Miners face a familiar foe in Houston
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05
After a much needed homecoming win, the Miners will attempt to get their first road win of the season against the Houston Cougars Oct. 27, at the Robertson Stadium.
“It is the most important game that we are playing, there is no question about it,” UTEP head coach Mike Price said. “Everyone is going to play as hard as they can and as long as they can. I’ll guarantee it.”
The Cougars lead the series between the two schools 5-4 all-time, and 5-2 since UTEP joined Conference USA in 2005.
The Miners won a crucial game at home Oct. 20 against Tulane to keep their bowl aspirations alive and they are seeking to get back-to-back victories for the first time in 2012.
For a second straight week, senior quarterback Nick Lamaison only played one half as he re-aggravated a hamstring injury. During his one half of play he completed 11 of 16 attempts for 157 yards and two touchdowns, both to senior wide receiver Mike Edwards.
The Cougars are coming off a nine-turnover performance against SMU, which they lost 72-42.
The toughest challenge the Miners will face is the Cougar offense, which is the third best offense in the country in passing yards averaging 364 per game.
“They pass an awful lot, they are going to run the offense a lot, they ran 97 plays in the game and got beat by 30 points,” Price said. “We would have to score more than 24 points to beat Houston I would think, but I don’t know how I’m going to do that.”
For this season the Cougars will no longer count with Case Keenum as their quarterback.
In his five years in Houston, Keenum broke the NCAA records for passing yards, completions and touchdowns.
Houston sophomore starting quarterback David Piland is now in charge of the offense and so far he has completed 60 percent of his attempts for a total of 2,264 yards and 10 touchdowns, but he had to leave the game with an injury and is uncertain if he will be able to play against the Miners.
The backup quarterback for the Cougars, senior Crawford Jones has a 50 percent completion average and has thrown for 252 yards so far. For Price, regardless of who is the signal caller, he wants play similar to how SMU played Houston defensively.
“SMU came after them and blitzed a lot and knocked their quarterback out of the game, and put heated pressure in the next two backups,” Price said. “It doesn’t make a difference (if Piland plays) we have to put pressure on him, mix up the coverage on him and all quarterbacks, some people think the senior backup (Jones) is better.”
UTEP will have to keep up with Houston’s no-huddle offense, which according to Price runs a play nearly every 14 seconds.
“They are a big play offense we have to take angles,” Price said. “I think it’s going to be very difficult to play man defense with them because if they break it and it’s going to go for a long way.”
The Cougars are averaging 174 rushing yards per game. Running backs junior Charles Sims and freshman Kenneth Farrow have combined for 921 yards and 10 touchdowns thus far.
“We need to win this game, we need to win in Houston, we need to beat Houston,” Price said. “We need to save our season and this game is going to save it, every play in our playbook will be available you are going to see everything we do. We are going to give it our very best effort.”
Edwin Delgado may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.