesn’t really know what we’re doing and we don’t really know what he’s doing.” In the game against Tulsa, several Miners left the games due to injuries.

Senior quarterback Nick Lamaison pulled a hamstring and is doubtful for the game.

Sophomore wide receiver Malcolm Trail suffered a separated shoulder and will be out the rest of the season, sophomore tight end Eric Tomlinson has a broken wrist and in case he needs surgery he could miss the rest of the season or according to Price, might play with a cast.

However, junior wide receiver Mike Edwards and freshman running back Xay Williams are expected to be back.

UTEP is 37-42-1 all time in homecoming games and has a 6-2 record in such games under Price. Last season the Miners defeated the Colorado State Rams 31-17.

After struggling offensively in the past three games, coach Price anticipated several changes to the offense to try to correct the mistakes that have cost the team points.

According to Price, one of those changes might be the possible appearance of freshman quarterback Blaire Sullivan.

“You’ll see some new things, but I’m not going to make wholesale changes. We’ve got some new stuff though,” Price said. “Why fix it if it isn’t broken? Well, it is kind of busted right now, so we’re going to try some new stuff. It might not be drastic, but what do I have to lose? I’ve never been one to really hold back much offensively. But you kind of take what the defense gives you.”

The Miners are hopeful they can end their four game skid against the Green Wave. Price said he’s looking for better play from the offense.

“We expect more from our offense and I think we’re better than that (referring to the game against Tulsa),” Price said. “We got five games left to prove that we are better.”

Edwin Delgado may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

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